FTF's cruise expert explains why luxury cruises cost so much and why they are sometimes worth every penny.
If you’ve always wanted to wallow in the elegance of a super luxurious cruise, but held back because of concerns that your kids either won’t be welcome — and/or — won’t have anyone to play with, this might be your year. Crystal Cruises, which caters to upscale travelers and exudes the ambience of a floating five-star hotel, is proactively welcoming families with children on summer and holiday sailings and enhancing the resources available to reunion planners.
The company has two ships: the 922-guest Crystal Symphony and the slightly larger Crystal Serenity. Both pride themselves on top-notch service, abundant space in public areas and cabins, and a variety of excellent dining options. In fact, the line has been recognized as “World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure and CondÃ© Nast Traveler magazines for 15 consecutive years.
In addition to organized activities for kids ages 3-17 in the Juniors Activities program, two swimming pools and vast public rooms, Crystal offers kids the kinds of personal touches you won’t find on a mainstream cruise line. The chef will prepare customized meals for your finicky eater, for example, and if you put in your request before boarding, the staff will even accommodate food allergies. They also offer complimentary ice cream bars, which are sure to be a hit with your kids.
Small fry can also learn to mind their Ps and Qs via the Etiquette Training for Juniors program, or kick back and play Sony PlayStation and watch large-screen TV. And while it’s true that you pay to be fussed over (there are over 500 staff members onboard), the line has been wooing families with a Family Memories package, which is also great for larger groups like those looking for family reunion travel options.
According to Nitsa Lewis, VP Marketing, in response to the surge in interest in multigenerational travel, Crystal has expanded its website to offer guidance to those planning a family reunion vacation. In addition to the perks of all cruises — such as having to pack and unpack only once while visiting multiple destinations — Crystal can arrange a “Crystal Private Adventure” shore excursion for the whole family, customized to each party’s interests.
Planners will find a comprehensive overview of itineraries on this section of the site, and information on how to contact a travel agent with expertise in booking family travel. The family-friendly opportunities and amenities offered on board include a Junior Activities Director on select sailings, such as summer and holidays, to supervise cookie baking in the galley, bridge visits with the Captain and interactive backstage costume events.
Families can book group seatings at meals prior to departure, or reserve the Crystal Cruises Vintage Room for exclusive, intimate wine-makers dinners.
In addition to the many planned activities, all ages can count on high-calibre entertainment each evening. Depending on the size of your group, large families may also earn free staterooms (limited availability).
For additional information or to contact a travel agent, call 888/799-4625 or visit the new website at www.crystalcruises.com.
Photos of the Crystal Symphony are courtesy of Crystal Cruise Lines.
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