This past weekend I had the opportunity to tour the Symphony, one of the premiere luxury liners operated by Crystal Cruises. The ship had just docked after a fourteen-day journey from Miami to Los Angeles, via the Panama Canal. The crew graciously allowed us access to all of the public areas during their turn-around process. (Later in the evening, the Symphony would depart on a cruise up the California coast.)
The “six star” Symphony is a mid-sized ship that can carry up to 960 passengers, in addition to 560 crew members. This is considered the best crew-to-guest ratio in the industry—roughly 2 to 1. Unlike the mega-ships you often hear about, the Symphony‘s size makes it much more accessible. All of the public areas have a pleasant color scheme and seem opulent without being over-the-top. The rooms resemble ones you’d find at a boutique hotel, with attractive décor and the finest amenities. The type of guest that this cruise line attracts is likely a bit older, with more refined tastes than your average cruiser.
Greeted by one of the ship’s affable casino workers, our group crossed the gangway and entered the Symphony mid-ship on the fifth level Crystal Deck. We arrived at a bright and spacious atrium surrounded by the reception, concierge and shore excursion desks. The main dining room and a couple small lounges also are located on this deck.
Up one level is the heart of the ship, the Tiffany Deck. Among the amenities here are three boutiques for fine shopping, the Hollywood Theatre (which shows current films three times daily), the Casino, the compact but trendy Luxe nightclub and the larger Starlight Club with its spacious dance floor and lounge area. At the bow of the ship is the Galaxy Theatre, which seats 445 guests and features Broadway-style shows and dance revues. The ship’s two specialty restaurants are also located on this level: Prego Italian Restaurant and Silk Road, featuring Japanese cuisine by Master Chef Matsuhisa Nobu.
Decks 7 and 8, the Promenade and Horizon Decks respectively, are the first levels for passenger staterooms. (As a rule, the higher you are on a ship, the better and more expensive your accommodations will be.) Both decks feature Deluxe Staterooms with large, ocean view picture windows. These rooms either have two twin-size or one queen-size bed. They are a compact 202 square feet, but are beautifully appointed with a leather sofa, desk, and flat screen TV.
Deck 9 is known as the Seabreeze Deck. Every stateroom on this level is the same size as the ones below, except that they each have their own personal verandah.
Deck 10 is the Penthouse Deck. These rooms range from 367 to 491 square feet and have a very sizable living area. Every stateroom on this level has it’s own verandah, a third berth, and the bathrooms have Jacuzzi bathtubs with separate showers. Also on this deck are several suites, where the sleeping area is separated from the living area by drawback curtains. There are two Crystal Penthouse Suites that are just under 1000 square feet—larger than many people’s homes! They are luxuriously decorated with wool carpets, walnut floors, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and offer his and hers walk-in closets and personal butler service.
One more level up is the Lido Deck, the main outdoor area on the Crystal Symphony. This is where guests can lounge by the pool on a deck chair, relax in the Jacuzzi or order a casual al fresco meal and tropical cocktail from the Trident Bar & Grill. There is even a retractable glass roof that can close in case of inclement weather.
The highest level of the ship, the Sun Deck has the fitness center, salon, and Feng shui-inspired spa with whirlpool, dry sauna and steam room. Sports enthusiasts will also find a golf putting green and driving net and the Wimbledon paddle tennis court here.
The tour ended with a flute of fine champagne and a sampling of the cruise line’s delectable hors d’oeuvres.
The Symphony offers seven- to eighteen-day cruise packages to regions throughout the globe. On most other cruise lines, the price includes the ship’s amenities and all-you-can-eat food but you have to pay separately for beverages and gratuities. Crystal Cruises is excited for 2012, which will mark the first year where all-inclusive will also mean that it includes all beverages (including wine and liquor) and all gratuities too.
I haven’t been on a cruise in a few years, but after touring this luxurious ship I am hoping to go on another one sometime soon.
Crystal Symphony Stats:
|Gross Tonnage:||51,044 tons|
|Length:||781 ft (238.05 m)|
|Beam:||99 ft (30.18 m)|
|Draught:||24.9 ft (7.59 m)|
Have you ever been on a cruise? Which cruise line? How was your experience? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Here are some photos from my tour:
* These opinions are entirely my own. I was not compensated in any way for this article.