I recently had the privilege of embarking on a journey aboard the Crystal Symphony, sailing through the Mediterranean from Istanbul to Venice. Built in 1995 and returning to service on September 1, 2023, under the ownership of Abercrombie & Kent, the Crystal Symphony and its sister, the Crystal Serenity, epitomize luxury cruising. The experience was a blend of indulgences, from drinks to gratuities, and a selection of complimentary restaurants, each offering a culinary journey. Amidst this opulence, I felt compelled to share my Crystal Symphony review: the ship’s elegance, coupled with spacious suites and a variety of dining and entertainment options, made it a sanctuary for those with a penchant for style and value.

Crystal Symphony Review: A Classic Reborn

Crystal Symphony review

The Crystal Symphony is best described as a classic reborn, returning to service with a plethora of enhancements and refurbishments. The ship, originally built in 1995, has been meticulously maintained and updated, ensuring guests experience the utmost in luxury and comfort. The recent overhaul by Abercrombie & Kent has seen improvements in both passenger areas and crew accommodations, with the former casino being replaced by a quiet lounge and the Bistro completely redone. Despite its age, the Crystal Symphony continues to offer timeless elegance and a familial and less stuffy atmosphere, with over 80 percent of the line’s former crewmembers returning to work for the “new” Crystal Cruises.

Thoughtful Changes in Deck Plan (No Casino?)

The 2023 refit introduced insightful modifications to the Crystal Symphony deck plan. The once bustling casino was transformed into a serene games and reading lounge, while the former VIP gaming salon found new life as the Jade Nightclub. Prego, previously known as the Italian specialty restaurant, was reborn as Osteria d’Ovidio, capturing the authentic flavors from diverse Italian regions. These enhancements, coupled with the addition of new suites, have seamlessly improved the flow between public rooms, elevating the overall passenger experience. On a personal note, while I’ve always enjoyed a few hands of Blackjack on previous journeys, the absence of a casino this time inadvertently ensured I walked away in the green. It seems that without the temptation of the blackjack table, my wallet remained pleasantly untouched!

Expanded and Redesigned Suites

The Crystal Symphony boasts an array of cabins that cater to every luxury-seeking traveler, but the introduction of new suites post-refit truly sets the bar high for opulent sea accommodations. Among these, the Junior Crystal Suites, Sapphire Oceanview Suites, and the Sapphire Veranda Suites stand out, offering passengers an unparalleled living experience.

I had the pleasure of residing in the Sapphire Veranda Suite, and it was nothing short of spectacular. Spanning up to 540 square feet (Cabin 430 ft2 / Balcony 110 ft2), this suite is a testament to spacious luxury. The suite seamlessly blends separate living and sleeping areas, ensuring that each moment, whether it’s a quiet evening read or a restful night’s sleep, is enjoyed in utmost comfort. The walk-in closet was a delightful addition, allowing for easy organization and access to my wardrobe, making dressing for the ship’s many events a breeze.

One of the standout features of the Sapphire Veranda Suite is the oversized shower, equipped with multiple options. Each shower felt like a spa experience, rejuvenating me for the day’s adventures or helping me unwind after a day of exploration. The suite also boasts a generous balcony, offering panoramic views of the ocean and ports. Many mornings, I found myself sipping a cup of coffee here, lost in the vastness of the sea and the promise of new horizons.

Modern amenities like interactive flat-panel television sets and a range of lighting options further enhanced my stay, ensuring that entertainment and ambiance were always at my fingertips. The attention to detail in the design and features of the Sapphire Veranda Suite made it evident that every aspect was crafted keeping the passenger’s comfort and luxury in mind.

Exquisite Dining Options

Umi Uma Chefs hard at work on Crystal Symphony
Umi Uma Chefs are hard at work

The Crystal Symphony offers a culinary odyssey, with a range of dining venues from casual to refined, each delivering a unique gastronomic experience. However, it was Umi Uma, the signature restaurant by renowned chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, that stole my heart and became my preferred dining sanctuary, serving as a canvas for culinary innovation and tradition.

Umi Uma's Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna Tartar
Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna Tartar
Nobu Special at Umi Uma
The Nobu Special, a MUST try!

I visited Umi Uma three times, twice relishing the sophisticated table setting and once experiencing the lively ambiance of the sushi bar. Each visit was a symphony of meticulously crafted flavors and textures, reflecting Chef Nobu’s culinary brilliance and passion. The sushi bar, in particular, offered an intimate glimpse into the artistry and precision involved in crafting each piece of sushi, elevating the dining experience to new heights.

Beyond Umi Uma, the ship houses several other dining gems like the elegant Waterside main dining room and the authentic Italian Osteria d’Ovidio, catering to diverse palates and culinary preferences. For those seeking an unparalleled degustation experience, the secluded Vintage Room awaits, adding a touch of exclusivity to the array of dining options on board.

The Crystal Symphony, with its timeless elegance, luxurious accommodations, exquisite dining options, and thoughtful amenities, offers an unparalleled luxury cruise experience. Whether you are a seasoned cruiser or new to the brand, the Crystal Symphony promises a journey of relaxation, indulgence, and discovery, making every voyage a memorable one.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed my Crystal Symphony review. Stay tuned for more coverage of my trip coming soon! If you’re feeling inspired to plan your own holiday, look to the sea! Just make sure you’re fully prepared for the journey ahead.