Here’s a look at the top reasons to rave about Crystal's updates
By Ginger Dingus
There’s nothing like a series of multi-million dollar makeovers to turn Crystal Cruises’ gracefully aging ocean-going ships into stylish trend-setters packed with included perks. Crystal Symphony’s renovations in October 2017 were her most extensive to date. Crystal Serenity underwent a similar redo in October 2018. I sampled the revamped Crystal Symphony’s latest offerings during a relaxing 16-night cruise from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back to Vancouver, Canada. Here’s a look at the top reasons to rave about the updates.
1. Seabreeze Penthouses
The transformation of select veranda cabins into elegant new penthouses means fewer passengers—848, down from 922 on Symphony; 980, down from 1,070 on Serenity. Newly created Seabreeze Penthouses and Seabreeze Penthouse Suites have the same square footage as the original, unaltered penthouses (367 and 491 square feet). Each has a veranda, butler service and upgraded amenities such as a coffee maker, stocked mini-bar, daily canapes and clothes pressing. The primary difference between new and existing penthouses is the bathroom. Seabreeze Penthouses and Suites have a large shower with body jets in place of the original Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. Pick your favorite and book accordingly.
2. Open-Seating at Waterside
Open-seating in the main dining room is finally the norm on both ships. Guests simply arrive when and with whom they choose. The new, no reservation dinner service flows without a hitch or a wait in the elegantly remodeled and renamed Waterside. The restaurant now offers more tables for two and four, while menus feature a combination of classic favorites and modern cuisine. Wine, beer and spirits are always included, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.
3. New Ethnic Dining Options
Looking for a more casual dinner venue? Drop into one of two totally new, no charge dining delights—Churrascaria or Silk Kitchen and Bar. Churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse (no reservations needed) found at the rear of the Marketplace buffet, which closes after lunch and does not reopen as a buffet in the evening. Once seated, you’re offered a caipirinha, the classic Brazilian cocktail. There’s a small self-serve area for tapas, salads and soups. Servers circulate with large, sword-like skewers of sizzling-hot grilled meats and jumbo shrimp.
Silk Kitchen and Bar serves Chinese dishes such as dim sum and stir fries under the Magrodome roof and beside freshly installed living walls of greenery. It’s open for lunch (open seating) and dinner (reservations recommended). The look is trendy, with either white or black chairs, pink and black bench seats and sea views. The bar area is particularly inviting with its white rattan furnishings and pops of hot pink.
4. Old Favorites for Dinner
Although the name has changed to Umi Uma from Silk Road & The Sushi Bar, this is still the hot-spot to sample Japanese-Peruvian specialties overseen by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The name means seahorse, Crystal Cruises’ logo. Prego, with its warm color palate and soft Italian music, remains the top choice when celebrating special occasions. Service is attentive, and the traditional Italian fare a treat. Reservations at both restaurants are required, and every passenger may dine at each once per cruise without additional charge. Since the remodel, suite passengers have unlimited access to specialty dining with no added charge.
5. Tech Trends
Thanks to extensive new wiring, faster Internet service is available, either on your own devices or in a computer room open 24/7. With Crystal Connect guests can check shipboard information, daily programs and menus on their smartphones or tablets. Those wishing to learn more about computers can attend complimentary classes and test state-of-the-art equipment at the Computer University@Sea.
And, Crystal ships are more inclusive than ever, adding unlimited, free Wi-Fi to the already extensive list of included perks.