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Crystal Cruises Review

U.S. News Travel
Crystal Cruises
Courtesy Crystal Cruises
  • Overall Rating: 4.5stars 4.7 4.7
  • Expert Rating:5.0stars 5.0
  • Traveler Rating:4.5stars 4.6
    • Couples: 4.6
    • Families w/ young children: 3.3
    • Families w/ older children: 5.0
    • Singles/Friends: 5.0
    • Groups: 5.0
  • Health Rating:
    4.5
    4.5

Crystal Cruises Overview

How it Ranks: Crystal has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings. Crystal Cruises appears on the following ranking lists:

Crystal Cruises' two ships — Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony — are lauded by critics and reviewers for their elegant design and sparse crowds. Crystal also separates itself from other luxury liners with its low passenger-to-crew ratio, which allows for more personalized service. Crystal's ships sail across the globe, with popular 2015 itineraries covering the Southeast Asia, the Baltic Sea, the Panama Canal, New England and Canada, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and South America, among other destinations. Journey lengths are different as well — voyages offered by the cruise line can last anywhere from six to 108 days. Shore excursions vary by itinerary and cover everything from wine tasting in Cinque Terre, Italy, to cooking lessons in Bali, Indonesia. On board both ships you'll find a casino and an award-winning spa, salon and fitness center along with plenty of engaging activities and enrichment programs like cooking demonstrations, art classes and Broadway-style performances. As for dining, Crystal features globally inspired fare, as well as specialty restaurants with dishes crafted by celebrated chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio.

Pros & Cons

  • Meals, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and many onboard activities included in cruise fare
  • You can become part of the Crystal Society loyalty program, which offers fare discounts, after completing a cruise that is seven days or longer
  • Children ages 17 and younger may sail for free or at a discounted rate on select sailings
  • Not all onboard amenities, including spa and laundry services, are covered by the cruise fare
  • Crystal Adventures Shore Excursions must be reserved in advance and are not included in cruise rate
  • Cruise port, security and handling fees not included in fare

On Board

Crystal caters to a 55-plus clientele. But with that said, don't be surprised if you encounter multigenerational groups (particularly during select times of year, when Crystal offers steeply discounted rates for kids).

More about the onboard experience»

On Shore

During your stay in each port, you'll have the option of exploring on your own or booking one of the cruise line's specialized Crystal Adventures. Crystal Adventures tours vary by itinerary and port of call; they also incur additional fees and must be booked far in advance to ...

More about the on shore experience»

Before You Book

  • You are required to provide a 20 percent deposit upon booking and all fares must be paid in full 90 days prior to departure.
  • If you cancel your reservation 46 to 90 days before departure, you'll receive an 80 percent refund on your cruise payment; if you cancel your reservation 31 to 45 days prior to departure, you'll only receive a 50 percent refund on the price of the cruise; if you cancel your reservation 30 or fewer days prior to departure, you will receive no refund.
  • Longer world cruises are subject to different cancellation rules and restrictions.
  • You can book shoreside excursions online starting six months prior to your embarkation date.
  • Children 6 months or younger are not permitted on Crystal cruises.
  • Crystal offers both one-way and round-trip sailings; popular ports of call include major cities across the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe, and vary according to itinerary.

Before You Board

  • You may receive priority check-in if you submit all required travel documents on the Crystal Cruises website up to seven days before you depart.
  • You must board two hours before the boat is scheduled to depart each destination to secure your place on the ship.
  • Crystal requires passengers to present a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months after the cruise ends. Crystal also advises containing at least four blank passport pages for international sailings.
  • A certified nurse and physician are available on board 24 hours every day. However, if you have an existing medical condition or a disability that requires additional assistance, you must file a report to the Onboard Guest Services Department 30 days prior to departure. You are also encouraged to bring an extra supply of supplements and medication with you.
  • If you have an existing medical condition that calls for particular dietary needs, you must submit your request with the Onboard Guest Services Department three months prior to your departure date.
  • Additionally, Crystal requires that you have all vaccinations as well as a signed International Certificate of Vaccination.

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Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.