Lynn Clark

Oconomowoc, WI
Vacation planning based on personal experience

My passion for travel was sparked when I was a teenager and went on my first trip from Minneapolis to Chicago. I loved exploring a new city and its museums, restaurants, parks, landmarks and more. From that trip onward I knew I wanted to create a ...
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Luxury Ocean Cruising

On the Bridge of Crystal Symphony
On the Bridge of Crystal Symphony

Throughout my travel career, I’ve had the good fortune to sail twice on Crystal Cruises. Recently I had the opportunity to sail on Crystal Symphony in South America including Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Crystal’s promise of ‘All Inclusive is All Exclusive. Where luxury is every day, and every day is luxury’ was delivered!

Join me as I recount our amazing experience.

The Ship
Crystal Symphony debuted in 1995 and in 2017 went through a full dry dock refurbishment. She is 51K gross tons, 781 feet long with 12 decks, 8 of them for guest areas. The capacity is 848 guests and 566 crew members. 

Compared to the other cruises I have been on, the Crystal Symphony was just the ‘right’ size. Large enough to have variety in options but still small enough to have an intimate feeling with the crew and other guests.

The Service
A ship is just a metal vessel until the people on-board bring it to life. With a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly 1-to-1 (.67), it was impossible to do anything for yourself. While at breakfast buffet there was always a waiter to help you carry your plates to your table. The phrase ‘don’t lift a finger’ appeared to be their motto. We noticed there were no ‘self-serve’ beverage options (i.e. water, coffee) any where on the ship. They made it a point to serve you at every opportunity. In the ‘Scoops’ area of the pool grill, the soft-serve ice cream was behind the counter, again no need to get it yourself they were happy, and always ready, to assist you. The service was genuine with many of the crew remembering our names after the first encounter.

A perfect example of this unobtrusive but highly observant service was when our stateroom attendant noticed that my husband, Dave, was bringing a specific beer to our stateroom each day. By the second or third day she started stocking our refrigerator with it on a daily basis. By far we found our favorite crew members were in the Avenue Saloon piano bar. Head bartender, Pamela, ran a tight operation and she was an excellent mixologist. The wait staff was headed up by Braydon and they took great care of everyone. Mark Harris, the piano player, was incredible. He is extremely talented at the keys but even more impressive was his memory for all of the guests on board. Many of them were repeat guests that had enjoyed his talent on previous cruises. He remembered them all by name, where they were from and other fun facts. The guests clearly loved being a part of his ‘in crowd’ and frequented the Saloon throughout the sailing. 

The Food
Imagine eating at 5-star restaurant every night for nine nights. That’s what we did while sailing aboard Crystal Symphony. The food was simply amazing. Our best meal was at Umi Uma, the Japanese-inspired restaurant. We started with freshly made sushi (rolls and sashimi) and followed it with delicious main entrees. One item of note on the menu was the famed wagyu beef from Japan.

In the evening they transformed The Marketplace (breakfast and lunch buffet) into a Churrascaria. It featured a gourmet salad bar, bread basket and a plethora of meats on a spear – bacon wrapped pork loin, sausages, prime rib, garlic shrimp. The shrimp were so delicious that Dave is still dreaming about them.

Another specialty restaurant option was Silk, a Chinese restaurant open for lunch and dinner. Silk had the best pot-stickers ever (lunch only). We ate there for dinner one night and the dishes were shareable size. The kitchen was run by four chefs from China and the food was delicious.

The Entertainment
Every sailing has multiple Broadway-style productions as well as comedians, ventriloquists, dance troupes and more. They often have finalists on-board from the various talent competition TV shows. I've already mentioned the piano bar and there is a movie theater on-board.

Another component of entertainment on Crystal is the enrichment programs. Many of the guests are well-traveled and interested in learning about the destinations that they are visiting. Crystal brings in professors, journalists, historians and more to share their knowledge about the destinations, their people, politics, etc. The presentations provided great information and context for the countries we were about to visit.

The Staterooms
Our stateroom had a veranda and was on the 9th floor . It was the last stateroom on our side of the ship (starboard). The way the ship is built (tapered at the back) we did not have a cabin above us. The hall ended in a door out to a common veranda area, also the smoking section. We went to that back veranda a few times as the ship was sailing out of ports.

The room was 246 square feet and had a large bathroom, two sinks and a bathtub/shower combo. There were two types of robes in the stateroom: terry cloth robes and light-weight sheet type material. Slippers were also in the room. The room was cleaned/made-up two times per day.


My Travel Albums

Crystal Cruises
Crystal Symphony in port

My Reviews

2 of 3 people found this review helpful
African Safari
We used Travel Leaders to plan a safari trip to South Africa. They helped us customize a dream trip of a lifetime. Due to a series of unfortunate events, our trip never came to fruition. We had prepaid over $3000 in down payments. When we attempted to get the money refunded we hit a dead end. It was extremely frustrating. … and then Lynn Clark called us and was instrumental in making sure that he money was refunded. She listened to us, she was very responsive in a timely matter, and her follow through was exceptional. Lynn is amazing to work with. We are very impressed and grateful.
By  Suzanne  from  Madison, wi
Traveled to  South Africa ~ Africa
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends
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2 of 3 people found this review helpful
You made my trip fabulous!
I would like to thank Lynn and her crew for all of the wonderful and much needed help I was given when planning my Alaskan cruise. Neither my husband or I had ever been on a cruise before and had zero clue what to expect or what needed to be done. They walked us through what to expect and things we needed to do. I would have been lost without them and my trip would not have been the same. Thank you very much, not only for the trip, but for making my trip fabulous. Your guidance was very much appreciated.
By  Rochelle  from  WI
Traveled to  Alaska ~ USA
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends
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1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Once in a lifetime trip!
Lynn was very informative and patient with our constant questions! She was very quick on follow ups! The trip from beginning to end was very well planned!
By  Rod and Marti  from  Wisconsin Rapids. Wisconsin
Traveled to  South Africa ~ Africa
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends
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Our African Adventure!
Lynn, and her staff, at Travel Leaders exceeded all expectations. Either through her personal travel experience to Africa, or by seeking answers to our questions, her responses were detailed, prompt and thorough. Every flight, connection, arrangement, tour and accommodation went off without a hitch. We will use Travel Leaders for our next adventure!!!
By  J & J  from  Le Sueur, MN
Traveled to  Tanzania ~ Africa
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends
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Destination Expert:

  • Europe
  • South America
  • Greece
  • Brazil
  • Argentina

Travel Specialist:

  • Luxury Cruises
  • Arts & Culture
  • Accessible Travel
  • Sailing & Boating

Top Travel Partners:

  • Crystal
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises


  • CTC
  • Certified Travel Counselor

Industry Affiliations:

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