Having sailed with a couple of other “luxury” cruise lines, we have found Crystal to be the most consistently enjoyable experience in cruising. This was our seventh Crystal cruise and our second TransAtlantic cruise on the Serenity. We’ve learned that each cruise is very different in terms of the people we meet, the crew, and the overall experience, but each Crystal cruise leaves us wanting another.
Embarkation in New York was a breeze. It was only about twenty minutes from the time we stepped out of the taxi until we were through security and had our room cards in hand. Since we had an overnight on the ship in NYC, we flew in the day of embarkation. Otherwise, we always arrive in our departure city at least a day in advance. A flight delay meant we missed the lovely champagne lunch we had eagerly anticipated, and we arrived hungry in the middle of the afternoon. After leaving hand luggage in our room, we headed for the Trident Grill and the fabulous burgers served by the incredible Lido Team. We were offered champagne and happily made toasts to a great cruise. Although ice cream is always available on Lido Deck, I was in the mood for pastries and realized it was time for tea in the Palm Court. We were feeling relaxed and relieved to be onboard so we headed for the Palm Court which was almost deserted at tea time on embarkation day. We chose a table in the bow of the ship next to the large windows and gazed at the New York skyline as a parade of waiters visited our table with tea and a variety of pastries. We leaned back and enjoyed the scenery and agreed that “This is a great life.”
The great life on Crystal continued for sixteen days until we disembarked in Dover. Other reviewers have described the rooms. We were on Deck 8, our preferred deck. We have always found the rooms to be sufficiently large for our needs. The closet occasionally seems a bit small, but we manage. We enjoy the shower/tub combination and the ample storage in the bathroom. We’ve had many wonderful stewardesses on Crystal, but Indre was among the best. She was fast, efficient, friendly and happy to honor our requests. I typically ordered a pot of coffee each morning, sometimes with fruit and croissants. Indre always gave me an estimate of when it would arrive, and it was never a long wait.
This was our first time for late dining. We had a window table for two and enjoyed the fine cuisine that is attractively presented and efficiently served on Crystal. We also enjoyed several meals in each of the speciality restaurants. We found that if we were flexible, we were able to make speciality restaurant reservations easily. Silk Road is simply one of the best restaurants on either land or sea, and we tried many of the sushi items and regular entrees while on this trip. The service is outstanding as well. Prego, the Italian restaurant, also has outstanding service and marvelous food. Eating there three times, we were able to enjoy our favorites like the mushroom soup and also try nightly specials like fresh fish cooked to perfection accompanied by grilled Italian vegetables.
We have long been fans of the Crystal production shows. They aren’t as flashy as similar shows on some cruise lines, but they are sophisticated, polished productions with excellent performers and beautiful costumes. We saw one of the first performances of the new Elton John musical and found it a lively welcome addition to the basic rotation of shows. The other entertainment was of high quality and included a vocalist and an organist.
This was the first All Inclusive cruise on Serenity. As such, the bars and evening spots seemed more lively in the evening. We enjoyed several evenings listening to Colin Salter in the Avenue Saloon. He is a fine entertainer and a master at engaging the audience in song and dance.
The ports included Newfoundland, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, and three Norwegian ports. All were highly enjoyable, and Geiranger Fjord was stunning. Our evening sail out of Geiranger Fjord was made even more enjoyable by viewing it from the Palm Court and then from a window table at Tastes on Lido Deck where we enjoyed a mix of the new Chinese comfort food items and steak and chicken from the regular Tastes menu. Bravo to Crystal for offering these dining options, and bravo to the Lido crew who provide some of the best service on the ship, quickly learning and remembering guests’ preferences.
Disembarkation went smoothly, and the Concierge recognized us at luggage pickup in the terminal and came to tell us that our driver had arrived. It was yet another Crystal personal touch that contributed to a lovely experience.