By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief; updated by Dori Saltzman, News Editor (5.5)
You'd think we were party animals on a three-night cruise to nowhere.
Once one of cruising's more sedate vessels (and, by all means, you can still enjoy the peace and quiet), Crystal Symphony underwent three major refurbishments, one in 2006, turning what was effectively an elegant dowager into a sophisticated socialite, and a second in 2009 that added some really stylish and, in some areas, ambitious boutique hotel-like touches. The third refurbishment, in 2012, completed the five year plan to redesign every room onboard the ship. Combined, the five-year-long project cost a whopping $65 million and was the most significant ship redo in Crystal's history.
In 2006, a lot of work was done in the public areas and cabins. The refurbishment added LUXE, the pocket-sized nightclub tucked into a corner between the atrium and the casino. Looking at how busy it is nowadays, you wonder how the ship ever did without it. Sleek and colorful -- almost raucously so -- this 10 p.m.-until-late venue would feel right at home on South Beach.
The casino was remodeled, as was the Bistro cafe, the all-new atrium shops and the aforementioned LUXE. Cabins got facelifts, too: The decor now feels more boutique-hotel than luxury-cruise-ship, featuring beds with leather headboards and bathrooms with now-trendy bowl sinks.
Also completely redesigned was the Starlite Club; walls were removed and new, almost Starbucks-like clusters of wonderfully cozy armchairs were arranged around a brand-new circular bar (one of the best people-watching spots onboard).
In 2009, the Lido Cafe was completely remodeled; Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant, received a total overhaul; and dramatic changes were made to the Lido Deck, adding a 20-person Jacuzzi but removing an entire pool to create a rather beautiful lounging area. The Penthouses, the ship's premier suites, were all refitted.
2012's refurbishment saw the redesign of several of the ship's public spaces, including Avenue Saloon, which relocated the piano to make more room for brass-tack couches, embossed-leaf barstools and tufted booths. Seating was also changed in the panoramic-view Palm Court, and the dance floor was enlarged.
The ship's two theaters also underwent significant updates. In addition to new furniture and decor, a new stage extension expands the performance space in the Galaxy Lounge by 30 percent. And both the Galaxy Lounge and Hollywood Theatre received technological upgrades to lighting, sound and projectors.
New following the refurbishment is a tender embarkation foyer with comfortable seating and five-foot-tall travel photographs from around the world.
What Crystal understands better than any other luxury cruise line is how to add more contemporary elements without changing its essential ambience. Plus, despite all this expenditure, the line's priority remains stalwartly planted in creating a sense of community among those onboard -- whether it's passengers, crew or both.
And, despite all this expenditure, the line's priority remains stalwartly planted in creating a sense of community among those onboard -- whether it's passengers, crew or both.
However, gratuities and beverages will be included in all Crystal cruise fares beginning with Crystal Symphony's March 19, 2012, transatlantic sailing. From that date forward, passengers do not need to tip, but may do so for exceptional service.
|Exceptional service on a beautiful ship|
February 2014 dbjennings
My previous cruising experience: Oceania, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Viking.
Crystal Symphony is a lovely midsize ship with all the amenities you would expect. The pricing is "all inclusive", and Crystal comes pretty close. The ...continue
|Wonderful itinerary on a rather tired ship|
January 2014 travelberlin
This was our first cruise with Crystal. We have cruised more than 30 times before with several cruise lines including Azamara, Oceania, Silversea and Celebrity. Our experience on board the Crystal Symphony was Ok but not really from an ...continue
|Declining quality and attention to detail|
January 2014 Hardinghc@aol.com
This was our fifth Crystal cruise, all have been on the Symphony. Our first, in 2010, was the best. Since then, the quality of Crystal's offerings have declined slightly, but noticeably, with each succeeding cruise.
There seems generally ...continue
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