Exercise is taken seriously here, with 12 treadmills, four elliptical trainers and 12 spinning bikes, it’s far from being a token gym. There is an ultra-sophisticated InBody machine, available only on six-star ships and groundbreaking in its analysis of body composition, so bespoke exercise and diet programmes can be created during your stay. And the feng shui designed spa offers healing massages (on an innovative quartz crystal bed) and acupuncture, as well as all the usual facials and grooming treatments.
But the highlight for me has to be the onboard culinary delights, and with three speciality restaurants as well as six other dining venues, plus comprehensive, 24-hour room service, I’m spoilt for choice. I have to single out Tastes bar and restaurant for serving superbly late breakfasts that not only welcome but seem to actively celebrate late-risers, and the immensely popular Scoops ice cream bar featuring the best of Ben & Jerry’s.
Silk Road restaurant, however, is the gastronomic pinnacle of my cruise and my number one favourite. Crystal were the first cruise line to partner with celebrity chefs, and its Silk Road and Sushi Bar speciality venues are the only sea-going restaurants in the worldwide empire of famed chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa.Silk Road Restaurant
Nobu blends Japanese cuisine with Peruvian flavours to create exceptional inventive dishes, such as the sublime lobster with truffle-yuzu sauce, and his phenomenal signature dessert – a bento box filled with a fantastic chocolate soufflé cake, shiso syrup and sesame ice cream. Best of all, guests are entitled to a dinner here at no extra charge, and my own meal is one I will never forget.
There are three more destinations still to come on the itinerary – Saranda in Albania, followed by Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia – and I’m already feeling sad about reaching Venice, our final port of call.Port of Venice – Italy
Six-star service means my sheets are changed daily if I want – I don’t, as it feels a bit uncomfortable environmentally, but I do love the all-inclusive aspect, which means I don’t have to keep tabs on my bar bill because there isn’t one (my liver and I are no longer on speaking terms).
Our voyage ends with a magical early morning sail into Venice and I’m mesmerised by its beauty. One of my fellow guests remark that this cruise has been like “Claridge’s at sea” and I know why she makes the comparison. With its understated elegance, it’s no surprise that Crystal has been voted ‘World’s Best’ so many times. It gets my vote too – with bells on.