2. Computer University@Sea. Started in 1997, the Computer Center is staffed by Technology Concierges. These guys are miracle workers and very very patient. If you did not bring your iPad or laptop there are plenty of computer terminals in the center. As most people have their own devices there were always seats available in the computer center for those that wanted to surf the web. A learning center is part of the facility and I highly recommend signing up for some of the complimentary courses. There is a three part series on iPad use. You can take 1, 2 or all 3 of the modules. I took the "Pictures with your iPad" class. I didn't have time to take the other two courses but a cheat sheet is provided to bring home for those who could not attend in person. For the truly ambitious there is five part course on film making.
One of the "Technology Concierges" is pictured below.
|Crystal Cruises Provides Technology Concierges|
I never did see it full, but there is a note by the four recumbent bicycles requesting a 30 minute limit use. There is free weight area, treadmills, stair climbers and resistance machine
Crystal Symphony also offers a variety of complimentary fitness classes. There are always four choices every day and include Pilates, Yoga, Circuit Training, Stretching and Abs. There is also a Walk on Water class in the pool.
4. An Elegant Spa. Staffed by the great therapists from Steiner's the spa is open until 10:00 pm for treatments. They range from the mundane, such a Swedish massage to the really unusual, for example, the Thai Poultice massage. Prices are inline with other luxury cruise lines. Specials are offered daily. You can get a 50 minute experience consisting of two mini services for $119.00 An 18% service fee is added to your bill for all services. Also available in the beauty salon are hair and nail services.
5. Enrichment Lectures and Classes. I am a firm believer that cruising should be a learning experience. Its a chance to come back smarter from your vacation then when you left. I think Crystal Symphony has excellent enrichment programs. "Odyssey Art at Sea" introduces to the world of painting. Whether you are a beginner or experienced you will get a chance to hopefully improve your technique and have some fun, too.
Crystal is also renowned for the quality of their lecturers. Whether the topics are history, wine, politics or anything else the people delivering these lectures are the best in their field and always interesting. My Crystal Symphony cruise featured award winning journalist Thomas DeFrank. A student of the Presidency, he was Newsweek magazine's senior White House reporter. His lecture was full of interesting, behind the scenes, antidotes.
A destination lecturer, Dr. Larry Herson, gave the information needed to enjoy the ports and his information was background related. He did not push tours, just offered information on the history and culture of our destinations.
6. A Real Casino. Its so nice to see a craps table on a ship. Even better is that the minimum in the casino on the Crystal Symphony is only $5.00 to get into a craps game. That is less than the minimum at most Las Vegas gaming establishments. There are tons of slot machines, video poker and card tables. There are tournaments for poker and blackjack also.
The Casino is one way the Crystal Symphony combines the best of a traditional cruise experience, by way of amenities, with the outstanding cuisine and service one would expect to find on the smaller luxury ships. It is really is in a class of its own and should be viewed that way.
7. Formal High Tea. The venue for the tea service is the Palm Court. I think it is one of the most beautiful public rooms on any ship. High on deck 11 forward it offers sweeping 270 degree vistas. It is waiter service at tea time and everything is presented to you. There is no self service. I like the table service as it adds a special touch. The tea time music is played by the resident jazz band.
|Crystal Symphony's Palm Court|
1. The ability to receive bar service, by the pool or Trident Bar, after 6:00pm. We have had amazing weather and sunset is not until almost 9:00 pm. If you are on late dining, or reservation only dining, after 8:00pm, its enjoyable to sit outside on deck and enjoy the remains of the day.
As I previously mentioned I like to drink ice tea during the day. Yesterday evening I was in one of the very comfortable couches by the pool. It was 6:10 pm. I asked a passing bar steward if I could have another ice tea brought over. He looked at the clock and said as it was after 6:00 pm he would have to ask his manager. The answer came back, "No". I understand that there needs to be a cut off time for service and I would have liked to seen the steward, on his own, go into the Palm Court to get me an ice tea. With a wink, he could have said that this was special for me. As it was I got up and went to Palm Court to get me ice tea. Was it the end of the world, no, of course not. Was it an effort for me to get up and get it? Again, no. It was a chance though to provide not just very good service but exceptional service. That chance was missed.
I'm writing this as I sit on my balcony in the harbor of St. Malo. It's a beautiful sunset.
More about the ports of St. Malo and L'Orient later.