By Tom Stieghorst |Nov 01, 2021
The Crystal Endeavor’s aft Marina Platform in its deployed position. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
ONBOARD THE CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR — As a cruise line that for decades stood pat with only two midsize ships, Crystal Cruises knows a thing or two about patience.
But even Crystal’s patience was tested with the Crystal Endeavor, its first ship for the expedition segment, which seemed to take an eternity to build after its announcement created industry buzz in 2016.
After a variety of delays, the 200-passenger Endeavor finally boarded its first guests in mid-July and is now transiting the Caribbean toward Antarctica. The ship was worth the wait, said Crystal Cruises president Jack Anderson.
“Humbly, I can tell you that [it] is the most luxurious, the most spacious, the fastest, the most maneuverable and the most stable expedition yacht that has ever been built,” Anderson boasted to travel advisors on a “showcase” cruise to Bimini in the Bahamas.
I can’t vouch for all of Anderson’s superlatives, but on the two-night showcase cruise it didn’t take long to be impressed with the overall handsomeness of the gray, gold and white interiors or the unassuming elegance of the ship’s design.
Delayed or not, Crystal has been successful in translating the feel of its luxury ships into a 20,000-gross-ton, expedition-size platform. The 209-member crew was well trained, unfailingly polite and up to standards.
That will reassure the line’s loyal past guests even as the expedition format attracts new blood to its passenger base. I admit, it is a little jarring to walk into a mudroom on a Crystal ship. Or to see black rubber Zodiacs neatly stacked on the Endeavor’s deck. But both are essential to cruising in Antarctica where Crystal will offer eight cruises of 11 to 19 days in the next few months.
One of the most talked about features on the Endeavor, a pair of helicopters, won’t be available this season. But the two-passenger submersible was onboard, and we saw it being exercised by its pilot while anchored off the Bimini coast.The Solarium is a two-deck, glass-enclosed aft area that includes the swimming pool and the Marketplace casual cafe. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
And there are still lots of good viewing spaces scattered around the ship to see wildlife and landscapes, including a novel, glass-enclosed space at the aft called the Solarium, which manages to combine a small swimming pool — the only one on the ship — with Marketplace, a casual restaurant, in a very appealing, airy design.
At the opposite end of the ship, the Crystal Palm Court is spacious and light-filled, partly due to a well-placed skylight.
After watching libraries vanish on many ships, I was amazed to find 860 square feet reserved for 1,400 high-quality volumes on the Endeavor. There are also two computers for public use and a coffee machine, making it a nice hangout space.
Although the pool is small for exercise swimming, the Endeavor has a sizeable fitness area and a track on the top deck for running (10 laps equals four-fifths of a mile). Photo Credit: Tom StieghorstDispatch: Three cozy hangouts on the Crystal Endeavor
Submarines and helicopters generated excitement about the Crystal Endeavor. Here are three cool features of the ship that you may not have heard as much about.Continue Reading
Another robust amenity for an expedition-sized ship is the guest laundry, with six washers and dryers ready for use.
I also enjoyed the fold-down Marina Platform at the aft, which provides a spacious observation and relaxation space at the waterline when the ship is not in transit.
When it comes to dining, expedition guests will find downsized versions of familiar spots from Crystal’s larger ships. This seemed particularly true of the Prego specialty Italian restaurant, situated along a corridor leading to the Waterside main restaurant. It has 20 inside seats and 20 more in the Vintage Room, a wine-tasting venue usually devoted to Prego during meals.
The Umi Uma & Sushi Bar Japanese restaurant retains its own room, and Crystal fondly points out it is the only sushi spot on an expedition vessel.
I ate at Umi Uma, Waterside and the Marketplace several times and can say that while the galleys may be smaller on this ship, the quality of Crystal’s food remains unchanged.
The most common cabin type on the Endeavor measures 304 square feet, with an enormous circular mirror over the vanity and a water closet separate from the shower and sink area. Butlers wait on your every desire. There are 10 penthouses and two larger suites.