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Sail Date: December 2012
I recently returned from a cruise on the Crystal Serenity. I have previously done 7 cruises, 5 Royal Caribbean, 1 Holland America and 1 Azamara. I couldn't believe I was actually going on a Crystal cruise and was so looking forward ... Read More
I recently returned from a cruise on the Crystal Serenity. I have previously done 7 cruises, 5 Royal Caribbean, 1 Holland America and 1 Azamara. I couldn't believe I was actually going on a Crystal cruise and was so looking forward to it. Every time you read about Crystal, reviews are generally excellent and the line themselves often quote how many awards they have won -- would the cruise live up to my high expectations? BOARDING -- I didn't realise it but I was joining a cruise in progress. I had booked 8 nights but the original cruise had started in Lisbon and was for 11 nights. I had previously read where you are offered Champagne on arrival and what a wonderful experience it is. I can say that the welcome onboard was lukewarm and a little half-hearted. No Champagne offered and felt like I was just being processed. A nice man led me to my stateroom and shortly afterwards the maid appeared and went through a few things. I had a veranda and was very happy with it. FOOD - I then went for lunch and that is when I started to see the Crystal difference. The Lido buffet was superb which such a choice. I casually asked if honey mustard dressing was available and it wasn't, but to my surprise they immediately made some for me, very impressed. I went to the Lido on several occasions and only once was it packed and that was on a sea day. The other times there was no problem getting a table. One strange thing is the opening hours for lunch, 12.00 -- 13.30. Such a short time and I thought lunch would have been served until 14.30. The food was excellent and I did enjoy the Crystal dining room, everything cooked to perfection. On one occasion the food wasn't hot but they rectified that. The menu was varied including on different nights, venison, pheasant, filet mignon etc, caviar was also available. I am not a dessert person but it all looked very good and beautifully presented. Branislav, Carmelo, Cristian and the sommelier always looked after us. I also ate in Tastes for a late breakfast and that was good as was the Trident Grill for a burger or hot dog etc. The bistro is highly recommended for sandwiches and cakes. I tried Silk Road and had the fortune to go with a Chinese American couple who talked me through the menu. There had been lots of hype about this restaurant and the problem is that rarely can places live up to the hype. It was very good but not what I was expecting i.e. meal of my life! I enjoyed the rock shrimp and the lobster spring roll but was a little disappointed in the Wagyu Beef -- maybe that is just my taste. Nothing was "to die for" as so many seem to say. Please don't misunderstand as I am not criticising, I really enjoyed it but it wasn't as good as I had been led to believe. I also went to Prego. The food here was superb and beautifully presented. I wished I had gone back there again. The service in Prego was perhaps the best I have ever received with a special mention to the Maitre and head waiter, both from Portugal and Jerrit -- a wonderful waiter. ENTERTAINMENT -- Personally I do not go on a cruise for the entertainment but I did go along to a couple of shows. On the first night the band did a Glenn Miller set which was superb and packed with people dancing and having a great time, Not sure why they didn't do it again. The dance classes were great and well attended, very entertaining teachers. There was dancing each evening and there were 4 male hosts to dance with unaccompanied ladies, brilliant. There were 2 sessions of bingo which were good fun and other activities to keep one occupied, all very well arranged. This is where people may disagree with me. I do not think having a dance troupe is warranted on a line like Crystal. The stage is too small and although I am sure they are well trained, at times it looked like they were a group of friends having a laugh putting on a show! I think a few solo singers and some jazz would be better, however that is just my opinion. I would not want to offend anyone and I thought Rick, the cruise director was wonderful, very approachable and friendly as was his assistant Shane. OTHER PASSENGERS -- I had been a little nervous as I thought everyone would be stuffy but that couldn't have been further from the truth. Everyone was so approachable and friendly and I met some wonderful people. This will sound snobbish but most passengers were of a certain class and you didn't have to worry about people turning up in track suits or football shirts. There was a woman on board from Glasgow who was the only one who stood out. I think she booked the wrong cruise! DRESS CODE -- Everyone was smartly dressed but not OTT. It was lovely to have a formal night and dress in a tux, other nights were mainly smart casual. ALL INCLUSIVE DRINKS -- This is NOT your typical all inclusive where people are queuing up to get their money's worth. All drinks were available including Hendricks Gin, Belvedere and Grey Goose Vodka etc. Champagne also freely available, not the best but we can't have everything! BARS -- My favourites were the Crystal Cove pre dinner and sometimes after dinner for a quiet drink. Mark, Jess and company always made you feel welcome. The Avenue Bar where people could have a drink and chat, and dance if they wished, with great service provided by Ana and Nicole and the others. Pulse disco was great and I must mention Paolo who was just perfect, an excellent barman who knew exactly how to run things, ably assisted by Daniela. CASINO -- Usual slots and games. The female cashier could be very brusque and I always felt as if she was telling me off! SHOPS -- A small selection with very pleasant staff always willing to help. Do not expect duty free spirits and tobacco but upmarket clothes shops and some perfumes. There was also a convenience type place which was handy to have for forgotten essentials. GYM -- Very modern and up to date and friendly staff. LIBRARY -- Very well stocked and all in order, the best I have seen at sea. INTERNET -- Same as all other lines but we were all given 20 minutes free use on the last day to print off boarding cards. I thought this was a nice gesture. LAUNDRY -- There are several self service laundrettes on the Serenity. Washers, dryers, ironing board etc. Very good and more ships should have them. SMOKING -- No problem at all. Apparently one can smoke in the cabins but you would never know it as there was no smell of smoke. Limited area in some bars which was fine. DISEMBARKING -- Could not have been easier. Walked off the ship, and no queues at all. Not much of a farewell but business is business. SERVICE -- EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!! Staff was there whenever you needed them and most were very professional. Hotel officers could be seen walking around the ship and would always say hello. CRITISISMS -- Not much to criticise but if Crystal are going to add on "b" cruises they must make more of an effort. There were no welcome parties, single gatherings etc. The only party I went to was the Farewell party which strangely was held on the 5th night of the cruise. It didn't make much difference to me as it was so easy to meet people anyway but may be something to think about. Would I cruise with Crystal again -- YES! It may be expensive but you get what you pay for and I would rather have 1 cruise with Crystal than 2 with a different line. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Crystal is considered one of the best cruise lines. It is Japanese-owned, so I should not have been surprised that there were 370 (out of about 1000 passengers) Asians on the ship. The ship was full. The Serenity is a small ship by ... Read More
Crystal is considered one of the best cruise lines. It is Japanese-owned, so I should not have been surprised that there were 370 (out of about 1000 passengers) Asians on the ship. The ship was full. The Serenity is a small ship by today's standards, but the size was just right for me. Crystal is a premium cruise line with premium rates. The cruise line gave me a fantastic deal on this cruise, and they also upgraded me to a deluxe verandah cabin. This was my first verandah cabin, and I didn't use it very much but it was nice to have. I liked the ship, though as one of the passengers said, it doesn't have a "WOW factor" like Royal Caribbean's beautiful ships. The dEcor is understated, conservative and a bit dated. My cabin was a nice size, but not large. It had plenty of storage space. The bathroom had granite counter tops, double sinks, and a tub/shower combination. There were plenty of towels and quality bed linens. The only negative was that the lighting in the cabin wasn't good for reading. The food was very good. The menu changed daily in the dining room and was not repeated during the cruise. Service in the dining room was slow, but there was seven of us and generally the larger the table the slower the service on any ship. The staff accommodated all special requests for food. The only negative about the dining room is that the noise level was very high. The Lido was frequently so crowded one had to search for a table, but this was likely due to the ship being at capacity. The staff did clear the tables quickly. The mushroom soup that was served in a small bread bowl with a bread cover in Prego, the specialty Italian restaurant, was memorable as was the Grand Marnier soufflE in the main dining room. Crystal is similar to Holland America but without the pesky photographers, lines at elevators, and annoying public announcements about bingo. It has better food, better service, quality entertainment, and offers a good lecture series. Many things are included for which there is a charge on other cruise lines such as soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty coffees. There is also no additional charge for the specialty restaurants. I selected this cruise because of the itinerary and everything else was a bonus. This was an 11-night Grand Canary Classic Cruise beginning in Barcelona, Spain and ending in Lisbon, Portugal with stops at Malaga, Cadiz, Casablanca, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Madeira. This was a great itinerary and we had good weather for mid-November. All my shore excursions were booked through the ship. The ship provides a free shuttle into town at many ports. The only problem with the itinerary was that since Crystal couldn't get me flights out the day the cruise ended I was in a forced overnight situation in Lisbon. I'd been in Lisbon before and at the end of a cruise I just want to go home, but it worked out better than expected. They put me up at the Tiara Park Atlantic Hotel which is next to The Ritz. The Tiara Park Atlantic is a very nice hotel. Crystal had everything organized at the hotel and for the airport transfer the next day. If there is one area that Crystal excels over any other cruise line it is in organization. Disembarkation and transfers to hotels and the airport were carefully planned out and handled smoothly. There were many passengers on this cruise who were well-traveled and interesting conversationalists. My dinner companions were exceptional and contributed greatly to the overall cruise experience. Many of the passengers were repeaters and several said they would never cruise on any other line. This was my 29th cruise and the first cruise with Crystal. I would cruise with them again if the itinerary was what I wanted and the price was right. Read Less
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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