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5 Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Baltic Sea

We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The ... Read More
We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The check in was seamless. Our butler and cabin attendants, Jose and Lydia, were the best!!!! You could not find anything lacking in their lovely demeanor and commitment to our well being. The first two days we were in Copenhagen. The weather was less than attractive, rainy and overcast, but the city's personality shown through. The Danes are a wonderful people, very conscious of the environment, very hygge, the perfect city to start the cruise. The second port in Germany was kind of a bust. The town was ‘eh’. It is a nice little seaside town in Northern Germany. We took a long walk into town along a boardwalk filled with German tourists. English was rather sketchy. I recommend getting off the main tourist area and walking into town. They have a lovely church square and a sweet little park that the local use. Day 4 was the day at Sea and Formal Night. The cruise seemed very casual. Less than half the men was saw adhered to Crystal Casual or the Semi Formal attire. We had dinner in the dining room which is where our problems started. My husband was the first to succumb to the norovirus the morning of day 5. I will not subject you to the details, but suffice it to say it was extremely unpleasant. The medical team admonished him for not washing his hands enough, and he was quarantined leaving me to go to a lower floor overnight. His poor health lasted two days missing Helsinki and one day in St. Petersburg. I succumbed the 2nd day in St. Petersburg missing St. Petersburg and Tallin. I did not expect to find the Norovirus in such a high end cruise. I don’t have an official count but the ship has seemed very quiet and the medical center was very busy both days we visited. An airborne food disease is not the ‘fault’ of guests. It is the responsibility of the ship to provide a clean and disenfected environment. The first evening aboard the ship I witness tissue on the ground on the 11 floor, trash left in a stairwell to the work out room and napkins in the elevator. Really! On a Crystal ship! We have sailed on 17 different cruise ships since 1991 and this is the first time we have encountered the Norovirus. As far as other aspects of Crystal, I have yet to find a barista on board at least at the Marketplace that can make a decent cappuccino. How can you call yourself a luxury cruise line when the coffee station cannot make cappuccinos and don’t use the proper size cup to get the ingredients correct. I don’t drink alcohol but I do love my mocha and cappuccinos. Sorry to say, I have not had a decent one since we left the d’Angleterre hotel in Copenhagen. Excursion desk. My question is this, how can I purchase my ticket to the Russian ballet 5 months in advance and be seated with the crew, when someone who bought their ticket for the excursion a couple of hours before the show had tickets in the second row. Also, did I mention we purchased penthouse suite? That just did not make sense to me☹️. Also, you need better excursions. The company that took us to Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg also took us to a place to purchase souvenirs. On another day a private guide we arranged to use to a souvenir shop and the items were 40-50% less. Beware! I thought the service staff was great. Crystal society rep was less than lack luster, I approached while my husband was in the room, he was getting up to join his friend at the Cruise Sale desk. I stopped him to tell him what was going on, he did not ask me sit just let me talk to him in an open lobby, and immediately joined his friend when I was finished talking. I don’t like to say never, but after having travelled on the Espirit, I will not ever take another voyage on Crystal Serenity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us ... Read More
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us very well. We liked the way every time we sat down, whether it was in the central lounge on Deck 5 or the Forward lounge on Deck 12, there was someone approaching us to ask if there was anything they could get for us. It was called an "amenity" cruise, and it was indeed. We were treated extremely well from the time we arrived at the ship, throughout the cruise, and when we left to go home. The food was fabulous, the prosecco, chamboard cocktails and wine flowed freely, and there were light activity shore excursions that I could enjoy. Crystal is definitely now my favorite cruise line, and I hope we can take another cruise with this line soon. Having talked with others who have taken other cruise lines to the same locations, I find that the fact that Crystal allows you to take as many or as few shore excursions, but only pay for the ones you take, is an advantage. As my ability to walk decreases, I would take fewer shore excursions, but would enjoy every bit of the cruise as much or more than I did this time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was our fourth time sailing on the Serenity. She is a well appointed ship. The staff stay the same from year to year. They go out of their way to accommodate the passenger. Our every request is granted with a smile. This is one of the ... Read More
This was our fourth time sailing on the Serenity. She is a well appointed ship. The staff stay the same from year to year. They go out of their way to accommodate the passenger. Our every request is granted with a smile. This is one of the reasons we love Crystal. Another thing we love about Crystal is that they overnight in in some ports. On this cruise we had overnights in three ports. This allowed us to use the boat as a hotel,and really get the flavor of the port. The ship docked for two nights on the Garonne river, right in the heart of Bordeaux. We loved it! We could sit on our port side balcony and soak up the atmosphere. While in Bordeaux,we took a shore excursion with wine expert , Dewey Markham Jr. He is wonderful,and the tour was a highlight of our trip. We spent a great deal of money for a shore excursion billed as a " rare wine tasting" which was unwelming. We expected to be tasting rare grand cru classe wines, and that was not the case. Don't waste your money on this one. Overall, the actual shore excursions are no better than Princess although the offerings are more interesting. I have found excursions themselves to be average which should not be the case for a line as upscale as Crystal. Our deck 8 balcony stateroom was very adequate for our needs. I room was always clean. The bathroom has a bathtub and two sinks. The line supplies you with bathrobes and an umbrella ( which we needed). The food on Crystal is wonderful. We had second seating in the main dining room. Dragon, our waiter was excellent. He anticipated our every need. We also like to eat in the main dining room for breakfast and lunch. "Tastes" and the buffet are also good. All food and drink is included, so you can have anything you want( expect to come home with an expanded waistline-lol) The only thing I did not like was our stop in Brest. In my opinion ( and the feeling of other passengers at the time)this should have been a sea day. On Sunday nothing is open in Brest. Several people we spoke to said that they road around on the Crystal shuttle just for something to do. We went to the maritime museum which was one of the few things that was open. To make matters worse, it was pouring. At least if we had been at sea there would have been activities. There was nothing on the ship for us- no lectures, classes,bingo, casino-nothing! At night we often went to the piano bar. We had fun with the other "regulars". We also saw some good shows. There are other venues on the ship, but we did not visit them. Getting on and off the Serenity is simple. They are very organized. We always get on for lunch, and off after breakfast. We did not take a Crystal transfer this time. My husband and I both get seasick, so we do not sail on small ships. We have been on Oceania, Princess and Celebrity but Crystal is our favorite. The service,food,and multiple overnight ports make this line standout. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We were totally delighted with the service of ALL the staff and crew on board. To be truthful the stateroom was a bit smaller than we expected based on what is show on Crystal's web page...More narrow space between bed and ... Read More
We were totally delighted with the service of ALL the staff and crew on board. To be truthful the stateroom was a bit smaller than we expected based on what is show on Crystal's web page...More narrow space between bed and walkththrough towards bathroom. Silversea equivalent cabins are bigger. The prodcuction shows were the best! The food was quite above average but again not what I expected..either in the main dining room or the specialty restaurants...I expected a ***** experience and it was a as ***+ experience...the service in all the dining venues was indeed ***** They need to get their 'open seating ' program better organized...one tended to miss several show room numbers [only one several evening] if one booked a 7:30 reservation! Shops are delightful and well stocked..The photography on board is way too expensive..mark up from their costs probably is 500%. But again, purchase of photos is voluntary. Bottles of water were not consistently available on shore excurcusions. Personally we were disappointed with all the tours that Crystal provided. The guides, while knowledgeable, were boring and appeare tired at what they were doing. We felt rushed through at several of the sites. The private tours that we had arranged prior to the cruise were far better! The description of the shore excursions in their brochure can be misleading! In spite of the above, we thoroughly enjoyed our voyage, priamrily due to the staff on board.....A bit costly $20,000.00 for this vacation [incl. business class upgrade] was it worth it......YES... Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Crystal Serenity Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 5.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 4.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 4.5 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 5.0 4.1

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