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Crystal ocean cruises review
A luxury experience that truly spans the seven seas.
If you’ve got the funds, Crystal’s award-winning ocean cruises can take you to any continent around the world in style. These are luxury cruises designed for an elevated experience above the ways — but the price could be too steep for people with a tight budget.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
Crystal Cruises aims to delight and entertain clientele in their late 30s and older. Its ocean ships are elegant and refined, recently refurbished if not new. The 360° promenade deck — a feature mostly from a bygone era — lets you walk all the way around the ship, gazing over the waves in an unbroken stroll.
Its gourmet dining is all-inclusive, with specialty restaurants that offer one free complimentary meal before you’ll pay a single $30 fee per person, per sitting.
While Crystal Cruises lacks the flashy kids-and-teen clubs, water slides and over-the-top entertainment that cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean boast, it’s secured the luxury cruise sector with all-inclusive features like free alcohol, gratuities included in the fare and free unlimited Wi-Fi.
Folks hoping to visit exotic destinations in upscale comfort, with enriching lectures and classes, dancing and casino time on board won’t be disappointed.
On February 18, 2021, Crystal announced that all staff and passengers will be required to show proof of a vaccination before boarding. The full vaccination must be complete at least 14 days before departure. In addition, staff and passengers will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to embarkation.
You can learn more about Crystal’s response to the COVID-10 pandemic on its advisory page. Currently, it has cancelled all river cruises through May 2021, and all ocean voyages through June 2021. It expects vaccinations to be available by the time cruising resumes.
Where do Crystal Cruises’ ships depart from?
Near or far, in the US or elsewhere, here’s where you can begin a voyage with Crystal Cruises:
Crystal Cruises currently sails from:Amsterdam, Athens, Bali Denpasar, Barbados, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dover, Dubai, Dubrovnik, Fort Lauderdale, Guam, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Keelung, Lima, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Mahe Island, Miami, Mumbai, New Orleans, New York City, Palma De Mallorca, Papeete, Puerta Caldera, Quebec, Rome, San Diego, San Juan, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Venice, Yokohama
Crystal Cruises destinations
Spin the globe and take your pick. Crystal cruises offers itineraries that hit every continent — including Antarctica.
Here’s where it sails to: Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Hawaii, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Mexico, Middle East, Northern Europe, Pacific, South Pacific, Transatlantic, Western Europe
Why you should — or shouldn’t — cruise with Crystal Cruises
Free unlimited Wi-Fi and all-inclusive alcohol definitely set Crystal Cruises ahead of the pack.
A major drawback of Crystal Cruises is that it’s more expensive up front than lower-tier competitors. But remember that most other cruise lines charge extra for drink packages, 18% gratuity that you’ll pay after the trip ends and up to $35 per day for unlimited Wi-Fi.
Still, if you’re low-maintenance, don’t drink alcohol and won’t use Wi-Fi, the hefty price tag might not be worth it.
If you’re still debating whether to book an ocean cruise with Crystal, weigh more benefits and drawbacks:
Free dining options — including 24-hour room service.
Afternoon tea is served every day with scones, pastries and other delicacies.
Alcohol can be brought aboard at embarkation or if purchased at a cruise port, with an added bonus: There’s no corkage fee.
Enjoy the spa, casino, live entertainment and dancing at night.
Kids under 11 sail for half price with two full-fare paying adults
The dinner dress code might feel strict to some passengers. After 6 p.m., baseball caps and shorts aren’t permitted for men or women. Collared shirts and dress pants are expected for men, and blouses, dress slacks, skirts and/or dresses are expected for women.
Entertainment options for kids are limited, unless you choose an itinerary especially designed for families.
Crystal Cruises family itineraries
While Crystal Cruises primarily markets to adults, it does offer a selection of ocean itineraries designed with families in mind. These special trips have dedicated spaces for youth age three to 17 complete with crafts, computers, arcade games and more. A “Junior Cruiser’s” menu has kid-friendly food, and daily adventures such as pool parties, movie nights and scavenger hunts can entertain.
If that sounds good for you and your crew, keep an eye out for “kids sail free” promotions, which Crystal Cruises periodically releases.
Frequently asked questions
18% gratuity is automatically added for spa and salon services.
Yes. It’s called Crystal Society. You’re automatically enrolled when you book a cruise with Crystal.
Through Crystal Society, you’ll be eligible for exclusive onboard credits, a free cruise at milestone 25, special promotional offers and more.
No, Crystal Cruises doesn’t offer its own credit card at this time. But certain credit cards do offer specialized perks that let you earn points and rewards to save money on your next cruise.
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