Category Archives: Crystal Cruises

2011 Best Cruise Lines

Each year we see picks for the best ships, best dining, best kids clubs, etc. with many industry guides and reviewers.  We have seen two of these picks so far this year – Cruise Critic and Conde Nast Traveler.  So how did your favorites do?

Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks 2011

  • Best New Ship – Disney Dream
  • Best New River Ship – Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette
  • Best for Luxury –  Seabourn’s Odyssey
  • Best for First-Timers –  Princess Cruises
  • Best for Families – Royal Caribbean
  • Best Itineraries – Azamara Club Cruises
  • Best for Adventure – Lindblad Expeditions
  • Best River Cruise Line – Viking River Cruises
  • Best Value for Money – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best for Dining – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Alternative Restaurant – Celebrity’s Qsine
  • Best Buffet – Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Best for Entertainment – Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure
  • Best for Healthy Cruising – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best for Spa Lovers – Seabourn’s Sojourn & Quest
  • Best for Solo Cruisers – Norwegian Epic
  • Best Suites – Oceania’s Marina
  • Best Standard Cabins – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Inside Cabins – Disney Dream
  • Best Shore Excursions – Holland America
  • Best for Enrichment – Crystal Cruises
  • Best for Honeymoons – Princess Cruises
  • Best for Wine Lovers – Celebrity Solstice-Class
  • Best Cruise Ship Bar – Carnival’s RedFrog Pub
  • Best U.S. Cruise Port – New Orleans

Conde Nast Traveler – Gold List 2011

Rather than selecting one best in each of a number of categories, Conde Nast Traveler gives an overall score for each of their picks based on itineraries, cabins, service, food, design, activities and excursions.  The scores were averages to get the overall score.  Our list shows the cruise line name, overall score and top category.

  • Abercrombie & Kent – Overall Score 83.7 (Itineraries 96.0)
  • Crystal Cruises – Overall Score 92.3 (Service 95.5)
  • Cunard Line – Overall Score 86.4 (Itineraries 89.9)
  • Disney Cruise Line – Overall Score 90.3 (Service 96.1)
  • Grand Circle Small Ship Cruises – Overall Score 87.1 (Itineraries 94.7)
  • Oberoi – Overall Score 84.7 (Tie for Itineraries and Service 94.1)
  • Oceania Cruises – Overall Score 86.6 (Itineraries 94.9)
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Overall Score 91.0 (Service 95.1)
  • Seadream Yacht Club – Overall Score 86.6 (Service 94.4)
  • Silversea Cruises – Overall Score 85.2 (Service 92.1)
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection – Overall Score 83.8 (Itineraries 92.0)
  • Windstar Cruises – Overall Score 84.3 (Service 93.2)
  • Yachts of Seabourn – Overall Score 93.4 (Service 97.9)

Conde Nast Traveler: 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

We think that this review is the best representation however as it is your choices for the best of the best.  Travel editors don’t always have the same opinions as those of us who travel for a vacation.  Those who voted assigned a rating of excellent, very good, good, fair and poor for a variety of criteria.  Each reviewer’s total score is calculated and then the average of all responses is calculated.

Small-Ship Lines

  • Seabourn – 91.8
  • Silversea – 88.5
  • Windstar 85.8
  • Seadream Yacht Club – 84.5
  • Lindblad Expeditions – 78.0

Medium-Ship Lines

  • Crystal Cruises – 93.0
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – 91.6
  • Disney – 89.8
  • Oceania Cruises – 86.0
  • Azamara Club Cruises – 84.7
  • Cunard – 84.2
  • Holland America – 81.5
  • Celebrity – 79.9
  • Princess – 79.8
  • Royal Caribbean – 76.3

Large-Ship Lines

  • Celebrity – 87.7
  • Princess – 80.9
  • Royal Caribbean – 78.9
  • Carnival – 70.9
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – 64.3

River Lines

  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruises – 90.3
  • Grand Circle Travel – 86.1
  • Viking River Cruises – 84.8
  • Avalon Waterways – 78.9
  • AmaWaterways – 68.5

Porthole Cruise Magazine 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

  • Best Small Ship (under 500 passengers) – Seabourn Quest
  • Best Medium-Sized Ship (between 500-2000 passengers) – Nieuw Aterdam
  • Best Megaship (at least 2000 passengers) – Allure of the Seas
  • Best Tall Ship – Wind Surf
  • Best River Cruise – Viking River Cruises
  • Best Value-for-the-Money Line – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Luxury Line – Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Most Family-Oriented Line – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Expedition Cruise Line – Lindblad Expeditions
  • Most Romantic Cruise Line – Windstar Cruises
  • Best Eco-Friendly Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Short-Duration Cruise – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Shore Excursions – Holland America Line
  • Best One-Day Cruise – Discovery Cruise Line (no longer in operation)
  • Best Private Island – Half Moon Cay
  • Best Adventure Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Onboard Activities – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Onboard Educational Programs – Cunard Line
  • Best Main Dining Room Cuisine – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Alternative Restaurants – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Casinos – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Computer Facilities – Holland America Line
  • Best Spa Facilities – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Onboard Shopping – Princess Cruises
  • Best Medical Facilities – Holland America Line
  • Best Children’s Programs – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Service – Silversea Cruises
  • Best Entertainment – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Onboard International Experience – MSC Cruises
  • Best Theme Cruises – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Adults-Only Onboard Options – Crystal Cruises
  • Best Website – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Accommodations – Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Best Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers – Holland America Line
  • Best Caribbean Itineraries – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Canada/New England Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Mexican Riviera Itineraries – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Alaska Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Central America Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Hawaii Itineraries – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best South America Itineraries -Oceania Cruises
  • Best Mediterranean Itineraries -Costa Cruises
  • Best South Pacific Itineraries -Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Best North Europe Itineraries – Princess Cruises
  • Best Trans-Atlantic Itineraries -Cunard Line
  • Best Asia/Pacific Itineraries – Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Best Africa/Middle East Itineraries -Costa Cruises
  • Best World Cruise Itineraries -Cunard Line
  • Best Bermuda Itineraries -Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Australia/New Zealand Itineraries -P&O Cruises

There are other awards out there and we chose to focus on just a few.  Keep in mind that these awards are all based on opinions of other cruisers or travel editors.  “Mileage may vary”.  There are so many cruise ships and cruise lines available though there is bound to be one that is just right for you.

What is your favorite cruise line? 

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Crystal Symphony Ship Tour

Our last day in Fort Lauderdale/Miami, we had a chance to tour the Crystal Symphony.  Crystal Cruises is a luxury cruise line with two ships each with just under 500 cabins.  There are no inside staterooms, only ocean view and balcony.  An entire deck is dedicated to penthouses, which include butler services.  Starting in the Spring of 2012, Crystal Cruises will become all-inclusive with wine, spirits, gratuities and much more included.  Right now they offer an “As You Wish” spending credits.  Airfare from major US airports is included, though you can get a credit instead for not using their air program.

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Upcoming Ship Tours!

I think that when every you try to find the perfect cruise for someone, it is much easier if you have first-hand knowledge of the itineraries and ships.  By no means is it required.  There are some very good travel agents that haven’t been on a cruise that still do a good job.  I feel that there are so many subjective things out there though about a cruise that it’s almost better to experience a cruise for yourself and keep an open mind.

For example, I can say that I didn’t like the food on Royal Caribbean but my mother and sister loved it.  I thought the food on Disney Cruise Line was very good but my sister said it was just ok.  Now what I say is that Disney uses a lot more sauces and flavor combinations while Royal Caribbean is more of a meat a potato meal.  This doesn’t mean one is better than the other, it just gives you a better idea of what the food is like and you can choose which is a better fit with your palate.

The same goes with itineraries.  I have heard that Alaska was an amazing cruise destination.  I learned about Alaskan cruises through courses from Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines.  Personally, I didn’t see why an Alaskan cruise was that great.  Sure you could see whales and other wildlife, but a top cruise destination?  I decided to try it out for myself in May this year and you know what?  This is one of the top cruise destinations I have ever been to.  Granted there are a few I haven’t been to, but after 25 cruises, this is in my top three.

It is for these reasons that we try out different cruise lines, different itineraries and do ship tours.  This doesn’t mean I’m going on another cruise anytime soon, it means I’m off to tour a couple more ships.  The opportunity has come up for me to tour the Norwegian Epic and Crystal Symphony.  In less than a couple weeks I’ll be spending part of a day on each one of these.

Norwegian Epic is the newest and largest of the NCL fleet.  Epic has a lot of features that are very different than other cruise ships.  One is the studios category of rooms made for one person with no single supplement fees.  Another is the layout of the cabins and the bathrooms.  I’ll hold off on describing these until I see them in person.  I’m hoping we’ll get to see the Haven, Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship within a ship so to speak.  This is the area where all the suites are located, with their own courtyard containing loungers and pools.

Crystal Cruises will be changing to an all-inclusive line in the Spring of 2012.  This cruise line is considered a luxury brand and has two smaller ships.  The sale pricing on some of their 7 night cruises this year have been incredible for a luxury line so we are excited to see what this ship has to offer.

Before I tour the ships, I will be attending a cruise travel conference.  Representatives from many cruise lines will be there and I’ll have an opportunity to ask any questions I have.  I’d also like to get answers to any questions you might have (yes, I will ask the Disney rep about the rest of 2013!).

What would like to learn about the Norwegian Epic or Crystal Symphony?  What information would you be interested in finding out from any other cruise line?

National Cruise Vacation Week Kicks Off!

We are seeing many offers this week from October 17 to 23 in honor of CLIA’s promotion for National Cruise Vacation Week.  Here are just a few of the deals available.

AmaWaterways

Exclusive 2 for 1 pricing on select sailings.

Avalon Waterways

Save up to $2000 per couple on select 2012 Avon Waterways European River cruises!

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival is featuring Fun Select Rates and up to $150 in onboard credits per stateroom for all cruisers.  You will receive $25 per person (up to $50 per stateroom) for 3 & 4 day cruises, $50 per person (up to $100 per stateroom) for 5 day cruises, and $75 per person (up to $150 per stateroom) on cruises of 6 days or longer.

There is also a bonus onboard credit for Europe departures starting June 2012.  When you book a 12 day Europe cruise you will get up to $200 per stateroom for past guests (plus free upgrades) and up to $300 per stateroom for new Carnival cruisers.

Celebrity Cruises

Up to $400 per stateroom on all sailings 4 nights or longer between January 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013.

Crystal Cruises

Book by October 31 and receive 2-for-1 fares, up to $700 additional savings and much more!

Disney Cruise Line

Between October 17 and November 17, 2011, book a 4 or 5 night Bahamian cruise aboard the Disney Magic and receive  a $50 onboard credit per stateroom.

Holland America Line

Great pricing on select  sailings.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Cruise Like a Norwegian!  Reduced deposits, onboard credits on all three day or longer sailings in 2011 and 2012.

Oceania Cruises

2 for 1 cruise fares with free airfare plus up to $4000 bonus savings per stateroom on select sailings.

Paul Gauguin

Get up to a $100 onboard credit per person for every booking made by November 18, 2011.

Princess Cruises

PreSeason Sale from October 17 through October 23.  On Europe itineraries you can receive free balcony upgrades and up to $100 onboard credit per stateroom.  12 night sailings from as low as $2490 per person in a balcony!  On all cruises 7 days or longer, there are reduced deposits plus an onboard value booklet worth up to $325.

Royal Caribbean

For bookings departing  November 15, 2011 through January 31, 2012, you can get up to a $50 onboard credit.  There is also a offer for up to $200 onboard credit for new bookings made to Dubai, Australia and Europe with departures after November 15, 2011.

Seabourn

Save up to 50% or more to Europe, South and Central America, and Bali and the Indonesian Isles with this One Week Sale!  All-suite accommodations with ocean views, many with verandahs.  Open bars throughout the ship with fine wines at lunch and dinner.  All complementary dining venues!  Complimentary welcome champagne and in-suite bar stocked with your preferences.  Tipping is not required nor expected.  Fares start from $1,999 per person.  This is an all-inclusive opportunity not to pass up.

This is a sampling of some of the offers available during the National Cruise Vacation Week celebration.

Terms and conditional apply to all offers so contact us today for all details at Travel on a Dream.  Starting pricing examples are base cruise only.  Taxes and fees additional.

Looking for a Luxury Cruise?

June 30, 2011 marks the end of our anniversary celebration.  It also marks the end of some great promotions on Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises.

With Regent Seven Seas Cruises, you can save up to $10,000 per suite plus 2-for-1 fares.  This includes free roundtrip air from select cities, unlimited shore excursions, hotel package, beverages, prepaid gratuities, mini-bar and specialty restaurants.

Crystal Cruises offers $800 off per couple on World Cruise segments when sailing in a verandah.  Crystal is also offering three 6 or 7 day Mediterranean voyages starting at just $2995 per person with a $500 per person “As You Wish” spending credit.  How about a repositioning cruise from New York to Miami?  This 12-day sailing starts at just $2995, plus a $500 per person “As You Wish” spending credit.  2011 Holiday Cruises are also on sale which include free air (or a cruise-only credit in lieu of air) and up to $2000 “As You Wish” spending credit.

Also, for 2012 sailings starting in the spring, Crystal Cruises will be All Inclusive!  Contact us today for more information on these and other luxury cruise lines.

True Costs of A Cruise Vacation

Many travelers select a cruise vacation with the impression that they are all inclusive vacations.  While a cruise vacation is fairly inclusive and there are some cruise lines that do offer all inclusive packages, there are some things that you will have to pay for and should take into account when planning a cruise vacation.

In general, all cruise fares will include your room, meals, entertainment, port fees and government taxes, but what does this mean?

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