I went on Carnival and disliked it greatly. I am looking for the absolute best cruising experience money can buy, aside from renting my own yatch.
Can anyone offer some insight, as I will be on another cruise and I have a cultivated palette. I appreciate the finer things and don't want to be bothered on board by silly activities, second rate entertainment, day-long onboard announcements, banquet cuisine, hard beds, noise early in the morning, pushy sales on the ship and all the other annoyances one might experience on a lesser line like Carnival.
Crystal is probably the best idea for you. Nothing like Carnival or any of the mass market lines. Excellent food and service, wonderful itineraries, cultivated travelers, no announcements, excellent alternate restaurants, and a crew where the word "no" isn't in their vocabulary.
Unlike Carnival, Crystal is the most formal of all the cruise lines. Most men wear tuxes or dinner jackets, and the ladies wear gowns on formal nights. No going back to the room to change after dinner as Crystal asks you remain dressed in the code of the evening. So, if you don't mind a more formal experience, Crystal is for you.
We love Crystal. Just returned from a Mediterranean cruise, and I can assure you that it was "top notch" in every way. Rooms are spacious. We had a king size bed. The staff was gracious and eager to please. Entertainment just couldn't have been better. The entertainers were accomplished singers and dancers and presented fabulous shows. I'm a musician, and I can attest to their talent and professionalism.
Food? Not only quantity, but quality. You mentioned not liking buffets. You haven't been to a Crystal Buffet. I'm generally not a buffet person, but with the high quality and variety on Crystal, you couldn't possibly be unhappy. This is not your high starch potato salad and macaroni buffet. And the dining room is literally a five star restaurant. Every meat and dish we had was of top quality and perfectly prepared.
No big sales pitches. No charges for soft drinks and eating in speciality restaurants. A tip is suggested in speciality restaurants. You'll pay more, but you will be happy you chose this line. No, I don't work for Crystal!!!
Crustal was rated #1 large luxury line aGAIN...it is fabulous..
we have a fun group going on the September 3, 17 day sailing from Southhampton to nYC with ports in scotland, iceland, greenland, and newfoundland...great rate! if you want to go, let me know, i will get you details! no comparison with carnival.
Everything I read about "the Crystal experience" is great, but one of the most important factors when selecting a specific cruise is how long the ship will be anchored on port days. I am a night owl, so I can't get up early, eat a big breakfast, and see everythinmg I want to in a few hours. I also walk slow and can't drive, so being hurried is not an option. Therefore, I need a good idea of how much time I will have in port. Do Crystal's ships tend to stay docked until after sunset? Or are most port calls so short I can get back in time for the early seating at the main dining room? I know it is not the same every day, but can somebody give me a general estimate?