Over the summer, I was lucky enough to fly out to Venice over three weekends to showcase the stunning Crystal Esprit to some of our fabulous travel agent partners. I mean, if you are going to do a whirlwind weekend in Italy, then a ship tour and lunch onboard a 62-passenger yacht is a pretty good way to do it in my books!
After a short transfer from the airport, we arrived at San Basilio Cruise Terminal. Tucked around the corner from the big cruise ships, it felt much more exclusive. We were through security and boarding the ship in no time!
We joined the ship a day before the current guests departed, having sailed up from Dubrovnik. When we arrived, most of the guests were out in Venice enjoying their complimentary shore excursions or wandering around the city’s famous canals.
Once onboard, it quickly became apparent that Crystal Esprit is a totally different experience to the Crystal Cruises ocean ships I was used to. We boarded on Seabreeze deck 2, and walked up a small gangway to be greeted by the friendly security team. We were ushered past the very swish looking submersible, into the beautifully appointed reception. Just to the left of the reception sits the pantry, a quiet spot onboard to grab a coffee to go, pastries, cakes and snacks; the perfect place to go if you are feeling a little peckish.
We then made our way upstairs and past Horizon deck 3. Due to the ship being completely sold out we were unable to visit any staterooms, so continued our way up to Crystal deck 4. This deck features The Cove, a very cosy bar – the perfect spot to recount the days activities over some live piano music and a cocktail or two (they are complimentary after all!). We then headed through to the Yacht Club where dinner is served. It features an open kitchen, where guests can view the chefs preparing their main meal to order. During our visits, I often saw chefs preparing the catch of the day ready for dinner.
We then made our way through the Yacht Club and up to Sunset deck 5 – a beautiful space – this is where you would find me onboard. This deck has the Sunset Bar & Grill, a perfect spot to have a relaxed lunch and a more casual dinner (or, for me, to sip a cocktail and watch the world sail by!) This deck is also where you can find the gym and sauna, and is where the Fitness Director runs yoga sessions in the morning. At the back of the ship you will find a small, but beautifully formed, pool to relax in and lots of deck space and sun beds. The screen above the pool can also be used for films under the stars – where do I sign up?
Finally, we made our way back down to Crystal deck 4, where we went into the Patio Café. This is the buffet restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch, with an outside terrace that guests can enjoy their meals on. We were treated to a fabulous lunch onboard in the Patio Café, and the champagne and cocktails were flowing. The buffet was like no buffet I had seen before, with a salad station where staff would mix it for you in a big wooden bowl, and a fresh pasta station where a chef was making fresh chilli seafood pasta to order… it was divine! Also on offer was pork belly, cooked to perfection with some of the creamiest mash potato I’ve ever eaten! Needless to say, we made sure to save room for dessert (and the great cheese board selection too!).
This is such a stunning product, and having now been onboard for a few hours, I can certainly see why it receives the best reviews out of all of the Crystal products. The staff are so friendly and attentive, and I was very impressed when they remembered me on my second and third visit. If you get the chance to sail on this gorgeous little yacht in the Adriatic, West Indies, Emirates or further afield in the Seychelles, you will not regret it!
For more information on Crystal Cruises’ yachting adventures, visit http://www.crystalcruises.co.uk/yacht