The Crystal Esprit is not a Cruise Ship, it’s a Cruise Yacht. Actually, it’s the smallest and most luxurious in the Crystal Cruises fleet. For our first ever cruise, we decided to do it in style.
As a first time ‘cruiser’ (is that a word?) we weren’t sure what to expect. Would there be a hot shower, would we have space to stretch out? Would we enjoy it? The answer was yes to all three and much much more.
Let me take you on a personal tour of the Crystal Espirit. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or tell me about other Cruise ships I need to try!
Crystal Espirit – On Deck
The public space on the Espirit is split across four decks.
- Seabreeze Deck
- Horizon Deck
- Crystal Deck
- Sunset Deck
The lowest, Seabreeze Deck hosts the reception, small pantry, laundry and compass room – a small board room like space which I guess can be used for private dining. Suites 201 – 222 stretch to the fore. The Submersible sits outside on the aft deck.
The Horizon Deck is mainly guest suites (302 – 318), with a small doctor’s surgery and spa aft. Behind this was an elegant casino on, but it wasn’t open during our cruise.
On Crystal Deck you will find the Patio Cafe aft, Yacht Club in the centre of the yacht and the Cove at the fore.
The Seabreeze (top) Deck is where you can sunbathe or enjoy some al fresco dining. There is a small gym here with a few treadmills and weights.
Aft of the Seabreeze deck has a small bar and grill with seating to enjoy a burger or Bacardi in the sun. Single loungers are dotted down either side of the deck as you head fore.
The foredeck is a wider, sheltered space with larger ‘family’ loungers and a small swimming pool. I think you’d struggle to swim in this pool so let’s call it a plunge pool.
How Big are the Suites?
For a small yacht, these suites were huge. Seriously, I’ve stayed in a lot smaller places in London, for a lot more money. We chose the Yacht Suite as our sanctuary for the cruise down the coast.
With easy access to the Seabreeze deck, we didn’t worry about the lack of balcony.
The suite had plenty of storage space, both for our Samsonite cases and and no shortage of hanging space and hangers.
The King Sized bed was super comfy, the right balance of firm but soft. Plenty of soft pillows and cushions, and a selection of sheets and duvets gave us all the options to personalised comfort.
A bedside iPad was available to browse the Internet and call the butler, but we never used it. Onboard wifi was also available but limited to a few hours a day. For most of the journey we were close enough to the coast to catch a 3G mobile signal.
A sofa, facing the bed gave us space to enjoy a private dinner on the small, adjustable table. Large screen TVs in the bedroom and a small one in the the bathroom mirror gave us access to live views from the bridge and a selection of in-house and satellite channels.
The large bathrooms offered two full sinks with plenty of space for two wash bags. A large power shower gave me plenty of space to wash without bashing my elbows. A complimentary selection of Etro bath and shower amenities were topped up throughout the cruise.
Our butler was available 24 hours a day. We could order hot, soft or alcohol drinks or dial up a midnight snack. The in room mini bar, and complimentary bottles of gin and Champagne meant we only needed to call the butler for Fresh tea in the mornings. We did see him pop in early evening with a different snack before dinner.
The Cove – Lounge and Bar
The ‘social heart’ of the Crystal Espirit, the window lined cove was our spot for a pre, and post dinner drink. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house and you are never far from a great view.
A large TV was available, but only in use once during our cruise. A piano and on board entertainer (the wonderful Daniel Hodge) provided the music and laughter after dinner.
Dining on board the Espirit
The cruise package was all inclusive but I think we hadn’t realised what it meant. With the odd exception for the Petrus, you really could eat and drink what you wanted. Every day there was a full spread for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner.
Dining options onboard the Crystal Esprit were the formal dining room or up at the Sunset Grill on the top deck.
For breakfast, you would eat in the Patio Cafe at the back of the ship. This gleaming white restaurant offered a relaxed buffet style eating. You could choose from sitting outside on the ‘terrace’ or inside behind full glass doors.
Formal dining in the Yacht Club restaurant was a gastronomic feast, whilst the grill offered delicious ‘burgers and chips’ or lighter bites.
Led by Chef Adam (from that culinary hotspot of Birmingham) and a team of 18, the food being served was just exquisite. Every night there were wonderful starters, the tiniest tasty morsels, and some wonderful food.
All exquisitely prepared and matched with a different flight of wines each time.
We could choose from the daily a la carte menu, with fresh local produce or ask for plainer variations. Nothing was ever too much problem.
My fears of having to sit at the Captain’s table were vanquished immediately. Equally, we were happy with our band of three and quickly found our favourite table – near the window to watch the Croatian ‘Blue Hour’. As we dined watching the sunset, the Crystal Esprit would gently weigh anchor and slip off to the next destination. With barely a shudder, we would know things were underway if it wasn’t for the gently changing scenery.
On Board Entertainment
Each night there would be some ‘live’ entertainment, organised by the Crystal Esprit Entertainment’s Director Daniel Hodge. A wonderful entertainer, pianist, and singer; he ran a quiz one night, a ‘call my bluff’ competition another night and treated us to some wonderful music and anecdotes.
On the ‘British Invasion’ night, Dan played us songs and explained their backgrounds and history. Songs like, “Don’t let the sun catch you crying” were new to me and I sat there with my phone busily adding these to my list.
I really hit it off with Dan and could have spent every night just chatting to him about music, but he had other guests to look after!
An Open Air Cinema on the top deck was available on demand. Situated above the small pool on the Sunset deck, a screen could show your choice of movie from the in room movie selection.
Cruising in the moonlight, with temperatures hot enough to sit out in – whilst watching a movie and being continually offered another glass of wine – I mean what’s not to love! We enjoyed Focus (Will Smith, Margot Robbie) one of the best movies for fashion lovers
Just three of us, under the stars watching a movie. What a night the Crystal Espirit gave us!
Like something from James Bond, the Crystal Espirit has its on own submersible. I believe this is used more on the Middle East voyages as we didn’t get a chance to dive on our cruise.
Jet Skis and Zodiacs were also available for our pleasure. Some local Croatian law meant the Jet Skis were only allowed to be used on one day in a particular area away from the boat.
The Crystal Espirit is small enough to tie up alongside on most of our scheduled stops. When anchored in the bay, a local tender would ferry us back and forth on a regular schedule.
An International Mix of Guests
The other guests on board ranged from cruise veterans to private couples and a large family from South America. The veterans were ace networkers and had us joining them for dinner on the first night. We had a great time getting to know them and learning about other cruises and other destinations. We engaged with the other guests but they are also happy with their own interests so there was no demand to integrate.
The Crystal Spirit Team
A great cruise can only be as good as the team that look after you. We were blessed with a great team, on the Crystal Espirit lead by Captain Lars Thomas Larsen. In a short space of time we got to know South African Karl and his “perfect” wine choices, Kate Mary in the restaurant, the two housekeeping girls and our butler.
Of course, these were only the people that looked after us directly. There was no shortage of other team members above and below deck that worked together to make us fully at home. The hardest part of the whole trip was deciding on tips. Maintaining the Crystal Esprit is a team effort, from the engine room to the captain and the front of house team.
They all worked hard to ensure our cruise on the Crystal Esprit was the best it could be.
How does the Crystal Espirit compare to the Crystal Symphony?
|Crystal Espirit||Crystal Symphony|
|Size||269 ft||781 ft|
|Staff to Guest Ratio||1 to 0.4||1 to 1.7|
|Per Guest Space Ratio||54.4||60.2|
|Average Speed||15 Knots||21 Knots|
We’ve since booked and sailed to Alaska on board the Crystal Symphony. We also plan to cruise in 2020. Where should we go?