2003 Summary

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Up Walt Disney World Segment 1 (1/19-2/7) Segment 2 (2/7-2/25) Segment 3 (2/25-3/18) Segment 4 (3/18-4/14) Segment 5 (4/14-5/3) 2003 Summary

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cruise summary

With just seven days between our return home and a departure on Crystal Harmony, our summary of events has been hastily assembled.  If it wasn’t finished during this hectic week, we would never remember what had happened!

 One sentiment that echoed through the entire 2003 World Cruise was that it was the worst World Cruise ever.  That notion was expressed by many of the die-hard Crystal cruisers, but we did not share that feeling.  In our opinion, there was nothing better or worse about the itinerary than last year, although there were many repeats of ports.  However, anyone who has been on more than a few Crystal cruises is bound to repeat eventually.

We do feel that Crystal has gone too far trying to alleviate the complaints from segment guests who feel left out.  In doing so, they have cut back on the “exclusives” for full world cruisers and it is noticeable.  This cruise felt more like five segment strung together rather than a cohesive 104-day cruise.  We feel it would be best to abandon the World Cruise concept in favor of longer “Grand” cruises that can be assembled to create any length itinerary.


Service and Staff

Crystal’s staff and crew are still some of the best afloat and the main reason we continue to sail with them.  We spend very little time interacting with other guests, by choice, so having crewmembers who can carry on a reasonable conversation is very important to us.  Besides, they feed us the gossip and inside information that makes this diary interesting!

We did observe some decline in the quality of crew and in some service.  The bar staff is simply not as friendly or efficient as the others.  We attribute this to their lower earnings, making it more difficult to keep long-term help in this area.  An obvious change is the substitution of Filipinos in the Galaxy Lounge serving drinks.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because they learn names and preferences far more quickly than the European crew.  With the start of free soft drinks for everyone coming right up, we’re betting all of the bar servers will be replaced by Filipino crew to reduce costs.

Our stewardess changed three times and our waiter and headwaiter changed once.  The point of a World Cruise is to have the same people serving you the entire time and we found this disruptive.  The reason given was that they are juggling vacation times to staff the inaugural of Crystal Serenity in July, but we think they could have planned it more efficiently to avoid the constant flow of new crew.

We had no complaints overall about the service, but it was not as good as it has been in the past.  However, Crystal always has had a problem with consistency from cruise to cruise, so your experience may differ.



Despite vehement denials from the waiters and maitre d’, we noticed a measurable cutback in quality and quantity in all food service venues.  There were always empty space on plates in the Crystal Dining Room and the side dishes were microscopic.  In place of baby carrots, cut chunks of large carrots are now used.  We saw the same four or five vegetables on a daily basis:  broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, and spinach.  We’re not kidding, the vegetable serving usually consisted of one chunk of carrot, one broccoli floret, etc.  The kitchen used sauces to cover up blank areas on the plate.

For the most part though, the quality is high, the sauces have been lightened up or served on the side, and everything is quite fresh.  We can’t recall anything we had that was the best thing we have ever eaten, a significant decline in “wow factor” from the past.  The beef is very high quality and mostly very good, with a few exceptions.  The bread, as usual, is disappointing, with a selection that never varies.  With just one seating for most of the World Cruise, the bread was relatively fresh. When there are two seating, the late seating guests get whatever is dry and leftover in the warmers.  Desserts were usually very good, but the selection anywhere except the Dining Room was less than half what it used to be.

The Crystal Dining Room is an unpleasant experience when the ship is full, so this less populated cruise was a nice diversion.  With a single seating, guests may arrive at any time between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM, so the usually regimented dining experience is more akin to restaurant service.  However, arriving any later than 8:00 PM attracted disapproving stares from segment guests who were not completely aware of the new rules.  Service was top notch, with our first waiter having the upper hand in proper service.  We did not like our second waiter’s habit of telling us what to order and he was less proficient at the details, but neither were a big issue.

We have never been huge fans of the alternative restaurants, Prego and Jade Garden, but Prego has always been the most popular with guests in the past.  This has changed dramatically and was pointed out by one of the executives from the corporate office during a conversation we had about it.  In both restaurants, parts of the menu have been “enhanced” by dishes created by famous chefs in their respective restaurants.  In the case of Prego, it is Valentino, and in Jade Garden it is Wolfgang Puck’s Chinoise.  None of the new menu items are superior in any way to the original choices and have actually limited the offerings.  We dined at Prego twice, once being a World Cruise dinner with a set menu.  Our dinner with the regular menu was disappointing, the service friendly, but disjointed, and the atmosphere unpleasant.  The food wasn’t inedible, but it wasn’t worth going there again.   This assessment was reinforced by the conversation with the executive who said the ratings have plummeted since the implementation of the Valentino menu.  On the other hand, Jade Garden has soared and is now more difficult to get into.  In the past, this restaurant was a ghost town on most nights.  We still think the menu is too limited, but the chef will attempt to make anything requested and there are many items always available that are not listed.  We dined there three times and it was consistently above average.  The Chinoise menu items are a waste and should be dropped in favor of “normal” choices, in our opinion.

Casual dining options are unsuccessful and barely worth the bother.  The Lido has declined significantly in quality and selection.  Why would anyone think that a grilled sandwich is an appropriate choice for a buffet steam table?  The selection was almost always the same as the much fancier Crystal Dining Room and not suited to casual service.  We got by with the generally outstanding Asian selection, the made-to-order salads, and the carved rotisserie chicken.  Crystal simply doesn’t grasp the concept of casual and from what we know of the plans for the new Serenity, we can kiss any hope of less fancy foods goodbye.

According to the brochure, Casual Dining is offered on ‘Selected Evenings’ around the Neptune Pool.  Read "selected evenings" as twice in 20 days. The nights when this option is offered are casual anyway, so we see little point in it.  The menu has gone from semi-fancy to way-fancy, so we never attended this venue.  We heard that the service was poor, but did not witness it for ourselves.

The Trident Grill by the Neptune Pool is usually very good, the food fresh, and the fancy factor non-existent.  In addition to hamburgers and hot dogs, they also serve grilled cheese, tuna melts, steak sandwiches, pizza and a daily wrap sandwich.   The pizza is has improved somewhat from inedible, but everything else is very good.  There is also a small buffet of sliced fruit available.  Deck Stewards will carry your tray and fetch drinks.  If you try to wait for your food to cook, they will insist you sit down so they can bring it to you.  We especially like the fact that the daily operating hours span the entire day, from 11:00am until 6:00pm.  The very popular Trident Ice Cream Bar has the same long hours and has a large variety of good quality ice cream and a wide variety of self-serve toppings and liqueurs with very friendly service.

About every four or five days there is a theme buffet around the pool at lunch.  These elaborately decorated affairs vary widely in appeal, but the food is usually of good quality and there is plenty of it.  In our opinion, the Asian buffet is the most successful.  They have an American Classic, Nuevo Latino (quasi Mexican), Cuisine of the Sun (Mediterranean, lots of seafood), Asia Café, and Italian.  Most of the food only changes slightly, such as the BBQ selections, but there is something for everyone and it is usually a pleasant alternative to sit out by the pool to eat while being entertained by the Starlite Orchestra.  The quality and quantity of choices has declined significantly from last year at these buffets.  It took us a few tries to finally whittle the choices down to those we sort of liked, but this wouldn’t be an option on a shorter cruise.  The buffets are held no matter what the weather, hence the reason the entire Cuisine of the Sun ended up on the floor as we cruised to Antarctica.

On some late port days, there is a casual deck BBQ as well.  Again, the quality of this option has declined, but it is still possible to find enough very good selections to make it worthwhile.  If this option is offered, take advantage of it.

Once per cruise, there is the Grand Gala Luncheon Buffet in the lobby.  We never go to this event because the food is uninspired, although it is beautiful to look at.  There has been a definite reduction in variety both with the food and the decoration.  We have no problem with an effort to reduce waste, but when it becomes as obvious as this it might be better to discontinue the buffet altogether.  Guests take their food into the Crystal Dining Room to eat, although they continue to set up the Crystal Cove, as well.

There were several Sunday Brunches in the Crystal Dining Room.  These were not as good as last year and the selection has been greatly reduced.  However, we loved these for the casual atmosphere and the opportunity to get Eggs Benedict and waffles at a later hour.  We don’t hold much hope for this event remaining appealing because we have learned that it will be similar to the Gala Buffet when the Serenity debuts.  The reason this is popular is the informal arrangement, but that concept is lost on Crystal’s management who seem to think that the fancier it is, the better it is.

Snacks are served all day in the Bistro.  Until 11:00am, this consists of pastries, donuts, fruit, bagels, smoked salmon, and the like.  From 11:00am until 6:00pm, the selection is a variety of cheese, pate, sliced meat, rolls, and desserts left over from last night’s dinner.  It’s a good place to grab a snack and the selection is predictable enough to know in advance if it is interesting to you.  Our problem with this area is that it is usually overrun with staff on breaks even at the most crowded moments, so we tried to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Room service is available 24 hours a day for no extra charge.  We ordered breakfast a few times.  It was edible, but boring.  There is a limited menu available all day, plus one may order from the Crystal Dining Room menu during meal hours.  This is available to all staterooms.  The only difference on Penthouse Deck is that the meals are served by your butler rather than a stewardess, which we imagine from past experience is a big advantage.  Guests on Penthouse Deck may also order from Prego and Jade Garden. 

Every afternoon butlers on Penthouse Deck deliver the daily cocktail snack plate.  They also bring a small bowl of cashews, pretzels, or whatever you want.  If you want caviar every day, you can have it.  They will also serve afternoon tea with all the accoutrements if you so desire.  Last year we enjoyed this option, but the earlier dining hour with single seating did not allow enough time to enjoy the food, so we skipped it almost entirely this year. 


The standard cabins on Crystal Symphony, regardless of category, are all the same size with the same amenities.  The only difference is location, view (or lack of one), and perhaps a verandah.  We would never sail again without a verandah.  Not so much because we sit there very often, but because we can get fresh air and check the weather just by opening the door.  It is also nice to watch the sail away without having to be particularly presentable.

This is the first time during a World Cruise that the Penthouse Deck was nearly empty.  We had no neighbors for the entire 104 days.  Penthouse amenities include upgraded linens changed daily (as opposed to every other day), a free stocked mini bar, afternoon tea and snacks (anything you ask for) served by your butler, free pressing, and the services of both a stewardess and an assistant.  The butler will make shore excursion and restaurant reservations for you so you need never leave the room for such mundane tasks (although we did that ourselves for the most part.)  He will also unpack and pack for you.  We rarely used the services of the butler, except for occasional pressing.  Our butler also saw to alterations and button replacements on several occasions that were either free of charge or extremely low-priced ($7.00 to alter a pair of slacks).

The bathrooms in the penthouse are huge and have a separate shower and a Jacuzzi tub.  We never used the tub except to store our purchases, which was quite handy.  The shower was tiny, but serviceable.  As you know from the diary, we again had a mildew problem that was never adequately solved in spite of conscientious cleaning by our stewardess.

Lighting options in the penthouse include dimmers and extra electrical outlets on the desk.  There is also a data port for Internet access from the staterooms.  A charge of $25.00 is applied to set up this feature.  In the past it was possible to retrieve email sent to your shipboard account, but this option is no longer available.  It is necessary to go to the Computer University to view email sent to your personal ship account.

We wouldn’t bother to book a penthouse for a short cruise, but for a World Cruise it is really a necessity.  These are not the most beautiful or well-planned staterooms on the sea, but they are adequately comfortable and the service it top-notch.



During a World Cruise, additional staff is added to the entertainment department.  Besides the usual, an Assistant Cruise Director and a World Cruise Hostess are among the staff.  It seemed to us that more hands did not make for better organization.  Many entertainment offerings seemed to have been thought of about five minutes before the show started, although we’re sure that was not the case.  Someone really needs to get in there and take control to avoid this in the future.

Crystal’s production shows are more like elaborate fashion shows of ridiculously expensive costumes than real entertainment.  However, there are a couple of them that stand out.  “Million Dollar Musicals” is by far the most popular and entertaining.  The others are the ancient “Rock Around the Clock” with its ship-wide 50’s costumes,  the dreadful “Excalibur!” with it’s Medieval décor and universally disliked “Royal Feast” in the Dining Room, “Symphony of Nations” another oldie, and the newest production “Fascinatin’ Rhythm” that has been improved a bit since its disastrous debut last year.  There were no new shows debuted this year.  Every World Cruiser has seen each of these shows way too many times and the same ones were performed during each segment.  The shows were plagued with technical problems and missed cues that we have never seen with such frequency in the past.

The ensemble cast interacts with the guests during the day and they are usually very pleasant and friendly.  However, they don’t hang around as much as they do on other ships simply because there are not a lot of activities offered where they are necessary.  They don’t even host Team Trivia during a World Cruise because the World Cruise Hostess and the Assistant Cruise Director handle those duties.  Team Trivia became the joke of the cruise because of the nastiness and competitiveness of some of the guests.  We were warned by a staff member to stay away so we didn’t get sucked into it.

There were a number of elaborate events produced for the World Cruise such as the World Cruise Olympics, the Fair Dinkum Fair, etc.  These productions were generally outstanding except for technical glitches that could have been avoided if the events were planned more than five minutes before they started.  In addition, there were several onboard theme dinners for Full World Cruise guests that were well received and nicely done.  However, they need to plan more appropriate menus for these events.  Since when is silver service appropriate for a luau?

The featured entertainment was significantly improved over last year’s dismal array.  Many of the most popular acts from last year were back, but there were many new ones.  Those from Australia were particularly talented.  We didn’t attend shows we knew we wouldn’t be interested in, but those we saw were at least average and many were outstanding.  The Cruise Director made up Variety Showtimes featuring two or more different performers.  We loved this concept because it gave us the chance to sample acts we wouldn’t want to watch for an entire hour, but that were worth looking at for fifteen minutes.  Obviously, Crystal listened to the complaints about the never-ending parade of pianists last year because there was much more variety this time around.

Curtis and Natalie, the dance instructors and performers, put together three incredible shows called “That’s Dancing”.  The third and final one was the best show we have ever seen on Crystal Symphony.  It just goes to show what the performers can do when they aren’t shackled to a Crystal-produced show.

Each segment featured a “Celebrity Showtime” starring a known performer.  Most of them, with the exception of Lucie Arnaz, were well received and did a better than average show.  Jonathan Winters was very popular, but he is way past his prime.  His show wasn’t unbearable, but we wouldn’t pay to see him.  Jim Nabors and Marvin Hamlisch provided the highlights of celebrity shows.

Atmosphere entertainment, the Starlite Orchestra, Galaxy Orchestra and Champagne Strings were outstanding with the exception of the strings who were average.  The pianists in the Crystal Cove and Avenue Saloon were excellent.  The same harpist we badmouthed last year was back.  She was more a part of the atmosphere entertainment in the lobby rather than a feature in the Palm Court, so she wasn’t as offensive.  Still, we find it hard to believe they couldn’t find someone better than this one.

Crystal continued the regular featured entertainment called Repertory at Sea.  This trio presents short plays like “Love Letters” as an alternative to regular programming.  We never attended these presentations, but saw the actors in variety shows and such.  They were better and more talented than the dismal performers last year, but we didn’t find their style to be appealing.  This program is being replaced with a similar group doing “Forever Plaid” on the Serenity.

In exotic ports, local folkloric entertainment is presented whenever possible.  We saw several of these shows that were excellent.

There is a reasonable array of television shows offered continuously with a variety of movie channels.  There was a problem with the satellite and reception of CNN just after the Iraq war started that caused heated complaints.  It took over a week to repair the satellite after the technician sent to upgrade the system managed to fry it instead.  We realize it wasn’t intentional, but the timing could have been better.


Shore Excursions

We took part in only a handful of organized excursions during this cruise.  One was the most boring experience on the planet and reminded us just why we don’t like tours.  For most guests, the tours are well organized and reasonably priced.  We thought the variety offered was very good, but many times some of the more obscure choices were cancelled due to lack of participation.  This included several of the overland excursions that had to be booked in advance.

In our opinion, the overland excursions, lasting from three to four days, are way overpriced.  We heard compliments about how well they were run, but also complaints about too much wasted time dealing with guests who were not able-bodied enough to properly participate.  Crystal does a good job of announcing the physical requirements of each tour, but they apparently do nothing to prevent guests from booking who should not.


World Cruise Special Events

The cruise started off with the Gala Bon Voyage`Party in Fort Lauderdale, along with a free overnight at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and limousine transfer at the start and finish of the cruise.  This is a very nice, well planned feature that is much appreciated.  We started with two weeks at the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World and Crystal arranged private transfers for this as well, at no extra charge.

We were promised two “exclusive” luncheons ashore for full World Cruise guests.  The first was a casual, all day outing to a ranch in Uruguay that was absolutely outstanding.  The second was an ultra-formal affair at Sydney’s Town Hall.  This event was way too long and incredibly boring, although the food was exceptional and the décor stunning.

The company provided a World Cruise Hostess who did an outstanding job of juggling the complaints and handling Team Trivia.  We thought she was well suited to the job at hand, friendly without being sugary sweet, and a gracious hostess.

As last year, there were many parties to keep World Cruisers together.  However, there weren’t any pointless themes and most of the parties were well received and interesting.  The highlight was the “Crewmember for a Day” party where guests were run through the orientation and tour or crew areas on deck 3 and 4, normally off limits to guests.  We didn’t attend the less exciting events, but the ones we did attend, we enjoyed.

We did not receive as many gifts along the way as we did last year and they were not as expensive as before.  These did come with nice, personalized notes from different officers, such as the Hotel Director and Executive Housekeeper.  The gifts were not as well thought out and appeared to be more along the lines of a corporate gift from a catalog rather than something specifically selected for a World Cruise.  However, they did have something to do with travel and were not too bulky to carry home, which was an improvement.  We learned that all guests on any part of the World Cruise receive these gifts, another reduction in the exclusiveness of being on the full World Cruise.


Ports of Call

Frankly, most of the stops were pointless, but we didn’t go on the cruise for a particular port.  Here is how we would rate the various ports in retrospect:

St. John, St. Kitts, St. Thomas:  We don’t recall even getting off the ship in these ports, but if we did it wasn’t memorable.  They are pretty to look at from a distance, but that’s all we can say about them.

Fortaleza, Brazil:  Dirty, dangerous, and crime-riddled, the only reason to stop here was to dispatch an overland shore excursion that was cancelled due to lack of participation.  We did not go ashore and those who did, wished they hadn’t.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:  Worth seeing once for the spectacular scenery, but the city is a dangerous place full of drug gangs and desperately poor people.  This contrasts with the obscene wealth of some members of society to create a volatile environment.  We would not get off the ship if  a cruise stopped here again.

Buenos Aires, Argentina:  Also dangerous due to the poor economy, the city has a faded glory to its crumbling old buildings.  We took a city tour here that was interesting especially when the guide had to inquire about a pending riot to determine whether to let us off at the scheduled stop in front of the former palace of Peron.

Montevideo, Uruguay:  This is an up and coming country with pleasant cities, although much of the population lives in poverty.  However, the poor villages aren’t as dilapidated as they are in Brazil.  This was the location of the outstanding World Cruise event at a family-owned ranch.  The people here are gorgeous!

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands:  An interesting, charming town on a windblown island.  It was cold and blustery, but we enjoyed our short walk through town.  There are penguins and other wildlife to see here, but not enough to make a special trip.  Clean and crime free.

Antarctica Cruising:  There were many complaints about the rough crossing and bad weather, but we didn’t agree with either.  It was moderately rough coming and going, but it wasn’t as bad as we have ever seen it.  There was the buffet-on-the-floor day and the ice bucket dumped into our open drawers, but both were fairly entertaining for us.  The ship could not take its planned route due to the floating ice and fog, but we saw enough to make it worthwhile.  We would take a cruise to this destination again, no question.

Ushuaia, Argentina:  This “end of the world” town doesn’t have much to offer, but it was pleasant enough.  We took a very boring train ride through a vaguely scenic rainforest, or so we were told.  It was raining, but we doubt it would look much better in the sun.

Punta Arenas, Chile:  Again, a pleasant little town with nothing much to offer except an hour or so of strolling through the city.

Puerto Montt, Chile:  Another small town worth a visit only as an excuse to touch land for an hour or so. 

Valparaíso, Chile:  We did not get off the ship here because we saw it last year, but it’s a nice city with a European flavor.

Easter Island, Chile:  Extremely interesting destination off the beaten tourist track.  We would return here anytime the opportunity arose.

Pitcairn Island, UK:  Calling this a port of call is deceptive advertising in our opinion.  The ship anchors and the entire population comes out to the ship to sell their woodcarvings and t-shirts.  Once is enough for this island.  The population went from over 50 last year to just over 40 now.  Just the thought of what goes on there is creepy, although the people are quite friendly.

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia:  Many guests complain about this port, but we didn’t see anything wrong with it.  We wouldn’t necessarily go on a vacation here, but it was fine for a one-day stop.  The prices are very high for shopping and dining.

Raiatea, French Polynesia:  If you are into snorkeling this might be the place for you.  The epitome of a remote tropical island, but nothing much to do.  Can’t beat the scenery though.

Huahine, French Polynesia:  There is nothing about this island that stands out in our memory, but it wasn’t unpleasant.

Apia, Samoa:  There is nothing much to see here, but the people were extremely polite and welcoming.

Auckland, New Zealand:  One of our favorite cities in the world.  Clean, friendly, safe and unbelievably low prices for just about everything.  We could live here.

Christchurch, New Zealand:  Another lovely city with a small town feeling.  Beautiful parks and old stone buildings. 

Milford Sound Cruising:  Spectacular scenery in a narrow fjord.  Not as awe-inspiring as in Norway, but worth looking at once.

Launceston, Tasmania, Australia:  The town itself didn’t show us much, but the countryside was beautiful in a rural sort of way.

Melbourne, Australia:  Somewhat disappointing after all the hype.  It doesn’t hold a candle to the charm of Sydney, but for a big city it is quite nice.  We wouldn’t want to live here, but it’s a nice place to visit.

Adelaide, Australia:  Yawn.  Town looked somewhat depressed with lots of shuttered shops.

Perth, Australia:  The ship wasn’t actually in Perth, but in Freemantle.  More prosperous than Adelaide and the locals went out of their way to welcome tourists.

Exmouth, Australia:  Desolate, hot, humid and dusty.  Not worth visiting unless you are into giant antennas and filthy water.  It took the crew three days to get the brown stains off of the tenders.

Darwin, Australia:  Hot and humid.  We didn’t get off the ship.  The only reason to visit is to take an excursion to the nearby rainforest or jumping crocodile cruise.  We have been here four times, so no need for that.  Water is full of deadly jellyfish.

Cairns, Australia:  A charming resort town that is undergoing an urban renewal.  Great shopping for art just two blocks from the pier.  Deadly jellyfish abound.  very humid and hot.  This is the jumping off point for excursions to the Great Barrier Reef.

Sydney, Australia:  We can’t get enough of this exciting, beautiful city.  This is one place we could live happily ever after.

Nouméa, New Caledonia:  Beautiful to look at from a distance, but rude, unwelcoming locals make going ashore a drag.

Lautoka, Fiji:  If we wanted to go to Bombay, we’d fly to India.  The countryside where the Fijians live is pleasant, but the town is full of imported Indians and looks like you’d expect in India.  We didn’t get off the ship because we had done the country tour a few years ago.

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA:  Easy and familiar.  Waikiki has really been fixed up to be a world class destination.

Lahaina, Hawaii, USA:  A charming, although touristy, city.  We always enjoy our visits here and would return anytime.


If you like lots of activities, this is not the ship for you.  Crystal caters to experienced travelers who have done it all, so there is no napkin folding, ice carving, or other trite activities.  You’ll find enrichment lectures on current events, lectures on ports of call, bridge lessons, bingo, a Caesar’s Palace Casino, fitness classes, golf lessons, yoga, etc.  What it boils down to is that you have to be self-sufficient to a certain extent.  Most people spend lots of time in their stateroom, not participating in activities.  If you need constant entertainment, this is not the ship for you.

By far the most popular activity is Bridge.  The program has expanded to cover nearly every aspect of this game and there is a style for everyone.  The lectures were also well-attended.  Language classes in French and Spanish were offered this year, but we did not hear anything positive or negative about it.  We highly doubt that the 85% of guests who told Crystal they would participate actually did so.

There is also the Computer University at Sea that provides basic instruction in using email and such.  Crystal has taken the operation of the computer center in house and it is a vast improvement.  The computers and software are now state of the art, the reliability improved, and the cost reduced.  We do feel that they still charge outrageous fees for Internet access.  In the stateroom it is $1.75 per minute with a five-minute minimum.  In the computer center there is a charge by the byte.  We never used this method, so we don’t recall the fee, but it would be nearly impossible to figure out if they overcharged or not based on this system.  Access to the shipboard email system is no longer available from the staterooms, which is an inconvenience.

Final Thoughts

The diary and events described are solely our opinion.  We only focus on things that are important to us.  You may like something entirely different than we do.  Crystal is not for everyone, no doubt about it.  But, it generally suits us perfectly.  Passengers either love it or find themselves bored to tears.  There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.  We do get tired of the constant formality in dress and food.  However, there were fewer formal nights this year than last due to complaints.  Did we get bored?  Not in the slightest.  The key is to just go with the flow and fall into a routine. After all, we spent ¼ of the entire year on board!  We saw the crew more often than we see our friends and family at home in an entire year and then some. 

We will not be sailing on next year’s World Cruise and we have cancelled our booking on the inaugural sailing of Crystal Serenity in July, 2003, due to what we believe is a ridiculously inflated price.  Our attempt to book a similar number of days on Crystal Harmony was thwarted by inefficiency at Crystal’s corporate office that resulted in delays and misinformation regarding the Jones Act.  So, we have booked only the 14-day Crystal Serenity cruise for January 5, 2004.  Of course, itineraries are changing faster than ever due to world events, so you never can tell where we will be next time!

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