Crystal Symphony

Crystal Cruises

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The Verdict

A gracious, floating pleasure palace, small enough to feel intimate and personal, yet large enough for a whole range of entertainment, dining, and fitness diversions.

Size (in tons) 51044
Number of Cabins 461
Number of Cabins with Verandas 279
Number of Passengers 922
Number of Crew 545
Passenger/Crew Ratio 1.7 to 1
Year Built 1995
Last Major Refurbishment 2009
Cabin Comfort & Amenities 4.0
Ship Cleanliness & Maintainence 5.0
Public Comfort/Space 4.5
Dining Options 5.0
Children's Facilities 3.5
Decor 4.0
Gym & Spa Facilities 5.0
Enjoyment 5.0


Typical Per Diems: $375-$740

Symphony sails the Panama Canal from Miami, Caldera (Costa Rica) & Los Angeles (winter, fall) and from San Francisco (fall); the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles (winter, spring); Alaska from San Francisco (summer); and New England/Canada from New York & Montreal (fall).

The Symphony is one of the most spacious vessels we've ever been on, though her staterooms are not impressively large (they're pleasant, but smallish); but her public spaces are so open, generous, and sweeping compared to the smaller Regent, Seabourn, SeaDream, and Silversea ships, Crystal's luxury peers. You'll never feel hemmed in, even when the ship is sailing full. In late 2009, she had a major overhaul, to the tune of $25 million, resulting in a redone Lido Deck, elimination of one pool in favor of more deck space, and the addition of a huge whirlpool as well as new and gorgeous deck furniture throughout both areas. The Lido Café was redone to be more efficient in buffet food service. Many changes were made to the three penthouse categories, including new color palettes across the board and new electronics and bathroom fixtures at the top level.


Though the majority of Symphony's cabins are smaller than those aboard competing luxe lines Silversea, Regent, and Seabourn, they're still quite comfortable and were completely redone in late 2006. Cabins are decorated in shades of mauve, burgundy, rose, and light wood tones and accented with Murano glass bedside lamps, Rubelli fabrics, and leather headboards. Starting at 202 square feet (plus 48-sq.-ft. verandas on many), their one fault is their size. They're about 30% smaller than the standard staterooms on the Silversea, Regent, and Seabourn ships; booking a room with a balcony is a good idea for the additional space and light it provides. Otherwise, rooms are well designed. Standard amenities include a 20-inch LCD flatscreen TV, VCR, LED reading lights, and a stocked minibar; bottled water and sodas are free, but booze isn't. The single closet with a sliding door isn't overly large and it may be a challenge getting all of your stuff in there if you're on a long cruise of 2 weeks or more. The small bathrooms were redesigned and now feel a bit more spacious; each has both a shower and bathtub (a short little one in the lower category cabins) and a pair of trendy but splash-making oval glass sinks over granite countertops. Egyptian cotton sheets, feather bed toppers, and a choice of pillows make sleeping a dream.

Deck 10 holds the ship's penthouses, the best of which measure more than 750 square feet, with nearly 200-square-foot balconies, full-fledged oceanview Jacuzzis in their living rooms, dark-wood furniture, and sofas upholstered in silk and satin, plus Oriental rugs and entertainment centers. A butler is part of the package. Decor changes were made to all three categories in late 2009, including two flatscreen TVs, plusher bedding, two lighter fabric color palettes and, in the completely redesigned Crystal Penthouses, expanded living space, new audio/visual electronics, floor-to-ceiling dining area windows, and spiffier bathroom fixtures, including Philippe Starck bathtubs.

Cabins without verandas have large rectangular windows. The category E cabins located midships on Decks 7 and 8 have views obstructed by lifeboats. There are no inside cabins.

Five cabins are wheelchair accessible.

Dining Options

Designed with curved walls and low, vaulted ceilings, the ship's main dining room is elegant and spacious, with dark wall paneling. Tables are not too close together, and there are well over 20 tables for two, mostly along the side or near the oceanview windows (try and sit along the outer portions, since the raised center section can get a bit noisy).

The ship's two themed, reservations-only alternative restaurants -- the Italian Prego and Nobu's Silk Road and the Sushi Bar -- are right up there with the best at sea. The Vintage Room, an intimate boardroom-style wine cellar, was added to host special wine- and champagne-themed dinners and other events.

A casual indoor/outdoor buffet restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch, and the poolside Trident Grill serves ultracasual lunches, as well as dinners, several evenings per cruise. Bistro Café is going for an earthy European ambience and it's open from 9:30am to 6pm for continental breakfast, snacks, specialty coffees, and more.

Public Areas

The spacious atrium and main lobby area is a central meeting point and elegant shops wrap around the second tier. The adjacent Bistro coffee and snack cafe is open to the atrium and is the place to see and be seen; it's the ship's social heart. Overall, the Symphony's decor incorporates everything from standard cruise ship marble, glass, chrome, and mirrors, to old-world dark-wood paneling and funky touches like aluminum.

Aside from the several bar/entertainment lounges, a roaming staff wanders the public areas throughout the day and much of the night, offering to bring drinks to wherever you happen to be sitting. The dark Avenue Saloon, where polished mahogany, well-maintained leather upholstery, and a live pianist draw passengers in, is one of the prime before- and after-dinner cocktail spots and our personal favorite, by far. There are also two large entertainment lounges, including the Starlite Club that's used for lectures by day and dancing by night (though if you're there for a lecture, avoid seating in the back of the room; the noise from passersby looking at mug shots in the adjacent photo gallery is a distraction). The hub has a dramatic round bar and walls of sparkling Swarovski crystals. You'll find a large theater for movies and slide lectures, and a hushed library outfitted with comfortably upholstered chairs and a worthy collection of books, periodicals, and videos. The revamped Casino now features a dramatic black-and-silver color scheme, while next door a nightclub, called Luxe, attracts attention with its polished aluminum Philippe Starck bar stools and glass Bisazza mosaics. The cozy little spot hosts karaoke a couple of times per cruise.

If learning is more your speed, there's a 25-seat classroom and an adjacent Internet center, both with brand-new Dell computers. The Connoisseur's Club cigar lounge (Monte Cristo, anyone?) is attractive with wood tones and dark leather furniture.

For young kids, Symphony has a cute playroom, Fantasia, with a tiered movie-viewing nook; for teens, there's a teen center/video arcade.

Pool, Fitness & Spa Facilities

Symphony provides a lot of outdoor activities and spacious areas in which to do them. During the extensive redesign and refurbishment in late 2009, the smaller Neptune Pool was replaced with an expansive, comfortable, conversational seating area, also allowing for more alfresco dining. This area and the large Seahorse pool area now feature crisp white deck furniture accented with gorgeous citrus-hued cushions and throw pillows. The oversize sofas and loungers along the sides of the ship are particularly attractive and comfy. There's also now a huge whirlpool near Seahorse pool. Seahorse pool is refreshingly oversize, stretching almost 40 feet across. The gym and aerobics area are positioned for a view over the sea, with plenty of space for the line's complimentary yoga, Pilates, and aerobics classes (and personal training sessions, too, for a fee). The Steiner-managed spa and beauty salon has a quiet oceanview waiting room to create an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. On deck, there's a pair of golf driving nets, a putting green, a large paddle-tennis court, Ping-Pong tables, and a broad, uninterrupted teak Promenade Deck for walkers and joggers. Our favorite hideaway is a chaise longue along the lovely tiered aft decks facing the ship's wake.