Crystal Cruises is the first line to feature professionally trained and certified cheese sommeliers who, rather than simply suggesting cheese selections, ascertain the finer nuances of guests' palates.  In true Crystal luxury fashion, sommeliers will introduce travelers to samplings of new flavors, textures and cheese combinations that compliment food and wine - adding sophistication and knowledge to guests' culinary experiences.  The sommeliers will be introduced this month on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity following intensive training and certification supervised by Professor Gerhard Ebner of the International Cheese Academy of the Hotel and Tourism School in Bad Gleichenberg, Austria.

"Cheese continues to play an increasingly important role in the worldwide dining experience," says Toni Neumeister, vice president, food & beverage.  "The certification of sommeliers is the kind of subtle luxury amenity that guests won't think about or truly appreciate until they've encountered it - and then they'll be quite impressed.  It also demonstrates the commitment in training Crystal's culinary staff to be the best at what they do."

Benefits to guests include:

* Sommelier suggestions on pairings with meals and wines, and insights on what blends thrive in certain regions of the world;
* Varying selections of cheeses, depending on season and regional delicacies;
* In all, 50 cheese vintages from 20 countries -- from the internationally renowned to more obscure artisan choices made by hand, and
* Complimentary sommelier services, part and parcel to the overall Crystal Experience, illustrating that true luxury is illustrated in the finest details

Certification participants included the head sommelier; assistant maĆ®tre d' (senior head waiter) chef de cuisine; Prego restaurant sommelier; two head waiters; and food and beverage manager. A rigorous daily training schedule included courses covering the history of cheese; its production -  including regional differences and how cows' diets impact the flavor of the cheese - slicing techniques; tastings; presentation; creating cheese menus; and cooking with cheese.  Participants also visited a restaurant specializing in cheese menus and toured a regional cheese market.