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18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We chose Crystal because we had heard if was a luxury experience. We paid top dollar for this cruise. Unfortunately, the Serenity was rather mundane -- nice but nothing special. The food was OK but not better than other cruises we have ... Read More
We chose Crystal because we had heard if was a luxury experience. We paid top dollar for this cruise. Unfortunately, the Serenity was rather mundane -- nice but nothing special. The food was OK but not better than other cruises we have taken on other lines. The food portions in the dining room were small -- not a bad thing on a cruise -- but they were unnecessarily small in the wrong ways. Example French toast with berries in the main dining room included two toast triangles, four blueberries and three thin slices of strawberry. An appetizer of prosciutto and melon featured 4 tiny cubes of melon -- each about 1/4 the size of a marble. Cutting back on melon Crystal?? The preboarding experience on Crystal was the worst we have ever had. Other passengers expressed the same frustration with getting any information from Crystal directly. They would only communicate with us through our travel agent even for the most mundane requests. Onboard the staff was exceptional although hampered by Crystal's procedures. The onboard entertainment was very good but there were only four performances in the main theater in seven days. Onboard wifi was overly complicated -- expensive if you didn't continually log out and log back in. All-in-all it was an enjoyable cruise but since our expectations for Crystal were very high -- we were disappointed. Our next cruise will be on a less expensive line such as Royal Caribbean or Oceania Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We had previously sailed on Crystal Serenity on the Baltic cruise and had an amazing experience. We chose to sail with Crystal Serenity for the Alaskan cruise expecting a repeat of this. However, we probably will NOT sail with Crystal ... Read More
We had previously sailed on Crystal Serenity on the Baltic cruise and had an amazing experience. We chose to sail with Crystal Serenity for the Alaskan cruise expecting a repeat of this. However, we probably will NOT sail with Crystal again: 1. the food was lacking in quality - soups were always salty. So were most of the other dishes in Prego/Silk/Crystal Dining Room not only on one occasion but repeated occasions 2. the waiters seem overworked and stretched and not friendly 3. the buffet spread in the Lido deck for breakfast and lunch was limited and seemed repeated 4. internet was very unreliable and the staff that manned the help desk in the computer area was hostile and impatient and rude 5. food at Silk Road was appalling. The sashimi was not fresh. The quality was lacking. Service was not good. We had booked another night (was willing to pay for a repeat experience) but cancelled the booking after the awful dining experience 6. Crystal cruises are pricey. We paid a lot for a 6 stars' experience but this cruise seemed more like 3 or 4 stars. Perhaps we should try another cruise ship the next round. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We had sailed on Crystal Serenity previously on the Baltic cruise and had a great time. The crew seemed overworked and stretched and unfriendly. One waitress was rather rude when I requested for just hot water and honey and some slices of ... Read More
We had sailed on Crystal Serenity previously on the Baltic cruise and had a great time. The crew seemed overworked and stretched and unfriendly. One waitress was rather rude when I requested for just hot water and honey and some slices of lemon for a bad throat. Food was not up to expectations - the buffet spread in Lido deck was so so. We had looked forward to dining at the Silk Road - the sashimi was not fresh and the quality seemed to be compromised. The soup came out lukewarm and salty. Food in Prego was also not great - again, too salty and the quality seemed lacking. Shore excursions were boring. Fortunately the entertainment on most nights was quite good. The internet was patchy. The guy manning the help desk at the Computer room was hostile and rude and impatient when we approached him for help. What was good - the Trident Grill delivered. Our butler was always very polite and willing to go the extra mile to meet our needs and our room was well taken care of by our room's housekeeper. We probably will not pay so much for a cruise again. Crystal charged 6 stars' prices but did not deliver. Very very disappointed. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We chose this cruise 8 or 9 months ago to travel with our alumni group. A few weeks ago I looked at this site and saw some negative reviews. Well, our experience was quite different. Ship was clean and well organized. Our room had a ... Read More
We chose this cruise 8 or 9 months ago to travel with our alumni group. A few weeks ago I looked at this site and saw some negative reviews. Well, our experience was quite different. Ship was clean and well organized. Our room had a veranda, which certainly added to the experience. Crew was friendly and helpful from top to bottom. Excursions were pricey, but worth the money (especially the seaplane/Taku Lodge in Juneau). Food was terrific, varied, and plentiful. For most meals, you could choose from a buffet, a grill or the main dining room. The only food complaint from our table of 9 was on the lamb. I don't care for lamb anyway, so it didn't have an effect on me. The beef and seafood were stellar. Crystal is pricey, but no tipping and everything is included. We loved this trip and will be looking forward to our next Crystal Cruise. The variety of itineraries offered by Crystal is awesome, including river cruises. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This is long so get ready...... Just experienced our first Crystal cruise and will begin by saying we have been crystalized! We were celebrating my husband's 50th birthday and our travel agent recommended a few Alaskan cruises for ... Read More
This is long so get ready...... Just experienced our first Crystal cruise and will begin by saying we have been crystalized! We were celebrating my husband's 50th birthday and our travel agent recommended a few Alaskan cruises for us to take and told us that Crystal was ranked #1 for some years and was well known for their customer service and cuisine. We were traveling with multiple families and children with ages ranging from 7-75 years old. Our older travelers who had been on luxury cruise lines before including Seabourne, Silver Seas and Regent were wanting a smaller cruise ship due to their past experience. I did A LOT of research on the various cruise lines we could take (luxury and non). After MUCH research and suggestions from our travel agent, we chose Crystal and everyone was SO HAPPY we did. We took advantage of their Crystal Family Memories Program. When looking at luxury cruises while traveling with children this option was a great value! We all liked the all inclusive and gratuities included too. EMBARKATION We did a short trip to Banff before our trip so we flew in the morning of embarkment from Calgary and took a cab straight to the boat around 12:30. When we drove into the parking garage, we were immediately met by a crystal rep and baggage handler who gave us a big greeting, quickly took all our luggage, loaded them up and said "enjoy your cruise, your luggage will be in your room shortly". We then needed to go through customs before boarding. There was a short line for customs, but since we are global entry we were directed straight to a customs desk, stamp stamp and within 5 minutes we were boarding the ship. My sister in law said when she boarded the ship later that day that there wasn't a line whatsoever and went through just as quickly. As we boarded the Serenity on Deck 6 my teenagers immediately said "Wow, this is soooo cool" Check in and pictures on Deck 5 took a max of 5 minutes while being offered champagne and then we were off to the Lido deck for an embarkment lunch. They told us that our room would be ready by 3:00. We ate at Tastes and had the Chinoise Chicken Salad (literally the same as Wolf Gang Puck's salad - delicious), burgers and spaghetti bolognese. The waiters continuously making sure all glasses were full and that we were satisfied with our welcome meal. We took our drinks and proceeded to look around the boat from the pool, spa, kids room, everywhere. No space was unaccessible and there was someone to ask us if we had any questions regarding the boat at every turn. CABIN and ATTENDANTS One of the biggest perks we had was made possible by our travel agent, Stephanie. Two weeks before our embarkment, she informed me that we all were upgraded to Penthouses with Verandas. We originally booked A1 rooms. This bump was a HUGE luxury and it would have not happened had we not booked through Stephanie and she arranging it for all of us. I think it is due to her relationship with Crystal. It was very much the cherry on top of a wonderful trip! One of the negative comments I came across when reading about Crystal was the room size in comparison to other luxury lines. The room IS small in comparison, but the set up is well laid out and the decor is very modern and clean lined. The bathroom with bath and separate shower was large and my daughter enjoyed her daily bubble jacuzzi baths. The walk in closet was perfect for the three of us (our room was a third berth room). The room is high tech with lighting, housekeeping & do not disturb. It is smaller than other luxuries, but very efficient with it's space. We did move the small coffee table often for more walk space with three people in the room, but who hangs out in their room with such a beautiful ship and great verandah! Our butler, Jijo, immediately introduced himself and asked if there was anything we needed. A complimentary bottle of champagne and two bottles of wine were there when we arrived with chocolates. We asked him for Crown Royal, another bottle of Cabernet, club soda, limes and Coke Zero to start. We never had to ask again. We were well stocked the entire trip. They also have fresh fruit everyday in the room. Jijo noticed that all we ate were the grapes. A few days into the cruise we would return with an entire bowl of grapes. Jijo had been with the cruise line for 10 years and his professionalism was evident. When we spoke to him about his career with Crystal he said that one of Crystal's missions is that happy employees make happy customers which make a happy ship. Jijo is a true gem to the Serenity. Our housekeepers were Sandra and Kaylie. They gave us a tour of the room, numbers to call and informed us that they changed the sheets daily and set up the third berth every night. They asked if we wanted help unpacking but we declined. Every day our room was spotless and with a teenage girl in our room that is a major accomplishment. They were amazing. We used the free pressing service (penthouse benefit) once for black tie night - perfect. I used the self service laundry down the hall on our deck and it was straight forward and easy. It was nice to clean the clothes from our pre-cruise excursion. DINING One of the main reasons we chose Crystal was because of it's reputation for it's food. After reading reviews this was probably the #1 reason we booked so I felt a lot of pressure for the others traveling with us that this was the right decision. Crystal did not disappoint even our most seasoned cruisers. We chose Dining by Reservation and selected our preferred times for dinner through the PCPC system. I chose earlier times like 7, 7:30 because we were traveling with a 7 year old and because of the entertainment schedules. Since Alaska does not have sunset until 10:30pm, I wish I would have chosen the late dining and seen the earlier shows. We did not have lunch until late everyday while on the boat and we had canapés served in our room every day around 5 (another penthouse perk - crab claws, lobster and boiled shrimp) so a late dinner would have been preferable. One of the perks we had being upgraded to a penthouse was that we could order from any specialty restaurant or the dining room for room service. My kids are HUGE fans of Nobu (a special occasion restaurant for them) which is Silk Road on the boat. They ordered room service from Silk Road 5 out of 7 nights on the boat and thought they were in heaven. All of the families ordered from Silk Road our first night on the boat and knew we were in for a special trip. Jijo ordered perfectly for us and it was wonderful! TASTES We ate dinner at Tastes on our second night and one other night (kids did Silk Road room service) and it was a great choice! Items ordered were Ahi Tuna Poke, Chimichurri Steak California Street Tacos, Oven Roasted Cauliflower, Alsatian Tart, Alaskan King Crab Dip, Roasted Beet Salad and a special fish dish. All were WONDERFUL. Only two things I didn't care for were Butternut Squash Frisee Salad (felt like it was a game of find the butternut squash). The service the first night was off and that is the only issue we had the entire trip. The view was beautiful but our meal was taking way way too long. There was a miscommunication in the kitchen and it seemed to have a trickle effect for our food service. The food and service manager, Tayfun Aybar, quickly addressed the situation and sincerely apologized for the inconvenience. We were surprised when an extremely nice bottle of wine ($275 value) with a note of apology was in our room the next day. We ate at Tastes everyday for lunch on the boat when cruising and other than that one mishap, it was a wonderful experience! CRYSTAL DINING ROOM We enjoyed two dinners in the main dining room. One with all of the families and one with just a mother/daughter dinner. It was hard pulling my son away from Silk Road room service. Everything was wonderful from food to service. My daughter and I had a two topper by the window and both enjoyed the Braised Beef with Whipped Potatoes - Excellent. One of the better appetizers during the group dinner was the smoked Beef Carpaccio. Unfortunately we missed lobster night in the main dining because that was black tie night and we had reservations at Silk Road that evening. We never made it to the main dining room for breakfast or lunch because we were spoiled by the Lido breakfast selection and Tastes lunch menu (personal taste) SILK ROAD Wonderful as expected. We actually dined here rather than room service. Unfortunately we chose lobster night in the main dining to do it. We ordered everything! Sushi, Sashimi, Appetizers, Main dishes. Service, food and level of presentation were spot on. We ordered Crispy Rice Cake with Spicy Tuna Tartar, Miso Black Cod, Grilled Wagyu Beef, Maguro, Rock Shrimp, Lobster, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Tuna Tataki, Chicken Teriyaki, California Rolls and a Bento Box! Superb PREGO This was our last night dining experience and we brought the wine we were given by Tayfun to celebrate the trip. We ordered the famous Mushroom Soup which I had read about in many reviews. It lived up to the hype. We ordered the Warm Lobster Poached in Sage Butter which in my opinion was the best lobster I ate during the entire trip which says a lot. My main course was not what I thought it would be (my bad) and our waiter quickly replaced it with the Roasted Rack of Baby Lamb. My mother in law had ordered this twice already in room service and chose it for a third round that night. I understand now why she did so. It was cooked perfectly. She said preferred this lamb to the one served in the main dining room the night we went. LIDO CAFE We ate breakfast here EVERY morning. I think because it was the early bird breakfast for most of us and had everything you could imagine for breakfast buffet style (omelet station, bacon, fresh fruit, oatmeal, made to order waffles, pancakes, etc.. Our omelet server had it down to an art. By day four he knew my order which included egg whites before I even ordered it - impressive. We had Tastes for lunch while on the boat but did mix and match the day they served their Asian buffet. A young girl walked by me with a smoothie that had whip cream on top and it looked to die for. When I asked her, where is that on the buffet? She said, "It's not". If you get the fruit you want (she had mango) take it to them and they will make a mango smoothie for you. That was some of the best advice! Everyone took advantage of that little info. So good THE BISTRO We did not get to take advantage of this particular spot. Did not even think about it until second to last day. We stopped in for afternoon cocktails, coffee and dessert. Next time I will definitely stop by more often. TRIDENT GRILL & SCOOPS The salmon burgers and hamburgers along with the sweet potato fries were a favorite among some of our family members. Everyone agreed that the person running the Trident Grill and grilling the burgers is amazing. He would take 6 peoples orders at once and quickly turned the orders around with no mistakes. He really knew what he was doing and the burgers were delicious. Lunch was quickly followed by Scoops which is pretty much Ben & Jerry's with any topping you like. If you like Ben & Jerry's and frozen yogurt then you will enjoy Scoops. We do and we did! AFTERNOON TEA We attended Mozart Tea in the Palm Court which was a lifesaver. All the servers were dressed in their beautiful costumes and the violin quartet was playing soothing classical music. It was so pretty. We did not have any of the buffet items which were finger sandwiches, cakes, tarts, etc. We actually just popped in to enjoy a different part of the boat. My husband unfortunately developed an allergy cold the day before and was so congested & miserable. Our waiter asked him what he would like and he said "Nothing, I can't breathe right now" He told him that he knew just what to get him to make him feel better. He returned with a hot toddy. He had never had one before and from that day on we went to the Palm Court for an afternoon hot toddy or asked Jijo if he could bring one to our room. My husband's breathing misery turned around overnight! Thank you!!! ENTERTAINMENT We attended all the productions except one which was due to us not reading the morning Reflections which said that there would be only one production that evening. They had a broadway show, comedian (hilarious and witty), light show (least favorite), Billy Joel performer and a ventriloquist which we missed and heard was wonderful. One evening we went to try out another part of the boat to get my husband's nightly hot toddy and came across PERRY GRANT in the Avenue Saloon. This ended up being a surprise find. Although, he does not sing our style of music, you become very engaged with his performance. His voice is amazing and that is coming from someone who does not listen to his genre. He is extremely entertaining in his custom bright and sometimes sparkling suits. We went back the next evening to show my mother and sister in law who quickly became a part of his show. It was hilarious and then we got to watch unknowingly other passengers become a part of his act. Definitely worth stopping by to enjoy. POOL/PADDLE TENNIS AREA The actual pool was nice. Nothing to write home about with two hot tubs. We sat by one afternoon for some relaxation in the sun and we always like to try every boat's pina colada. We were on an Alaskan cruise so the pool was not really a priority for us but it was very nice sitting by in the oversized chairs and getting pool service. The sitting areas around the pool and very spacious, but as I said on an Alaskan cruise there are not a lot of people taking advantage of the heated pool. Very quiet. Many people reading books or taking outside naps. My kids played paddle tennis on the upper deck and had a good time since it is covered from wind. GYM & SPA I never got a spa treatment but my sister in law got two and said it was a great massage. I did sign up for one of their spin classes (beginner) and even though it was obvious I was a beginner and there were some true professionals in the class, I think everyone got the workout they were looking for. The gym is not big, but it never seemed crowded. My daughter ran on one of their treadmills which looks out onto the ocean and fortunately for her, she got to see whales blowing their spouts and flipping their tails during her run. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS I quite liked all the ports we visited. I have told everyone to repeat our itinerary or do one that has one less day cruising (ex: Sitka vs. Glacier Bay). Looking at the cruises in 2017, I do like that they split up the two days of cruising on our itinerary. I think that was a better decision. When comparing Crystal to Regent, it was interesting in price differences. Although Crystal is a larger boat and our cruise was sold out, it NEVER felt like the boat was crowded. In fact, it felt like we were on an even smaller boat because none of the spaces seemed filled. We were told that there were 90 kids traveling on our trip and I'm not sure where they hid all of them because other than those traveling with us, I felt like we only saw 10 now and then. The Regent is priced much higher I'm guessing for a slightly smaller size and excursions included, but when I did the numbers, it did not make sense to pay so much more for excursions you may or may not do. We knew what we were doing and the cost was a fraction plus kids sail free on Crystal vs. $999 on Regent Ketchikan - We got a fishing guide outside of the cruise line at the recommendation of our friend prior to the cruise (we did not catch anything but rockfish while other cruisers on the boat caught 5 king salmon - that was a bummer) but we saw tons of eagles who swooped down and picked up our fish. Expensive eagle watching trip Juneau - Mendahall Glacier and Nugget Falls in the morning - Gorgeous and tour guide was hilarious and knowledgable. We did the HELICOPTER/DOGSLEDDING in the afternoon. This was an expensive excursion and WORTH EVERY PENNY. Every family member of all ages said that was their favorite thing we did the entire trip. It really is cool and we were fortunate to have clear skies and weather around 75 degrees Skagway - We did the White Pass & Yukon Railway which is followed by gold panning, musher camp demonstration, lunch and musher puppies excursion. The train was beautiful and relaxing and about an 1 1/2 hr up into the mountainside. Afterward you depart the train, you board a bus heading back into town with a stop off at the Klondike Gold Fields. Honestly, when we pulled into the Klondike Gold Fields I kind of felt like we were at Disney ride and thought it was going to be really really cheesy but it was included in the train excursion so nothing we could do. It ended up being really interesting learning how to pan gold from comical Sluice-box Charlie (enjoyed more than I thought I would) and what really made the excursion worth it was Matt Hiyashida explaining what it takes/took for him to do the Iditarod race. He is extremely entertaining and engaging especially with small kids. We got to meet his dogs & watch them run and actually hold 5 week old puppies. Kids loved it. Went back into town and walked around. We heard that the Red Onion Saloon Brothel Tour is interesting but didn't make it in time for their tour and not kid appropriate. Hubbard Glacier Bay - Amazing hearing the glacier calving. You could hear cracking and then soon after look for the sheets of ice that break off and as they fall you hear the ooh and ahhhs from fellow passengers. We watched from top deck where they were serving hot chocolate and rum and provided blankets and then we returned to our room and put on our robes and watched from our balcony which was so surreal. Gorgeous blue colors and many seals laying on the ice that had broken off. As you can read, I drank the Kool Aid and am sold on Crystal. I use to be a management consultant and we specialized in customer service and process streaming. Crystal has mastered both. Amazing trip, boat, service and all the above. And the food, oh my goodness the food! Highly recommend! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Travelled alone with a couple. It was my first Crystal experience - every single bite of food was superb... they had 3 specialty restaurants in addition to the Main Dining. The service was excellent - all details were attended to. I am ... Read More
Travelled alone with a couple. It was my first Crystal experience - every single bite of food was superb... they had 3 specialty restaurants in addition to the Main Dining. The service was excellent - all details were attended to. I am now totally "crystalized"! The enrichment lectures were excellent, as was the entertainment. In particular I very much enjoyed PERRY GRANT entertainment - he is truly 'one of a kind'........ and now, like so many of his fans (see his website), I am "perryfied" and hope he will be aboard all my future Crystal cruises. I enjoyed my champagne throughout the cruise - I like the fact everything is included. There were 3 ladies who LIVE aboard full time - one for over 8 years! My cabin had a veranda which was was nice. he beds were super comfortable. Both the boarding and disembarking were done easily. There were no screaming children which was great. I have already booked another cruise with them, and investigating others. Not the cheapest cruise line, but the best for me. Absolutely no hesitation in recommending Crystal to all. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We just returned from our first Crystal cruise, a quick 6-nite voyage from San Francisco to Vancouver. Crystal had been on our radar for a while and we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to do a test cruise before committing ... Read More
We just returned from our first Crystal cruise, a quick 6-nite voyage from San Francisco to Vancouver. Crystal had been on our radar for a while and we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to do a test cruise before committing to a longer voyage. By way of background, we've been cruising for over 20 years. In the beginning we sailed HAL almost exclusively and then moved onto Oceania and Azamara. We've also sailed on luxury lines, including Paul Gauguin, Regent and Seabourn. Our objective on this short Crystal cruise was to get a feel for the product and to determine if we'd be a good fit for the line. EMBARKATION Serenity was staying overnite in San Francisco and we were only a short flight away, so we decided to arrive on embarkation day. We made our own flight arrangements and booked Crystal transfers from SFO to Pier 27. Our outbound flight was delayed but Crystal reps were still at the airport to greet us and escort us to the transfer bus. We waited about 10 min for the bus to arrive and then were on our way. There was a quick check of passports and cruise tickets at the cruise pier, then we were aboard and ready to start our Crystal adventure. FIRST IMPRESSIONS We boarded Serenity on Deck 6 outside Apropos and were struck by the elegance of the ship. The atmosphere was decidedly calm and unhurried for embarkation day. We didn't know where to go for check-in and there weren't any staff at the entrance to greet us except security personnel. But we figured it couldn't be far. We wandered past the Bistro and spotted the check-in counters on the deck below. As we entered Crystal Plaza for check-in, flutes of champagne were offered and soft piano music filled the air. In a matter of mere moments, our photos were taken and we had our All Exclusive Passes. ACCOMMODATION We navigated our way to our deluxe veranda and discovered a nicely appointed and functional room. The bathroom was well laid out with generous cabinet storage and Etro toiletries. I loved the colourful packaging! The balcony was outfitted with comfortable furniture and there was excellent privacy between neighbours. Our stewardess introduced herself shortly after we arrived. We asked to have all items in our mini-fridge removed and restocked with only San Pellegrino and Club Soda. Done! We couldn't find the the beverage request card in our room and our stewardess told us Crystal wasn't providing them anymore but beverages were still available upon request. We asked for Grey Goose. Done! We also advised her we were early risers and would appreciate having our room serviced as quickly as her schedule allowed. Done! She did an excellent job of keeping our suite immaculate and replenishing our mini-fridge, usually by the time we returned from breakfast. DINING We had high expectations for dining aboard Serenity and were not disappointed. In every venue, menus were interesting, ingredients were fresh, flavors were delicious and presentation was artful. Dining and wine service across all venues was excellent. We chose Dining by Reservation and selected our preferred times for dinner in each restaurant in PCPC. When we arrived on board, there was a reservation card confirming our selections. I loved that PCPC gave a sneak peek at the type of entertainment planned for each evening as well as the showtimes, which aided us in making dinner reservations. Even on a short 6-nite cruise, we got an opportunity to sample every dining venue. We downloaded PressReader before we boarded and were able to read upcoming menus in advance. We got into the practice of always checking what was offered in the Crystal Dining Room, even if we had reservations in a specialty restaurant. I could see this feature being quite helpful in making dining decisions on a longer cruise. Tastes We ate dinner in Tastes on our first nite and it was a great choice. We were seated at a lovely deuce overlooking San Francisco and enjoyed multiple plates of cold and hot tapas with a fabulous Crystal "C" Pinot Noir. I had a list of gotta try items with me and we ordered everything on it. The tapas were delicious with authentic global flavours. We started with Ahi Tuna Poke, Pastrami Cured Salmon and Arctic Black Cod Chowder and then moved to Gambas a la Plancha, Saffron Lamb Kebobs and California Street Tacos. When I looked at my cheat sheet later, I noticed we forgot to order the Alsatian Tart. Next time! We loved the casual ambiance and returned for lunch the next day. Alsatian Tart wasn't available but Chinoise Chicken Salad turned out to be another great choice. We certainly would return to Tastes for dinner if we were on a longer cruise. Crystal Dining Room We enjoyed three dinners in the main dining room. DBR worked very well and we lucked out with great tables each time. We had different serving staff each evening, but all were professional and efficient. We mixed and matched our dinner selections from both Modern Cuisine and Crystal Classics. We were pleased with the overall flavours and preparations, though sometimes we were disappointed by being served lukewarm food that should have been hot. We weren't tempted by any of the wonderful dessert choices and instead opted for a cheese plate after dinner. The selections were very impressive and perfectly plated. We usually had the complimentary wine of the day. On a few occasions we requested a different wine and it was cheerfully poured. When we initially booked the cruise, it had a Black Tie Optional nite and we intentionally chose to be in the main dining room on that evening. Shortly before sailing, PCPC was updated to show no BTO and all Crystal Casual. We figured that many guests probably wouldn't notice the updated info, so we decided to go BTO anyway. I estimate that 70%-75% of guests showed up in more elegant evening attire. It was nice to have a more refined atmosphere on that evening. We never made it to the dining room for lunch but did have breakfast there once. We ordered Japanese Breakfast and a Crab Omelet with fresh squeezed juices. Excellent. Service was a little slow in the morning, which was surprising since wait staff outnumbered guests by a significant margin. Silk Road A fantastic meal. I had my trusty list of gotta try items and we got through them all and then some. We ate family style and shared everything from appetizers to sushi to entrees. We ordered appetizers from both Silk Road and the Sushi Bar. Some memorable bites included Salmon Tartar with Caviar, Broiled Eggplant with Miso and Crispy Rice Cake with Spicy Tuna Tartar. We then moved to a selection of Nobu New Style Sashimi from the Sushi Bar, which was simply outstanding in both presentation and flavour. Next up was Miso Soup and Spicy Seafood Soup followed by Nobu signature dishes of Miso Black Cod and Grilled Wagyu Beef. When it was time for dessert, we decided to have more sashimi from the Sushi Bar! We ended the evening with Whisky Cappuccino with Buttermilk Ice Cream. Not very Japanese but sure delicious. Prego Our meal at Prego was a disappointment. We arrived on time and were seated at a table squeezed between other diners along the banquette wall. We preferred something a bit more private and since the room wasn't full, we asked if we could move to a different table. So sorry, no can do. Maybe the better tables were being held for later reservations, but they remained empty for the entire time we were in the restaurant. We shared a few antipasti items as starters and while the presentation was impressive, they were uninspired. We each had the famous Mushroom Soup which was delicious. Next time, I'll have it in a regular bowl rather than the bread bowl. We had a tough time making secondi choices as nothing really appealed. We settled on Rack of Lamb (a house specialty) and Veal Parmigiano, with a side order of Penne in Tomato Sauce with Goat Cheese, which was the pasta of the day. Nothing was memorable, other than our entrees arrived lukewarm and the pasta was seriously overcooked. On the positive side, we had a very attentive sommelier who kept us well oiled. I'm sure our experience at Prego wasn't par for the course and we probably would give it another try on a future cruise. Lido Cafe What an impressive buffet in a lovely room! The divider screens which separate the dining tables from the buffet line are a brilliant idea. They make the space more intimate while also reducing noise and visual clutter. We ate most of our breakfasts at the Lido. The hot and cold buffet items were similar each day and featured the usual suspects, along with a made-to-order egg station and some Asian specialties. There were lots of fresh fruit and berries, most at the perfect stage of ripeness. As on most cruise lines, yogurt choices were no fat or low fat. I prefer full fat real Greek yogurt! We had lunch at the Lido most days. The cold buffet included an assortment of salads, deli, panini, sushi, seafood and cheese. Hot items included soup, a daily carving station and multiple entrees that included and went beyond those available in the Crystal Dining Room. The made-to-order pasta station was my go-to spot and it never disappointed. The pasta was actually better than we had in Prego! I had dessert a few times in the Lido, since my absolute fave Creme Caramel was always available. We were fortunate to have the Asian Buffet even on such a short cruise. It featured a large assortment of hot and cold specialties from Japan, China, Thailand, India, Philippines and Malaysia. It was a feast for the senses! The Bistro We boarded Serenity too late for embarkation lunch in the Crystal Dining Room and we weren't in the mood for Trident Grill, so we had a quick bite in the Bistro. We enjoyed charcuterie, smoked fish and cheeses, along with another glass of bubbly. Over the course of our cruise, we popped into the Bistro regularly to grab specialty coffees and to check out the daily offerings. I loved the chocolate covered strawberries! Trident Grill & Scoops Truth be told, the menu at Trident Grill was the least appealing to us and we didn't eat there at all. I had sweet potato fries on my gotta try list and we sampled them at the Lido. Yummy. I had a bowl of ice cream from Scoops on embarkation day and it was OK but nothing special. We really liked the living walls which surround the dining courtyard of Trident Grill. They create a very vibrant atmosphere. Afternoon Tea We attended Mozart Tea and thoroughly enjoyed the affair. Palm Court was transformed into a Viennese court with suitably attired wait staff and accompanying classical music. We resisted the lovely tea sandwiches and headed straight for the pastries, even though we're not dessert fans. We shared Black Forest Cake and Apple Strudel, along with Hot Chocolate Amadeus and Kapuzina. Everything was delicious. I was surprised that the food offerings at Mozart Tea were buffet style and not served by waiters from trolleys. We didn't make it to any other afternoon tea so I don't know if this is the usual set-up on Crystal. ENTERTAINMENT There were three production shows by the Crystal Ensemble of singers and dancers: Across the Pond; Curtain Call; and My Life The Music of Billy Joel. In a most unusual move for us, we attended each show and loved them all. Galaxy Lounge was a perfect venue and we managed to snag excellent seats for each show. There were also headliner entertainers but we didn't go to see any of them. We were lucky to get tickets to Magic Castle at Sea. There were initially six time slots that were quickly subscribed and the magician had to put on an additional shows. We were front row centre and close to the action but were still mystified by the magic! This is a wonderful Crystal exclusive. There were also live performers in the various lounges each evening. Perry Grant was super popular in Avenue Saloon and played to SRO every nite. We went once but found the venue too crowded and too difficult to see the performance unless you're right up front. Crystal Sextet were at Palm Court during cocktail hours and we went a few times. We found service to be spotty, sometimes great, sometimes not so much. Towards the end of our short cruise, we found our Goldilocks bar at Crystal Cove where we enjoyed pianist Scott Mitchel and the Capricco String Quartet, either at pre-dinner cocktails or after-dinner nitecaps. ENRICHMENT Dr. Jay Wolff was the destination lecturer and he delivered two outstanding presentations on the areas we visited. Professor Louis Rene Beres was a special interest lecturer and he gave two presentations with a focus on current affairs, specifically terrorism and espionage. Before we sailed, we had expressed interest in some classes offered by Computer University@Sea on PCPC. When we arrived in our stateroom, there was a confirmation card showing the date and time of each class. We attended an instructive presentation by Chip Adams on iCloud. There were other enrichment activities in which we didn't participate, such as Digital Film Making, Odyssey Art at Sea, Walkvest and Nordic Walking. There was also a Paddle Tennis Instructor and a Golf Professional available for those who were interested. We were very impressed that on such a short cruise, Crystal managed to squeeze in so many enrichment activities of such incredible variety. PORTS This was a close-to-home cruise and we had visited all the ports before so we took it easy. San Francisco: Crystal shorex to Muir Woods and Sausalito. Walked along Embarcadero to Ferry Building. Astoria: Crystal shuttle to Maritime Museum. Continued to Pier 39. Walked along Waterfront Promenade back to ship. Seattle: Chihuly Glass Gardens. EMP Museum. Pike Place Market. Victoria: Crystal shuttle to Empress Hotel. Walked to Royal BC Museum for Aboriginal Festival. DISEMBARKATION All good things must come to an end and it was soon time for us to leave Serenity. As independent guests, we requested an early disembarkation so we could make our transfer/ferry connection from Canada Place. We were assigned to the first group which was scheduled to leave the ship at 8:00 am. We ordered room service breakfast and then made our way to Galaxy Lounge. Our group was called about 8:10 am and we swiped our cards to get off the ship for the last time. Customs and immigration had already been handled in Victoria so it was a quick and simple breeze through Canada Place. The cruise terminal was busy with three ships in port but it seemed organized. We quickly spotted our transfer/ferry desk, checked in and were on our way. FINAL THOUGHTS Our short test cruise gave us a wonderful orientation to the Crystal product. It's amazing how much we got to experience and discover in such a brief period of time. We enjoyed our time on board and felt very comfortable among our fellow guests and staff. We concluded that Crystal is a good fit for us. On the last day of the cruise, we visited the Cruise Sales Consultant and purchased a Future Open Booking. We've been Crystallized! Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
In the past 20 years, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to take 29 cruises, with 26 of them in the space of the past 11 years. We've been on a wide variety of cruise lines, from the most basic up to the deluxe Azamara and ... Read More
In the past 20 years, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to take 29 cruises, with 26 of them in the space of the past 11 years. We've been on a wide variety of cruise lines, from the most basic up to the deluxe Azamara and Oceania (one each). Crystal is the only luxury line we've taken, and so far we've done one on Symphony and now this one on Serenity. Our ship overnighted in San Francisco. We boarded around noon, which was a breeze. A crew member escorted us from deck six to deck five, and five minutes later, we were free to wander the ship, with all our check-in details taken care of. We had intended to have lunch in the main dining room but we were waiting for a friend whose plane was a bit late, so we had a light snack in the Bistro, which happens to be on deck six, where we had a perfect view of people boarding. Alas, by the time she arrived, we had gotten bored waiting, gone up to the Trident to share a burger, and then we forced ourselves to enjoy our third course of lunch, at Tastes. Cabins were ready earlier than expected and we made our cabin attendant, Casia, who was possibly the best cabin attendant we've had in all 29 cruises. Then we spent two hours wandering off the ship at its space at Pier 27, up Embarcadero to see the sea lions at Pier 39. It really didn't take long, but we were also people-watching and talking about past visits to San Francisco. It was sunny and balmy, a lovely bonus. The next day we had a glorious day for more wandering. The Ferry Market (the outdoor with the local people) is always fun to check out, and then two of us went up to the top of Lombard St. and walked down. The other one of us went to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked a small way across (we'd done the whole thing two years ago). Dinner the first night in the Crystal Dining Room was as nice as we remembered from our previous Crystal, and Serenity seems to handle Dine by Reservation a tad better (or they've perfected it a bit in the past year). I had made all our reservations in advance, but then when I saw the show times, I decided we'd prefer a different time. "No problem, sir!" after a brief check of the computer (sent husband to ask for the change while I was unpacking). Unpacking was easy. It was a cruise of just six nights, after all, but with a complimentary well-outfitted guest laundry, I could've easily had enough for two weeks and taken up the same amount of space (which was not all of it). The cabin gives us everything we need and the bed is super comfortable. I love the bathtub, and I think perhaps Serenity's tub is a bit more user-friendly than Symphony's, or perhaps I'm not remembering it correctly. I had enjoyed Symphony's, too. All of the service at the dining venues was excellent. The one weakest spot, same as on Symphony, was Prego. My husband had the halibut and he feels as though they overcooked it. He thoroughly enjoyed it in the Crystal Dining Room (and it was his favorite dinner a year ago on Symphony in the Crystal Dining Room). The wait staff in Prego failed to offer me mint jelly for my lamb, which I forgot about until I saw them (same wait staff) offer it to a nearby table. The three different serving pairs in the CDR were all very good, and we really enjoy Crystal's food. I mean, we REALLY enjoy it! Silk Road was good, and won the award for best dessert (the chocolate one) among many nice desserts. We are very happy with the Lido breakfast and lunch, and particularly pleased to have found an omelet-maker who definitely knows his job with no coaching from my picky husband. The Trident burger-chef is also extremely good at what he does. Even the ice cream guy wins our approval. You would think that would be easy, but alas, not always so! So we love the food, love the service, and are perfectly happy in our cabin. We enjoyed the evening shows very much (especially James Fox from Movin' On, doing Billy Joel), and Gary Hunter is a charming cruise director. We were particularly pleased to find Perry Grant in the Avenue Saloon. We are fans of his from years ago at Michael's Club on Celebrity Constellation. Still, the absolute best thing about this (and our previous) Crystal cruise was the enrichment. Both Jay Wolff and Dr. Louis Rene Beres are a pleasure to listen to, as far as I'm concerned. This was a port-intensive cruise, so they didn't have very much time to speak. On the morning we were cruising into Seattle, I had to choose between going to their live lectures and being up top to watch us cruise through Puget Sound. I could've watched the lectures later on the t.v. in our cabin, but there's just something about being there with them. I'm in awe of them! Both carry around a wealth of information with them at all times and deliver it to the audience in a way that I love. I am still sorry I missed Puget Sound, though! I took one port excursion. Crystal offers Voluntourism, complimentary little jaunts into the community. Two of the ones offered on this cruise were helping out for a few hours at a local food bank. The one I chose, however, was in Astoria, OR, and went to Fort Stevens State Park. Perfect! We (a group of just seven of us, with a local guide, in a school bus) went to three different areas of the park and picked up trash while learning about the history of the area. Perfect weather and a beautiful locale, ending at South Jetty, with a great view of Washington State across the Columbia River. For Seattle and Victoria, BC, we just wandered off the ship and did our own thing. In Seattle, we were a stone's throw from Pike's Market, which is exactly what I wanted to see (and the line for people waiting to go into the original Starbuck's). The fish markets there are just incredible. In Victoria, we took the Crystal complimentary shuttle into town and took a tour of the legislative building, then a friend took us to a garden and home that was an interesting place to visit. So -- why do I love Crystal? For all the big reasons: they cook perfectly for me; the crew is outstanding at taking care of me in a friendly manner; the ship is beautiful; and the small things all add up for me to an outstanding experience. Besides the voluntourism, here are some more small things: the three-plug outlet on the desk/dressing table; the do-not-disturb/clean-my-cabin lights at the door of the cabin; the signage that tells me, when I exit the elevator or get to the top or bottom of my stair climb/descent, which way to go for port and which way for starboard; the guest laundry rooms with pre-loaded detergent and always-up ironing boards. When I filled out my evaluation to Crystal for this cruise, I said: thank you for continuing to offer me a totally pleasurable cruise experience. We have three more cruises booked with Crystal and I expect them to keep me happy, yet again. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
First time Crystal cruisers selected this cruise for a 'taste' of the line......embarkation was nearly like waiting for your broken bus in a bus station. We missed our 7pm dinner reservation for anniversary celebration and had no ... Read More
First time Crystal cruisers selected this cruise for a 'taste' of the line......embarkation was nearly like waiting for your broken bus in a bus station. We missed our 7pm dinner reservation for anniversary celebration and had no assistance on dining that evening. We were upgraded to a penthouse a few days before and while the cabin had some great storage and bathroom features, the glass table in front of the sofa and foot of the bed was a late night accident waiting to happen. Our butler, Didi was delightful. Our bed had a great divide in the center and remained so. Imprinted stationery was offered and ordered and delivered with our last name was misspelled....Somehow, Crystal simply couldn't correct the course and we were bitterly disappointed in the cuisine, drinks, service and entertainment offered. Even the 'muster' lacked organization.Our evening in Silk Road was so awful that our dinner party of 6 just finally gave up trying to get service and palatable food. Couldn't figure out the problem as resturant was half full? Surprise! There was about 20 children on board. A younger group of cruisers than expected as the short duration and we heard Crystal is trying for a different market. The pool deck remained closed until the last 2days of the cruise. Not one staff member called us by name or even acknowledged us in passing! We used our credit for the embarkation debacle for disembarkation (or debarking, the term Crystal uses). That seriously was the very best part of our cruise! First class,super smooth, wonderful food, drinks, care and very helpful agents in San Francisco getting us to the airport. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Eviactive put together a ballroom dance program on Crystal Serenity. Her pros were outstanding and we took lessons every morning before touring. In the evening we danced the night away to the superb band provided by Crystal on their dance ... Read More
Eviactive put together a ballroom dance program on Crystal Serenity. Her pros were outstanding and we took lessons every morning before touring. In the evening we danced the night away to the superb band provided by Crystal on their dance floor. The pros from Eviactive partied and danced with us each night until 11 p.m. On the last night we dance until midnight and then some of the younger ones in our group headed for the pulse lounge for more dancing. What an amazing week we had. The ship provided a band for nightly dancing. I must say, the band was exceptional. Eviactive provided dance lessons every day with award-winning professionals. They were available for private lessons in the afternoon which turned out to be a treat, given how good they were. We took lessons every day and danced every night. Food was gourmet. Rooms were lovely. Nothing could have been better except skipping the port stop in Astoria. Can't wait to go to Buenos Aires with Eviactive and her dance pros. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We selected this cruise to try out both the ship and Crystal. If this is representative of what to expect, my advice is to look elsewhere for an exceptional cruise experience. There were some positives and a lot of negatives. Here we ... Read More
We selected this cruise to try out both the ship and Crystal. If this is representative of what to expect, my advice is to look elsewhere for an exceptional cruise experience. There were some positives and a lot of negatives. Here we go: Embarkation: A nightmare from the start. It was delayed until 6:00 pm due to port congestion and the fact that the ship was coming out of a short drydock. Hospitality facilities were to be set up to accommodate passengers prior to boarding, but Crystal said these were only for passengers that were taking their airport transfers. Our TA was told point blank that independent passengers (we arrived the night before as is our custom) could drop bags and were on our own until boarding. Nice to know that we were not really considered passengers until we set foot on-board ship. When we arrived close to noon to drop our bags, we were informed of the hospitality arrangements across the street at the Fairmont. The Crystal rep said boarding might start as early as 4:00-4:30, so plan to come back by then. We were happy about the arrangements and possible speed up of boarding, but it would have been nice to know of the changes to the stated status of independent passengers. We got to the hotel and it seemed that there was a very large contingent of Crystal ground personnel. They had food, drinks, complimentary 3.5 hour city tours arranged, and were placing you in groups to walk over to the ship to board. Then it was hurry up and wait. We saw the Crystal personnel talking quietly among themselves, but almost no information was passed along to the passengers. Finally a Crystal spokesperson showed up (about 4:30 to 5:00) and said they expected boarding to commence about 6:00. They were still waiting for the ship occupying our pier to exit. The Serenity was anchored out in the harbor. Once the groups were called, then it was a parade across the street into Canada Place, through security and on-board to register. If you knew this was going to be a mess, why not set up registration at the Fairmont. We did that very thing some years ago for a Princess cruise and it made things smooth as silk. Little did we know that the miscommunication and confusion to start the cruise would dog it for the duration. By the way, the initial keycards did not work and it took two trips to the front desk to get a set that did function. Not a good start. Cabin: Very nice and well designed. Plenty of storage, a very well laid-out bathroom, and nice balcony. The bed was a little soft for our taste, but that is a nitpick. Dining: MDR - pretty good, but hit and miss. Portions of one T-bone steak was as tough as leather. Prime meat - absolutely not. Filets the last night were excellent. Fish was good to very good. Breads and many desserts seemed to lack much flavor. No matter the venue baking throughout the ship was only so-so. Silk Road and Prego were consistently excellent in food quality and prep. The Lido buffet was good to very good, but the hours were a real pain in the neck. For lunch, the MDR and Lido were open only 1.5 hours (12:00 noon - 1:30 pm). In Astoria, they changed this to 11:30 am - 1:00 pm. If you had a tour or got off the ship, it was almost certain you would miss a real lunch. The alternatives were not an acceptable substitute. At the Trident Grill, the cook lied to my girlfriend's face about having chicken breast for a chicken sandwich, he said he only had ground meat and then proceeded to start cooking chicken breast for a guest almost directly behind her. Had I been there when it happened, there would have been an ugly scene. NOT ACCEPTABLE on any cruise line, and certainly not one who prides itself on being at the top of the industry. Service: Very hit and miss. With one exception, the service in the MDR (and other non-buffet venues) was aloof to almost rude. This attitude was echoed by at least one front of house manager. Totally unacceptable. Service in Silk Road and Prego was 180 degrees opposite. It was relaxed, friendly helpful, professional, and efficient. How is this possible on the same ship? Training and attitude from management have to be the answer. Otherwise, Crystal is hiring the wrong people. Maybe both. Bars: Again, a mixed bag. An excellent drink followed by one (the same drink) that is unrecognizable and undrinkable. Something as simple as a Lina Colada should be a no-brainer, but that is what we found. Service: Housekeeping service was efficient and excellent. Service (other than in the dining venues described above) was never exceptional and often seemed almost perfunctory. Not what we would have expected. Entertainment: The one production show we saw (Across the Pond) was amateurish. The Galaxy Lounge is small and OK, but there are some obstructed sight lines. Dancing is restricted by the small stage, but that might have been a blessing. Production shows are not really suited for this size ship and I think people are really tired of them. The magician from the Magic Castle was fantastic. Staged for very small groups of 20-30 people, it these were up-close sleight-of-hand illusions that amazed the audience. Crystal still managed to mess this performance up by being unable to get the spotlight working. The magician was left to perform in reduced light that lessened the impact of his performance somewhat. Just another example of Crystal lowering their marks at every opportunity. Customer service: There was no acknowledgement of the problems with the embarkation and delivery of a sub-par experience until there were only 2 days left in the cruise. After we sailed from Seattle, we got a notice that they were giving us a $100.00 pp shipboard credit. What were we expected to do with it now with only a stop in Astoria' OR and a sea day left? This should have been offered the day after embarkation, but I think they waited to see how bad the passenger reaction was. Too little to late. A simple gesture (a small box of candy or a bottle of wine or ??) waiting in the cabin (when we finally boarded) with a note apologizing for the rocky start and a commitment to make this the cruise we had ever taken would have gone a long way to starting things off as well as possible. Be pro-active, not reactive. The Captain's reception was not even held until half-way through the cruise. They made special mention that the officers would not shake hands to prevent the possible spread of disease. I am sure there are measures that could have been taken, but the tone was just wrong so we returned this lukewarm gesture by skipping the reception (a first for us). There was almost no presence of officers to be seen during the cruise (also a first). The only officer I saw was the Hotel Manager. Another gaff. Lots more I could add, but I think you have enough of my opinions to know I will never take another Crystal cruise. Disembarkation: Excellent. On-time and efficient. We were definitely ready to get off the Serenity. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We chose this cruise as a getaway cruise that we combined with a four night stay on land in San Francisco. It worked perfectly for our schedule. While this was our shortest cruise ever we had an absolutely wonderful time on board ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a getaway cruise that we combined with a four night stay on land in San Francisco. It worked perfectly for our schedule. While this was our shortest cruise ever we had an absolutely wonderful time on board Crystal Serenity and at each of the ports we visited. The enrichment and entertainment that was offered on the ship was amazing with so much to see and do during the daytime and evening hours. This included several land based entertainers brought on board for this cruise and also a couple of productions by the Crystal Serenity dancers and singers. During the day there was so much enrichment offered from lecture on destinations and politics and classes ranging from bridge to fitness to iMovie Classes. The service was outstanding and the food continues to amaze. With only five days we still made it to each of the dining venues for dinner including the Main Dining Room on two nights and each of the three Specialty Restaurants. This included a visit to Prego which is the Italian Specialty Restaurant, Silk Road which serves Japanese Cuisine based on the land based Nobu Restaurants and Tastes which serves Tapas representing countries from around the world. We had one sea day and then visits to three ports of call two of which we had never sailed to. This included Victoria, Canada which we have been to before but also Astoria, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. There were many first time Crystal Cruisers on board as this gave them an opportunity to try out Crystal. The overall Cruise far exceeds our expectations. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was the last leg of a Crystal World Cruise and went from Tokyo to San Francisco, with port stops in Japan, Russia, Alaska, and Canada. It was my third Crystal cruise and second on the Serenity. As always with Crystal, it was a ... Read More
This was the last leg of a Crystal World Cruise and went from Tokyo to San Francisco, with port stops in Japan, Russia, Alaska, and Canada. It was my third Crystal cruise and second on the Serenity. As always with Crystal, it was a top-notch experience. I bought my air from Crystal and it was a good experience. The hotel which Crystal provided, the Imperial, was the fanciest in which I have ever stayed. Embarkation was a breeze in Tokyo; as a start to a cruise, the opening of the main dining room for a table-service lunch is so much better than a whole shipload going to the buffet restaurant. The Ship: The Serenity holds about 1000 passengers so it is small and intimate. One never knows there are that many people onboard because the public spaces are so nicely done. The Cabin: The cabins on Serenity are small than those on other high or even mid level cruise lines. As a single traveler, I never have a problem with closet space and drawers. A couple on a trip of this length might. Dining: The food is generally excellent on Crystal. The appetizers and desserts are the high points of the main dining room. The food is not spicy enough for me, but it usually is not on any cruise line. The Lido, the buffet restaurant, had a nice assortment of items every day. Breakfast in both these venues was very good. The breads are outstanding. The Bistro provided an additional place for snacks, nuts and cheeses. Wine was very good everywhere on the ship. Prego, the Italian/steak specialty restaurant, is acceptable; again the appetizers and desserts are the high points. Nobu, the Japanese restaurant, is unbelievable. The sushi and sashimi were consistently the best I have eaten anywhere. The suppliers and the ship's storage must be the best to keep raw fish this good for this long. The cooked items were acceptable but not near the quality of the sashimi. Tastes, a casual, tapas type restaurant, was also very good, especially when shared with a group. On a cruise of this length, I had four complimentary dinners in Prego and/or Nobu; I ate in Prego one additional time and in Nobu about four additional times, paying a $30 upcharge each time. This is one of the few things which seems kind of chintzy for Crystal, since it is an all inclusive experience otherwise. The Entertainment: This was much better than on other cruise lines. The production staff and the musicians were excellent in every venue. There was a rotation of entertainers coming and going so we had new entertainment frequently. There were at least 20 lecturers, instructors, and enrichment providers, and a wide variety of day time activities. The Service: This is where Crystal shines. The service is excellent everywhere on the ship. And the staff are knowledgeable and courteous. Ports and shore excursions: This was an unusual set of ports due to the ship's route: Aomori and Otaru, in northern Japan; Korsakov and Petropavlovsk in the Russian Federation; Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan, Alaska; Vancouver, BC. Since the ship was the first of the season (and perhaps the first ever) in all these places, they were not crowded and the people were delighted to see us. Crystal provides excellent shore excursions that are usually worth the premium they charge for them. There was a ship's escort on every bus and the buses were not crowded. I took a ship shore excursion everywhere one was offered. They also provide a complimentary shuttle service in any port for which the town is more than steps away from the dock. In addition, we only had to tender once. It was an extra treat to spend a day at Hubbard Glacier and another in Glacier Bay, something that would not happen during 'the season.' Other: Because this was a segment of a world cruise, Crystal did not assign cabins until about 10 days or so before the cruise. The ship was not full; there were probably 40 or so empty cabins. We were heading into what could have been (and were) some rough sea areas. Nevertheless, Crystal chose to place some passengers in the very front of the ship; this was not a pleasant experience for them due to the noise of the ship smacking the waves all night long and due to the motion. It would have been better customer service to have placed passengers in the most comfortable portions of the ship. So be aware of this if you are taking a world cruise segment. The captain did an excellent job of navigating some unusual waters. And docking in some very tight places. Nothing ever moved in my cabin at the back of the ship. Read Less
39 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
After reading so many positive CC reviews on the Crystal experience my wife and I decided to book a world cruise segment Shanghai to Japan nearly a year in advance.Expectations were running extremely high and remained so until a month ... Read More
After reading so many positive CC reviews on the Crystal experience my wife and I decided to book a world cruise segment Shanghai to Japan nearly a year in advance.Expectations were running extremely high and remained so until a month before sailing until we were told that due to Chinese regulations a day had be shaved off of our stay in Shanghai.I contacted Crystal asking if they would pay for my independently arranged flights to be changed at there expense they agreed then revoked on there agreement, hence we now lost a day in this fantastic city, our first time visit, once on board the CEO asks for initial feedback, I fed this back seen by the Hotel Director who advised it was being looked into, it was offered to have the flight changes refunded, as the flights had not been changed suggested equivalent cruise credits and was told 23rd April 2016 this would not happen, in summary offer/refused, offer/refused, not what I expected from a premium luxury cruise brand. Not onto the cruise experience, Embarkation was a breeze well handled and luggage in cabin prior to us arriving. Cabin was tiny really tiny for a luxury ship difficult to access wardrobes as they were extremely close to one side of a bed, toiletries were extremely basic for a luxury cruise brand, it was keep clean apart from one evening we returned to the cabin with a service tray ( not ours ) stating "" DO NOT TOUCH "" on it , called housekeeping and they could/would not give reasons as to why! Ship was beautiful kept really clean ( must have been as a result of the recent low CDC score ) and the public areas were generally good although showing signs of wear especially in the spa where there were stools with holes in etc. Now onto the food, this was not really up to standard maybe we was just unlucky but in 14 days only had one reasonable meal at the beginning of the voyage .The tastes were bland, unseasoned and often was delivered luke warm, we were told that on world cruises they have to not season food as the average age of clients is much higher and they prefer bland basic food, as compensation I was offered chilli flakes and Tabasco sauce, nice touch.The Buffet and deck grill were probably the best food offerings on our cruise, we also tried Prego, Silk Road and Tastes as alternative dinning all just average. The best aspect of the cruise were the staff, most appeared happy in there work and engaged with you and served well, some commented on cut backs since new ownership as when I asked for a Peronni or Moretti Italian beer was told used to offer but has been deleted due to it being a couple of cents more per bottle. Excursions , not very well organised and extremely expensive, for example over $400 USD per person for a 3 hour one stop visit to a tea ceremony, bonsai museum .There seemed to be poor organisation in clearing immigration in ports visited sometimes waiting in line for over an hour.The overland 3 day tour to Bejing was excellent and well organised this was included in the cruise fare. Whilst on the cruise Edie the CEO gave a lecture of the very ambitious expansion plans that she is heading up with the new owners, exciting as they are I couldn't help feeling that Crystal may be heading down the Renasance route. On speaking with many loyal Crystal Cruise clients they were really up set as to how the standards are falling so very quickly, they remain loyal as to the offers they get on future cruises make it difficult to divorce Crystal, the main issue was the cost cutting along with the sub standard food offered, they all blamed the new parent company. Would I book another Crystal Cruise ? No not unless there would be a guarantee of much better food , shore excursion and land base divisions keeping to there word. I have taken over 55 cruises probably 10 on premium lines and I am really sorry to say my Crystal experience did not come any where remotely close to meeting expectations, I feel duty bound to post ( in my opinion ) my experiences as I would not wish other potential first time Crystal cruise clients to experience what I did.This review is not intended to offend but is actual findings as reported on the post cruise questionnaire and directly to Crystal. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Hi everyone: First let me say that I have no "axe to grind" with Crystal. I have cruised with them once previously, and did not have a negative experience, as I did this time. Secondly, when I let our Crystal cruise consultant ... Read More
Hi everyone: First let me say that I have no "axe to grind" with Crystal. I have cruised with them once previously, and did not have a negative experience, as I did this time. Secondly, when I let our Crystal cruise consultant know how disappointed we were about a number of items, she had the staff on the ship meet with me immediately. INTERNET Look, it may sound silly to complain about slow internet on a cruise, but hear me out, please. Yes, unless the weather is absolutely atrocious, you have no business streaming videos while on a luxury cruise on the other side of the world. But, it's not unreasonable to check emails--especially in this day and age. On the Serenity, it often would take minutes--yes minutes--for an email to open, or a simple web page (like CNN) to load. This is in contrast to Royal Caribbean: their internet is as fast as what I have at my home: you can stream videos on it no problem. This issue has to be addressed. FOOD Definitely acceptable, but very disappointing for the price you are paying. I am comparing the food on Crystal to that on Oceania and Seabourn. On this cruise it was a distant third. STAFF Very friendly and attentive. While they couldn't do anything about the slow internet and my disappointment in the lack of dessert variety, they were very attentive in listening to my complaints. ROOM Very nice. No issues. MISC. Maybe it was my fault for not realizing, or maybe it was not advertised--I don't remember--but the ten day cruise I was on was a portion of a "round the world," 90 day cruise. This meant a much older crowd than I would have preferred. These passengers were quite cliquish: if you weren't on the 90 day cruise, you weren't anybody. This isn't Crystal's fault, but I felt they should have advertised the longer cruise. Very poor television selection. Adequate DVD rentals available for your room, however. Entertainment: I prefer magic and comedians, both of which were absent, but other guests no doubt enjoyed the musicals and shows. Read Less
34 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal ... Read More
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) over a dozen times in the past several years. We treat it as a comfortable boutique hotel where everyone knows your name. It’s consistently a nice getaway that lacks all that herding, hustling, and hollering for which cruises are stereotyped. Nevertheless, there are some real limits on what the Serenity offers all of us who don’t stay up there in those elite penthouses. Travel agents who want to book repeaters should use caution to avoid an expectation gap. Regardless of the fancy ads, this aging ship doesn’t meet the assumptions for unabashed “ultra luxury.” There are simply too many little “no’s” and missing touches for that. Overall, I rate this cruise as a “3” (on a scale of 5) when judged against Crystal’s asserted standards of “all exclusive” and “ultra luxury.” But there are definitely some pockets of real luxury on the Serenity, including some crew members who consistently offer a luxury level of service. Among the latter are the cruise director and the famous Lido waiters -- true masters of making you feel welcome. So we enjoy what’s there, and overlook what’s not. And we keep coming back. For customers that insist on absolute pampered perfection, travel agents should carefully brief them on the market’s offerings and realities. DINING: The quality of food on the Serenity was quite variable during this cruise. For my taste buds, the following hodgepodge was delicious and memorable: monkfish (a rare treat where we live); fishermen’s platter (perfectly breaded); salzburger nockerl (custom dessert from our Austrian head waiter); homemade corned beef hash (a breakfast treat); Ovaltine (a childhood memory); all that super-creamy ice cream (including arcane flavors like lychee and green tea). As in the past, the Lido Cafe’s steaks, hamburgers, and chimichurri beef were consistently delicious. And my wife had a good filet in the dining room. But the rest of the ship’s beef cuts lacked flavor at best, and were hard to eat at worst. (I actually pushed two servings aside.) One of the Serenity’s pasta offerings (spaghetti with meat sauce) was quite tasty. With that one exception, the ship’s pasta was disappointing. One serving lacked flavor and arrived lukewarm. Another serving arrived so cold that I reported it to the head waiter for replacement. The Serenity is a good choice if you like the treasure hunt of sampling the world’s cuisine. It may not be a good fit for those who passively expect meals of predictable perfection (that is, eaters with little tolerance for uncertainty and experimentation). On the other hand, the head waiters on the Serenity are outstanding and, with a day’s notice, will arrange just about any food you want (as close as we come to having a personal chef). And this option for customized, off-menu items is indeed a luxury. Last spring, Crystal’s president expressed her understandable need for “making sure every berth is full every sailing” (Wall Street Journal, 4-23-15). That apparently means marketing to more than us empty-nesters, as well as steps like deformalizing the dining room a bit for those who wear the “$400 jeans” (as she expressed it in an onboard video of a March 7 passenger briefing). The apparel debate has now been addressed in a 350-word “Dress Codes for Your Cruise,” which was distributed at the start of the voyage. After dissecting the document and looking at the diners’ attire, I concluded that the dreaded jeans are now permissible anywhere and anytime except the two formal nights. Once again, the key is for travel agents to openly cover this issue with their shoppers. If customers prefer more or less formality, they can vote with their checkbooks. But it’s not just about the ups and downs of the food (or even the tuxes). We much enjoy our table talk with some of the world’s most interesting people. All those people who do things we’ll never do ourselves. And those dining conversations are the real luxury for us. In fact, we often remember those chats in more detail than what we ate at a given feeding. MUSIC & LECTURES: This was a repositioning cruise with less than 1,000 passengers. But it was definitely the land of luxury for musicians and music lovers. The little ship was saturated with three bands, two pianists, nightly music shows, a Mozart tea, and a Russian string quartet. Three lecturers did a memorable series of 11 presentations about the “American Songbook.” And the Serenity provided free wireless access to 300+ videos of its past lectures. However, the ship’s online portal needs to label these videos by topic, rather than just by the name of the lecturer. STATEROOM & PUBLIC SPACES: Cruising need not mean crowding. Though a small ship, Serenity was somehow built with “endless” nooks and crannies in which one can limit contact with other humans to the desired degree. On this cruise, as before, we found the Serenity’s basic veranda stateroom to be adequate and comfortable. The housekeeper was thorough, attentive, pleasant, and dependable. However, the ship’s voicemail system was broken for most of the cruise. This frustrated messages from passengers and crew. Crystal’s daily newsletter acknowledged the problem on December 16, 20, and 21. But the failure to provide this basic service is not consistent with luxury cruising. The broken voicemail reminded us of our cruise last year, when the Serenity’s connection to the Internet was broken across much of the Pacific. Again, this is an aging little ship with limitations that travel agents should alert their customers to expect. PRE-CRUISE & POST-CRUISE: We’ve given up on using taxicabs due to various incidents over the years. A problem with a cab driver can be a real spoiler at the beginning of a trip. Thus, in Lisbon, we reserved a private driver to meet us at the airport. In setting the pickup time, be sure to make a pessimistic allowance for baggage claim and the passport line. Before the cruise, we built in a “cushion day” at the Sheraton Lisboa hotel. Great place to park for the day of waiting, but be sure to read your bill before paying. The Sheraton felt free to tack on an unrequested donation to a charity. They took it off when I spotted it. We used a private driver again for the ride down to the Serenity. At the end of the cruise (Miami), we rode Crystal’s bus from the ship to the airport. If Crystal offers a transfer bus, it’s a good deal and we take it. HEALTH & SAFETY: There’s a lot to like about the Serenity, but one concern is hard for customers to assess because it’s hard to see. At the start of this cruise, the Serenity’s daily newsletter asserted that “Crystal Cruises consistently receives the highest scores from the United States Public Health service after inspections of our culinary operations.” Crystal is referring to the inspections that cruise ships get from a federal health agency (Center for Disease Control) based in Fort Lauderdale. These inspections can occur when the ship docks at a U.S. port (the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program). CDC considers inspection scores from 86 to 100 to be in the passing range. I checked CDC’s website for the last inspection before our cruise. CDC gave the Serenity a score of 88 in its May 2015 inspection. This score is 3 points above CDC’s “not satisfactory” threshold of 85. CDC issued a 15-page report that detailed 62 deficiencies. Per CDC’s website (visited 12-29-15), the agency has conducted 230 inspections of cruise ships during 2015. Serenity’s score of 88 was among the 16 lowest scores, that is, in the bottom 7%. These inspection reports are publicly available (in all their technical tedium) at www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp. Travel agents can read for themselves and discuss any item of concern with their doctors that deal with travel health. Part of the “value added” by a travel agent can be a realistic assessment of the risks of an itinerary. Another option, which I’ve found quite helpful, is a pre-cruise consultation with a national chain of travel medicine clinics (see www.passporthealthusa.com). CDC hopefully did a re-inspection when this cruise ended in Miami. And the Serenity hopefully got a better score (which will ultimately be reported on CDC’s website). Crystal continues to boast that it caters to the “top 2% of the world’s wealthiest.” (See the marketing interviews on Fox News (12-14-15) www.youtube.com/watch?v=1--zYYGJukQ, and on CNBC (4-23-15) http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000373868 ) But an inspection score in the lowest 7% is not consistent with luxury cruising. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Having cruised on Seabourn, Regent, Oceania and other lines that I won't mention, I finally decided to give Crystal a try after hearing from a friend how good the service was on Crystal. I had refrained from going on this ship ... Read More
Having cruised on Seabourn, Regent, Oceania and other lines that I won't mention, I finally decided to give Crystal a try after hearing from a friend how good the service was on Crystal. I had refrained from going on this ship because I thought the patronage might be a bit old for me. But, we booked it with some younger friends and so I felt that I had my safety net. Hands down this was the best wait staff I have encountered on a cruise ship. The moment we were on board, Ricky was waiting on us, friendly, and helpful. He immediately new our names, and throughout the cruise greeted us with our names and gave us our drinks. He was exceptional, but the rest of our waiters were great. So my friend was correct about the service. I never saw one person scowl or look grumpy, they were all extremely pleasant. The not so great. Veranda rooms are tiny compared to Seabourn and Regent. We should have booked a suite, so please do that, or not. The cruise itself I knew would not be exciting, but my main reason for going on the cruise was to visit Quebec. Great city, got off the ship early in the morning and wandered through the old part of the city. Beautiful. Went up to take a city tour which was great. Walked back down and noticed that now there were many large cruise ships in port, so about 6,000 people milling about, but not smartly, ha. Nothing to do with Crystal, just the nature of cruising now. To get to the improvement part. Dining is set, 6:00 or 8:30. I much prefer open dining but apparently Crystal cannot accommodate this. I was assigned late dining and begged to be changed to no avail. I ended up paying for specialty restaurants to eat at a more reasonable hour, which was fine, just please, please don't make me wait till 8:30. So really, between the small room and the dining hour, things were ok. The piano player was great, and if you are a night owl the karaoke was fun. Trivia was a disaster!!! They ask a question and offer multiple choice answers. The questions were so hard, even guessing there were teams that got less than 25% correct. There was no interaction between the staff member and the teams. No joking around, no comraderie amongst the teams. In other words, no fun. But I know this only impacts a few. By the way, saw the cruise director once and he was a nice guy, but interaction between passengers and entertainment needs to improve. You really cannot complain about cruising, after all, you are waited on and pampered. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. With very few exceptions, the all-inclusive fare covers everything, including tips. The crew truly embodies the definition of service. It was top notch and always with a smile. They go ... Read More
This was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. With very few exceptions, the all-inclusive fare covers everything, including tips. The crew truly embodies the definition of service. It was top notch and always with a smile. They go to great lengths to make sure you wont for nothing. After a couple days onboard, the crew members knew us and addressed us by name. The ship is luxurious. There is something going on all day long and never a shortage of things to do. They provide a daily newsletter with a complete list of activities on board. Educational lectures are well done and provide information about the ports along the way. If you miss them, they are rebroadcast on one of the channels on TV. There is a library on board with a nice selection of books and DVDs that you can check out to watch in your room. We also took a tour of the galley for the main dining room. If you're a foodie, check it out. How they prepare and serve a gourmet dinner menu for 600 every night is fascinating. The fitness room is a bit small, but well equipped. The yoga class was popular and could have used more space. There is also a spa and casino on board. We did not use them. If you are really into wine, they have a wine tasting and pairing dinner. It is in a private dining room adjacent to the library and can be booked for an extra charge. There is also dancing every night. A string quartet and piano soloist play at various times of the day. You can send laundry out for a charge, but each floor had a self-service laundry that included detergent and ironing boards. I went home with clean clothes. We took excursions arranged by Crystal in every port. As we are both history buffs, they were the archaeological/historical tours. Tour operators were professional and Crystal staff accompanied us. They packed a lot into the time allotted for the tours. There are tours that are not strenuous and some that are. If you have mobility issues, do not book tours that state they are strenuous and require a lot of walking. They are not kidding. This was a Mediterranean cruise and all ports were very interesting. Noteworthy excursions: Gozo and Valletta Malta, Oia Village in Santorini and the Lindos Acropolis in Greece, Ephysis Ruins in Kusadasi Turkey, Herculaneum and Pompeii at the Naples Port, Taormina, Italy and of course, Istanbul. We saw a few of the shows (some nights we were too tired after exploring the ports) and the entertainment is excellent. The singers and dancers put on a variety of shows, so there is something for everyone. Gary, the Cruise Director is funny and you can tell he loves his job. In addition to the main dining room, there are many dining options aboard and room service any time you wish. The menu in the main dining room is diverse with four courses each night (appetizer, soup and salad, entree and dessert - several options for each on the menu and you can order as many as you want) and a sommelier keeps the wine flowing. Ice cream bar serves Ben and Jerry's from noon until 6PM. On this particular cruise, there were 2 formal nights. The winner of the 2015 Bocuse D'Or chef completion prepared dinner on the second formal night. He also did a cooking demonstration earlier in the day. Highly recommend Silk Road and Prego, the Asian and Italian restaurants aboard. All food was fresh and well presented. High tea is served every afternoon. There is also a bistro that serves tea, coffee and light hors d'oeurves in the afternoon. We ate breakfast at the buffet on the lido deck. It's huge. Anything you could want is there. Loved the fresh mango and fresh squeezed orange juice. Caution: the food is so good, book excursions that make you walk it off! The ship is spotless as it was remodeled in 2013 and all of the furnishings are updated. We also booked our airline and travel from disembarkation through Crystal and found it to be just as reasonable as booking ourselves, without the hassle. I think the only thing that needs improvement is the Wi-Fi aboard. Passengers are given one our of free Wi-Fi for each day aboard. It is pretty slow so it takes quite a bit of time to send emails. If you use more, there is a charge and it's expensive. At slow speeds, it doesn't take long to eat up the allotted free time. Many of the passengers are older and may not use internet, but those that do, might find it a bit challenging. I did have to attend to some work on board, so I needed the internet. Maybe it's their plan - keep you off your devices so you can enjoy your vacation-work can wait :-) All in all, it was a wonderful cruise. It is likely I'll be aboard the Crystal Serenity again someday. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Crystal Serenity is a very beautiful smaller cruise ship. It only carries up to 1000 passengers. The ratio of passenger to crew is one crewmember to every 3 passengers. That does make for unbelievable service. This was our first cruise on ... Read More
Crystal Serenity is a very beautiful smaller cruise ship. It only carries up to 1000 passengers. The ratio of passenger to crew is one crewmember to every 3 passengers. That does make for unbelievable service. This was our first cruise on Crystal Cruises and I am about to book another for 2017. I had told my travel agent that I wanted to pamper my wife since she had just finished her radiation for breast cancer and was found to be cancer free. It was a long six months for her. Our travel agent suggested the all inclusive cruise on Serenity. The service was on such a high level that it made the Four Seasons Hotels service and the Waldorf of New York services seem meek compared to Crystal's service. Believe me I should know for I was in the Hotel Industry for over 40 years and worked at some of the finest hotel companies in the world. Crystal's upscale service is seen as soon as you go to check in. It is one of the smoothest and quickest check ins I have ever experienced. Upon entering our beautiful stateroom one could see how well appointed it was. The bathroom consisted of double granite sinks, his and hers, plenty of storage spaces and a full bathtub and shower. Most comfortable and spacious bathroom on any ship I have been on. We really enjoyed the 24 hour room service. It definitely came in handy at 2 am after a night of dancing. The all inclusive package was the best I have ever had. Being able to have a standing order of beverage to be delivered at a certain time everyday was outstanding especially my 10 am bloody Mary. Lol The main dining room was found to be the best. Every night the menu exceeded our every wish. The all inclusive cruise included one night in their two specialty restaurants.. They both were excellent but my wife and I enjoyed the fare in the main dining room much more. Their European staff could not do enough for you. As soon as your wine glass was half full, along came a staff member to top it off for you. Anyone looking for a first class luxury cruise I would highly recommend Crystal. You will not be disappointed. Much value for your dollar. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
I have provided a star system with five being the highest as part of this writeup. SUMMARY *****+ After having sailed 160+ days on Crystal Serenity on our most recent adventure, we chose this 14 day Dover Round Trip cruise because of ... Read More
I have provided a star system with five being the highest as part of this writeup. SUMMARY *****+ After having sailed 160+ days on Crystal Serenity on our most recent adventure, we chose this 14 day Dover Round Trip cruise because of its itinerary and, in particular, because of its stop at Liverpool. This is a major birthday milestone year for me and although my actual birthday was not on this cruise, we selected this cruise because of my love of The Beatles. The itinerary was great in spite of missing four ports due to the weather. In lieu of the missed ports, we stopped at one replacement port, had an extra day in Belfast, and picked up two additional sea days, which are always very special due to all of the onboard activities. We especially enjoyed Liverpool, return visits to both Dublin and Belfast and stops at some small towns along the way. We had a wonderful time on board Serenity. Although the ship was relatively full, it never seemed crowded and most venues, including dinner at night, didn’t have the noise levels that sometimes one can experience on a full cruise. The cuisine, service, entertainment, enrichment were outstanding as was the attention to detail and we were so very please with our Crystal Private Adventure Tour in Dublin. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION *****+ Embarkation was a breeze as we disembarkation. On disembarkation day, since we were to stay overnight at a hotel at London Heathrow we asked if we could be one of the last ones off the ship at the time we arranged for our private transfer via the concierge and they were easily able to accommodate that request. We also booked luggage concierge shortly after we boarded Serenity so that we could send home all of our large bags. The good news is that since customs was not being done at the port, the Chief Concierge was able to turn our luggage over to the Luggage Concierge Representative so we never had to even touch our luggage. We were met by the Concierge at the designated time and were assisted to the vehicle by both the Concierge and the Chief Concierge. ENTERTAINMENT ============== *****+ There was a nice variety of entertainment on board Serenity including entertainers from land, in house entertainment including a couple of production shows, variety shows, and Billy Joel Concert. A highlight for us was the return of the Beatles Celebration group who performed so many songs from The Beatles the evening we left Liverpool. We loved it so much we went to both shows and danced to the last several songs. ENRICHMENT ***** Given that this was a very port intensive cruise there was still a good deal of enrichment with portions of the program held in the afternoon rather than the morning to accommodate those on tour and sufficient speakers on board that when we picked up the two additional sea days more lectures were spontaneously added to the program. CUISINE/WINE ***** The Cuisine continues to be one of the strong points of Crystal Cruises in terms of variety, taste and presentation. We continue to enjoy the additional choices in the Crystal Dining Room resulting from the introduction of the Modern Cuisine Menu in May of 2014, and the variety of cuisine between the Prego Italian Restaurant, the Silk Road Japanese Restaurant and Tastes featuring tapa like items from around the world. We continue to enjoy the inclusive wine. There is a wide variety of wines that are part of the program and new wines are brought on board based on where the ship is sailing. We enjoyed some of the new wines brought on board from France and also one of the new California Wines. Crystal also has some wines of their own brand and they continue to evolve and have been enhanced with some recent wines that have been brought on board. FITNESS CENTER ***** We make use of the Fitness Center throughout the cruise and I was very pleased at the number of indoor cycling classes that were offered given that this was a port intensive. The Fitness Instructors were relatively new to Crystal with one joining in mid-June and the other one at the beginning of this voyage but both were great instructors, very personable, and one would think they have been on Crystal ships for a few years. SHORE EXCURSIONS *****+ We only took one tour which was a Crystal Cruises Private Adventure Tour in Dublin. The tour was exceptional and although we had been to Dublin many times, this tour allowed us to go to some places that we have never visited before and also to get some behind the scenes tours of area of venues that we had been to before but are not accessible to the general public. The tour was very special. Also, complements to the Shore Excursion team and their tour operators for quickly adding tours to the replacement port and for the second day in Belfast in very short order. ACCOMODATION ***** We stayed in the same room category that we normally stay in with the only difference that the room was in the same location where we normally stay but it was on the other side of the ship. Room is perfect for us and complements to our stewardess for being so very responsive. It was the first time she had been our stewardess and she was great. During the world cruise she was on another deck so this is a promotion for her. INETRNET**** The Internet experience at sea can vary quite a bit and is even trickier for those lines such a Crystal that sail the world. For example, for those cruise lines that sail the Caribbean on regular cruises that repeat cruise after cruise there is now new options such as lower flying satellites that have been deployed in recent years that allow for very quick internet. That is not possible for the itineraries that Crystal sails. Other factors that come into play are where the ship is sailing relative to the satellite footprint, equipment issues either on the ship, at the satellite station on land or even with the satellite, or other factors such as handoffs between satellites and interference from even military installations on land. On top of this are other factors including your location on the deck and even interference from fire doors on each passenger deck. Also the reality is that newer ships have the advantage of being built with the latest technology in mind. Finally, even ones own devices come into play as some devices are quite a bit faster than others, some internet browsers are faster too and how one operates their system including how they upload photos all is a factor in ones individual experience. On this particular voyage we experienced very good to excellent internet experience except for two days where there were some issue which is why I gave this category three stars. On the majority of the days I would have given a four star/four star+ rating. DISEMBARKING THE SHIP IN PORT *** I would have given it a five but there was one port where we had some delays and similar to a couple of delays during the world cruise I think that the process could be enhanced with either some additional announcements keeping everyone up to date on the situation and/or more presence by an officer or two when long lines are encountered. In this case it was not at a tender port but rather at a port where we were docked. SERVICE *****++ I thought I would save the best for last. The Crystal Crew continues to amaze us as they always have. As is the case on land, relationships do take time to develop so our experiences are based on sailing Crystal many times with so many sailings on Crystal Serenity. For us, this sailing like our other sailings is like returning home as the crew has become our extended family. We can’t say enough about their professionalism, attention to detail and their kindness. To me the crew is like the software of IT related products. In other words you can have the best and most advanced hardware but without the software, the devises will not work well. Similarly, at sea you can have the most advanced and newest ships but without a strong crew the experience will be lacking. In my opinion, Crystal has the best crew of any cruise line we have ever sailed and one, if not the major reason we keep returning back to Crystal for almost all of our cruises. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
We chose this itinerary because it was the golf theme (my husband's passion) and he did have a wonderful experience golfing at 3 great courses. We spent 5 days in Oxford and 2 in London before we embarked. Oxford was fantastic. ... Read More
We chose this itinerary because it was the golf theme (my husband's passion) and he did have a wonderful experience golfing at 3 great courses. We spent 5 days in Oxford and 2 in London before we embarked. Oxford was fantastic. Would return in a heartbeat. We loved the cruise ship very much and especially all the other passengers. All were fun and interesting. Unfortunately because of weather we were unable to dock in 4 scheduled ports and spent many more days at sea than we were supposed to. This has its good and bad points. We stayed in a veranda cabin on the 8th deck close to the elevator and laundry room. Loved our cabin and the location. Absolutely adored all meals. The food was simply unbelievable and I am very picky. Our meals at Silk Road were unforgettable. Service is outstanding everywhere at all venues. We also had many meals at Tastes, the outdoor dining area located near the Trident Grill. I asked to be able to accompany my husband on his golf outing at Glen Eagles and because of a cancellation, I got go along, take photos and was charged absolutely nothing. What an amazing perk. All in all, I'd say Crystal is very classy without being stuffy and intimidating. Can't wait for our next adventure. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
First time on Crystal cruises. Had high expectations, and found that they were exceeded. Yes Crystal is not cheap, but since tips and drinks are included, they are comparable to others in price. What makes Crystal different is the ... Read More
First time on Crystal cruises. Had high expectations, and found that they were exceeded. Yes Crystal is not cheap, but since tips and drinks are included, they are comparable to others in price. What makes Crystal different is the attitude of ever member of the crew. Everyone greets you every time you see them. Waiters started greeting us by name. President - Edie was very open to input from passengers and she is focused on making Crystal even better. Food in main dining room was outstanding. Waiter was very attentive. Wine steward never let glass be empty. Ship docked in the middle of Bordeaux so very convenient. At all ports that needed it, a free shuttle was provided to take us to the center of each town. We started in Barcelona, then Ibiza, Cartgenta, Casa Blanca, then serveal ports in Portugal finally all though western France and the channel island of Guernsey. Recommend the Optional Oyster Farm tour. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our third cruise and first on Crystal Serenity so we are fairly new to cruising. We embarked in Rome and the process was effortless. Disembarkation in Istanbul was terrible. We left the ship about 9:30 am and stood in line for ... Read More
This was our third cruise and first on Crystal Serenity so we are fairly new to cruising. We embarked in Rome and the process was effortless. Disembarkation in Istanbul was terrible. We left the ship about 9:30 am and stood in line for about two hours to go through passport control. We had prearranged transportation to our hotel in Istanbul and that was perfect although a bit chaotic. I was disappointment in both restaurants. The food at Prego was ordinary at best as was the service. I really enjoyed Tastes. We chose the open seating because we preferred to be free to dine when we wish. Our friends were disappointed that with open dining, we would be seated as a twosome or foursome when we ate together. In hindsight, they would have enjoyed sitting at a table for 8 so they could to meet new people. We would enjoy either. The ship was simply perfect for us. The weather this time of year couldn't have been better. I arranged most of our excursions independently of the ship and they were perfect. The Port of Sorrento was lovely. I have been to Pompeii and Capri before, so my husband and I chose to wonder on our own. Capri was crazy crowded and with several ships in port, it was a nightmare of chaos. Sorrento was lovely the next day as I think most people take the other excursions and miss how lovely Sorrento is. Entertainment was good, although we preferred to go to our room and relax after a busy, busy day. Overall a wonderful cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
As avid independent travelers, my wife and I never thought we were cruise people. In fact we steadfastly resisted any suggestion of a cruise. Then the flyer arrived in the mail - we simply could not resist. Our experience on the Crystal ... Read More
As avid independent travelers, my wife and I never thought we were cruise people. In fact we steadfastly resisted any suggestion of a cruise. Then the flyer arrived in the mail - we simply could not resist. Our experience on the Crystal Serenity was absolutely impeccably perfect. All staff was extremely helpful and friendly - we felt like they were members of our family by the time we disembarked. A few highlights: - The dual dining choices in the main dining room (modern and classic) were perfect. We often mixed and matched, but in general the appetizers and deserts on the modern side were highlights. - Tastes is really so much more than "casual dining". The variety and quality of the tapas style dishes were exquisite and the service perfect and attentive. - Prego's lasagna is the best we've ever had. Yes I would have blushed to say I was ordering lasagna at such an exquisite Italian restaurant - but it was absolutely mouth wateringly good. - Silk Road has terrific, imaginative Asian fare. We were glad to have gone, but as we were more wine themed, we didn't repeat. - Crystal Cove is the perfect hide away very late at night - friendly staff, beautiful, quiet atmosphere. The ship itself is very clean and well maintained - everything is well thought out. Can't think of a thing we would change. We mostly took part in private shore excursions, but the one that we took from Crystal (Malta's Pre-historic Sites) was well organized with a fantastic local guide. Truly a terrific experience as the site we visited is extremely hard to book in advance. Frosch's wine theme was so special. We were lucky enough to have both Heitz and Kapcsandy on board pouring their magnificent wines. This added an extra dimension to dinner that is hard to overestimate. Also, the fellow wine enthusiasts were terrific to get to know. Disembarkation was orderly, easy - only problem is that it was so sad to leave. We loved the experience so much on Crystal Serenity that we are tempted to go somewhere that we are *less* interested in so we can spend more time on the ship. 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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