The 922-passenger Crystal Symphony is luxury line Crystal Cruises’ older ship, but you'd never know it. The ship has had more face-lifts than a fading movie star and the result is an ever-glowing classic starlet. The little touches wow, from the waterfall in the atrium to the multi-deck Fitness Garden (where you can do an outdoor workout) to the extraordinary service and cuisine. This all-inclusive, midsize ship is both contemporary and fancy.
What We Love
A Late-Night Scene: On most luxury ships people go to bed early, but not on Crystal Symphony. Passengers hang out at the surprisingly large casino, on the ballroom dance floor, and in the lively disco. There’s even a karaoke scene.
Casual Eats: The outdoor Trident Grill serves up one of the best burgers at sea. Our advice: Order yours with the sinfully good sweet-potato fries, and top that off with a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey in a waffle cone at the Ice Cream Bar.
Updated Dress Code: You don’t have to dress up every night. You can choose to wear your finest on black-tie optional formal nights, but most nights are now deemed Crystal casual, when (for example) a collared shirt will do just fine for men (they can even get away with a Hawaiian shirt).
Best Known For
Silk Road: This is the cruise line where Nobu (acclaimed Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa) has a restaurant. Your fare includes dining once a week in Silk Road on the melt-in-your-mouth sushi, rock shrimp tempura, miso-glazed black cod, and other signature dishes. Passengers in penthouse-level suites and above can also order Nobu creations from room service.
Enrichment Classes: Crystal’s Creative Learning Institute and Computer University@Sea are both tops in the education-at-sea category.
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Who It's Best For
Well-Heeled Baby Boomers: Crystal used to be more for the over-70 crowd, but with the newer, relaxed dress codes and more adventure-focused shore excursions you’ll find a lot of 50- and early 60-somethings onboard, too. (On some sailings, such as shorter Mediterranean cruises, you’ll also see 40-somethings.)
Multigenerational Families: Crystal has dedicated playrooms, youth staff onboard, and occasional kids-cruise-free promotions.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Limited Inclusions: In addition to your hefty cruise fare, you will spend money on shore excursions. And if you love Nobu, plan to spend extra there, too. You have to pay if you go more than once a week.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.
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Crystal Symphony at a Glance
- Line: Crystal Cruises
- Number of Passengers: 922
- Ship Size: Medium
- Launch Date: 1995
- Refurbish Date: 2012