What is the absolute best cruise line if money is no object. How is Crystal?
I will have to go on another cruise in the next year. I just hope the next one is more geared towards what I appreciate.
Fine dining cooked to order, excellent wine and spirits, great service, privacy, spaceous rooms with balconies, maybe jazz music, absolutely no sales pitches on board (I expect it on shore), classic non-synthetic styling (real wood, glass, metal and stonework, not formica and faux) great itineraries and lengthy stays at port.
Is that too tall of an order?
Is there such an animal? Anyone been on a cruise like that?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
I've done 13 cruises on Crystal and for my money, there isn't a better cruise line. I've done Radisson, Silversea and Seabourn and I think the only one who comes close to Crystal is Seabourn. Gracious service and the best food of any cruise line I've been on. They have the best exotic itineraries and longer cruises. Beautiful ships with real wood, granite countertops in the bathrooms, Frette linens, your choice of pillows, fantastic fellow passengers who are friendly, wonderful guest lecturers and understated entertainment.
I definitely agree with Dar having been on over 30 cruises, 5 of which were on Crystal. Crystal's service, food, entertainment, ambiance, etc. etc. are definitely 6 star !!!! You will be forever spoiled !!
I just returned from two weeks on the Crystal Serenity, from Hong Kong to Singapore, with multiple stops in Viet Nam and Thailand. Simply put,....I am stunned at how exceptional the whole experience was. The crew, the fellow passengeers, and the food were all great. Of the 900+ passengers on my cruise,....over 700 were repeat Crystal cruisers. I think that says it all.......... I think the median age of the cruisers, was deceased. Still,....this was a segment of a world cruise, so, that is to be expected. I sort of enjoyed,....being one of the younger pups,......at age 49. (:> "The difference,...is crystal clear.".....
"Best Cruise Line" is really which one that's best for you. I believe on looking at the luxury lines in terms of your personal interest and lifestyle. For example, Crystal has larger ships with lots of entertainment and on-board programs. But on the smaller ships you have more passenger camraderie and better itineraries.
The companies I list are all in the luxury category, with top food and service:
Crystal Cruises (980 passenger ships) -- two dinner seatings, best nightlife, large cabins. More days at sea and extensive on-board lecture programs. Best of the Crystal ships is Crystal Serenity which has more alternative dining. Passengers are very dressy. So-so itineraries. Free soft drinks, but alcohol and tips are extra.
Silversea Cruises (200 and 300 passenger ships) -- elegant and quite dressy, more intimate due to smaller number of passengers; excellent itinteraries. All-inclusive price.
Seabourn Cruises: (200 passengers) -- in my opinion, the best itineraries. Tiny yacht-like ships with little on-board entertainment or activities, the focus in gourmet dining. Several formal nights, the rest country club casual. No balconies, but some cabins have "french windows". All-inclusive price. The best suites: Silver Suites on the Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper.
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises (300 and 700-passenger ships) -- Wine with dinner and tips included; good on-board programs and spacious balcony cabins. Not as pretentious as Crystal and Silversea, more friendly.
I hope this helps. I've been on them all, and this is my take on the differences.
Oh, forgot to mention something important. All of the cruise lines I mentioned except Crystal, have unassigned, single seating dining. Radisson offers outstanding optional restaurants including Cordon Bleu.
I would rate Cunard far below these lines. We recently did a cruise on the QM2 and were greatly disappointed. We had a Q4 room which meant we dined in the Queen's Grill. While the food was fine, we were disappointed to discover that the menu in what's supposed to be the gourmet dining room, was the exact menu they served in the huge Britannia restaurant. While there was an ala carte menu in the QG that they don't have in the Brit, we really didn't expect to pay so much money for an upgraded room only to find out that we could have the same food as the much cheaper rooms.
These are comments I posted some time ago, but I think they are relevant to this subject.
My wife and I have recently returned from a 14 day Christmas cruise aboard the QM2. We were in Queens Grill accomodations and although the ship itself is a worthy addition to the Cunard heritage, the total experience does not begin to measure up to any of our cruises on Crystal.
Our room was very nice and was somewhat roomier than a comparable PS on a Crystal ship. This was accomplished by only having one sink in the bathroom, a combination tub/shower and no bidet. The extra room gave a few more square feet in the cabin and an extra closet separate from the walk-in closet.
The food was not up to Crystal standards and the service was efficient but very mechanical and hurried. Our waiter in the Queens Grill (who should have been one of the more experienced waiters on board) had never been on a cruise ship before, whereas Crystal requires at least two years experience on another cruise line before they will consider you for employment.
The public rooms were well fitted out, but any of the Crystal ships have a superior layout. For example, the QM2 has a Winter Garden which is similar to Crystal's quiet and peaceful Palm Court Room. However, the Winter Garden sits astride a very busy part of the ship and people are constantly streaming through it. Additionally, the QM2 has many lounges and bar areas, but nothing close to the intimacy of the Avenue Bar or even the Vista Lounge. The closest was the Commodore Club, but the windows had to be covered at night so the reflection would not disturb the bridge.
Finally, the QM2 is so large that tendering is the norm at most ports. We typically had to go to the Queens Room, get a number and wait 30 to 45 minutes to get a tender into the port. I suppose with 2600 people on board this is inevitable.
We plan on sailing exclusively with Crystal in the future; it is simply the very best Cruise Line in the market today.
The best cruise line is the one you love. In the luxury end, there are differences in lifestyle. Luxury ships are under 1,000 people, such as Crystal, Radisson, Windstar, Silverseas and Seabourn. Crystal, however, is the only ship with assigned two-seating dining. The others have open seating so you dine when, and with whom, you like. So, if you want Crystal, realize that this is part of the experience.
Personally I like Windstar Cruises the best -- casual clothing, superb dining and service. They are tiny and laid-back, everyone meets everyone else. This suits my personal lifestyle.
Seabourn has the best itineraries I think. No balconies but many cabins have "French doors" which open to the elements. Outstanding dining, superb staff.
Silverseas is probably the "best" in terms of elegance and dining. My pick for the best suites afloat are the "Silver Suites" -- this is the best cruise experience in the world.
Radisson isn't quite as pretentious and their ships are lovely, with four restaurants. There are dressy nights but the crowd seems a bit more down to earth than I've found on Crystal, Silversea and Radisson.
Anne, you mentioned the on-board programs and guest lectures. My husband lectures nationally to other lawyers about tax planning and elder law issues. We have thought of contacting the agency that may set up these lectures on lines like Crystal, and have him lecture in exchange for the fare. Is this the kind of topic that lecturers speak about on these lines? Who would one contact about this?
In order to offer your services to be an onboard guest speaker you need to contact Crystal's On Board Guest Services or Crystal's Creative Learning Institute's coordinator. You can do that by writing to Crystal at www.crystalcruises.com or calling 866-446-6625 and asking to speak to someone at their Creative Learning Department.
On most Crystal cruises, they have guest speakers who talk on a variety of subjects like health and wellness, history, art, performing arts and investments.
By your criteria, Seabourn is the very best. The most outstanding itineraries, food and service. The ships are modern Scandinavian as are most vessels today. However these ships don't have balconies (many cabins have "French Windows" which open to the sea) and they are the smallest luxury vessels afloat -- not a big amount of space. Still they get my vote.
I'm 43 years-old and I don't know if I would feel comfortable around older people. I'm just a regular high school teacher and I wouldn't measure up to some of the passengers who cruise on luxury liners. These cruises are more upscale, more elegant, dressier and finer. I'll stick to what I know and feel comfortable with.
I understand what you are saying, but I think you will find people are very friendly on these nicer ships - especially to a school teacher, who would not appreciate what a school teacher does for our society?
These are my preferences for a luxury cruise vacation in no particular order:
1. Many smoke-free dining options (not bars)
2. Long all-day stays in cities on port days
3. Veranda suites (300+ sf) with refrigerators
4. Concerts, dancing, Broadway-style plays
5. Stewardess/butler throughout the cruise
6. Beautiful ship with spa, pools, and shops
7. Variety of shore excursions at all ports
8. Complimentary laundry thoughout cruise
9. Lectures, classes, and workshops at sea
10. Library with books about many topics
Which cruise line most closely meets all of these criteria? Right now I am not worrying about the specific itineraries. I do not drink any alcohol, so I don't care if it is included in the fare or not. Formal nights are OK with me. I do not gamble, go to fitness centers, or play any sports. I just want the best possible cruise experience even if it costs $10,000.
I think you may be surprised to find such a cruise can cost even more than $10,000 per person - depending on the length and stateroom category.
You indicate you want at least 300 sq ft. That is just over the everage minimum category for cruise lines like Silversea, Seabourn and Regent.
I would recommend Silversea although I am not entirely sure of the smoking practices. With a mostly Italian navogational staff and headquarters in Monaco - they tend to have a more European view on smoking, although I am fairly sure you would not find it a problem the vasy majority of the time, you may have to walk through a smoky room once in awhile.
I have to add Crystal, of course, and the top tier of Cunard. These are bigger shgips and will have more of the lectures and concerts that you crave. But they tend not to spend quite as much time in port - depending (again) on where you are cruising. In Europe and other destinations of interest the lines schedule many more port stops, but I took a trans-canal cruise on Crystal and in 16 days we only took one tour out of three port stops. The funny thing is that we didnt care.
All of the luxury cruise lines are selling with tons of incentives, including credit for shore excursions.
I have had incredible shore excursions on Silverseas - including overnight hotel stays in Luxor Egypt and Cairo, for example.
I haven't yet tried Seabourn and I have not sailed on Regent on over a decade, so I can't say much about those.