Cruising on the Crystal Symphony: It’s paradise at sea

As regular readers will know, I’ve recently been on an amazing cruise of the Mediterranean. We stopped at the most stunning of destinations. Every day when I stepped out onto my balcony, it seemed like I’d woken up in a fairy tale. Like someone had created a magical place to visit just for me!

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A different view every day from the balcony…welcome to my dreamworld

And then, after a day ashore, it was time to return to our home for the trip – the amazing Crystal Symphony.

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Our wonderful home from home

My first cruise, and I reckon it’s spoilt me for any future ones…luxury, the best service and stunning entertainment. Every night there was a fabulous show in  the theatre, including a hilarious comedian called John Joseph who picked on us as a large part of his act…oh well, if you must sit in the front row!

And then there was exquisite food in the Crystal Dining Room. Seriously, I’ve never eaten so consistently well. Or in such large amounts.

So what do you do when faced with an impossible choice of delectable dishes to eat every day for nine days? A menu packed with your favourites as well as truly indulgent dishes that you usually only dream of sampling?

There’s the conundrum of a luxury cruise where everything is included! Not free, as I frequently told my niece and nephew when they got excited about another “free lunch” but paid up front. So you can have as much as you want…really, our waiter didn’t hold back and encouraged us (yes, encouraged!) to have two (or even more) starters and a couple of mains too if the fancy took us.

I love food (no shock there!) but do find eating huge meals constantly very intimidating and not particularly enjoyable, either. First thing to go was breakfast! I very quickly downgraded from bacon and eggs (fried to your desire in front of you). One of my favourite dishes, so that took a lot of will power! I’d have a slice of watermelon or simply coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. All delicious I must add and it really wasn’t all that difficult as I simply did not feel like eating most mornings! Too much dinner again!

So that at least gave me some space for lunch which was usually eaten ashore at one of our beautiful destinations. In an attempt to try as much of the local cuisine (we take our food seriously), we tended to order for the table and share a range of different dishes. My favourite way of eating but you do tend to eat more, I think, as you never have a plateful to yourself…but carry on picking. The food was fabulous wherever we went and we tried to stay away from dishes heavy in carbs and ate lots of salads and meat.

And then it was off to the Crystal Dining Room for the dinner extravaganza. People had commented before the cruise that the food wouldn’t be very good. Clearly they have never been on a Crystal Cruise (yes, I’m boasting a little). Seriously, as good as any quality restaurant I’ve been to with so much variety it was a serious intellectual challenge every night to make a decision and not go mad and eat enough for three.

The most amazing starters – I think I had scallops for my first three meals – all cooked differently. Classic pasta dishes cooked perfectly. Amazing steaks, fresh fish, stunning salads and seriously indulgent dishes like at the Captain’s Gala Dinner where the menu included ingredients like caviar, truffles, foie gras, lobster… yes, all on the same menu! I think I did feel a little over-indulged that night after an amazing plate of caviar (light and with a great combo of condiments), a taster of foie gras and then lobster for main (served with veal). My word!

Feast your eyes on some of my favourites from the properly luxurious  end of the scale.

One of several amazing scallop starters I enjoyed

One of several amazing scallop starters I enjoyed

Caviar and condiments, a delicately beautiful dish

Caviar and condiments, a delicately beautiful dish

Vitello tonato, one of my all-time favourite dishes

Vitello tonato, one of my all-time favourite dishes

Time for luscious lobster

Time for luscious lobster

Oh, and I didn’t mention that as well as the main dining room there was a Nobu on board. Seriously! So we had a feast of sushi, sashimi and Nobu’s classic dishes one night. Wow!

Amazing seared tuna Nobu-style

Amazing seared tuna Nobu-style

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Sashimi from the biggest selection I’ve ever seen

Time to try the box of Nobu specials

Time to try the box of Nobu specials

Beautifully silken foie gras

Beautifully silken foie gras

Sweet, mouth-watering snow crab

Sweet, mouth-watering snow crab

Well, if you’re not salivating and starving by now, you must have just eaten a huge meal! I know I am…

Couldn’t resist adding a couple more pics, firstly of our ship taken from what I think was our most stunning destination, Santorini.

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Home taken from on high in Santorini

And here’s the pool deck where we sipped on plenty of gin and tonics.

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The pool deck at sunset

After nine days on the Crystal Symphony it was a bit difficult to adjust to reality again.I guess it would be! It was an amazing experience and a fabulous way to travel to different destinations without all that horrible packing and unpacking. Undoubtedly, though, one of the best things of all was returning home after a busy day on shore to our paradise at sea.

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