We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We embarked in Istanbul and then went to four ports in Greece (Mykonos, Athens, Navplion and Corfu), then to Kotor, Montenegro and Zadar, Croatia with debarkation in Venice. We also had three days as sea filled with a variety of events and activities to participate in or to do nothing at all. This cruise also had overnight stays in our ports of embarkation and debarkation. While this may not be for everyone, we really liked to have the extra time in both ports! Our experience the second time on Crystal Serenity was as wonderful as the first.
Embarkation -- This was a breeze and took less than 5 minutes. As we arrived on the ship we were greeted by several crew members. One quickly took our carry on bags and escorted us to the Crystal Plaza where reception was set up for registration. This was fast and efficient (less than 5 minutes). We were then escorted to our cabin and within 5 minutes our suitcases arrived. It truly could not have been easier!
The Ship -- We were on Serenity shortly after the 2011 dry dock so had seen all the wonderful changes. It is still shining and we felt right at home immediately. The public areas and how much space there is for guests to enjoy is what stands out. You can be in the middle of the action if you want or can find a quiet place to read and relax. We spent very little time in our cabin other than some time enjoying our veranda late afternoon or early evening before getting ready for dinner.
The Crew -- We can't say enough about the crew. It was nice to see many familiar faces from our cruise last year and to meet many new ones. They are friendly, efficient and will do anything for you. The Lido deck crew works so hard to make the experience wonderful. I get tired thinking about all the work the entire crew and staff do to help make our vacation the best!
Dining -- We chose the Dining by Reservation option (as we did last year) and it works out perfectly for us. We made our reservations on PCPC and normally selected 7:15 as our dinner time. For us this time works out better than the set early or late seating. This time was also good to make the 8:45 shows. We dined in the MDR all but one night and the food was excellent. There is a good variety to choose from each night, portion sizes are very nice so you can have an appetizer and a soup or salad and try one of the night entrees. The dining room staff was also fantastic. With Open Dining you do not have the same waiters each night, however, you are seated in one general area so were able to have a pair of 2 or 3 waiters over the 12 nights. We enjoyed some breakfasts in the MDR an, some in the Lido; we also had lunch in either the MDR or Tastes on the Lido Deck. With breakfast and lunch it just depended on what we had planned for that day or arrival back on the ship after a tour. I cannot think of anything to truly complain about.
Our Stateroom -- We selected a veranda cabin on Deck 8 this year (last year we had a similar cabin on Deck 9). The location was between mid and aft elevators and we liked the location. While the cabin is small, it is well appointed with plenty of storage between the large closet and drawers. The bathroom is also well appointed. We like to have the veranda to sit out late afternoon or early evening prior to dinner. The weather during this trip was wonderful so we were able to enjoy it pretty much every day. Also, our stewardess was very efficient and ensured we had our beverages of choice in the refrigerator.
Debarkation -- This was also fairly painless. The information provided is excellent. It explains exactly what you need to do, where to be and at what time. It could not have been clearer. The only complaint we had was that when we arrived at the Venice airport we were unable to check in with our airline for another hour, so we needed to find a place to sit with our luggage. This minor issue was mentioned in our survey response to Crystal. Not a big deal, but the Venice airport is small and crowded. It would have been nice to have quickly checked our luggage with the airline and been able sit more comfortably in the airline lounge. I did notice this was the case for a couple of other passengers. We were just at the airport way too early.
To close out I did want to share one story. One day we were having lunch @ Tastes after a tour and some shopping. After lunch, my husband wanted to go out to the Aft deck and take some pictures. While I was on the Aft Deck with him I realized I'd left a small bag under the table. I quickly ran back and there was no bag at the table and someone was just getting ready to sit down. A couple of tables nearby told me that one of the waiters was taking it to lost and found. I went down to Reception and told them I'd left a bag under the table in the Tastes ... they opened the drawer and gave me my bag which had a gift for my Mom inside. The time from when we left the table, me realizing I forgot it and getting down to Reception could not have been much more than 5 minutes! It was such a good feeling to have the gift safely returned. My only regret is I don't know what crew member was so quick to get the bag to L&F so that I could personally thank them. It's a silly story and not a big expensive gift but it was the efficiency and genuine concern that touched me.