I grasped an opportunity to cruise on the Crystal yacht, Crystal Esprit, on its rare Europe transitional itinerary between Malaga and Barcelona: I wanted to do this for a long time but this ship is normally in Seychelle or the Caribbean during hot seasons for luxury sport-active cruises, which are not really my domain. I cruised on Crystal since the Crystal Harmony time and I wanted to see what is its new yachting experience.
The answer is simple: the highest degree of pampering and service attention. The ship carries a maximum of some 60 passengers and on this trip we are 47, served by a staff complement higher in number. Yet it is actually quite full: I noted that only one cabin is not sold as many took single occupancy.
With this statistics in mind, and with the apparent desire of Crystal to make a service standard even higher than on a big ship, the result is evident.
Very soon everyone of the staff knows every passenger and his needs. My greatest surprise is that barely on boarding my chamber steward knows that I prefer not to have the bed made up for daytime: this information was acquired simply because I am a member and a fairly frequent visitor to Crystal Serenity.
As if to go beyond even the big sister ships, all transfers are inclusive in private cars. In every port there are not only shuttle buses but also excursion tours free. Incredibly, even if only 30 people join, they do not use a bus, but 3 minibuses, each with a ship escort and a local guide. And I note that in Valencia there are also an ontime free shuttle bus scheduled to centre of town. The tours are normally within a 4-hour duration so that after a morning trip one still have a half-day to oneself, after lunch on the ship.
The food served on the ship is of the highest standard beyond other so-called luxury boutique ships, in that every meal is a deliberate creation. It seems that the chef has full control of the kitchen, creating new dishes with fresh local ingredients as he wishes, not a corporate designed menu, as on most ships. And for this a good chef is needed, and here they have an excellent English chef that can really present Michelin-star standrad meals, with really complicated preparation and yet tasty (have to say that many good-looking Michelin meals on land taste from strange to bad). Crystal Esprit and SeaDream, another yacht operator, represents the highest cooking standard at sea in my mind. Here they use expensive ingredients, lobster, Wangu beef, truffles, and caviar was served in the bar. The service is almost perfect. The Hotel Director, Manfred, told me that he was Hotel Director of Europa 2 and have run Seabourn ships for a long time, and everything seems to have his attention.
As itt is a yacht passengers do not expect evening entertainment, rather than after a slow exquisite meal with comlimentary drinks before, during, and after it. What is lacking is probably a lift for passengers that precludes passengers with mobility problems.
The water-sport facilities are of course a great plus, if you use them in season and in the right waters.
But in the end it is the utmost degree of pampering that may lure you to return. And of course Crystal is building two purpose-designed new yachts to be debuted soon.
Crystal Esprit, as well as SeaDream, represents an entirely different cruise expereince. Yes you have to pay for it, but it is worthy of the money for what you get.
Very comfortable cabin with all needed amenities. First class furnishing and good house-keeping.
Interesting poirt that can be visited only bu small ships, and here we have an inclusive excursion of small parties.
Interesting pirt with historic interest
Because of the excusrion, I first visited the castle and it was great.