Q – We are looking at doing a Crystal Cruise out of either Miami or the Bahamas. This will be a quick decision but we were wondering if you can give us any sense of what life aboard a Crystal ship might be like these Covid-days and with some of Crystal’s still-sticking financial issues?

A – We can. One of our CSI inspectors is on the ship at the moment and filed this report yesterday. We hope you find it both encouraging and helpful. Crystal does, at the moment, represent the best overall value in luxury cruising. 

“One of our questions was whether Crystal would be able, or willing to, deliver their six-star service on a ship that was 1/3 occupied.  The answer is a resounding yes!  Two enrichment speakers, including cruise historian Bill Miller.  A Broadway headliner (James Fox, Billy Joel show) as one of the entertainers, two different shows most nights. Because of the small passenger load, they were even able to host one of the main shows in the intimate Starlight Lounge.  It was the most full we have seen anything, and still had some good seats available.  Fabulous food and service.

Specialty restaurants are open every evening – yet never full.  They even have the magician on board, which we are doing today. No scrimping that we can see.

We also give them an A for COVID protocols.  The final rapid test in the terminal plus requiring full vaccination.  All crew members wear masks all the time (unless singing or eating). Only senior officers can dine with guests, and then at a separate table. Temperature check at every dining venue.  It was interesting, because after all of the precautions when we arrived on board in the Grand Foyer they said here are all of our practices.  Masks are optional for you anywhere on board.  It was a moment!  By dinner a few people were still wearing them on elevators.  We have been so cautious throughout this, and now I find myself not even taking one when we leave our cabin.  It is so nice to be normal — at least for a week.  Returning to reality will be a shock.

It has been a great experience.  We think the pool deck is one of the best in the business because of the variety of lounge and seating options, along with the covered areas on the sides.  Those that like to read can have a cluster of four lounges sprawled out.  Here is a panoramic pic of the pool deck on an 80-degree day.  No trouble finding a place!

Today is a cruise day.  We are going about 2 knots. It is a cruise day only because there is no place else to see.  Yet delightful!

A very healthy number of passengers are first time Crystal, and their strategy of giving them the real Crystal experience will hopefully pay off.  The new embarkations from Miami is helping.  The Nov.8 cruise has 100+ more passengers than this one.  Advance bookings are very strong and encouraging.  People who have been on the Endeavor rave about it. My guess is that the folks at Genting are encouraged, and slowly closing the gap.  That does not mean that they would not listen to an offer — yet it will have to be better than it would have a few months ago.