Portsmouth compared with Southampton is small but still large enough to accommodate the beautiful 781ft Crystal Symphony. At a little over 51,000 grt this is by modern standards a small ship but a size that is very popular with the more experienced cruiser who is prepared to forgo climbing walls, zip wires and other attractions of the big ships to enjoy a more sedate and pampered way of life with intimate restaurants and quality service. Carrying a maximum of 848 guests looked after by a crew of nearly 500 from 45 different countries ensures that service will be of the finest quality and the ship will never feel crowded.
Crystal operate an All Inclusive system that begins the moment you step on board and it is truly that, “All Inclusive”. 24 hour room service, Wines, Coffees, Fruit Juices, Spirits, Gratuities, Wi-Fi, dining in each of the speciality restaurants once every cruise together with laundry and dry cleaning, the list is endless to ensure a memorable cruise and no unpleasant surprises at the cruise end, you even get a selection of pillows to ensure that comfortable night’s sleep.
Of the 480 staterooms, 270 have private balconies, 203 have large windows and 7 are wheelchair accessible. The smallest boasts a generous 206 sq. ft. whilst the top of the range Penthouse with Veranda is a breath taking 962 sq. ft. All have baths which many will enjoy, the downside being difficulty by those less able in accessing it which is necessary to take a shower unless you purchase one of the more expensive suites with walk in shower. All staterooms supply bathrobes and slippers for your comfort together with flat screen TV, mini fridge with complimentary water and soft drinks, safe, hairdryer and enough hanging and drawer space to accommodate clothes for a long voyage.
A well equipped fitness centre features Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi and Spinning but for the more energetic, visit the Paddle Tennis Court and afterwards the Crystal Spa on the same deck to relax in a sauna, steam room, enjoy a massage or just bubble away in a warm Jacuzzi. Something of a rarity on ships today is the 360 degree Promenade Deck for those not quite so energetic but who still enjoy walking to keep fit and burn off the calories put on by the ships excellent food or just sit in the sun reading a book or watch the sea for that passing Dolphin, Porpoise or Flying Fish if in warm waters.
Speaking of food, the ship has 5 separate venues to select for breakfast and lunch extending to 8 for evening dinner. For those wanting to dine when they wish rather than having a set dining time a reservation can be made in the Crystal Dining Room. For those requiring a late night snack, visit The Bistro, open from 9am – 11pm who also serve wine and champagne for that night cap. Something different, visit Silk Road, the Sushi Bar for fresh expertly made Sushi. There is even an ice cream bar where the selection of flavours is mouth watering with toppings to match. An instant hit with me is Palm Court, high up on deck 11 affording magnificent 180 degree views from large picture windows, decorated with furnishings in white, beige and other pastel shades making this a very bright yet elegant area and featuring bar stools with unique swivelling seats. An area I could while away many an hour especially when at sea.
Mentioning sea days why not relax on a comfortable lounger around the swimming pool, or indulge in a class offering painting in water colours, sculpture as well as that pastime from a bygone era, knitting or visit the serenity of the library where wooden bookcases stocked with reading material on more subjects than you could name await.
The young are not forgotten with supervised activities for those aged 3 to 17 but only on certain cruises so check the brochure.
Entertainment comes in many guises from relaxing in the atrium area with a glass of champagne whilst listening to the resident pianist tinkling the ivories of his grand piano to a full blown production show in the Galaxy Lounge, for those who enjoy dancing the Starlite Club where you can take to the floor with music from the resident band or just watch one of the latest films in the comfortable Hollywood Theatre. For those who enjoy a ‘Flutter’ visit the Resorts World at Sea casino on deck 6 with fruit machines and tables.
This is a ship for the more discerning cruiser who wants to enjoy and appreciates true 5 star food, service, accommodation and amenities. A day visit is not enough to appreciate the many superb features this ship offers to the loyal clientele who return cruise after cruise.