A major plus for Crystal Serenity passengers is that the ship has a higher percentage of cabins with balconies (85 percent) than its sister, Crystal Symphony (65 percent). During the 2011 refit, the cabins, all of which are outsides, received the bulk of the $25 million in upgrades. All new fittings, furnishings and carpeting give the rooms a chic, almost edgy look, complete with white or black leather tufted headboards and the occasional zebra-patterned furnishing.
Cabin sizes and levels of luxury range across the board. The entry-level staterooms measure 226 square feet. While that's slightly larger than most big-ship cruise lines' comparable accommodations, the cabins can feel pretty squinchy, mostly because you expect a bit more from a luxury line. Also, these cabins look out onto the promenade deck, albeit through one-way glass that hides any views from curious passersby during the daytime. Balcony cabins are the same size and layout as the outside accommodations, but with 43-square-foot verandahs.
Crystal has revised the number of room categories to 13 aboard Serenity (up from five, including "Pure" rooms for passengers with allergies). All have 100 percent Egyptian cotton linens, wireless in-room Internet access, Frette robes, Aveda bath amenities, turndown service and more. Even the smallest -- deluxe staterooms with large picture windows -- have seating areas and all the amenities like in-suite satellite TV, movies available from the library and complimentary minibar offerings. Upgrade, though, and the rooms are an even better value.
We stayed in a 538-square-foot penthouse suite with a verandah. Toronto's II BY IV has remodeled the rooms, which have classic, clean lines and walls of chocolate brown with cream trim. The sizeable bedroom could be curtained off from the living room with its convertible sofa for our daughter; both had flat-panel TVs with Blu-ray DVD/CD players that could be played at the same time without bothering either of us. The best part of the room was the bathroom, with side-by-side sinks, a separate shower and a full Jacuzzi bathtub with jets. The penthouse comes with many perks, including same-day pressing and a gratis self-serve laundry room, pre-dinner canapes, in-room dining (even from the Silk Road and Prego menus), constantly replenished fruit, minibar and chocolate truffles. Passengers booked in Penthouse rooms are also invited to a private Captain's quarters cocktail party. One of the most thoughtful additions is an electronic 'do not disturb/please service" system so housekeeping will never have to knock and disturb you.
The Crystal Penthouses are an impressive 1,345 square feet apiece, and each comes with a very large private verandah, two walk-in closets and even a private workout area. The space was reconfigured in the new design to add a shower to the guest powder room, so the media/library/den with a sleeper sofa can function as a second bedroom.
There are cabins designed for folks with disabilities in all the major categories, including cabins on the penthouse levels.