The first thing that strikes you about the Crystal Symphony is the space: wide corridors, big lounges, massive staircases and ample lifts.

The second is the service.

According to the manual, staff operate a “six star Crystal basics” multi point credo: attitude, communication, competence, style, safety and execution. They are trained to remember everything, from how you like your coffee to how you arrange your pillows at night.

“Yes”, says the brochure, “we can read your mind”.

Sadly, we couldn’t test the pillows. But on this wet Sydney Sunday night, we can certainly attest to the rest of the service offering.

Dinner was being served in the Prego restaurant, a speciality diner that, as you might guess, is Italian. It features Piero Selvaggio’s “Valentino at Prego” food – well known in Las Vegas and California.

Passengers can have one specialty dinner in each restaurant as part of their package, and pay $30 if they want another. Many do. We are about to find out why…

Our table waiter, Nuno, was certainly proud of just how Italian the food could be.

Our Carpaccio of black Angus beef with mustard sauce and Warm Lobster poached in sage butter was a great beginning, but topped by the specialty mushroom soup served in an oregano bread cup.

Our spaghetti vongole, fish and lamb were perfect and the lemon soufflé was a sight to behold! Can a soufflé rise twice? Well, yes it can – and not just twice, it seems!

The Symphony’s fine dining is music to the ears of any gourmet. And it’s not just Italian.

Silk Road and The Sushi Bar offer Nobu Matsuhisa’s Japanese cuisine. Great Asian dining is something to celebrate on cruise ships. Small wonder we were told that Silk Road is many passengers’ first choice.

Around the ship, we viewed the Penthouse suites – sofas, walk-in closets and a personal butler.

The public areas were vast – wide-open spaces filled with comfortable seats and a range of cafes, shops and bars.

There is a smokers’ den, a private dining room where the meals are included but guests order and pay extra for a range of specialty wines from around the world, a library, theatre and cinema.

Crystal claims the only floating spa designed according to Feng Shui principles, with Elemis aromatherapy products.

And for the mind, there is the Crystal Visions Enrichment Program with lessons in Photoshop, video editing, Berlitz language courses and even the piano keyboard from Yamaha (we trust this is conducted in a sound proofed room!).

Crystal Cruises is now all-inclusive and they have a variety of offers going through to 2016. Next year marks the line’s 25th anniversary.

Wiltrans International managing director Diane Patrick urges cruisers to take a look at the itinerary guide early as prices are only guaranteed until February 28.

“There will be cruises that go up in price on March 1,” she says.

Wiltrans International on 1800 251 174 –

Been on a Crystal cruise? Tell us what YOU think.