Last fall I spent a pleasant night aboard the Crystal Symphony in Boston Harbor. The ship was berthed for the night, so I sampled its many amenities and was lulled to sleep in my spacious stateroom on my own “water” bed.

Weighing in at 51,000 tons and 781 feet in length, Crystal Symphony still is classified as a “large” cruise ship. Most notable is its 1.73-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio — the highest in the industry — and its 480 elegantly appointed staterooms, all facing outward, which include 278 with private verandahs.

Crystal's innovative (and complimentary) Creative Learning Institute partners with organizations such as Berlitz, Society of Wine Educators, The Cleveland Clinic, and the Tai Chi Cultural Center to bring expert instruction to the ship's learning labs. Complimentary classes are also offered through Computer University@Sea — from a digital video editing course to classes in Microsoft Word or Excel. Guests have 24-hour Internet access from every lab computer and from every stateroom.

And if cabin fever sets in, Crystal offers shore tours ranging — on its East Coast itinerary — from a trip to Boston's Fenway Park to coastal kayaking along Bar Harbor, Maine's, Frenchman's Bay. Depending on the ship's route, other shore excursions have included river-rafting on the Adriatic Coast and hot-air ballooning in Ireland.