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Cruise Diva's FOCUS is on 
Cruise Ships & Dry-dock 

Crystal Symphony Crystal Penthouse Lounge

Crystal Symphony's posh Crystal Penthouse Suite sitting room

In Vogue
Every season there's a fashionable new "look" for women to aspire to and it's much the same for cruise ships. Like we ladies who have reached a "certain maturity," our feminine floating counterparts also appreciate a bit of sprucing up to belie the passage of time.

In "people years" Crystal Cruises' luxurious Crystal Symphony is but a youngster (launched in 1995); however, a ship at sea doesn't age quite as gracefully as her land bound cruise mates. There's all that sun and salt water to contend with, not to mention all the water under her keel and the wear and tear imposed by thousands of guests who scurry up her gangway every year.

What's a fair maiden to do? The answer for women can be as simple as a new shade of eye shadow to perk up a tired appearance or as complex as a complete surgical makeover. For cruise liners, the equivalent of a trip to a health spa is the dry-dock. While sailing on the newest ship at sea certainly holds appeal for many passengers, cruise lines are anxious to keep their entire fleets in pristine condition.

Take for instance the care with which Crystal Cruises has routinely enhanced the already luxurious Crystal Symphony. In 2001, the 50,000-ton, 940-guest vessel emerged from renovations all a-glow. In addition to several contemporary design updates, many of Crystal Symphony's public areas and the two sumptuous 982-square-foot Crystal Penthouses were treated to a new look during the scheduled winter dry-dock.

According to Gregg L. Michel, president, Crystal Cruises, "Our refurbishment strategy is always guided by our commitment to product quality, service and innovation. To maintain, and to further enhance Crystal Cruises' leadership position in the luxury market, we strive for innovation in design, function and product delivery."

Crystal Symphony Crystal Plaza

Crystal Symphony's Sophisticated Crystal Cove and Plaza

How was that accomplished? First of all, the Crystal Cove and Plaza, the central lobby area and popular gathering place aboard Crystal Symphony, were completely outfitted with new furnishings. The soothing gray toned decor of the two-story atrium complements turquoise shades featured in the adjacent Crystal Dining Room and the new color scheme was further highlighted by rich blue and lavender patterns, turquoises and grays. Italian sofas and armchairs, with modern leather accent pieces added to the updated look. Custom patterned carpeting in greens, purples, and gray runs through the Crystal Cove, while the Crystal Plaza features a large, hand-woven area rug. Filmy silver drapery and jacquard curtains in green-green and metallic lavender frame expansive windows. The room's residential feel is enhanced when the curtains are drawn at night.

Crystal Symphony, Jade Garden

Crystal Symphony's completely renovated Jade Garden Restaurant

Crystal Symphony's Asian specialty restaurant, Jade Garden, was remodeled from floor to ceiling and sports new paneling, carpet, furniture, framed artwork and lighting. Geometric patterns in crisp royal blue, maroon, gold and jade contrast with the soft cream, yellow, and taupe-hued backgrounds of dining chairs and carpets. Blonde-toned wood, atmospheric lighting and bamboo-framed Asian artwork and more modern  pieces with brushed gold, completes the sophisticated backdrop for a unique dining experience. Even new menu covers and sleek outfits for the wait staff complement the stylish new surroundings.

On Penthouse Deck, Crystal Symphony's most expansive accommodations, the two 982 square feet Crystal Penthouses, were transformed from top to bottom (top photo above). According to Crystal Cruises, "...the spacious suites were completely renovated to replicate the drawing room, master suite, and bath of a discerning world traveler's private residence. The hand-tufted entrance carpet and elegantly upholstered walls immediately convey elegance. The living room features a mix of sophisticated dark wood dining, cocktail and end tables and upholstered silk and satin sofas, accent chairs and fringed pillows. While the most pervasive color is gold, the two Crystal Penthouses are distinguished by a soft accent color of rust or blue. The entertainment center houses state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, including a new, large 35-inch flat-screen color television, DVD and new CD and stereo components. Wheat-colored Axminster carpeting, residential lighting, and new frames on both original artwork and classic prints add to the comfortable, yet sumptuous, ambiance. Balloon shades, framed mirrors and subtle lighting, with dimmers, embellish the marble master bath. Fine bed linens and bath towels augment the new décor."

Crystal Cruises reported these additional Crystal Symphony dry-dock improvements:

  • The Lido Café, one of the ship's casual dining venues with indoor and outdoor seating for extensive breakfast and lunch buffet service, sports newly upholstered chairs in sky blue and violet, a slate tiled floor, carpet, and window treatments.

  • The Crystal Spa & Salon boasts new steam room and sauna facilities.

  • Also during dry-dock, Crystal Cruises complemented the ongoing year-round maintenance of the ship and soft goods with more intensive refurbishment. This included heavy-duty cleaning or replacement of carpets and soft furnishings in all staterooms, re-grouting bathrooms and painting verandahs; sanding and varnishing all dance floors and stages; off loading deck cushions for dry cleaning; installing new teak decking; having teams of French polishers come aboard to refine all marble surfaces; and scouring all housekeeping pantries, galley store rooms and provisioning areas. 

Overseeing the Crystal Symphony project was noted ship architect Robert Tillberg and his Tillberg Design U.S. office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, who have specialized in cruise ship interior design for over 40 years. The refurbishment was completed at Lisnave Dry-dock in Lisbon, Portugal.

Do all ships' dry-docks include such extensive updating? Yes and no. When Celebrity Cruise Line added a specialty restaurant, an AquaSpa Café, the Persian Garden thermal suite, a whopping 314 balconies, new Martini Bar, and even additional cabins to Century, the vessel was taken out of service for dry-dock. Like the renovations on Crystal Symphony, that project was simply too substantial to be undertaken with passengers on board. 

Sometimes cruise ships are taken out of service for a specific purpose, such as mechanical or physical repairs that cannot be done while they are in the water. Other times, customary maintenance can be performed while a ship is in service; for instance, routine exterior painting and varnishing and the replacement of worn carpeting. However, for extensive work, a dry-dock is a necessity. 

With her chic appearance, which was again updated in 2006 when Luxe Lounge was added and staterooms and bathrooms were revamped, Crystal Symphony and her guests can look forward to many years of stylish smooth sailing.

Photographs courtesy of Crystal Cruises

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