Recently the TCP Team were lucky enough to visit Crystal Expedition Cruises’ brand new ship Crystal Endeavor when she called into Greenwich on her passage from Iceland, where she has just spent her inaugural season, down to Lisbon.
Crystal Endeavor has been billed as the world’s largest and most spacious expedition yacht, built to PC6 polar class specifications, meaning she can tackle 1 year old ice – perfect for all those Antarctica expeditions planned – she will also be sailing to more exotic climes. As the first expedition yacht in the fleet, we were very excited to get onboard and see what all the fuss was about, and intrigued to see if Crystal could marry the expedition side of cruising with the six-star luxury they are world renowned for – I can tell you, we were not disappointed
As soon as we arrived at the riverside in Greenwich, we could see her majestically docked in he middle of the Thames. She was quite the sight with the skyline of the City of London behind her. Larger than I expected, she looked beautifully sleek and elegant, as all Crystal ships do. Boarding was to take place using the London Clipper boats, which would take us out to the pontoon where Crystal Endeavor was berthed. Once at the pontoon, embarkation was very smooth, we were tested for COVID by the ship’s doctor (we were only a small group so this was easily done, guests embarking the next day were taken to the Intercontinental Hotel in Greenwich to be tested in more comfort, and then shuttled to the river to be tendered across to the ship), before we were given the all clear and allowed to board.
We embarked through one of the two mud rooms that Crystal Endeavor has – usually used for guests to gear up for their shore excursions before boarding one of the 18 Zodiac excursion boats- and we were immediately welcomed onboard by the ever friendly crew and a delicious glass of champagne.
Each of us were escorted to our suites (all of the accommodation onboard is suite level) by a crew member, and immediately upon moving through the ship, you could feel the luxury that you’d expect from a Crystal ship. From the beautiful artwork on the walls, to the sumptuous colour palette of creams, golds and greys punctuated by delicious jewel tones of emerald, citrine and course Crystal teal.
We were staying in an S1 grade Deluxe Suite up on deck 7, but other than the position on the ship, the amenities and space offered by all Deluxe Suites – an industry leading 304 sq. ft. – is exactly the same. We only had a short time in our suite before needing to meet for our pre-arranged ship tour, but that was enough time to get a good look at all of the amenities and features.
The first thing to notice is the shared entranceway. A fantastic feature for families or friends travelling together, the entranceway has an outer door onto the corridor that can be locked, so that travelling companions can leave the doors to their actual suites open within the entrance way so that in effect, they have interconnecting suites. If you are not travelling with companions, then you just leave the outer door unlocked, and use your suite door as normal.
Upon entering our suite we were blown away by the chic décor. The elegant creams and greys are continued, and enhanced by spectacular crystal lighting and understated artwork. Each Deluxe Suite has a king sized bed and vanity area, a large seating area with 55″ OLED TV above a desk area. Your balcony is furnished with two chairs and a table, and there are even binoculars provided for all that wildlife spotting.
The bathroom has a dual entrance, one entryway into the bathroom proper, and a second into the WC which can be separated from the main bathroom by a sliding door. In the bathroom is a sit-down shower, dual vanity and toiletries from French luxury brand Caudalie.
Coming back into the main suite area, there is a small walk in wardrobe supplied with a personal safe, plenty of hangers and a choice of two robes, one towelling and another fleecy robe with a hood – perfect for those chilly Antarctic mornings on your balcony.
Each suite is equipped with a coffee machine and selection of glasswear; a Mini fridge stocked with soft drinks, beer and wine as well as fresh water produced onboard – each guest will also receive a complimentary reusable water bottle on their cruise. There is a bedside iPad that some of you may recognise from the Crystal River Cruises fleet which allows you to see all of your voyage details, as well as order room service, make spa, salon and shore excursion reservations. You can even take it with you around the ship to watch TV or a film on! Next to the ‘Coffee Cupboard’ is a cupboard especially for hanging your outdoor gear – each guest on a Remote Expedition will receive a complimentary parka jacket whilst those on warmer weather expeditions will receive a windbreaker. Inside is also a waterproof stowaway bag that you can put all of your gear in when going ashore, ideal for making sure your camera stays dry when you are on the zodiac.
Alongside this, there is plenty of drawer storage throughout the suite, including in the bathroom, and of course, underbed storage for your suitcase.
After a quick change we were off on our tour of the ship. We started up on deck 9 where you will find the Palm Court, Expedition Lounge and Library. The Palm Court is located at the forward end of deck 9, and has spectacular floor to ceiling windows. The windows are completely unobstructed – there is no viewing area either side so no safety rail blocking the view, and we can just imagine ourselves sitting in here with a warm drink whilst you are sailing past spectacular icebergs or with a cocktail whilst seeing the sights of the tropics. There is an outside viewing area right at the front of Palm Court, accessed from a side door, so if there is a sudden wildlife spotting opportunity, you are in the right place to get outside quickly.
Palm Court itself is so cosy and welcoming, decorated with luxurious leather and velvet sofas, it has a beautiful bar area and stage where each evening there is a band or duo playing after dinner – and, if the mood takes, there is even a dance floor. Palm Court is also host to the daily talks from the Expedition Team. Each evening at around 6pm, the team host a talk for all guests to go over what has happened that day, they will show the photographs taken by the professionals onboard, as well as footage from the onboard Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) which is taking images from below the waves. They will also talk guests through what they can expect the next day – everything from weather forecasts to expected wildlife viewing opportunities.
Outside Palm Court is where you will find the Library – complete with pantry area for those needed coffees and teas, or maybe glasses of wine. The Library is filled with comfy chairs and sofas with a huge selection of books for guests to enjoy – everything from the newest fiction titles to destination or exploration focused reads.
Across the corridor you will find the Expedition Lounge, where the Expedition Team hang out. They are there to chat with guests about anything and everything. The Expedition Team are made up of an Expedition Leader with destination specific experience, and they are joined by a curated team of experts ranging from marine biologists and ornithologists to archaeologists and historians. They are also on hand to talk with guests about shore excursions so you can make sure you book the right experience for you
From deck 9 we then headed up to take a quick look at the top deck which features an outdoor bar (only for use during warm weather voyages) alongside a jogging track. There is also seating and even sun loungers (also for the warmer weather voyages we imagine!) Heading down now to deck 8 we popped in to see a Penthouse Suite. At 457 sq. ft. this is a step up from the Deluxe suites so offers a little extra space for guests to enjoy. The bathroom layout is the same as the suites, but some added features in the main living area include a separate dining area and large curved sofa area that is begging to be used for a movie evening with room service. There is even a TV that pops out from the end of the bed, very swish!
Next, were back down to deck 7 where alongside the Deluxe Suites, you will also find the Owner’s Suite and the Expedition Penthouse. We start in the Owner’s Suite which is 1,130 sq. ft. of pure decadence. As you walk into the marble floored entryway you are greeted by a large living area equipped with a dining table and comfortable lounge area. The separate bedroom has an entry onto the balcony (as does the living room) and there is a second double bedroom. The bathroom has a large jacuzzi bathtub as well as a walk in shower and double vanity, and of course you have the suite amenities such as the walk in wardrobe, coffee machine and stocked mini-bar.
Across to the Expedition Penthouse and you have 985 sq. ft. of glorious suite space to enjoy. The Expedition Penthouse is one bedroom, but can be combined with an S5 Deluxe Suite to create the Expedition Suite, which gives you a full 1,290 sq. ft. of space and two bedrooms. The stand out space in both the Expedition Penthouse and Owner’s Suites for me was the lounge area which has a gorgeous faux fireplace which looks absolutely spectacular! Oh and did I say, every single suite, from entry level to the top comes with Butler Service.
Next on our tour we came down to deck 5 where you will find the spa, fitness centre, shopping area and Bistro, as well as the spectacular double height Solarium
The Crystal Life Spa & Salon are so tranquil. The spa has the most comfortable pedicure chair I have ever seen and a wide range of relaxing treatments that you an book. The Fitness Centre next door is stocked with the latest equipment as well as space for floor workouts and weightlifting. The fitness instructor onboard also hosts complimentary fitness classes if the daily hiking excursions aren’t enough for you.
Next to the fitness centre is the shopping area – some familiar favourites from Crystal’s ocean ships – Facets for luxury jewellery, and Apropos for logoed apparel or forgotten expedition gear. Then, as we get to the aft of deck 5 we come to the Solarium. A double height glass enclosed pool area, the Solarium is also home to the popular Marketplace restaurant, serving breakfast and lunch favourites. If you don’t want to sit by the pool, you can head up to the mezzanine level and still enjoy those amazing views out to sea. The Solarium also offers outside access with tables and chairs available for al fresco dining.
Making our way back along deck 5, we come to the Bistro which really feels like the heart of the ship. Also home to the Reception team, the Bistro acts as a bit of a hub – a place for you to stop and enjoy a coffee or a light bite, but also the place to meet the rest of your party and plan your days adventures. Serving European café fare, you can enjoy a delicious coffee and piece of cake, or even a cone of ice-cream!
Our next stop was down on deck 4 where the main dining venues are, all of which will be familiar to you if you have sailed aboard any of Crystal’s ocean ships – Waterside, Prego, Umi Uma and the Vintage Room. Starting in Waterside we were completely blown away at how spacious it is. Spanning the whole width of the ship means that there is lots of light bright in by the large windows, and the light décor, scattered with drops of colour in the seating is so inviting. Waterside can seat all guests for dinner at the same time – however, as onboard all Crystal ships, is completely open dining so you can dine when and with whom you wish. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu selections feature classic dishes as well as innovative, delicious chefs creations. Prego is located just outside Waterside and includes The Vintage Room, host to those special wine-themed dinners. Serving Northern Italian cuisine, it is a complimentary speciality restaurant. Just to the other side of Waterside is Umi Uma, the only Japanese/Peruvian fusion restaurant on an expedition ship serving delicious fresh sushi and spectacular dishes such as wagyu beef and blackened cod – again on a complimentary basis.
Deck 5 is also home to the Connoisseur Club for any cigar lovers amongst you. This is the only venue indoors where guests can smoke. In the evenings bar service is also offered from the nearby Crystal Cove.
Crystal Cove, our final stop on the tour, is the main entertainment venue onboard. The muted, soft colours are very inviting. There are huge LED screens behind the stage which add an extra element of glamour and interactivity to all the entertainment onboard. For our event, we were treated to a show by musician Salvatore Hasard who was a wizard with his vocal impressions, and his proclivity for playing a whole host of instruments. Whilst the Cove is an intimate entertainment venue, guests will still be able to enjoy a host of different shows, from musicians to dancers, and singers and even local entertainers in some ports. With full bar service, this lounge is very reminiscent of the Palm Court lounge on the Crystal River ships. Crystal Cove is also home to the small Resorts World at Sea casino
Our time aboard Crystal Endeavor may have been short, but it was very sweet. The image of expedition cruising being something you have to endure to get to the remote places you want to get to, is completely blown out of the water by the luxurious touches onboard Endeavor. One of the anecdotes we heard from a guest onboard shows you exactly what we mean…”I had been out on a zodiac tour and got completely soaked by a wave coming over the side of the boat. Once I boarded Endeavor, my butler had taken all my wet clothes from me, I had a warm shower and was in Palm Court with a glass of champagne within 30 minutes, and my clothes were returned to me, laundered, by the next morning. You don’t get that on may expedition ships”
So, in short, we all like an adventure, but if you want to have that adventure in style, make sure you take a look at Crystal Endeavor’s voyages to find your next trip
Visit the Crystal Cruises Website to find out more