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Riviera Play Casino Review – Expert Ratings and User Reviews

Riviera Play Casino Review – Expert Ratings and User Reviews

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The discount programs have been rather successful. Of all of the five-star lines, Silverseas has made the most significant commitment to market its cruise products abroad.

This should be an important factor as guests choose the degree to which they would like to vacation in an international environment. My husband and I thought he owned a sailboat but by the time dessert arrived we had figured out that he owned a fleet of tankers.

That, I suppose, is Silversea. We were able to set up a personalized itinerary with a private driver in Monte Carlo on no more then one days notice.

We don;t know why this line is always portrayed as sailing with a bunch of primping penguins. That alone, is worth the price of admission, along with all of the other things we love about the line.

This seems to us the perfect size. We wonder about the relationship Silverseas with Relais and Chateaux.

It would be easier to understand the approach to food if we could be in the hands of a great celebrity chef. He met moire people sitting in there then I met in the Spa.

I thought it was a beautiful ship before — now its really nice. The cabins are all new and we love the new Observation Lounge. This has to be the best cruise line on earth.

As always, we enjoyed it, and will continue to cruise with Silversea. I have to say, though, that in my estimation the line has gone from an A to an A-.

Our Silver Muse Experience: The newest addition to the Silver Sea fleet is sleek and modern. Rich fabrics and refined marble are used in the suites and throughout the restaurants, public spaces and lounges.

The Silver Muse is beautiful in its luxury and simplicity. The overall layout of the ship is similar to its sister ships.

The pool area has been enlarged, with the casual seating area expanded. While the cool weather on over half our cruise restricted use of the pool area, when the warm breezes blew in as we reached Norfolk, the pool was a great place for relaxing or enjoying a casual meal.

For this cruise we booked a Silver Suite, and it was wonderful…a serene, elegant space that offered every amenity we desired…expanded space in the bathroom with bigger shower, comfortable seating area, roomy closet and dressing table plus expansive HD TVs.

Whenever possible we were out on the veranda enjoying the sunny days or watching a missle launch from Cape Canaveral…an unexpected treat the last day of the cruise.

Not sure how the space could be used more effectively but there is so much seating it almost seems cavernous. The highest occupancy is each afternoon for trivia, and even then less than half the seating is used.

The workout area has more space for equipment than other Silversea ships, and is a very pleasant environment for those who want to exercise.

In early evening, the venue is another lively cocktail lounge. Turning to dining, there are eight restaurant options on Silver Muse.

A very ambitious concept of requiring dinner reservations in all restaurants, a different dress code for each, and the same menu every night has created quite a stir among cruisers.

Even though you could book reservations online months before the cruise, it was still impossible to get a guaranteed reservation in several venues, especially the small gourmet La Dame or the Silver Note super club.

Therefore, one of the pluses on other Silversea ships, being able to meet other cruisers in the bar before dinner and then agree to dine together, was effectively eliminated, because of the difficulty of changing dinner reservations at the last minute.

Silver Sea has received so much negative feedback from this reservation system that on the cruise following ours, and going forward, they are converting Atlantide and Indochine to open seating.

The food in all the restaurants was very good, even better in Atlantide than in the main dining room of the other ships.

The food presentation was very creative and the tableware exceptional. The Grill menu offerings have been increased and many evenings seating was at capacity because it is so popular and dress is casual.

Service overall was excellent. He never made any notes of our requests, yet delivered flawlessly. We had expected to see more crew that we knew from other ships but only several waiters were familiar.

The waiters seemed to be scrambling to clear and reset tables rather than attending to the requests of seated guests.

We found lunch at Atlantide a more relaxing option, and the menu changed daily. As veteran cruisers, we know that reviews can be influenced by the weather and port experiences.

And with all the hurricane activity along the East Coast this year, we did not know what to expect. How fortunate we were to hit a period when the seas were almost flat and any rain came overnight.

This is, by all measures, a true five-star experience. Under its new leadership, Silversea is clearly committed to listening to its guests and to maintaining its top-tier status in the industry.

Since joining Crystal as both President and CEO Rodriguez had overseen the launch of two river vessels with a third on the way, an expedition yacht, and an ultyra-luxury Boeing which was to be featured in a series of twelve around-the-world themed trips announced by the line.

Crystal had also announced the construction of three new 1, Guest new ships to join its current two-ship fleet. After two announced delays, it now appears that the first of Crystal new cruise ships will not be delivered until The river boat program has involved changes as well.

Two of the river boats originally under construction for placement in France were redesigned at the yard so they could be placed on rivers in northern Europe.

The entire program was scrapped and Crystal has now announced that they will not be entering the luxury tour business. This left them with two expensive jets which they will now charter worldwide with emphasis on the Chinese market.

Wolber has worked for the Walt Disney Company for the past thirty years including 10 years as Vice President of Operations for the line.

He helped grow Disney from an Orlando-based company to a line with four large ships serving North America and Europe.

We do anticipate that he will bring several members of his Disney team over to Crystal. Clearly Genting is interested in someone of his caliber and experience since new construction planning and execution has clearly been a major problem at the line.

Meanwhile, the Crystal Symphony has completed an extensive dry-dock and the company is committed to keeping these ships thoroughly updated. We are anticipating some on-board and policy changes as Wolber settles in.

The Disney organization has shied away from deep discounting but has always believed in price rewards for past loyalty guests. We think that any presumptions about future paths Crystal under Wolber may take are premature.

This can go in any of several directions. But Crystal, it appears, will be running a tighter financial ship.

The top decks of each ship will house 48 Crystal residences with 9 ft. Amenities on-board are still in the planning stages but you can count on small submarines, one or two helicopters, and a number of zodiacs.

The first vessel was scheduled for delivery in later revised to Cruisetruth was told the first new ship would again be delayed with a delivery date set for However, that date has now been officially revised and Crystal is projecting that the first of their new ships will not be delivered until February or March of It is doubtful that bookings or even major publicity will begin before late Crystal owns the yard constructing these ships and they have decided to delay the new liners and instead have yard built two additional expedition vessels to sail alongside the Crystal Endeavor, their new Guest ship which is currently scheduled for delivery in Our most recent inspection of Crystal has reaffirmed our belief that Crystal is the very best cruise option for the majority of upscale cruisers.

This, we believe, is the secret weapon that allows Crystal to provide its ships with the best trained and most customer-savvy crews in the industry.

Choose any other line and you are going to have to sacrifice at least one of these three pillars of excellence.

Crystal has a somewhat older demographic than many of its smaller-ship five-star competitors. This has more to do with the length of cruises than any brand factors.

Crystal tends to do very few seven-night cruises so the average age goes up accordingly. The two Crystal ships are extremely well maintained but they are classic cruise liners with guests.

Crystal should not, on paper, rank as high as they do in these ratings. But Crystal earns its grades by outperforming the small ships in the very areas where they excel, personalized service, food, and entertainment.

Crystal does have formal nights and waiters will escort ladies into the dining room arm-in-arm in the classic manner.

Yet, Crystal lacks some of the European panache of a Silverseas or Seabourn. Crystal just offers more of what most guests value most.

The line features the highest standards of dining service and we rank the specialty Prego Italian restaurant among the finest at sea.

Crystal caters to a demanding, largely retired, east and west coast clientele and features two-seating dining.

Entertainment options abound, including sophisticated stage shows and classical acts, as well as a full screen movie theater. Service, food, and entertainment standards are consistent on both ships but the newer Serenity wins highest marks for layout and design.

Those who seek personalized; Four Seasons-style service will appreciate the Crystal experience. Those sailing Crystal for the first time are generally amazed at how much better run these vessels are then the mainstream mega-ships.

Crystal still sets the standard for larger, two-seating ships. Most worldwide itineraries are in the day range. This is the line that many Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America passengers should have selected for cruises of ten days or longer.

It seems clear that, at the moment, Crystal has the most comprehensive and successful staff training program in the entire passenger ship industry.

For many, it was their only time off during a very hectic ten-day itinerary. Crystal service is truly caring. We will never sail another line.

Crystal is worth every penny. It seems like we are back in Boca at our country club instead of out at sea on a large ship. The only thing missing is the golf course.

Do everything you need to do to get a few reservations. My wife loved being taken by the arm and escorted to the dinner table.

The pretentious dress-up nights, the average age of seventy or so, the ballroom dancing. This is definitely a cruise line for the same folks who will be returning to their retirement facility at the end of their cruise.

But it felt very Four Seasony and we prefer the smaller lines with their true boutique feel. The food though was very good and Prego is, we agree, our favorite restaurant of any of the ships we have tried.

We appreciate the honesty of your reviews but we think you make too much of the two seating policy in the dinning room.

With the alternative restaurants and the casual option now, for dinner upstairs, we only used the main dining room five times during our cruise.

This is big ship excitement with elegant service and amenities. They are what they are. But we think, based on our last two Crystal sailings, that the line keeps getting better.

They reacted quite well to the discounts from some of their rivals. And I like to tip for service. Here are a few things my wife and I noticed, and we come from the hotel industry: On the transfer from the Crystal pre-cruise hotel in Costa Rica to the port, special seats were blocked out for children so they could enjoy the best views.

The cruise director was so appealingly non-intrusive that we wondered where he had been trained. PA announcements were dignified, limited, and professionally rendered.

Crystal now has a majority of Eastern European crew and you get the same level services you get with the same crews on Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity.

Most of the Indonesian and Filipino staff that was always the hallmark of Crystal is long gone. Sadly, this line has gone from five to four star service.

The specialty restaurants are, in my opinion, the finest at sea. But savvy dinners can sit at the Sushi Bar and order from thirty-five, or so, sushi specials.

The library is well stocked and staffed by a gentle woman who has, seemingly, read every volume in her care. I heard her make some excellent recommendations to some pretty challenging inquiries.

The answer is that things worked even better than before. It seems as though the food, if it at all possible, has actually improved.

We love the food in Prego and consider it the best restaurant on any of our thirteen cruises on Crystal and some of her competitors. But our friends had warned us that portions were a lot smaller than they used to be and we found that to be true.

Several former Crystal guests were grousing about it one night in the lounge. The new, dine when you want to, option is working well and is really great for folks like us who enjoy meeting new people during dinner.

But we will go back on Crystal just for the amazing lecture programs and classes. On our Baltic Cruise, we had a Russian history expert and a former astronaut lecturing and we were able to take classes in introductory Russian as well as Photoshop for the computer.

This is a cruise line that obviously takes care of the help. There is none of the typical crew talk about leaving and going to work for someone else.

Crystal lacks the smell of new car leather. But my husband will tell you that the way complimentary transfers are provided to the center of each of the ports is reason enough to keep coming back.

The best components of this cruise experience were: If we have to choose the best part of the cruise, it was February 22, our first day in Antarctica.

We woke up to breathtaking views of glaciers, icebergs and blue water, but that was just the beginning. We were blessed with calm seas, sweater-weather sunshine, penguins swimming, whales surfacing, seals sunning, guests toasting, and nothing but smiles to be found on guests and crew alike.

Every moment seemed to be a photographic opportunity, and the memories will last a lifetime. It is important to note that we had already had one day after the other of blessings at port and at sea.

We fell in love with Chile and will definitely go back. The mountains and lakes region was more beautiful than anything we had ever seen to that point!

But that was before we got to fly-fish in the the beautiful Aysen region of Patagonia, Chile, see the waterfalls flowing from glaciers in the Chilean fjords, and paddle canoes in crystal clear waters of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

In, Ushuaia, the locals told us that it had been 4 years since they had seen back-to-back days of sunshine, and we got them!

The rest of the cruise was lovely too, but in all honesty, our heads were still in the clouds over our experiences in Chile, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and Antarctica.

I have to say one more thing. If someone was unhappy, bored, or otherwise out of sorts on this trip… honestly, it was probably them. I had a little motion sickness at first, which was a little scary, considering the number of potential rough sea days ahead.

So I tried the acupuncturist! How could I leave that out? Management needs to address: As much as we hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, we had some issues with the way the Machu Picchu pre-cruise trip was handled.

We mentioned it to Crystal and will probably be contacted soon to discuss. The biggest issues were: A snapshot of our schedule there were of us. Chartered flight s to Cusco.

Arrived hotel in Cusco 7: Buffet dinner at 8 PM was not very good. Breakfast was very nice. Seeing Machu Picchu was really great, but 4 hours on the vans and 4 hours in the trains made for a long day.

Returned to hotel 9: Buffet dinner at 10 PM was awful. Vans to Cusco Airport. Chartered Flight s to Lima. One-hour late leaving Lima terrible service between flights.

Ship was scheduled to depart at 6 PM 9: Quick dinner, safety lecture at Later I noticed that many of the people on the ship who were coughing, sniffling, etc including us had been on the pre-cruise trip with us.

Crystal called Mike and he told them about our concerns re: We were so pleased with everything else that we hated to give them negative feedback, but we felt that it was important to do so.

They voiced appreciation of our honest feedback and suggestions and even sent us a substantial credit towards our next cruise.

In our opinion, that was a beautiful and generous response, considering the fact that we paid nothing extra for that pre-cruise segment of the trip.

Crystal had offered the pre-cruise trip to Machu Picchu at no cost to those who signed up early enough. We may forget that he mumbled, but we will never forget how he carefully took us to see some incredible sights in beautiful Antarctica, and how he lingered in places of special interest, even making circular movements to enhance the view for all passengers.

How would you grade the shore excursions offered on this cruise? How should shore excursion experiences be improved?

See Machu Picchu comments. Otherwise, they were all up to Crystal standards. Guides were excellent and had good English skills; vehicles were comfortable; and provisions were given for fishing, canoeing, etc.

Also the excursions were described well, making it easy to know how to dress and what to take. How would you rate your ship? What would this line have to do to secure your total satisfaction and top rating?

They are so friendly, attentive, and fun! We loved the staff. This is what they need to improve in terms of staffing: Keep up the good work!

How would you rate the quality of your dining experiences? We rarely ordered the same thing twice. The meat was always prepared perfectly — even salmon and fish!

We were not worried about ordering anything. It was kind of nice to not have to look at a wine list and decide what one bottle would work for everyone.

We drank wines by the glass that worked for each dish. The desserts are a perfect size — not too big, so we often had a little something. We ate in Prego a few times best mushroom soup in the world, Silk Road twice, and we really enjoyed the Trident Grill, Tastes and the Bistro too.

Did you feel that the chef was given a suitable budget to purchase high quality provisions? Was there an issue with portion size?

We felt that the portions were just right. Even desserts were portioned well, so we ordered dessert many more times than we normally do, with no regrets!

This is what we would specifically recommend to dramatically improve the on-board dining experience. How much did you enjoy the lectures and entertainment?

We missed some good performances, based on reports of other passengers, because we forgot that Crystal does such a good job in this department.

But the ones that we saw were really good. We tend to like the musical performances the most, but we were very impressed with the dancing too.

How do they do that when the rest of us are having trouble walking sometimes? I would try to bring in more professional guest performers.

The regular performers seem to raise their game when they get to perform with the guest pros. What was the strongest element in your cruise experience?

This question is not fair! We want to check every single box here! Impossible, really, to choose one.

But the service sets the table for everything else, so we had to choose that. The staff just went out of their way constantly to make sure that we had everything we needed, and they were so friendly and fun.

What was the weakest element of your cruise experience? A couple of the excursions were a little weak, but we got what was advertised.

The less memorable ports for us: Chiloe and Puerto Madryn. We would have been satisfied with just one day in Punta Arenas as well. There was a place for everything.

All in all, it all fit pretty well, and having the room neat and tidy made it feel more spacious. I wish we had more outlets for charging our devices, and I wish we had a little more room in the living area.

I like to read, and the little sofa was not very inviting. Fresh flowers were nice; Amanda brought our specific requests for the fridge; She worked around our unpredictable schedule; her English was excellent, and she was very courteous.

Your Recommendations to the Marketing Department: Keep up the good work. We never feel pressured to buy.

Use some pics from our two segments Valparaiso to Buenos Aires! Some staff provided anticipatory service. How would you describe the manner in which staff addressed guests?

Crystal service is exemplary. Did it appear to you that staff was making any effort in crew quarters to learn guest names and the way they like things done for them?

They must have been doing their homework. Is there a particular area of staff training that you felt needs to be improved? We made several lasting friendships.

We made some friends that we are sure will be life-long friendships. Needless to say, I am delighted that I was wrong! The folks on this cruise were so fun!

And they were so pleasant to each other as well as the staff that it blew me away. This truly was a lovely group of people. Exactly what type of traveler do you feel is best suited for this line?

The Crystal Cruise guest is typically close to retirement age or older. There are very few children, and therefore, very few activities that are family-oriented.

I would not suggest this cruise line for families with children, unless the children are unusually able to entertain themselves.

I do think that younger adults can enjoy Crystal cruises just as much as the retirees, but they should leave the kids at home.

We had a hard time getting someone to take our order. The staff knew our preferences in places where we frequented.

For example, we liked to play in the casino some, and the bar girl knew that I liked sparkling water with lemon and Mike liked sparkling water with lime.

And if we decided to add the hard stuff, she knew what to add. He did a great job of providing a variety of entertainment options all over the ship.

He was visible, but not intrusive. In spite of our complaints re: This has already been addressed in our discussion with Crystal.

We never had to dress up and that suited us. Comments on the manner in which the dress issue was handled on-board: Everyone did what they were comfortable doing.

Some dressed up more and some less, and everyone seemed fine with it. Did you receive fair value? Pricing comments and advice for those considering this cruise: We have been on some other cruise lines, and even though Crystal is more expensive, we have decided that we would prefer to do fewer cruises if necessary to be able to travel on Crystal.

That is, unless we take our grandchildren, then we will look into something that is more geared towards entertaining kids.

Free Internet was available to those who completed a survey, which I promptly did. I found the offer in the ship newspaper. The Pre-trip to Machu Picchu was free for us!

That was a big draw. We would not recommend it to others,. We spoke with many repeat Crystal world cruisers on this ship Crystal seems to get a lot of repeat customers and it was unanimous that the two segments from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires were their favorite two segments ever.

We heard this over and over and always unsolicited. Even Gary, the cruise director, said that they were his two favorites, and he has been cruising for 42 years!

Recommendations to Marine Operations Management regarding port selection: Crystal Endeavor will cater to a particularly daring audience, one who values luxurious comfort and amenities as much as life-changing adventures.

With a Remote Operated Vehicle ROV, used extensively in the offshore industry , expedition cruises will also be organized to see sunken galleons, warships and passenger ships, such as the Titanic at 12, feet, and with dynamic positioning, she will just hover over deep sunken attractions without using anchors.

Further, Crystal Endeavor will be all-inclusive and will offer the award-winning service for which Crystal has been celebrated for more than 25 years.

Crystal Endeavor voyages will open for booking in late Steel cutting for the ship will begin May and Crystal will take delivery in August Excellent one-week itineraries in Europe and the Caribbean.

Ideal for laid-back adventurers seeking one-on-one service. There are no balcony cabins and the bathrooms are small but guests can sleep outdoors on a Balinese bed.

This is high-end, casual, all-inclusive relaxation for those who would never consider a Vegas-like shipboard atmosphere. While several smaller, luxury lines claim they visit off-the-beaten path ports, Sea Dream really delivers on that promise.

Thomas and British Virgin Islands itineraries are simply better than those offered by guest competitors.

No one does the Greek Islands and Turkey better. If Jimmy Buffet ever decides to purchase a cruise line — this is the one he will want.

This is a cruise line with only 50 cabins. There are those who speculate whether or not it can survive in an environment where size dictates purchasing savings.

But unlike its competitors in the five-star luxury market, Sea Dream has never had to build anything. They purchased the former Sea Goddess Yachts and never expanded.

That has placed them in a situation where the long-term debt that hangs over so many lines is not an issue at Sea Dream.

Sea Dream is one of the only cruise lines to embrace transparent pricing policies. The Paul Gauguin entered service in after construction in France.

The ship was expressly built for operations in the South Pacific. This has meant a shallow draft that can cause a bit of motion when the ship is navigating the longer stretches between the Society Islands.

With a crew of serving guests, the Gauguin has been satisfying demanding travelers in these lovely South Pacific waters for more than a decade.

Dress is casual, gratuities, soft drinks, and water are included in the fare. The Gauguin normally offers enticing air pricing out of Los Angeles with air add-ons from major gateways.

Papeete is about an eight and a half hour flight from LA. Guests from many regions in the country are accommodated overnight in Los Angeles as part of the air package.

Le Ponant is a financially successful, French-owned, small luxury expedition niche player with four ships. It provides casual, European-style yacht experiences that are not as well known to the US public as, perhaps, they ought to be.

The company had maintained a small office in Miami and was primarily known for its namesake vessel, the passenger sailing yacht Le Ponant. They are among the most beautiful small ships in the industry.

The cabins on the three sister yachts are generally smallish, at sq. There are prestige suites that are larger providing sq.

The ships have ice-breaking hulls and each carries 12 zodiac soft landing craft. Ponant is an inclusive product with wines served at lunch and dinner, all drinks, bottled waters, and zodiac excursions included.

Many guests are able to hold on to their wallets with the exception of spa visits, for the entire voyage. The main restaurant is casually elegant and the entire design of these yachts is in keeping with those who appreciate a Euro-modern aesthetic.

There are actually French chefs in the kitchen, a net plus virtually anywhere in the world. Proper escargot in Antarctica is appreciated as are the often masterful desserts.

Some guests, however, feel the dining room entrees are a bit tame for the crowd. The theater is adequate and holds just over guests. Entertainment on most cruises is dance-hall variety and only the most polite guests seem to sit through very many of the shows.

Crew is predominantly French with some English-speaking officers and a helpful continent of Asian deck staff. Ponant markets worldwide and there has been, in the past, a predominantly French tone to the festivities with the exception of those sailings leased out to US companies.

But Ponant seems to be committed to the US market, a fact buttressed by the recent opening of their Manhattan office.

Negatives would have to include the unwillingness of the French-speaking guests to relate well to the Americans on-board.

The size of the bathrooms in the standard cabins is a bit disappointing. We loved the fact that they only take guests and we could come home to our yacht after each exploration in the company of excellent lecturers and some unbelievable food.

We tell everyone we meet about this experience. We got to practice our college French and once or twice, what we were trying to say was actually acknowledged.

But we never encountered any rudeness of any kind. Combining this luxurious yacht, fully chartered by Tauck, with the on-board Tauck guides, was really the best of all words.

Our agent had told us that this is the fastest-selling program Tauck offers anywhere in the world, and we believe him. Ten days was too long to give up my morning walk.

Oceania did nothing but invent a totally new, and as yet unnamed, cruise category. Drinks, gratuities, and shore excursions are not included.

When Frank Del Rio, the former CEO at Renaissance was named Chairman of the new line the doubters wondered if the lessons of the Renaissance bankruptcy would be learned.

Renaissance did not work with travel agents. Like so many of its other promises to past Renaissance guests and those who have sailed ships in the Premium category, Oceania has delivered.

They named their product in the Upper Premium category Azamara. Apollo clearly feels that the cruise industry has legs. It also bought Regent Seven Seas.

The ships have good pedigree. The feeling in the industry is that Oceania really got it right with these new ships. First-time guests should expect a superior on board experience without the truly personal flourishes normally found on our top-rated ships.

The staff will not make much of an effort to know your name. In that sense the experience can be impersonal.

Since you will want to try the various restaurant venues, you will not get to know your waiters very well.

But you will get to meet members of the Oceania community who feel that they have found the perfect niche — upper end Premium quality, great food, casual attire, and enough time in port to really experience what they came to see.

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Their information was not very helpful. We boarded early in Boston and enjoyed a light lunch in the sun until our suite was ready.

The only outlet was near the foot of the bed. Our stewardess introduced herself shortly after we arrived in the room. She asked if there was anything she could do for us.

I asked if there was an electric outlet closer to the bed I might have missed and told her why. She said no, but asked what side of the bed I wanted to sleep on.

She noted it and said that by the time we returned from dinner, the electrician would have remedied the situation.

It was as she said. He routed an extension cord under the bed in such a way that only a small portion was exposed and he had secured that part with duct tape.

Expectations exceeded from the start! Both Holland America and Seabourn belong to the Carnival Cruises family of brands, so this is clearly a move to consolidate while maintaining brand diversification.

There should be some fairly immediate economies of scale for Seabourn. Cruise consultants who know Seabourn well view Carnival ownership as a net plus since the company has solid leadership and extremely deep pockets.

Seabourn is well positioned to grew by new-builds or acquisition. Seabourn is expanding the percentage of non-US citizens aboard its ships and is truly becoming an international brand.

But when all is said and done, none of its rivals can match the financial strength of Seabourn. Seabourn has changed its smoking policy and no longer allows smoking in cabins.

However, guests booked in the most expensive upper Suites will still be allowed to smoke on their open balconies.

Itineraries tend to Europe, South America and Asia. Picture just a few hundred kindred travelers of the CEO variety.

Outstanding food and service though lacking dining options found on some competitors. All inclusive top-end quality.

Evenings tend to be dressy. Per person food expenditures are among the highest in the industry. The Concierge desk can do just about anything in the way of private travel arrangements in port.

Much of Silverseas reputation is based on the assumption that passengers is small enough to make guests feel truly pampered and large enough to provide a wider range of amenities then smaller capacity rivals.

The Concierge frequently arranges in-port experiences that go far beyond the norm. Culinary programs in small settings are featured on many itineraries.

Like each of the top three lines, Silverseas is trying to offer more casual dining options. But this is still the most formal of the top lines. This is the line of champagne and caviar, of lux dreams realized.

Selective sailings now feature free airfare. The discount programs have been rather successful. Of all of the five-star lines, Silverseas has made the most significant commitment to market its cruise products abroad.

This should be an important factor as guests choose the degree to which they would like to vacation in an international environment. My husband and I thought he owned a sailboat but by the time dessert arrived we had figured out that he owned a fleet of tankers.

That, I suppose, is Silversea. We were able to set up a personalized itinerary with a private driver in Monte Carlo on no more then one days notice.

We don;t know why this line is always portrayed as sailing with a bunch of primping penguins. That alone, is worth the price of admission, along with all of the other things we love about the line.

This seems to us the perfect size. We wonder about the relationship Silverseas with Relais and Chateaux. It would be easier to understand the approach to food if we could be in the hands of a great celebrity chef.

He met moire people sitting in there then I met in the Spa. I thought it was a beautiful ship before — now its really nice.

The cabins are all new and we love the new Observation Lounge. This has to be the best cruise line on earth. As always, we enjoyed it, and will continue to cruise with Silversea.

I have to say, though, that in my estimation the line has gone from an A to an A-. Our Silver Muse Experience: The newest addition to the Silver Sea fleet is sleek and modern.

Rich fabrics and refined marble are used in the suites and throughout the restaurants, public spaces and lounges. The Silver Muse is beautiful in its luxury and simplicity.

The overall layout of the ship is similar to its sister ships. The pool area has been enlarged, with the casual seating area expanded.

While the cool weather on over half our cruise restricted use of the pool area, when the warm breezes blew in as we reached Norfolk, the pool was a great place for relaxing or enjoying a casual meal.

For this cruise we booked a Silver Suite, and it was wonderful…a serene, elegant space that offered every amenity we desired…expanded space in the bathroom with bigger shower, comfortable seating area, roomy closet and dressing table plus expansive HD TVs.

Whenever possible we were out on the veranda enjoying the sunny days or watching a missle launch from Cape Canaveral…an unexpected treat the last day of the cruise.

Not sure how the space could be used more effectively but there is so much seating it almost seems cavernous. The highest occupancy is each afternoon for trivia, and even then less than half the seating is used.

The workout area has more space for equipment than other Silversea ships, and is a very pleasant environment for those who want to exercise. In early evening, the venue is another lively cocktail lounge.

Turning to dining, there are eight restaurant options on Silver Muse. A very ambitious concept of requiring dinner reservations in all restaurants, a different dress code for each, and the same menu every night has created quite a stir among cruisers.

Even though you could book reservations online months before the cruise, it was still impossible to get a guaranteed reservation in several venues, especially the small gourmet La Dame or the Silver Note super club.

Therefore, one of the pluses on other Silversea ships, being able to meet other cruisers in the bar before dinner and then agree to dine together, was effectively eliminated, because of the difficulty of changing dinner reservations at the last minute.

Silver Sea has received so much negative feedback from this reservation system that on the cruise following ours, and going forward, they are converting Atlantide and Indochine to open seating.

The food in all the restaurants was very good, even better in Atlantide than in the main dining room of the other ships.

The food presentation was very creative and the tableware exceptional. The Grill menu offerings have been increased and many evenings seating was at capacity because it is so popular and dress is casual.

Service overall was excellent. He never made any notes of our requests, yet delivered flawlessly. We had expected to see more crew that we knew from other ships but only several waiters were familiar.

The waiters seemed to be scrambling to clear and reset tables rather than attending to the requests of seated guests. We found lunch at Atlantide a more relaxing option, and the menu changed daily.

As veteran cruisers, we know that reviews can be influenced by the weather and port experiences. And with all the hurricane activity along the East Coast this year, we did not know what to expect.

How fortunate we were to hit a period when the seas were almost flat and any rain came overnight.

This is, by all measures, a true five-star experience. Under its new leadership, Silversea is clearly committed to listening to its guests and to maintaining its top-tier status in the industry.

Since joining Crystal as both President and CEO Rodriguez had overseen the launch of two river vessels with a third on the way, an expedition yacht, and an ultyra-luxury Boeing which was to be featured in a series of twelve around-the-world themed trips announced by the line.

Crystal had also announced the construction of three new 1, Guest new ships to join its current two-ship fleet. After two announced delays, it now appears that the first of Crystal new cruise ships will not be delivered until The river boat program has involved changes as well.

Two of the river boats originally under construction for placement in France were redesigned at the yard so they could be placed on rivers in northern Europe.

The entire program was scrapped and Crystal has now announced that they will not be entering the luxury tour business. This left them with two expensive jets which they will now charter worldwide with emphasis on the Chinese market.

Wolber has worked for the Walt Disney Company for the past thirty years including 10 years as Vice President of Operations for the line.

He helped grow Disney from an Orlando-based company to a line with four large ships serving North America and Europe. We do anticipate that he will bring several members of his Disney team over to Crystal.

Clearly Genting is interested in someone of his caliber and experience since new construction planning and execution has clearly been a major problem at the line.

Meanwhile, the Crystal Symphony has completed an extensive dry-dock and the company is committed to keeping these ships thoroughly updated.

We are anticipating some on-board and policy changes as Wolber settles in. The Disney organization has shied away from deep discounting but has always believed in price rewards for past loyalty guests.

We think that any presumptions about future paths Crystal under Wolber may take are premature. This can go in any of several directions.

But Crystal, it appears, will be running a tighter financial ship. The top decks of each ship will house 48 Crystal residences with 9 ft.

Amenities on-board are still in the planning stages but you can count on small submarines, one or two helicopters, and a number of zodiacs.

The first vessel was scheduled for delivery in later revised to Cruisetruth was told the first new ship would again be delayed with a delivery date set for However, that date has now been officially revised and Crystal is projecting that the first of their new ships will not be delivered until February or March of It is doubtful that bookings or even major publicity will begin before late Crystal owns the yard constructing these ships and they have decided to delay the new liners and instead have yard built two additional expedition vessels to sail alongside the Crystal Endeavor, their new Guest ship which is currently scheduled for delivery in Our most recent inspection of Crystal has reaffirmed our belief that Crystal is the very best cruise option for the majority of upscale cruisers.

This, we believe, is the secret weapon that allows Crystal to provide its ships with the best trained and most customer-savvy crews in the industry. Choose any other line and you are going to have to sacrifice at least one of these three pillars of excellence.

Crystal has a somewhat older demographic than many of its smaller-ship five-star competitors. This has more to do with the length of cruises than any brand factors.

Crystal tends to do very few seven-night cruises so the average age goes up accordingly. The two Crystal ships are extremely well maintained but they are classic cruise liners with guests.

Crystal should not, on paper, rank as high as they do in these ratings. But Crystal earns its grades by outperforming the small ships in the very areas where they excel, personalized service, food, and entertainment.

Crystal does have formal nights and waiters will escort ladies into the dining room arm-in-arm in the classic manner. Yet, Crystal lacks some of the European panache of a Silverseas or Seabourn.

Crystal just offers more of what most guests value most. The line features the highest standards of dining service and we rank the specialty Prego Italian restaurant among the finest at sea.

Crystal caters to a demanding, largely retired, east and west coast clientele and features two-seating dining. Entertainment options abound, including sophisticated stage shows and classical acts, as well as a full screen movie theater.

Service, food, and entertainment standards are consistent on both ships but the newer Serenity wins highest marks for layout and design. Those who seek personalized; Four Seasons-style service will appreciate the Crystal experience.

Those sailing Crystal for the first time are generally amazed at how much better run these vessels are then the mainstream mega-ships. Crystal still sets the standard for larger, two-seating ships.

Most worldwide itineraries are in the day range. This is the line that many Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America passengers should have selected for cruises of ten days or longer.

It seems clear that, at the moment, Crystal has the most comprehensive and successful staff training program in the entire passenger ship industry.

For many, it was their only time off during a very hectic ten-day itinerary. Crystal service is truly caring. We will never sail another line.

Crystal is worth every penny. It seems like we are back in Boca at our country club instead of out at sea on a large ship. The only thing missing is the golf course.

Do everything you need to do to get a few reservations. My wife loved being taken by the arm and escorted to the dinner table.

The pretentious dress-up nights, the average age of seventy or so, the ballroom dancing. This is definitely a cruise line for the same folks who will be returning to their retirement facility at the end of their cruise.

But it felt very Four Seasony and we prefer the smaller lines with their true boutique feel. The food though was very good and Prego is, we agree, our favorite restaurant of any of the ships we have tried.

We appreciate the honesty of your reviews but we think you make too much of the two seating policy in the dinning room. With the alternative restaurants and the casual option now, for dinner upstairs, we only used the main dining room five times during our cruise.

This is big ship excitement with elegant service and amenities. They are what they are. But we think, based on our last two Crystal sailings, that the line keeps getting better.

They reacted quite well to the discounts from some of their rivals. And I like to tip for service. Here are a few things my wife and I noticed, and we come from the hotel industry: On the transfer from the Crystal pre-cruise hotel in Costa Rica to the port, special seats were blocked out for children so they could enjoy the best views.

The cruise director was so appealingly non-intrusive that we wondered where he had been trained. PA announcements were dignified, limited, and professionally rendered.

Crystal now has a majority of Eastern European crew and you get the same level services you get with the same crews on Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity.

Most of the Indonesian and Filipino staff that was always the hallmark of Crystal is long gone. Sadly, this line has gone from five to four star service.

The specialty restaurants are, in my opinion, the finest at sea. But savvy dinners can sit at the Sushi Bar and order from thirty-five, or so, sushi specials.

The library is well stocked and staffed by a gentle woman who has, seemingly, read every volume in her care. I heard her make some excellent recommendations to some pretty challenging inquiries.

The answer is that things worked even better than before. It seems as though the food, if it at all possible, has actually improved.

We love the food in Prego and consider it the best restaurant on any of our thirteen cruises on Crystal and some of her competitors. But our friends had warned us that portions were a lot smaller than they used to be and we found that to be true.

Several former Crystal guests were grousing about it one night in the lounge. The new, dine when you want to, option is working well and is really great for folks like us who enjoy meeting new people during dinner.

But we will go back on Crystal just for the amazing lecture programs and classes. On our Baltic Cruise, we had a Russian history expert and a former astronaut lecturing and we were able to take classes in introductory Russian as well as Photoshop for the computer.

This is a cruise line that obviously takes care of the help. There is none of the typical crew talk about leaving and going to work for someone else.

Crystal lacks the smell of new car leather. But my husband will tell you that the way complimentary transfers are provided to the center of each of the ports is reason enough to keep coming back.

The best components of this cruise experience were: If we have to choose the best part of the cruise, it was February 22, our first day in Antarctica.

We woke up to breathtaking views of glaciers, icebergs and blue water, but that was just the beginning. We were blessed with calm seas, sweater-weather sunshine, penguins swimming, whales surfacing, seals sunning, guests toasting, and nothing but smiles to be found on guests and crew alike.

Every moment seemed to be a photographic opportunity, and the memories will last a lifetime. It is important to note that we had already had one day after the other of blessings at port and at sea.

We fell in love with Chile and will definitely go back. The mountains and lakes region was more beautiful than anything we had ever seen to that point!

But that was before we got to fly-fish in the the beautiful Aysen region of Patagonia, Chile, see the waterfalls flowing from glaciers in the Chilean fjords, and paddle canoes in crystal clear waters of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

In, Ushuaia, the locals told us that it had been 4 years since they had seen back-to-back days of sunshine, and we got them!

The rest of the cruise was lovely too, but in all honesty, our heads were still in the clouds over our experiences in Chile, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and Antarctica.

I have to say one more thing. If someone was unhappy, bored, or otherwise out of sorts on this trip… honestly, it was probably them. I had a little motion sickness at first, which was a little scary, considering the number of potential rough sea days ahead.

So I tried the acupuncturist! How could I leave that out? Management needs to address: As much as we hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, we had some issues with the way the Machu Picchu pre-cruise trip was handled.

We mentioned it to Crystal and will probably be contacted soon to discuss. The biggest issues were: A snapshot of our schedule there were of us.

Chartered flight s to Cusco. Arrived hotel in Cusco 7: Buffet dinner at 8 PM was not very good. Breakfast was very nice.

Seeing Machu Picchu was really great, but 4 hours on the vans and 4 hours in the trains made for a long day.

Returned to hotel 9: Buffet dinner at 10 PM was awful. Vans to Cusco Airport. Chartered Flight s to Lima. One-hour late leaving Lima terrible service between flights.

Ship was scheduled to depart at 6 PM 9: Quick dinner, safety lecture at Later I noticed that many of the people on the ship who were coughing, sniffling, etc including us had been on the pre-cruise trip with us.

Crystal called Mike and he told them about our concerns re: We were so pleased with everything else that we hated to give them negative feedback, but we felt that it was important to do so.

They voiced appreciation of our honest feedback and suggestions and even sent us a substantial credit towards our next cruise.

In our opinion, that was a beautiful and generous response, considering the fact that we paid nothing extra for that pre-cruise segment of the trip.

Crystal had offered the pre-cruise trip to Machu Picchu at no cost to those who signed up early enough. We may forget that he mumbled, but we will never forget how he carefully took us to see some incredible sights in beautiful Antarctica, and how he lingered in places of special interest, even making circular movements to enhance the view for all passengers.

How would you grade the shore excursions offered on this cruise? How should shore excursion experiences be improved?

See Machu Picchu comments. Otherwise, they were all up to Crystal standards. Guides were excellent and had good English skills; vehicles were comfortable; and provisions were given for fishing, canoeing, etc.

Also the excursions were described well, making it easy to know how to dress and what to take. How would you rate your ship?

What would this line have to do to secure your total satisfaction and top rating? They are so friendly, attentive, and fun!

We loved the staff. This is what they need to improve in terms of staffing: Keep up the good work! How would you rate the quality of your dining experiences?

We rarely ordered the same thing twice. The meat was always prepared perfectly — even salmon and fish! We were not worried about ordering anything.

It was kind of nice to not have to look at a wine list and decide what one bottle would work for everyone. We drank wines by the glass that worked for each dish.

The desserts are a perfect size — not too big, so we often had a little something. We ate in Prego a few times best mushroom soup in the world, Silk Road twice, and we really enjoyed the Trident Grill, Tastes and the Bistro too.

Did you feel that the chef was given a suitable budget to purchase high quality provisions? Was there an issue with portion size? We felt that the portions were just right.

Even desserts were portioned well, so we ordered dessert many more times than we normally do, with no regrets! This is what we would specifically recommend to dramatically improve the on-board dining experience.

How much did you enjoy the lectures and entertainment? We missed some good performances, based on reports of other passengers, because we forgot that Crystal does such a good job in this department.

But the ones that we saw were really good. We tend to like the musical performances the most, but we were very impressed with the dancing too. How do they do that when the rest of us are having trouble walking sometimes?

I would try to bring in more professional guest performers. The regular performers seem to raise their game when they get to perform with the guest pros.

What was the strongest element in your cruise experience? This question is not fair! We want to check every single box here!

Impossible, really, to choose one. But the service sets the table for everything else, so we had to choose that. The staff just went out of their way constantly to make sure that we had everything we needed, and they were so friendly and fun.

What was the weakest element of your cruise experience? A couple of the excursions were a little weak, but we got what was advertised.

The less memorable ports for us: Chiloe and Puerto Madryn. We would have been satisfied with just one day in Punta Arenas as well. There was a place for everything.

All in all, it all fit pretty well, and having the room neat and tidy made it feel more spacious. I wish we had more outlets for charging our devices, and I wish we had a little more room in the living area.

I like to read, and the little sofa was not very inviting. Fresh flowers were nice; Amanda brought our specific requests for the fridge; She worked around our unpredictable schedule; her English was excellent, and she was very courteous.

Your Recommendations to the Marketing Department: Keep up the good work. We never feel pressured to buy. Use some pics from our two segments Valparaiso to Buenos Aires!

Some staff provided anticipatory service. How would you describe the manner in which staff addressed guests?

Crystal service is exemplary. Did it appear to you that staff was making any effort in crew quarters to learn guest names and the way they like things done for them?

They must have been doing their homework. Is there a particular area of staff training that you felt needs to be improved?

We made several lasting friendships. We made some friends that we are sure will be life-long friendships. Needless to say, I am delighted that I was wrong!

The folks on this cruise were so fun! And they were so pleasant to each other as well as the staff that it blew me away.

This truly was a lovely group of people. Exactly what type of traveler do you feel is best suited for this line? The Crystal Cruise guest is typically close to retirement age or older.

There are very few children, and therefore, very few activities that are family-oriented. I would not suggest this cruise line for families with children, unless the children are unusually able to entertain themselves.

I do think that younger adults can enjoy Crystal cruises just as much as the retirees, but they should leave the kids at home. We had a hard time getting someone to take our order.

The staff knew our preferences in places where we frequented. For example, we liked to play in the casino some, and the bar girl knew that I liked sparkling water with lemon and Mike liked sparkling water with lime.

And if we decided to add the hard stuff, she knew what to add. He did a great job of providing a variety of entertainment options all over the ship.

He was visible, but not intrusive. In spite of our complaints re: This has already been addressed in our discussion with Crystal. We never had to dress up and that suited us.

Comments on the manner in which the dress issue was handled on-board: Everyone did what they were comfortable doing.

Some dressed up more and some less, and everyone seemed fine with it. Did you receive fair value? Pricing comments and advice for those considering this cruise: We have been on some other cruise lines, and even though Crystal is more expensive, we have decided that we would prefer to do fewer cruises if necessary to be able to travel on Crystal.

That is, unless we take our grandchildren, then we will look into something that is more geared towards entertaining kids. Free Internet was available to those who completed a survey, which I promptly did.

I found the offer in the ship newspaper. The Pre-trip to Machu Picchu was free for us! That was a big draw.

We would not recommend it to others,. We spoke with many repeat Crystal world cruisers on this ship Crystal seems to get a lot of repeat customers and it was unanimous that the two segments from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires were their favorite two segments ever.

We heard this over and over and always unsolicited. Even Gary, the cruise director, said that they were his two favorites, and he has been cruising for 42 years!

Recommendations to Marine Operations Management regarding port selection: Crystal Endeavor will cater to a particularly daring audience, one who values luxurious comfort and amenities as much as life-changing adventures.

With a Remote Operated Vehicle ROV, used extensively in the offshore industry , expedition cruises will also be organized to see sunken galleons, warships and passenger ships, such as the Titanic at 12, feet, and with dynamic positioning, she will just hover over deep sunken attractions without using anchors.

Further, Crystal Endeavor will be all-inclusive and will offer the award-winning service for which Crystal has been celebrated for more than 25 years.

Crystal Endeavor voyages will open for booking in late Steel cutting for the ship will begin May and Crystal will take delivery in August Excellent one-week itineraries in Europe and the Caribbean.

Ideal for laid-back adventurers seeking one-on-one service. There are no balcony cabins and the bathrooms are small but guests can sleep outdoors on a Balinese bed.

This is high-end, casual, all-inclusive relaxation for those who would never consider a Vegas-like shipboard atmosphere.

While several smaller, luxury lines claim they visit off-the-beaten path ports, Sea Dream really delivers on that promise. Thomas and British Virgin Islands itineraries are simply better than those offered by guest competitors.

No one does the Greek Islands and Turkey better. If Jimmy Buffet ever decides to purchase a cruise line — this is the one he will want.

This is a cruise line with only 50 cabins. There are those who speculate whether or not it can survive in an environment where size dictates purchasing savings.

But unlike its competitors in the five-star luxury market, Sea Dream has never had to build anything. They purchased the former Sea Goddess Yachts and never expanded.

That has placed them in a situation where the long-term debt that hangs over so many lines is not an issue at Sea Dream.

Sea Dream is one of the only cruise lines to embrace transparent pricing policies. The Paul Gauguin entered service in after construction in France.

The ship was expressly built for operations in the South Pacific. This has meant a shallow draft that can cause a bit of motion when the ship is navigating the longer stretches between the Society Islands.

With a crew of serving guests, the Gauguin has been satisfying demanding travelers in these lovely South Pacific waters for more than a decade.

Dress is casual, gratuities, soft drinks, and water are included in the fare. The Gauguin normally offers enticing air pricing out of Los Angeles with air add-ons from major gateways.

Papeete is about an eight and a half hour flight from LA. Guests from many regions in the country are accommodated overnight in Los Angeles as part of the air package.

Le Ponant is a financially successful, French-owned, small luxury expedition niche player with four ships.

It provides casual, European-style yacht experiences that are not as well known to the US public as, perhaps, they ought to be.

The company had maintained a small office in Miami and was primarily known for its namesake vessel, the passenger sailing yacht Le Ponant.

They are among the most beautiful small ships in the industry. The cabins on the three sister yachts are generally smallish, at sq.

There are prestige suites that are larger providing sq. The ships have ice-breaking hulls and each carries 12 zodiac soft landing craft.

Ponant is an inclusive product with wines served at lunch and dinner, all drinks, bottled waters, and zodiac excursions included.

Many guests are able to hold on to their wallets with the exception of spa visits, for the entire voyage.

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