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York To Reykjavik With Crystal:
An Ocean Of Delights
Crystal Symphony Cruise Review, May 2013
A trans-Atlantic repositioning voyage is for seasoned travelers, an
ocean of delights: several lazy days at sea, off-the-beaten-path
ports and attractive pricing. This spring, my husband Humberto and I
enjoyed such a voyage from New York to Reykjavik, Iceland, aboard
Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony. Did we like it? Oh, yes!
During four days at sea we enjoyed Crystal’s legendary enrichment,
from Berlitz language lessons and art instruction to computer
classes and culinary demonstrations (by celebrity chefs including
Andre Soltner on our sailing). And all of this we basked in, along
with the pampering touches of gourmet cuisine and attentive service.
Ashore, we explored New England/Canada ports and, with overnights in
New York and Reykjavik, took in the points of interest of those two
cities on each side of the ocean. Here are just some highlights of
our experience onboard and ashore:
Onboard the 922-guest, 51,044-ton Crystal Symphony we found the ship
sparkling from a major redesign in 2012 as part of a recent $100
million investment by the line on its Crystal Serenity and Crystal
Symphony. The remodel refreshed many of the Crystal Symphony’s
signature spaces, imbuing them “with great attention to rich, chic
detail,” said Gregg Michel, Crystal Cruises president, when he
announced the redesign.
These spaces included our favorite, the Palm Court, the ship’s
observation lounge on Deck 11 forward. A super chic, bright an airy
lounge, it is resplendent after the redesign with an expanded dance
floor and new furnishings including luxuriously comfortable, white
high-back chairs and ottomans facing the room’s floor-to-ceiling
windows—the ideal place to spend an afternoon at sea. And the
remodel kept cherished iconic elements of the lounge, including
palms and wicker. We patronized the Palm Court often for cocktails
and we never missed its themed teas, including the Mozart Tea, an
elegant event that whisks guests back to Amadeus’ time with music,
staff in period dress with costumes of brocade and lace, and
delectable Viennese pastries including Sacher torte. Since Crystal
went all-inclusive in 2012, it was wonderful not to have to sign for cocktails and other beverages in this and other lounges.
Other of our favorite haunts included the Galaxy Lounge for lavish
Broadway-style revues and other entertainment including Magic Castle
At Sea shows; the Hollywood Theater, a purpose-built cinema; and the
Crystal Dining Room, with impeccable service and gourmet fare—Black Angus rib eye steak or Maine lobster with drawn butter,
Regarding the multiple culinary delights, Cruise Director Scott
Peterson perhaps put it best when he joked: “Ladies often ask me
which of the two black tie optional evenings is more formal, as they
have one dressier outfit, and I say, ‘wear the one that fits you a
little tighter first, as it may not fit you later’!”
In addition to the delectable fare in the Crystal Dining Room, we
also thoroughly enjoyed Prego, an intimate alternative Italian
restaurant for 68 diners, serving Northern Italian cuisine from the
menu of Piero Selvaggio's Valentino restaurants with a side of
spectacular views—the limoncello soufflé is simply divine! And we
adored Silk Road and The Sushi Bar featuring contemporary Asian
cuisine with signature dishes and bento boxes created by renowned
Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Our days at sea followed a wonderful formula: time at the Seahorse
Pool to do some laps, a Jacuzzi interlude, a session at the Crystal
Spa’s fitness center, enrichment classes (including art instruction
and Berlitz French lessons), and time at the library with its 3,000
books, DVDs and CDs. Then, after afternoon tea and/or cocktails at
the Palm Court, it was a sumptuous dinner, followed by a show in the
Galaxy Lounge and ear candy—the piano music at the Crystal Cove
and Avenue Saloon.
After our days were done, our accommodations—Penthouse with
veranda #1062—featured the attentive service of two stewardesses, Jelena and Sopita, and a butler, Gregorio, who each day tempted us
with such hors d’oeuvres as plump shrimp, cheese platters, crudités,
and more. Gregorio stocked our mini-refrigerator with wine and our
choice of spirits. Standard stateroom amenities include such
pampering touches as 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets, down
pillows, featherbeds and plush duvets, Wi-Fi access (for a fee), and
large closet with shoe rack, umbrella and beach tote. Bathroom
luxuries include plush Frette bathrobes, slippers, two hairdryers,
and Aveda bath products.
Ashore, so many adventures awaited us! In New York we enjoyed walks
around Manhattan, and in Boston we took advantage of Crystal’s
complimentary shuttle to town. We purchased CityPass booklets
offering combined access to must-see attractions including the
Empire State Building Observatory, Statue of Liberty and Ellis
Island, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; and the Old
State House, New England Aquarium, and Museum of Science in Boston.
In Newport, R.I., it was easy to feel like millionaires while
touring the Gilded Age mansions of the Vanderbilts and Astors that
they referred to as “cottages.” We took the Newport Trolley within
walking distance of the tender pier at 44 Long Wharf Mall—it
serves as a good introduction to the city and invaluable for
independents to orient themselves—and we strolled on some of the
breathtaking 3.5 mile Cliff Walk with spectacular views of the sea.
A stop at Bar Harbor, Maine, provided opportunity to visit Acadia
National Park—we signed up onboard for a tour there and spent a
morning enjoying its spectacular vistas of mountains, lakes,
waterfalls, and spruce-fir forests.
A highlight of the Canadian ports in our itinerary was an excursion
sold onboard the ship to Peggy’s Cove and Lighthouse out of Halifax,
Nova Scotia. Located about 27 miles from Halifax, Peggy’s Cove is a
small fishing community with warm, friendly residents and quaint
streets and everyone poses for photos with the backdrop of the
picturesque lighthouse on a granite outcrop.
But arguably our most memorable shore experience was our trip to the
Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa while in Reykjavik. There, we luxuriated
for hours in geothermal seawater, minerals, silica and algae. An
exclusive lounge (for an additional fee) is the ultimate convenience
featuring a fireplace, designer furnishings, light refreshments,
robes and slippers, towels and showers, and a private direct
entrance into the lagoon. For the perfect spa treatment, we covered
our bodies with the silica mud from the lagoon and then we washed it
off—the water was like a warm embrace, and a perfect ending to our
voyage on the Crystal Symphony.
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