First call: A cruise on Crystal Cruises’ first expedition ship: Travel Weekly
ON BOARD THE CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR – As a cruise line that has stood for decades with just two midsize ships, Crystal Cruises knows a thing or two about patience.
But even Crystal’s patience was put to the test with the Crystal Endeavor, her first ship for the expedition segment, which seemed to take forever to build after her announcement created industry buzz in 2016.
After various delays, the 200-passenger Endeavor finally boarded its first guests in mid-July and is now transiting from the Caribbean to Antarctica. The ship was worth the wait, said Jack Anderson, president of Crystal Cruises.
“Humbly, I can tell you that [it] is the most luxurious, spacious, fastest, maneuverable and stable expedition yacht ever to be built, âAnderson boasted to travel counselors on aâ showcase âcruise at Bimini in the Bahamas.
I can’t guarantee all of Anderson’s superlatives, but on the two-night showcase cruise, it didn’t take long to be impressed by the overall beauty of the gray, gold, and white interiors or the unassuming elegance. of the ship’s design.
Delayed or not, Crystal has managed to translate the feel of her luxury ships into a 20,000 gross tonne platform the size of an expedition. The crew of 209 were well trained, always polite and up to the task.
This will reassure the line’s former loyal customers even as the shipping format draws new blood to its passenger base. I admit it’s a little shocking to walk into a locker room on a Crystal ship. Or to see black rubber Zodiacs neatly stacked on the Endeavor deck. But both are essential for sailing in Antarctica where Crystal will offer eight 11-19 day cruises in the coming months.
One of the most discussed features of the Endeavor, a pair of helicopters, will not be available this season. But the two-passenger submersible was on board, and we saw it practicing by its pilot at anchor off Bimini.
The Solarium is a two-deck glassed-in rear area that includes the pool area and the casual Marketplace Cafe. Photo credit: Tom Stieghorst
And there are still plenty of good viewing spaces scattered around the ship for viewing wildlife and scenery, including a new glassed-in space aft called the Solarium, which manages to combine a small pool – the only one on the boat. ship – with Marketplace, a casual restaurant, in a very attractive and airy design.
At the opposite end of the ship, the Crystal Palm Court is spacious and bright, in part thanks to a well-placed skylight.
After seeing libraries disappear on many ships, I was amazed to find 860 square feet reserved for 1400 high quality volumes on the Endeavor. There are also two computers for public use and a coffee machine, which makes for a nice relaxation area.
Although the pool is small for sport swimming, the Endeavor has a sizable fitness area and a track on the upper deck for running (10 laps equals four-fifths of a mile).
Photo credit: Tom Stieghorst
Submarines and helicopters sparked excitement for the Crystal Endeavor. Here are three cool features of the ship that you may not have heard so much about.
Another sturdy piece of equipment for an expedition-sized vessel is the guest laundry, with six washers and dryers ready for use.
I also appreciated the fold-out marina platform aft, which provides spacious observation and relaxation space at the waterline when the vessel is not in transit.
When it comes to dining, Expedition guests will find scaled-down versions of the familiar locations of Crystal’s larger ships. This seemed especially true of the specialty Italian restaurant Prego, located along a hallway leading to the main Waterside restaurant. It has 20 seats inside and 20 more in the Vintage Room, a wine tasting place usually devoted to Prego during meals.
Japanese restaurant Umi Uma & Sushi Bar maintains its own room, and Crystal fondly points out that this is the only sushi restaurant on an expedition ship.
I have eaten several times at Umi Uma, by the waterfront and at the market and I can say that although the hassles may be smaller on this ship, the quality of Crystal’s food remains unchanged.
The most common cabin type on the Endeavor is 304 square feet, with a huge circular mirror above the vanity and a separate toilet for the shower and sink. Butlers await your every wish. There are 10 penthouses and two larger suites.