Review: Crystal Symphony cruise ship

Editors rating:

Crystal Symphony cruise ship facts

  • 606 guests
  • 545 crew
  • 1995 launched
  • 2023 refurbished

Crystal Symphony is a great cruise ship if you enjoy the good life. It has world-class dining, outstanding service and space to call your own.

Review: Crystal Symphony cruise ship

Editors rating:
By Published On: 7 Mar 2024

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Crystal Symphony is so good you could be forgiven for thinking it’s too good to be true. The legendary cruise ship has returned to service with magnificent suites, butler service, delectable dining and that most exclusive of all modern luxuries; space to call your own.

Now under the careful oversight of new owners the A&K Travel group (with former Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio), Crystal Symphony offers a very special cruise experience. Made even more so thanks to the intuitive and warm service provided by the experienced crew, 80-percent of whom previously worked for Crystal Cruises.


  • Exceptional cuisine.
  • Personal butlers.
  • Outstanding service.
  • All new suites and refreshed public areas.
  • Ample space to call your own.


  • None to mention.

Crystal Symphony FAQs

Crystal Symphony is a luxury cruise ship with fine dining and polished service, as well as designer suites and a sumptuous day spa.

Crystal Symphony can accommodate 606 guests.

The luxury A&K Travel Group own Crystal Symphony. The Group’s owners are Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent and Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio’s holding company, Heritage Group.

Crystal Symphony is all-inclusive; with meals, beverages and gratuities all covered by your cruise fare. However, shore excursions cost extra.

Voyages of seven days or longer have at least one optional formal night. Guests should wear formal cocktail/chic attire.

The rooms on Crystal Symphony will usually be ready from 3:00pm on the day of embarkation.

Our review ratings

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Crystal Symphony deck plan

The Crystal Symphony deck plan is mostly easy to get around. There are a total of 8 passenger decks, the highest of which is deck 12.

  • Reception: Deck 5
  • Accommodation: Decks 5 to 10
  • Main dining room: Deck 5
  • Theatre: Deck 6
  • Observation lounge: Deck 12

About Crystal Symphony

Crystal Symphony is unique. Built in Finland and launched in May 1995 the vessel is 238 m. / 781 ft. long with 12 decks. The cruise ship originally had room for over 900 passengers. However, when the A&K Group purchased Crystal they invested heavily in improving the fleet.

The spectacular Crystal Plaza atrium on Crystal Symphony.
The spectacular Crystal Plaza atrium on Crystal Symphony.

So on Crystal Symphony they started by reducing capacity to 606 guests. This allowed them to transform the accommodation decks with bigger suites as well as brand new guest rooms. Crystal Symphony’s restaurants, bars and lounges also got a make over.

Crystal Symphony's acclaimed Waterside Restaurant.
Crystal Symphony’s acclaimed Waterside Restaurant.

It’s worth noting that the casino has gone, making way for a spacious lounge.

New water treatment and energy recovery systems have also made Crystal Symphony greener. In addition, fuel consumption was reduced by painting a special treatment on the hull.

The relaunch of Crystal Symphony took place in September 2023. It is a classic reborn; made better than new.

Food on Crystal Symphony

Crystal Symphony serves some of the best food at sea. Indeed, the cuisine in the Waterside Restaurant is better than any other main dining room afloat. What’s more, a Michelin-starred chef oversees one of the two outstanding speciality restaurants.

In fact there are a total of 9 dining venues on Crystal Symphony; a remarkable number for a vessel so intimate. There is also a tapas-style restaurant, an upmarket buffet and an exclusive private dining room. Not to mention a pool side grill, chic cafe and an ice cream bar.

Seared Ahi Tuna as served in the Waterside Restaurant on Crystal Symphony.
Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Crumble & Cress Salad.

We rate the Waterside Restaurant as the best dining venue; if only for the indulgent, ever changing menu. Dishes like Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Crumble or Turbot & Butter Poached Lobster with Caviar Velouté are sublimely divine. Not to mention Slow Roasted Veal Fillet with Mascarpone Porcini Risotto & Artichoke. Fellow guests would quip the Waterside Restaurant was so good speciality venues weren’t required!

Stir Fried Lobster with Garlic, Asparagus and Shitake Mushrooms, Finished with Truffle Uzu.
Chef Nobu’s famous Lobster with Truffle Uzu.

That said, you shouldn’t miss the speciality restaurants either. Umi Uma makes a triumphant return to Crystal. Master chef Nobuyki (Nobu) Matusuhisa oversees the menu which has fine quality sashimi and signature dishes like Nobu-Style Black Cod, as well as Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu. A new addition to the Crystal dining scene is Osteria d’Ovidio. Named for the company’s co-owner, it celebrates the cuisine of Italy with superb pasta dishes like Tortello Pasta filled with Braised Beef, Figs Vincotto & Gorgonzolla Cheese. You can also enjoy family-style dining in Tastes Kitchen & Bar with sharable dishes like Crispy Fried Prawn Dumplings, and California Street Tacos with Blackened Swordfish & Pico de Gallo.

For an additional fee there is private dining in the exclusive Vintage Room. It has a degustation menu paired with excellent wines from the ship’s extensive cellar.

A dessert selection in the Marketplace buffet.
The Marketplace has a tempting dessert selection.

The Marketplace buffet also serves outstanding cuisine. It has a casual and easy ambiance that makes it popular with almost everyone on board.

The Bistro cafe on board Crystal Symphony.
The Bistro serves excellent coffee and gourmet teas.

The Parisian-style Bistro café has really good coffee not to mention tasty treats. Up on the pool deck the Trident Grill serve lunchtime classics like burgers, melts and salads.

Nightlife on Crystal Symphony

Crystal Symphony’s nightlife is sophisticated and immensely enjoyable. Talented musicians play in the Crystal Cove bar each evening. Down the hall there is dancing in the Starlite Club and a pianist takes requests in the intimate Avenue Salon.

The Crystal Symphony cast perform in the Galaxy Lounge.
The popular Crystal Symphony cast perform Broadway-style shows.

A large cast of seasoned performers entertain in the Galaxy Lounge with Broadway-style production shows; these are very good.

On our voyage there were classical performances in the Palm Court. Also, there was late night entertainment with a DJ in the Jade Night Club.

Guest Rooms and Suites

All Crystal Symphony’s guest rooms and suites were refurbished in 2023. Indeed, some decks were entirely gutted to make way for bigger suites.

A Crystal Symphony Double Guest Room with veranda.
Double Guest Rooms are stylish and comfortable.

There are a relatively small number of Single and Double Guest Rooms. Some have picture windows while others have verandas. These are the least expensive rooms on board.

An Aquamarine Suite in the classic decor on Crystal Symphony.
The spacious Aquamarine Suite is available in classic decor (above), or refurbished.

However, most guests stay in more spacious suites like the Aquamarine Veranda Suite or the delightful Sapphire Veranda Suite which has a separate bedroom.

A Sappire Veranda Suite on Crystal Symphony.
Sappire Veranda Suites have a separate bedroom.

For those who like even more space there is the palatial Junior Crystal Penthouse Suite, or the top of the range Crystal Penthouse Suite with an opulent spa-style bathroom.

It’s worth noting that the decor of some suites has not changed. This is the result of consultation with long-time Crystal guests, some of whom preferred what they knew.

Fitness and recreation

Crystal Symphony has an indulgent spa known as Aurōra. Inspired by the Goddess of Dawn, the Aurōra spa is an oasis of calm in a sea of serenity. It successfully captures the essence of early morning tranquility; there is even a starlit ceiling. Indeed, Aurōra specialise in light therapies with treatments like the 50 minute duration LED & Cryo Facial Experience. I enjoyed a blissful massage treatment; one of the most relaxing I can remember.

The Seahorse Pool on the Crystal Symphony cruise ship.
Sun loungers surround the sparkling Seahorse Pool.

The sparkling Crystal Symphony swimming pool is perfect for a refreshing dip; and it’s surrounded by a glorious teak deck with sun loungers. There is also a large gym with exercise machines and free weights, as well as spin, pilates and yoga classes.

Shuffleboard on a teak cruise ship deck.
Play shuffleboard with a view.

You can play shuffleboard or jog on the magnificent promenade decks. The Wimbledon Court is also open for tennis, or you can practice your golf swing in the driving nets on the top deck.

Activities on Crystal Symphony

There is a terrific range of activities on board Crystal Symphony. The Hollywood Theatre has movie screenings; on my voyage these included “About My Father” with Robert De Niro and “Book Club: The Next Chapter” with Jane Fonda.

The Palm Court lounge and bar on the Crystal Symphony cruise ship.
The Palm Court has panoramic views.

In the Palm Court you can enjoy decadent afternoon teas. Crystal Symphony also has photography and computer classes, seminars on improving posture and skin care as well as ladies pamper parties. Not to mention spa raffles valued at USD 500.

The library on board Crystal Symphony.
The Library is a peaceful retreat.

There is a peaceful, well stocked library which is open every day. If you enjoy golf you will appreciate the Golf Clinic with the ship’s resident instructor. Fitness fanatics can also join the daily yoga and spin classes.

In addition, there are jewellery presentations in the boutique as well as lectures from guest speakers, unhosted bridge, team trivia and mar jongg. Also, there are get togethers for veterans and friends of Bill W.

It’s also worth noting that Crystal has continued its Stateroom Open House program showcasing selected suites and Penthouses. Watch the daily Reflections newsletter for availability.

Crystal Symphony shore excursions

Crystal Symphony has shore excursions catering to all interests and abilities, from scenic bus tours to small group cultural explorations.

A Crystal Symphony shore excursion in Corfu, Greece.
Enjoy unique shore excursions like this one to the rarely visited mountain villages of Corfu, Greece.

On my voyage we joined a small group 4WD tour into the highlands of Corfu, Greece. We discovered almost deserted villages not to mention a forgotten way of life. Few others who visit the island are afforded such a unique experience.

By contrast, on another day we took a little boat to a delightful local beach near Dubrovnik, Croatia for an afternoon of fun in sun with the locals.

There are also chef’s market tours, curated visits to museums, galleries and even luncheons on farms and vineyards.

What’s included on Crystal Symphony

A Crystal Symphony cruise fare is all-inclusive. Beverages are included; even champagne and top-shelf spirits. So too are gratuities, as well as wi-fi and internet access. All meals are also included. There is even an allocation in the two speciality restaurants (based on the voyage duration):

  • Voyages up to 11 days: One complimentary reservation at each restaurant.
  • Voyages from 12 – 22 days: Two complimentary reservations at each restaurant.
  • Voyages of 23 days or more: Three complimentary reservations at each restaurant.

Additional reservations can be made, however they will incur a USD 50 supplement per person.

Most voyages also include a Captain’s Reception & Crystal Society Party. It is a great way to met your fellow guests, or reunite with previous travel companions. There is also a Crystal White Dress Party where everyone wears white. It is usually held in the Crystal Plaza with entertainment by the Crystal Showband.

In addition, Crystal Symphony has a free shuttle bus service between the port and downtown (if it is not within walking distance).

There is also a self-service laundry. However, it’s worth noting that certain suite categories get a free dry cleaning and pressing allowance.

Crystal Symphony dress code

The Crystal Symphony dress code can best be described as ‘resort-chic’.

During the day guests are encouraged to wear casual attire – even in the restaurants. So clothing like sundresses, shorts, jeans, T-shirts or linen garments are all fine. In the Trident Grill, Tastes, and the Marketplace buffet you can also wear covered swimsuits.

It probably goes without saying, but you cannot wear swimwear on its own, bathrobes, bare feet, tank tops or baseball caps in dining venues.

After 6:00pm the Crystal Symphony dress code changes to Evening Resort style. So men wear slacks or dark jeans and a collared shirt (jacket optional). Women wear slacks, dark jeans or a skirt, and a blouse.

On formal nights men should wear suits or tuxedos and collared shirts. Ties are optional. Women should wear cocktail dresses or gowns, suits, evening skirts or pants with an elegant top.

Fellow guests

It’s hardly surprising that many guests have sailed on Crystal Symphony before; the ship has a loyal following.

Guests range in age from 35 to 75-years old. However, there can be families with young children on board too; especially on warm weather voyages.

Most guests come from the USA and UK, although Canadians, Australians and Europeans also enjoy Crystal Symphony.

It’s worth noting that Crystal Symphony is also gay-friendly.

Crystal Symphony review conclusion

Crystal Symphony is an excellent choice if you enjoy the good life. There is exquisite dining, intuitive service and a sublime sense of privacy as well as sophisticated entertainment and thoughtfully curated shore excursions. Indeed, Crystal Symphony is so good you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s too good to be true.

The author sailed as a guest of Crystal.

About the Author: Jason Kerr

Jason is the founder and Managing Editor of The Luxury Cruise Review. He has a passion for travel, a weakness for espresso coffee and a love of Greek cuisine.

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