Crystal Cruises

Crystal Symphony

Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Crystal Cruises
Cruise StyleLuxury
Ship SizeMidsize

Insider Take

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Very small luxury ships, port-a-day itineraries, not having crewmembers who interact with them.Read More

Onboard Experience

Make no mistake, Crystal ships reach some of the most exotic regions in the world, but you may find yourself so fully ensconced in the onboard experience you hardly realize it. Those who picture the cruise experience as spending a lot more time on the ship than ashore will find Symphony’s attitude perfectly in tune with their own. And honestly, given the ship’s tasteful elegance and spaciousness, who would want to be long ashore when the alternative includes some of the most spacious and commodious staterooms at sea, an abundance of university-level lectures; classes in computers and the arts, and wine and food festivals. Add the highest rated nighttime entertainment for a luxury line, according to CruiseMates readers, and you find Crystal passengers in port wondering how soon they can make it back to the ship.

The usual range of shipboard activities, from bingo to bridge and blackjack, are on offer, and there are wonderful spa facilities, but most of Crystal’s passengers seem to have something very much loftier in mind, such as the extensive onboard educational programs and lectures. The Computer [email protected], one of the first computer learning labs on cruise ships, is so popular you wonder how so many could have remained innocent so long!

Crystal has one of the highest passenger to space ratios at sea, and as you wander around the tastefully yet uncluttered public rooms you will sometimes wonder where everyone has gone even though the ship is at sea. The answer is their staterooms, enjoying a DVD available from the library, perhaps with a plate of room service caviar on the coffee table freshly delivered by the butler.

The full-time concierge is ever ready to make your next port stop an experience of a lifetime. Decide you want to rent a car at your next port stop just ask the concierge to take care of it and he will hand you the keys upon your arrival.


If you associate cruising with palm trees and the sound of running water, you’ll feel right at home as soon as you step aboard. Light green and aqua walls of glass surrounding dramatic fountains fill the heart of the ship. Somewhere in the distance you hear a grand piano player tickling the keys.

Wide staircases with brass railings, wood polished to the point where you can see your own reflection, Crystal clearly lavishes attention on detail. And all that glass lends a lot of romantic natural light.


There’s lot of room between the tables in the large, elegant main dining room, which offers two seatings, many for parties of two. Crystal is the only luxury cruise line at sea with assigned dining times and tablemates, but the maitre d’ has a knack for seating people likely to enjoy one another’s company beside one another. Crystal was the first line to offer alternative restaurants, and they’re so popular that few passengers are able to get a table in them more than once per cruise. A Late Risers Breakfast is available from 10 a.m. to noon in the Trident Grill. Sunday mornings at sea, the Crystal Cove offers brunch.

There is no additional charge on Crystal to dine in the alternative restaurants: Silk Road/The Sushi Bar or the Italian Prego with authentic regional Italian cuisine. You will be handed a slip to sign for the optional tip, $7.00 is recommended.


Gratuities are now included in the cruise fare (since 2012).


At night, it’s nearly impossible to feel overdressed on the Symphony; you may never have seen so many Rolexes in one place. Things are a lot more relaxed before the sun sets, with what you might call country club casual predominating.


The older and smaller Crystal ship is still more active than the average luxury ship. Amazingly good food and service.

Best For People Who Want

Very attentive, friendly service and consistently exquisite cuisine; a large variety of onboard enrichment programs; getting dressed to the nines at night.

Public Rooms

You board Symphony via the glittering Crystal Plaza, a light and airy atrium whose two stories are connected with the grandest of glass and chrome stairs cradling a hand-cut glass sculpture and waterfall. This room is graced with a full bar and cocktail tables, perfect for people watching.

Deck six includes one of the largest dedicated lecture hall/movie theaters at sea, separate from the live entertainment venue Galaxy show lounge which though modest by modern cruise ship standards contains comfy chairs and great lines of sight from almost any seat in the house.

Symphony’s recent enhancements include a larger spa facility, shopping area and casino, to the lobby’s cozy cappuccino bar. It’s impossible to resist Facets jewelry store with its sparkling bangles, and if you get to know the salesman he just might let you borrow a piece for a day or two.

The library is designed for serious connoisseurs of the world of knowledge with reference tomes for geography and all cultures of the world, the day’s newspapers and an impressive selection of DVDs for lending.


You simply won’t find more delicious food on any other cuisine mid-size cruise ship. Expect beautiful presentation and excellent quality Continental fare in the two-seating main dining room. Prego, an alternative restaurant requiring reservations, offers an unvarying but extensive menu of upscale Italian cuisine. Nobu Restaurant and Sushi Bar, featuring the delicious Asian cuisine of celebrity Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is a serene space done in mauve, beige and woods, with airy white linen curtains and dramatic seashell sculptures.

The poolside buffets, with such themes as “Asia Cafe” and ” of the Sun” are almost worth the price of your cruise on their own, offering an astonishing array of indescribably delicious food. Crystal’s afternoon tea isn’t nearly as elegant as it used to be, though. Suffice it to say that the scones are served nowadays with whipped, rather than clotted, cream. The gala buffet luncheon, held in the ship’s atrium, usually on a sea day, is a riotous celebration of extravagantly presented dishes, ice sculptures and whimsical decor.

All beverages including wine, spirits, beer, bottled water, soft drinks, juices, cappuccino, and caffe latte are all complimentary as of 2012. This ship clearly takes it wine very seriously, offering special Wine and Champagne Makers Dinners themed around much-yearned-for vintages and held in their own private dining room.


Excellent English, spoken with Eastern European accents, is very much in evidence among dining room and cabin staff. So, too, are enviably high levels of professionalism and friendliness; just try to encounter a crew member in the hallway without their greeting you cordially!


Symphony calls at fewer ports than most cruise ships, but the onboard entertainment and educational programs are more than enough to keep its passengers happy. [email protected] instruction covers everything from correct mouse technique to creating Web pages. As befits the first line to offer onboard cybercafes, Crystal issues each passenger a personal e-mail address with his or her ticket but charges apply when the address is used. A one-time set-up fee of $5 is applied to your stateroom account with its first use and every message sent or received is $2.75 each for the first 100 kilobytes of data (roughly equivalent to 15 pages of text). Additional recipients of the same message (i.e. “cc”) are treated as individual messages and charged accordingly.

The ship’s floor shows, guest lecturers, and wine and food festivals are all enormously popular, and even the performers in the smaller lounges are uniformly terrific. No less than Caesar’s Palace oversees the casino, which offers free drinks to high (and medium, and low!) rollers. The Starlite Club stays busy nearly all night, first with evening shows and then with a late-night disco.


From the cabins’ luxurious mohair throws to the plush bathrooms, many with double sinks, tubs and showers, you find comfort is the key from the moment you enter your “home.” Crystal’s all-suite penthouse decks have private verandahs and lavish marble bathrooms. Suites come with a room stewardess, with assistant, and a dedicated butler. The four largest suites measure 948 sq. feet, while smaller suites are 491 and 367 sq. feet, all with separate seating and sleeping areas, large leather sofas and wide teak balconies. The deluxe staterooms with verandah are 246 sq. feet, though the way they’re furnished makes them feel smaller. Standard outside cabins are 202 sq. feet with picture window, with excellent bathrooms and lots of closet space. TV/DVD players, hair dryers, refrigerators, and bathrobes are standard in all cabins. Penthouse guests also receive their choice of one bottle of spirits per guest and one bottle of wine or champagne, as well as daily late afternoon canapes.

TV/DVD players, hair dryers, refrigerators, and bathrobes are standard in all cabins.


Passengers jog and fast-walk on a wraparound deck. Crystal Symphony claims the only paddle tennis court at sea, and it’s often crowded. The large salon/spa, recently re-arranged according to feng shui principles, offers a wide range of massages and beautifying treatments as well as GoSmile teeth whitening.

The superbly equipped gym offers aerobics classes and customized weight loss programs. You might find yourself going to it just for the pleasure of using its locker room, which features multi-head showers, sauna, steam, Aveda and Elemis toiletries, and a mini-fridge stocked with complimentary still and fizzy water.

Ship Overview

Crystal Symphony’s schedule includes worldwide itineraries that range from seven-day cruises to Grand Voyages of several weeks in length. Many itineraries from point to point can be booked consecutively for a longer trip with unique ports of call on each.

Although large, Crystal Symphony is noteworthy in the luxury market for creating intimate spaces in understated, yet sophisticated, surroundings. Generous per-passenger space ratios have become a Crystal trademark, along with forward-facing observation decks, a Palm Court lounge, and a wide teak promenade encircling the ship. A refurbishment in 2017 transformed the Marketplace Lido Café and reduced passenger capacity by converting standard staterooms to penthouse accommodations.

Accented by a lovely waterfall, the focal point of the central two-deck atrium is a sculpture of two ballet dancers created especially for the space. Crystal Cove, the lobby lounge, is the spot to meet for cocktails as you make your way to the nearby dining room. Throughout the ship, public rooms shine with low-key contemporary style and flow easily from one to the next.

Winner of accolades and too many hospitality industry awards to count, Crystal Cruises offers a taste of the grandeur of the past along with all the modern touches discerning passengers demand today. Founded in 1990 in Japan, Crystal has large ships, unlike other luxury vessels, that carry upward of 900 passengers. What makes them distinctive are superior service, a variety of dining options, spacious accommodations, and some of the highest ratios of space per passenger of any cruise ship.

Beginning with ship designs based on the principles of feng shui, the Eastern art of arranging your surroundings to attract positive energy, no detail is overlooked to provide passengers with the best imaginable experience. Just mention a preference for a certain food or beverage and your waiter will have it available whenever you request it.

Afternoon tea in the Palm Court is a delightful daily ritual. You’re greeted by staff members in 18th-century Viennese brocade and velvet costumes for Mozart Tea; traditional scones and clotted cream are served during English Colonial Tea; and American Tea is a summertime classic created by Crystal culinary artists.

The line’s Ambassador Host Program brings cultured gentlemen on each cruise to dine, socialize, and dance with unaccompanied ladies who wish to participate.

  • 8 passenger decks
  • 2 specialty restaurants, dining room, buffet, ice cream parlor
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD
  • 1 pool
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tub, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 5 bars, casino, dance club, library, show room, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • dry cleaning, laundry facilities, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no kids under 6 months


The professionalism of the ships’ staff sets them apart
The large theater has ample seating and free popcorn
Casual dining areas have more than enough seating indoors and outside
Few staterooms can accommodate families
While large, the solitary pool and hot tub can feel crowded at times
Lower-category staterooms can feel cramped for a luxury ship

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins


There are no inside cabins on Crystal Symphony, but staterooms are relatively small, with boutique-hotel-style decor. All cabins have ample closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. Many have private balconies furnished with chairs and tables. Most suites and penthouses have a walk-in closet. Penthouse suites have guest powder rooms.

A small refrigerator with complimentary bottled water and soft drinks, a safe, two hair dryers, a flat-screen TV with DVD player, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical standard features in all cabins. Suite and penthouse extras vary, but all have a DVD player, butler service, personalized stationery, and fully stocked minibar.

Every bathroom has oval glass sinks, granite counters, a full-size tub, Aveda toiletries, plush towels, and bathrobes for use during the cruise. Many suites and penthouses have a whirlpool tub and separate shower.

Five staterooms are wheelchair accessible.

Food & Drink


The formal restaurant serves open seating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although there’s no additional charge for your first reservation in the intimate Asian- and Italian-specialty restaurants, there is a service charge if you can obtain additional reservations. Other dining choices include the Marketplace buffet for breakfast and lunch, which transforms to the Churrascaria Brazilian steakhouse at dinner; Silk, Chinese-inspired alfresco dining on deck at lunch and dinner; The Bistro, a specialty coffee and wine bar offering snacks all day and evening; and an ice cream bar. Afternoon tea is served in the Palm Court. Room service, with an extensive menu, is available 24 hours, and during dinner hours selections can be delivered from the formal restaurant menu. Suite passengers can also order from the specialty restaurants, to be served by their butlers.


With the open bar policy setting a convivial tone, Crystal’s lounges are the ship’s social hubs. Lounges feature unique styles ranging from the signature cocktail and piano bar known for its intimate “clubby” atmosphere to the clublike cigar lounge, ideal for after-dinner drinks and conversation. After a production show or concert in the main show room, dance aficionados can find musical styles that range from classic to contemporary.

Spa & Fitness

The Crystal Spa is a tranquil haven where such services as aroma stone therapy, Japanese silk booster facial, and well-being massage are offered. A private, canopied relaxation area on the spa’s aft deck is available before or after a treatment. Changing areas have elaborate showers with fiber optic lighting and a selection of rain and mist functions as well as saunas.


Entered Service
Number of Cabins
Passenger Capacity
Crew Members
Passengers to Crew Ratio
Gross Tons
99 feet
781 feet
888/799–4625 or 310/785–9300

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