Thursday, 4 November 2010

Crystal Cruises + Canada/New England = Cruise Perfection

We are just back from a truly sublime 12-day voyage with Crystal Cruises from Montreal (above) to New York, taking in large parts of the late Fall Foliage scene through Canada and New England.

This was a brand new area for us, cruise-wise, and came as quite a revelation. In company with Crystal's peerless style, it makes for an absolute stunner of a cruise, with plenty of captivating ports of call, superb onboard ambience and an almost non-stop backdrop of eye-catching scenery.

The ports were the Canadian quartet of Montreal, Quebec, Halifax and St John, followed by Portland (Maine), Boston and Newport (Rhode Island). Each one offered a level of interest and diversity that can usually only be found in the most port-intensive of Mediterranean or Northern Europe itineraries, and there was much that came as a real surprise in terms of the activities, sight-seeing, history and, most importantly, the food en route.

We'll try to provide a few more details here on Time Spent At Sea in the coming weeks, but look for a BIG feature focus on this cruise, and the region as a whole, throughout 2011 in World of Cruising.

It is almost 15 years since we did a full cruise with Crystal and it certainly served to underline that nobody does it better in terms of big-ship deluxe voyaging, with the food and service quite superb. The onboard entertainment was first class and the relaxation factor was also noticeable in the comfort of one of their Penthouse deck staterooms (well worth paying the extra for, in our opinion) and we left with that rare feeling of real regret at the end of the 12 days!

Crystal Symphony may be 15 years old these days but her classic styling still make her seem new, she has been wonderfully well maintained and her 2009 refurbishment added a real touch of class to many staterooms and the Lido Deck.

We'd also have to say that this is a real thinking person's cruise. It is not an all-action, non-stop barrage of sunshine, beaches and activity, but it IS an absolutely fascinating look at a part of the world that is not too busy at this time of year (late September and October) and offers a lot to enchant and beguile in a subtle, sophisticated manner.

Standout ports were the UNESCO world heritage city of Quebec, the two-day visit to brilliant Boston, and the small-scale charm (and opulence!) of Newport, but every single stop included something new, vibrant and attractive, and that is a rare commodity these days.

The real test of any cruise is usually the question - would we want to go back? If it was the exact same voyage, and with Crystal - indisputably!