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168 Crystal Serenity Luxury Cruise Reviews

We had a great cruise on the Serenity from Miami to Los Angeles. This was the first leg of the 2020 World Cruise. Food and wine are an important part of cruising for us. We found the food to be very good to excellent with only a couple ... Read More
We had a great cruise on the Serenity from Miami to Los Angeles. This was the first leg of the 2020 World Cruise. Food and wine are an important part of cruising for us. We found the food to be very good to excellent with only a couple exceptions. The included wines were certainly up to the task. The service was great throughout the ship. We received particularly good service from Phil on deck 12 and Alexandra and Cameron in Crystal Cove. George the sommelier in Waterside also gave us good service after a slow start. The enrichment presentations were top notch. Ian Maclachlan and Dick Morgan both gave excellent presentation on the ports and the Panama Canal. Tim Grey was a great technology presenter and also helped my wife with some specific technology questions related to setting up a blog. Bob Ray gave some interesting behind the scenes presentations on The Beatles and The Beach Boys. And Astronaut Scott Kelly was a great bonus speaker. There were a couple presenters that didn’t really appeal to us but given the number of options, we just skipped them. The entertainment was excellent as well. I truly enjoyed Icons in Concert but that music is right in my wheelhouse. Any show ending with Queen is great in my book! Lou Gazzara, Vox Fortura and Rob Proulx, James Fox and his Billy Joel show, and comic John Joseph all put on great shows. We also found that Crystal Cove was our favorite spot for a pre-dinner drink. It was active and we enjoyed the music there more than the Avenue Saloon. especially the violinist, Irina Guskova. Or cabin was 8131, deck 8 aft. It was small compared to others we’ve had on Silversea that are comparable category. There was plenty of drawer space but closet space was tight. The balcony was fine and while it was labeled as slightly limited view, we wouldn’t have noticed if they hadn’t told us. The room temperature was fine and resumed well when we lowered the temperature at night for sleeping. The bed was quite comfortable. The sofa and table were cramped and not really usable. The shower was fine with good temperature and pressure. There was a problem with vibration in the room. The TV vibrated some and we would have to wedge something next to it soften the sound. The closet vibration was harder to solve; the doors would vibrate and the hangers would as well. It wasn’t real loud but a constant low-level presence. We noticed the vibration in Waterside as well, three decks down. We would not book this cabin again due to the vibration. Our stateroom attendant was generally efficient but we saw her infrequently. The muster drill was not well-organized. We checked in and the crew member checked us off the list. Then after all passengers were seated, the called our stateroom number, and we said we were present, and they only called our number once. We thought we were all set, but then we got a note from the captain that they showed we missed the muster and should watch the safety video or we were there, we could ignore his note. Very odd that we checked in twice but they still didn’t have us there. I guess that’s better than marking us present when we absent, but still very odd. More on the food. We ate in all the restaurants at our least once. Waterside: I really liked the pancakes at breakfast. Lunch was good, especially the salmon Caesar salad and the service was good but a couple times a little too leisurely. For dinner, it was not our favorite spot but certainly quite good. The entrees were not always A+, for instance the beef Wellington on the second BTO night was only OK. Jacques at the front desk at Waterside knew our name after one night. That made us feel very welcome. A couple times we were seated in the very back of Waterside though which we didn’t really enjoy. After that I asked not be seated that far back. I realize they need to balance the workload but twice was enough. Churascuria: We ate dinner there once and enjoyed it. However, the way a Brazilian steakhouse works is that you basically have everything on the menu so there was no real reason to go back unless you really loved it. If we were on longer, we might have gone back but once it 15 days was good for us. Supper Club: This was offered only on Black Tie Optional nights. We went on the first night and had the lobster entree. We are from Maine, so we know our lobster and we thought it was a great meal. There is one seating at 6:30 which was a little early for us and you will sit at a table for four. The entertainment during dinner was very good. We didn’t go a second time (you need a reservation) because of the one seating and the tables for four but we are glad we went for one dinner there. Prego: We ate here twice for dinner. Both times the service was very good. My wife ordered a special with pasta and vongole (small clams) that was watery. My carpaccio, mushroom soups in a bread bowl and lasagne were excellent and I was offered (and accepted) limoncello with dessert both times. The second time I repeated the carpaccio and soup they were so good! My wife repeated the mushroom soup as well. Umi Uma: We are not sushi fans but enjoyed this very much as well. We ate there twice. The lobster and rock shrimp tempura were excellent. My wife’s black cod the second night was not up to par. We did not care for the Nobu Chardonnay but there were plenty of other great included options. Silk: We ate twice here for dinner and enjoyed it both times. Thanks to other Cruise Critic members who posted about the pacing and not to order everything at once. We ordered in a two or three installments; the items are very shareable. Service was great again. We also had lunch there a couple times. I really enjoyed the Chinois chicken salad. Terrace Grill: Our go-to embarkation lunch is a burger and a margarita—to us, that marks a separation from non-vacation to vacation! The Terrace Grill did not disappoint on either front. We went back a couple times for a low key lunch, or an ice cream. Nothing fancy but hit the spot. Marketplace: We really enjoyed this location for breakfast and lunch. There was a great variety for both meals. At breakfast , my wife was glad to get blueberries for her oatmeal by asking. The pastries and donuts were not a strong point, but the scrambled eggs and bacon were very good. Bistro: Good to-go coffee and some snacks/pastries in the morning till afternoon. Champagne Lunch: This was an extra fee event. We enjoyed the education about champagne as well as the food. The servings were on the small side and we had a second lunch afterwards, but the event was great. Tilmar the head sommelier did a very nice job. Tea service: We went to this several times. There is a lot of food with the tea service, given that it’s an afternoon meal tea service, and it was good to very good. The Mozart Tea was quite good with a buffet set up and Viennese coffee as an option. Some people have commented on the Asian focus on the food. We noticed it, for instance two of the restaurants focus on Asian cuisine and the Marketplace often had Asian selections as well. However, there are a number of other options every day that are all very good to excellent. Wines: We found the included wines to be very good to excellent. If there was a wine not to our liking, the sommeliers were happy to provide another option. We never had a problem finding a wine we liked. The wine service was quite good except one night in Waterside we were poured a grunerveltliner and told it was a Riesling. We discussed this with the sommelier who took note. We also asked the same sommelier about Rhône wines and he promised to come back but never did. We discussed that lapse with another sommelier after which time the first sommelier was much more attentive. Cocktails: We mostly had wine but I thought the Crystal Martini with a twist was very good. My wife had the drink of the day a few times and enjoyed them. We really liked the vibe in Crystal Cove. We took Crystal excursions in Panama City and Huatulco. We got off in Cabo on our own and the ship couldn’t tender in Nicaragua. Of course, the Panama Canal itself was the star attraction and Crystal did a fabulous job of arranging for narration during the transit and presentations before the transit. The excursion in Panama City probably tried to cover too much but it was very thorough. The Hualtuco excursion was a very nice exposure to rural Mexico. The other passengers were a well-traveled group. Average age was probably around 65-70. Here’s an anecdote. Early on we met a nice gentleman who told me he was retired after 30+ years in the Coast Guard. His traveling companion told my wife he was a retired Admiral! He was too modest to reveal that. A couple days later we struck up a conversation with another gentleman from Maine who said he’d been in the Coast Guard. After more conversation, we learned that the Mainer had served with the Admiral we met the other night! Then they were able to meet and have dinner! I think this exemplifies the wonderful nature of the other passengers. One definite negative was the quality of the internet. I realize we’re on a ship but I also realize it’s 2020. Passengers depend on internet access. At times it was dismal. My wife finally got her work done but uploading photos for Cruise Critic was painful. Overall though, this was an excellent cruise! Both the service and the food and wine were very good to excellent. For us, those are the keys to a great cruise and Crystal succeeded! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was my 60th birthday celebration so we decided to go higher end. We have sailed with Disney with our kids and lately on the newer HAL pinnacle ships. We were overall thrilled with the cruise and are now spoiled. We booked a verandah ... Read More
This was my 60th birthday celebration so we decided to go higher end. We have sailed with Disney with our kids and lately on the newer HAL pinnacle ships. We were overall thrilled with the cruise and are now spoiled. We booked a verandah cabin and were fortunate to be upgraded to a Seabreeze Penthouse with butler. I think the word penthouse was a little over exaggerated although very nice it was basically a larger verandah cabin with nice seating area and larger bathroom not a whole lot bigger than our verandah cabin on HAL Konningsdam earlier this year. The butler was awesome and was unobtrusive however there if you needed him keeping our cabin stocked up on wine, beer, soft drinks, water and snacks. every afternoon around 4pm he brought a selection of cheese, fruit , shrimp cocktail etc. Service on the ship was outstanding and the staff seem genuinely friendly and warm. Not having to sign for drinks, specialty coffees and specialty dining was great. As soon as you sat down in bar or Restaurant they were all over you with a welcome smile. I oversee a high end country club so I feel I am more picky than the average guest and I could find no faults. The food was super impressive even the basic dining room Waterside was outstanding. On HAL only the specialty restaurants were excellent the basic dining room was not that good. Prego , Umi Umi were fantastic, Silk was very good we did not try the Brazilian steakhouse. Pastries and Cappuccino were a welcome mid morning and afternoon pleasure in the Bistro. My wife and I are in our late 50's and were amongst the younger crowd , most guests seemed in their 70's however this did not bother us. Not nearly as much wheelchairs and scooters as on HAL. Entertainment for a smaller ship was excellent and exceeded our expectations, the Broadway themed cruise had a broad variety of shows which we enjoyed. The Stardust Dinner show was fantastic 50's style dinner and dancing with band, singers and dancers. Although we payed more for this cruise by the time you pay gratuities, specialty dining, pressing, internet, drinks and specialty coffees it was not a whole lot more than our recent HAL cruise and far superior. We also enjoy the casino and on this ship not was no smoking unlike the HAL ships which we hated. Overall we loved this cruise and will definitely cruise with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We went on this cruise to relax and get a full service treat and in one. This is our 3rd cruise on this ship and we were not disappointed with the room,service or entertainment. I enjoyed the trip because everything you do is paid for and ... Read More
We went on this cruise to relax and get a full service treat and in one. This is our 3rd cruise on this ship and we were not disappointed with the room,service or entertainment. I enjoyed the trip because everything you do is paid for and they don't nickel and dime you for everything . It is nice to order a new drink and if you don;t like it then you can order something else. It is also enjoyable to have internet service in your room and any where on the ship. The casual attire at dinner is a very comfortable way to enjoy the cruise and yet have great dining experiences . The choices for evening meals at 5 different locations is nice to experience and a change of taste at each one. I will book my next cruise on Crystal even if it cost more the experience is worth it . I have travel on over 25 cruise and this by far is the best cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
One of the major reasons was they marketed as a wine and food cruise, and there were only two wine tastings in 12 days. They were very limited to 4 two ounce pours each and that was it. Additionally I would suggest more on board ... Read More
One of the major reasons was they marketed as a wine and food cruise, and there were only two wine tastings in 12 days. They were very limited to 4 two ounce pours each and that was it. Additionally I would suggest more on board activities for port days. Many of us have been to the islands many times and we picked Crystal for the ship. I also feel three evenings of magician entertainment was too much. However, after all is said and done I will definitely be going Crystal again. When you market a cruise as a Wine and Food cruise we expected you to live up to your description. To only have two wine tastings, each with only four two ounce pours is less than a reasonable person would expect. Their specialty restaurants were very good! I would highly recommend dinner in Prego and the late breakfast in the Grill. Those two rooms were lovely with great food and service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
In the past 3 years we have sailed with Silversea 4 times, with Regent 3, with Oceania 1 and with Seabourn 2 times. We had heard excellent comments about Crystal when their Mediterranean cruise caught our attention. We booked a penthouse ... Read More
In the past 3 years we have sailed with Silversea 4 times, with Regent 3, with Oceania 1 and with Seabourn 2 times. We had heard excellent comments about Crystal when their Mediterranean cruise caught our attention. We booked a penthouse suite and it was an overwhelming experience. After the other cruise lines we had become familiar with our expectations of Crystal were high, but the Crystal exceeded our expectations by far. For us no other cruise line comes even close. They are simply the best! If you really want to spoil yourself to a cruise of a lifetime, book a penthouse suite on Crystal. Before we left on this cruise we had already booked a cruise with Seabourn in January, but now that we have experienced Crystals Serenity, we are no longer excited to cruise with any other cruise line. Crystal is a whole new experience. Embarking with the penthouse suite ticket is like flying first class, within minutes your are on board, you are accompanied to your suite. All is ready and our luggage was delivered before we had a chance to admire the tastefully designed suite in delightful light colors, wow! We choose to have our lunch not in the main restaurant Waterside but in the Marketplace where a sumptuous buffet awaited us. This was the way to travel. Announcements over the public address system were practically non existent. We always were annoyed by the frequent PA announcements on other lines, too often in a phoney British accent. Soliciting for future cruises was prohibited, if you are interested in future cruises you were of course welcome to so on beard. This all added to a totally relaxed and comfortable and unique cruise experience. The food was divine, there were options for everybody, even for health food nuts like us. Personally we are vegetarians but do eat fish. There was always something new and delicious on the menu. Starting with the amazing breakfast buffet at the Marketplace. The fresh fruit selections, especially mangoes, papaya, pine apple and strawberries were of the highest quality and always perfectly ripe. What a better way to start a day. The lunch buffet at the Marketplace was always a special treat, unfortunately we were mostly on an excursion at lunch time and too often missed the feast. We always had the choice of freshly steamed rice and vegetables. If you prefer the buttered kind, of course that was offered too. After our first nights dinner in the Waterside restaurant, where we were spoilt by the best waiters Raj and Ewa we knew that was going to be our dinner table for the entire cruise. There was absolutely no reason to try a different table we were so much at home. Soon we started talking that this was the only ship so far, where we could imagine to sail into the perpetual sunset. Seriously, instead of moving into an old folks home, why not spending the last years aboard Serenity. We are still talking about it, maybe one of these days. This was the only ship we have ever felt we could sail on forever. Our Med. Cruise had so many interesting landfalls that we couldn't really appreciate all the amenities. One of the great pluses on the Serenity are the possibilities to move and walk a around freely. On deck 7 there is a wide teak deck all around the ship offering the best walking in addition to the possibility to walk on the top deck. There was an internet lounge with iMacs and a differnt lectures could be followed about working with apple computers. Of course internet was free and of a good quality considering the fact that we were on a moving vessel with a satellite link. The entertainment on board was first rate, we missed most of the shows as we were very busy during the days and went to bed early. But our fellow cruisers were enthusiastic about the shows. Often I had watched other people soon falling asleep during lectures, not on board Serenity. The lecturers captured their audience and even you could watch the lectures on live TV in the privacy of your suite, most guests went to the lectures including ourselves to enjoy the lecturers. Ken Walsh, a long time White House correspondent and Dr. Jim Rowe talking about our destinations more than enriched our cruise experience. Booking a Med. Cruise at the end of October is always picking a wild card, the weather can change suddenly and summer just a memory. Still the touristic hot spots during our cruise like Santorini, Sorrento, Rome, Florence, Monaco, Marseille and Barcelona were still extremely crowded by fellow tourists. Still it is more pleasant to experience the world famous sights without the heat of summer but, rainy and cool days are not rare late in the fall. Much too soon our 13 day cruise came to an end, we hated to leave. The disembarking process was so perfectly organised, not one P.A. announcement, no pushing or shoving, just a relaxed walking off the boat and the luggage so cleverly arranged that finding our luggage was so easy. Thank You Crystal. We can't wait to come back. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Greetings! I am a former luxury cruise TA and had sailed on Serenity 3 times in a PH, about 12-14 years ago. This is the my first time back as a 'civilian' and first time on Crystal for my husband. Our last 4 cruises have been ... Read More
Greetings! I am a former luxury cruise TA and had sailed on Serenity 3 times in a PH, about 12-14 years ago. This is the my first time back as a 'civilian' and first time on Crystal for my husband. Our last 4 cruises have been NCL, NCL, Cunard, Cunard. Much has changed with Crystal since my last voyages and I had been warned that it 'isn't what you remember' but my expectations were exceeded in almost every way, We had a standard Oceanview on deck 7. Sure we missed a balcony but otherwise the cabin was great. The most outstanding & memorable aspect was the dining. Every single day, no matter where we ate, every meal was great. I don't know how many times one of us would taste something & say "mmm..wow, that's so good" And we're foodies...not easily pleased. I am a pescatarian but I never felt there weren't enough non-meat options for me. All the fish & seafood dishes were wonderful, fresh and creative. My husband did have beef a few time and this in the only time he felt a bit let down. Having had very dismal desserts, pastries etc on our previous cruises, the outstanding desserts on the Serenity were a welcome relief. Kudo's to the Exec Pastry Chef! We dined at every venue for dinner & in order of most liked to least, we would rate them: Prego, Waterside, Umi Uma, Silk, Churrasqueira. We would gladly do all again but pass on the last...not quite up the standards of the others. Prego is wonderful, best menu, best service, a real highlight. The other 'bests' for us were the production shows - top notch singers & dancers, very professional & entertaining. And the guest/space ratio. My husband was so impressed with how much public space vs guests there is on the Serenity. We were never crowded, virtually no lines, always a lovely, calm atmosphere. My 3 top observations: - relaxed dress codes were noticeable since my last Crystal voyages, but I was pleasantly surprised that about 80% of the guests still dress up for dinner...women in cocktail dresses, men in casual office or suits/sport jackets. We dressed up every night but 1 (after a very long day in Florence/Pisa) I love this aspect of cruising and so did most of my fellow pax from the look of things - the service was great, especially the bar & wine stewards... far more attentive than any cruise we've done where alcohol is a revenue maker. At dinner I had to start saying 'no, thanks' with my hand over my wine glass! Too much of a good thing and all that! - I did find that the friendliness of the crew overall may have been a wee bit less than I remember but it was still excellent and I wish I had written down some names to include in the survey sent by Crystal. Definitely some outstanding service by some individuals. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was ... Read More
We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was uniformly friendly and helpful, and staff seemed to enjoy their jobs. The ship was beautiful and it did not seem dated or tired. Our B1 verandah cabin was very comfortable, with plenty of storage for clothes and a lot of counter space in the bathroom. We were very happy with the dining options on the ship. Room service breakfasts were delivered quickly and exactly as ordered. Lunch options, including the grill and the salad bar in Marketplace, were very good. The ship had excellent choices for dinner. We absolutely loved Umi Uma (yes, the black cod is as good as they say it is). Our dinners in Churrascuria and Prego were outstanding. Silk was just ok. We enjoyed Waterside but we only had one lunch and one dinner there. We did not attend any shows, but we really enjoyed the atmosphere and the piano player in the Avenue Saloon. We were in port every day and didn't have a chance to spend much time on the ship, so we did not advantage of the enrichment opportunities or activities. The ship has an excellent health club and spa. The hair stylist who blow dried my hair did a great job. A spa treatment was ok, but nothing special. We went on three shore excursions. They were fine, but If I did this itinerary again, I would just visit the ports on my own. Overall, we loved this cruise and hope to return to another Crystal cruise in the future. We also hope to see Crystal add another ocean ship and more 7-8 day itineraries in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch by noon. We utilized PCPC and any Crystal cruiser should take advantage of this service. Our disembarkation in Venice was efficient with Crystal personnel assisting at each stage of the process. Dining; Better than ever IMHO. Sauces were perfect and sadly desserts were outstanding. Mains were abundant and included veal, duck, fish, beef, poultry and vegetarian entrees. We dined at Prego ; the world's best carpacio. Silk has done a turnaround and our group of 8 enjoyed new entrees and appetizers. While the service in Waterside was a bit slow at times we felt that there was always an effort to make the dining a great experience. Bar service was terrific. Entertainment: New shows finally. While I find the entertainment geared towards an older generation the shows were well attended. I heard no negative comments.Enrichment was a disappointment as the lecturer as a poor presenter to say the least. The computer classes are geared to novice users. Staff of computer rooms are superb Ports: We tendered a few times but mainly docked. The Crystal shuttle was prompt. We had been in every port except Dubrovnik, and had a private guide (tours by locals) to show us the city. Every port was packed with tourists by the way. Service: The best. The Lido crew always has a smile, and friendly word. The Captain was visible as were many senior crew members. Cabins: A well worn subject as this is the only downfall. Crystal cabins are small by today's standards when compared to other luxury lines. . While very clean they could use a refresher, such as new bed covers. Crystal sent out a note early on asking passengers to let the staff know of any issues so remedies could be initiated. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for ... Read More
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for it. The shows were fantastic. I especially loved the white extravaganza and the show band. The main bar in the atrium was the perfect place to gather. Though it was billed as a romantic cruise the passengers were by no means all couples. I went with a girlfriend. Her tastes were different from mine so we didn’t do everything together. The bars an lounges and even the casino proved to be highly social. We met so many great people. It wasn’t a party atmosphere but was convivial. I really enjoyed the all inclusive aspect and not having to sign for drinks or figure out how to tip everyone. All restaurants were terrific but be sure to get on the guest website in advance to book them. Otherwise there is a steep fee for booking on board. The Brazilian steakhouse on aft of ship doesn’t have to be reserved. we went there the evening of our Kotor departure. It was magical with mild night and mountains all around and near full moon. An aspect that can’t be controlled is weather and ours that week was perfect. Crystal is masterful at details. We were pier side most of time and it was clear the did their best to time port calls at times when other ships were not in. This made the excursions less hectic and less competitive with thousands of passengers from mega ships. Even on tender ports it was pleasant. I like excursions which we orchestrated separate from the ship, but the ship comfort and service is most important to me. One bit of serendipity was the onboard dance hosts and the amazing quartet. I danced years ago but didn’t know these were embarked. The know swings, tangos, salsa - everything. I was able to validate that I still can dance if I have a good leader. Despite all the amazing food and drink, we walked five files daily on excursions and danced all night! I didn’t gain any weight. We frequented the blackjack tables and learned the “rules” from friendly dealers and we mostly won! Crystal has a fantastic tech lab. We could easily send emails and research. The Moxsrt high tea was a hoot and talent from the piano bar to the violinist in the lobby bar was abundant. Heck I didn’t even get to play paddle tennis. I just couldn’t get it all in. By the way the entry into Venice at noon through the Grand Canal on a gorgeous day with tugs assisting and the magnificent old skyline was absolutely spiritual. I left the ship with a tear in my eye. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & ... Read More
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & Oceana and were not overly fond of the first two and felt that Oceana was an upgrade, but with something still missing. Based on the requirements (premium dining, polished service, big ship amenities, refined decor, uncrowded hushed public areas) that we provided to our travel agent, she highly recommended the Crystal Serenity and she was spot on. Our only concern was that we had read that the fellow passengers skew older (our party was mid- 40s to 60s) and be very clubby. We never once encountered this experience and found the fellow passengers to be very well mannered and inviting. While the dining, overall ship appointments and atmosphere are akin to high end resort experience, what truly sets this cruise line apart is the entire crew's kindness and keen attention to detail. The little things that sometimes go missed (food trays in hallways, incomplete orders....) do not happen on Crystal. It's back to the gym and making our own beds until..... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us ... Read More
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us very well. We liked the way every time we sat down, whether it was in the central lounge on Deck 5 or the Forward lounge on Deck 12, there was someone approaching us to ask if there was anything they could get for us. It was called an "amenity" cruise, and it was indeed. We were treated extremely well from the time we arrived at the ship, throughout the cruise, and when we left to go home. The food was fabulous, the prosecco, chamboard cocktails and wine flowed freely, and there were light activity shore excursions that I could enjoy. Crystal is definitely now my favorite cruise line, and I hope we can take another cruise with this line soon. Having talked with others who have taken other cruise lines to the same locations, I find that the fact that Crystal allows you to take as many or as few shore excursions, but only pay for the ones you take, is an advantage. As my ability to walk decreases, I would take fewer shore excursions, but would enjoy every bit of the cruise as much or more than I did this time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable ... Read More
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable service, cuisine, facilities, entertainment- there cannot be a better cruise line than this. I am a customer service expert, so I have high standards and Crystal surpassed every expectation. Every single item of cuisine at every single meal or snack was exceptional. They even had a wonderful variety of sugar-free and gluten-free treats which were most welcome for those of us with dietary restrictions. The staff handled all that with ease and a smile. Every single staff member from the gangplank to the crew to the waiters to the stewardesses were delightful and the best you will ever experience. Really marvelous service. The entertainment was way beyond what I was expecting, and there were informative lectures and movies, and so much more. They even had the astronaut who rescued the Hubble Space Telescope giving talks. Very impressive. They imported a number of special guests performers, and the in-house artists were all world class too. The excursions, while expensive, and extra, were ll top notch and absolutely beautiful. The fjords are astonishing and spectacular. The ship has been nicely refurbished and is spacious, bursting with every possible amenity, planet of space. There is so much to do, or not do, that every taste will be satisfied. The spa and fitness center were excellent and spacious. The cabin was ample and the double sink in its bathroom was a nice touch. the bathroom was sizable, and I could even stand up n the show and in 99% of the ship even though I am 6'-8"/203cm tall. We loved having a verandah and could have sat out there all day and never left and been very happy (thanks to the free and wonderful room service). Of course, there was some internet spottiness above the Arctic Circle and in the fjords, but it's still miraculous to even have internet on the high seas. It turned out to be a minor inconvenience, but was better than our last Crystal cruise on the Symphony, but that was before their remodel and internet upgrade. I would HIGHLY recommend Crystal Cruises for any route, and I would very much recommend Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords as destination- really exceptional and awesomely beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s ... Read More
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries around 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. ROUTE: This type of cruise is for those who enjoy the boat ride itself. It started in Lisbon and ended in Fort Lauderdale. The only enroute stop was at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which placed us back in the U.S. It was Sunday, and the onboard border clearance was quick and painless -- took only five minutes from leaving our room to returning. OVERALL RATING (5 OUT OF 5): I rate this cruise as excellent (an overall “5” on a scale of 5). My score is based on the high quality of (1) live music in the small venues, (2) food offerings (truly perfect), and (3) service in the food and entertainment areas (still the most attentive service anywhere on land or sea). However, we’ve never found the Serenity to be perfect “ultra luxury” in every way. We keep coming back year after year because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where the predictable pleasures outweigh the problems of an aging ship. In fact, the cruise’s most memorable lecturer was a writer for the old “Cheers” television comedy (Cheri Steinkellner). She gave you the juicy backstory of that neighborhood bar where “the troubles are all the same” and “everyone knows your name.” If you’re looking for a low-key, relaxing, good old-fashioned voyage across the Atlantic, this is your ship. Luxury measured by what’s not there. No stateroom announcements. No pressure to buy anything or do anything. No gaming to get your keycard for just one more charge (Crystal’s price is all inclusive). For cruisers who’ve tired of harried herding on the mass-market lines, the absence of certain nuisances on Crystal may be worth an overall “5” in itself. ENTERTAINMENT: When it comes to entertainment, what get’s the perfect “5” from me is the live jazz and show tunes performed in the ship’s small venues (the “Great American Songbook” from the 1940s and 50s). Crystal calls this its “supper club” and “cabaret” entertainment. I found these talented performances every bit as enjoyable as a night clubbing in Seattle or New Orleans. But no cover charges, taxi fares, exorbitant parking, or pestering to buy another drink. Crystal’s musical offerings continued right up to the end, with five shows on the final night of the cruise. The last of these shows ended at 11 pm, just as luggage was due outside the staterooms. Pretty impressive for a cruise with less than 900 passengers. There are lots of amazing musicians out there who never do albums or arenas. Crystal finds them; some stay for a cruise, others stay for years. But if live music isn’t your niche, think of the Serenity as your floating senior center. One with lots of pampering (they even have a “valet service” that parks the scooters and wheelchairs to keep the halls clear after bedtime). And the ship’s veteran waiters are saints of the sea when it comes to their patience and respect toward the older crowd that frequents Crystal. Yup, you’ll find all the day-to-day activities that you’d expect in a well-appointed senior center: bingo, bridge, needlepoint, knitting, shuffleboard, slots, puzzles, trivia, liars club, name-that-tune, karaoke, parlor magic, tribute shows, afternoon tea, and dance hosts for the ladies. (About a fourth of the passengers on this cruise were involved in a bridge tournament.) Music and comedy shows are focused on the tastes and memories of the “extra generation” of seniors blessed with extended retirements. There was even the screening of a new film about finding late-life romance in a nursing home (yes, including sex). The filmmaker (Neil Leifer) was onboard and understandably pegged the Crystal crowd as a sympathetic test audience. But I’ll say it again: travel agents should use caution in sending children under age 50 on this ship. Though Crystal’s current president came over from Disney, absolutely none of the following “advancements” in onboard entertainment are found on this ship (thankfully): water slide; climbing wall; zipline; go-carts; carousel; laser tag; bungee trampoline; bumper cars; surfing simulator; trapeze training; skydiving wind tunnel. After all, this ship is called the Serenity -- a synonym for quiet peacefulness. There is, however, a golf net, a little swimming pool, and a “shopping mall” of three stores (including one that sells the Chico’s line). While there are no midnight buffets, there is 24-hour room service for those who can’t wait until the next meal at 6 am. Not surprisingly, the youngest on board are usually the employees. No teen gangs here. And nature seems to impose its own curfew, with the halls largely empty after midnight. DINING: We dined in all of the ship’s venues with the exception of its Italian restaurant (Prego). When it comes to dining, I give this cruise a perfect “5” simply because I found it perfect in every respect. Taste, variety, presentation, novelty, service, and overall enjoyability were all consistent with luxury cruising. It’s not just about the food, though. You get to leisurely visit with some of the world’s most interesting people. Table topics go far beyond the common senior focus on kids’ foibles, grandkids’ achievements, and perpetual medical procedures. While this is indeed God’s waiting room, people here aren’t in a hurry to keep their appointment with Him. In fact, the more they cruise, the less they rush to get to the next onboard activity. Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. We much appreciated Crystal’s new walk-in flexibility (open dining) for time, table location, and the number of diners joining us. With little fanfare, you can now bring along your onboard friends, old and new. Or dine in a quiet secluded corner and share secrets. Gone are those days when disappointed cruisers went up to a hearing room for an audience before the maitre d’. There you lined up and pled your case for the dining dispensation of a better table or feeding time. Never quite seemed consistent with Berlitz’s definition of luxury cruising as “the kind of stylish ships aboard which the word ‘no’ is virtually unheard.” STATEROOM: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). Though Crystal had just remodeled this ship’s “penthouse” class of rooms, the only change we found in the standard stateroom was a bigger TV screen. But we frankly don’t come here for the rooms. We keep returning to this ship because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where seasoned employees year after year provide the most attentive service anywhere. And an expected part of a comfortable old hotel (ship) is old rooms with problems that we just get fixed as they arise. This time it was slow drains, faucets without cold water, no clock, no shower curtain, and a stuck sliding door that kept us from using the veranda. All eventually fixed after a little intervention from an officer. Onboard television was limited to a few generic international channels. Those who live for American reality shows or Monday night football may need to schedule their cruise during the annual rerun doldrums. On the other hand, the Lido Deck’s sound system was unintelligible, and a channel on our television was a good alternative for hearing the captain’s daily announcement on weather conditions and routing adjustments. Travel agents should alert customers that, even on a cruise billed as ultra luxury, an aging ship’s staterooms may be in less than perfect condition. INTERNET ACCESS: You really don’t come here for the Internet. A few months before our trip, Cruise Critic published its article, “6 Cruise Lines With Great WiFi.” Crystal didn’t make the list. Those tethered to the rituals of social media may consider it more of a forced silent retreat than a vacation. Internet connectivity varied greatly throughout the cruise, with regular display of the dreaded message, “Internet access is currently not available” (even when approaching Florida). Passengers grabbed it while they could. And ocean crossings like this one obviously lack port stops where an Internet cafe could come to the rescue. For some primitive, less-connected retirees like ourselves, a vacation with sporadic Internet is no deal-breaker. And there’s something to be said for the attitude of a past Crystal president that cruisers should “turn off the Internet and just enjoy the moment.” (Virtuoso Life, May-June 2015, p. 99) However, travel agents should caution their customers that this ship may not be a good fit if they must stay in uninterrupted email contact with a business or relative back home. Nor should passengers count on Internet availability to make enroute arrangements for port stops or post-cruise travel. Or for online bill paying or holiday shopping at the last minute. SHIP’S MUSEUM: The lore of cruising traditionally has the rich & famous dining at the captain’s table. But Crystal has something just as good for the rest of us. Captain Vorland periodically opens up the ship’s museum and serves as its docent and resident storyteller -- sort of a Norwegian cross between Sully Sullenberger, Garrison Keillor, and your favorite humanities professor. This guy really has been everywhere, man (he even took a break as a Crystal vice president). The museum, in a restricted area, has a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect the Serenity’s visits to the world’s ports, both famous and obscure. While some of the plaques are simple pieces of wood, the more elaborate ones feature local art, crafts, and materials. Tell the cruise director or Crystal Society host if you’d like to be included when a group does this. Like the free kitchen tours, backstage tours, magic shows, and guided stargazing, Crystal doesn’t charge for this onboard activity. I’ve always been impressed by Captain Vorland’s daily explanation of the sea conditions and resulting navigation adjustments. Reminds me of the aviation saying that “a superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.” Or success is measured by all the potentially bad days that cruisers never know they have been spared. Captain Vorland may in fact be eligible for the honor of the Explorers Club, given his work in advancing passenger cruising through the Northwest Passage (like another Norwegian who pioneered polar air routes back in the 1950s). Crystal recorded the many lectures that experts gave during the Serenity’s treks through the Northwest Passage. I’ve watched around 40 of these videos, and the collection should be sent to the Vancouver Maritime Museum (rather than just forgotten, lost, or erased). FEDERAL INSPECTION SCORES: Federal agencies in both the United States and Canada conduct health inspections of cruise ships. The inspection scores are posted on the agencies’ public websites. See www.cdc.gov and www.canada.ca. For the U.S. inspections (CDC), cruisers can read the full reports online in all their technical detail (as well as Crystal’s side of the story). For the Canadian inspections, you’d need to email a request to see the report behind a score. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score (both countries) is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 means no significant deficiencies, not perfection. The Serenity’s most recent U.S. inspection occurred in December 2018 (about three weeks after the end of our cruise). Score was 95. The inspection report listed 43 violations around the ship, none of which would deter me from booking the ship again. (Gluttony at that Churrascaria dessert bar was a health risk for me, though.) A few months passed before CDC published the results of this inspection. Perhaps due to the famous shutdown of some federal agencies for about a month. The Serenity’s most recent Canadian inspection was in June 2017. Score was 99. However, even well-inspected luxury liners can face that noro nastiness (vomiting, diarrhea). There’s a limit to what cruise lines and governments can do to protect passengers from their own health habits. While we were crossing the ocean, Crystal’s other ship (the Symphony) had a norovirus outbreak on the Amazon. No secret, though. It was publicly reported on CDC’s home page, in Cruise Critic’s passenger chat room, and in USA Today. The Symphony’s doctor made daily reports to CDC, sought CDC’s assistance, and was able to contain the illness (less than 5 percent of the passengers reported symptoms). While passengers in a Cruise Critic chat room are not a statistical sampling, their online thread on the Symphony didn’t signal any cruise-spoiling panic. They made passing references to onboard norovirus in the midst of much more vigorous exchanges over the ethics of petting sloths and the merits of selling the Chico’s brand in the ship’s clothing store (true story). Per these stats and chats, it’s not inevitable that most people on board will get sick if there’s a norovirus outbreak (defined by CDC as 3% of passengers). A clinic that specializes in travel medicine can give you a thorough briefing on how to handle this contingency, including what remedies to take along. Here are two lists of doctors with this type of practice: (1) the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org) and (2) the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (www.astmh.org). Measles has made quite the comeback across the U.S., and is highly contagious. CDC presumes that travelers born in the U.S. before 1957 have childhood immunity. If you were born later and have had the shots, you may want to take along proof in case there’s a quarantine in your travels. (See www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html) EVOLVING AMBIENCE: Crystal’s customer core is retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. Crystal continues to preserve traditions from a prior era of travel. There are still formal nights (“black tie optional” and some tuxedos), daily afternoon tea, a dress code after 6 pm, and an ornate hideaway for smoking cigars. We continue to feel safe from onboard crime. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. But Crystal is not an isolation ward, and travel agents may need to prepare some customers to expect subtle changes in the ship’s atmosphere. For instance, the music. The Russian string quartet has been replaced by a solo performer with an electronic violin. Crystal has invested heavily in computerized neon costumes for performers to dance in the dark. The young jazz crooner that faithfully replicates the 1940s may wear his hair in a modern man bun. (But just be glad that yet another generation is striving to perpetuate the old favorites from before it was born.) The crew members who give you super service may sport a few tattoos. (We’re talking pretty young ladies here, not muscled male deckhands.) And you’ll see cruisers who whip out their smartphones whenever there’s a lull in table talk. (We’re talking seniors here, not millennials.) And you might even see a dog on board these days. Folks on this cruise reported dog sightings at the buffet line, ice cream bar, clothing store, Lido Deck dining, Japanese restaurant, and ledge around the hot tub. The tiny hound that I saw didn’t make a sound, didn’t bother anyone, and was even wearing a dress at one point. And the affection from crew members suggested that they might be missing their pets back home. Or perhaps their parents just raised them to be kind to animals (and seniors). Social media polarizes this sort of thing in a rhetoric of rights. But it’s not really a legal matter until a foreign ship (here the Serenity) departing from a foreign port (here Lisbon) finally reaches an American port (here the Virgin Islands). (49 CFR 39.5(b)) Until we reached the Virgin Islands, it was just a customer relations call as to which species Crystal wished to accommodate in the price of a ticket. Regardless of a dog’s purpose, the practical problems for “pet parents” make it unlikely that cruises will ever really go to the dogs (become truly “pet friendly”). There are issues like dog-sitting during port stops, local health regs, security screenings, and distinctive nasties from nature. Things like fleas with plague, cute little snakes, and big birds that really do eat small mammals. Nature is indifferent to the rhetoric of rights. In the event of a canine unthinkable, it can be a long wait until the next port stop with a veterinarian. And I have no idea whether Crystal’s onboard physician would agree to treat a suffering non-human. If you insist on bringing Fido or Fifi, a competitor’s megaship will be more likely than tiny Crystal to include a vacationing veterinarian among its passengers. Of course, you never know what travel entrepreneurs will develop for an unmet need. While we were docked in the Virgin Islands, the humane society was having a dog-washing fundraiser at the yacht marina. Proceeds of $10 a dog went to “fly homeless pets to stateside rescues and better lives.” Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be ... Read More
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be all ports and no sea days other than a planned arrival to one port at Noon which still isn't a sea day. As a result we knew less enrichment, less time to get to know fellow guests not staying on and that with full cruises that specialty restaurant venues would be busy. We knew that we would have to move one time. This is a review of our sailing on board Crystal Serenity between September 23, 2018 and October 14, 2018. OVERVIEW ========= Three seven day cruises comprised this back-to-back sailing . We visited 19 Mediterranean ports-of-call with no sea days over twenty-one days. Overall, we had an outstanding time between the on-board experience and the ports of call we visited. Although Serenity was going into dry-dock the day we disembarked one would never get the sense of this. The crew was focused on the present cruise, providing an outstanding experience to the guests. Almost all food items were available and the end of the cruise ended on a high note. There was not attempt to push guests off the ship on disembarkation day. THE SHIP ======= Crystal Serenity is now fifteen years old, and the ship continues to be in excellent shape. It is well maintained. Yes, there are some areas that need a makeover and also some areas needing to be detailed. Areas that have gone through makeover since the inaugural voyage include all staterooms and suites, the lido deck, the shops, portions of the casino area , the children's area, the Crystal Cove lounge and a few other areas. The upcoming dry dock will bring several changes including open seating and the conversion of the Crystal dining room to Waterside, the change from Tastes to a Silk Asian restaurant, the makeover of the Palm Court and Stardust Lounges, the addition of a nighttime restaurant on the Lido Deck, the conversion of some staterooms to suites, new flat screen televisions in all rooms and a few unannounced enhancements. The makeover of Stardust which I mentioned will provide lots of new possibilities for that room. We continue to enjoy the layout of the ship, the wrap-around promenade deck and the space to passenger ratio. When we boarded Serenity in 2005, we realized this ship was a perfect size for us; not too large and not too small. It was on that cruise that we decided to book a World Cruise. Those areas that I think will benefit the most from the dry dock will be addressed; Palm Court and Stardust. I hope that the Crystal Cove can be updated in a future dry-dock. CUISINE ======= We thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. We dined at most of the venues with the exception of The Trident Grill and The Bistro. This is not to say that each and every item was perfect but if something was not to our liking this was an exception. Most items were very much to our liking. We enjoyed the selection of food items including its diversity. Something that is very important to us is the ease of being able to change something out whether that is how an item is cooked to ingredients in a salad. We enjoyed the wait staff in all dining venues. We have had the same Senior Waiter in the past including when our family was on board last year and on Northwest Passage. Our waiter was wonderful as well. We didn't know him from prior cruises but he was truly a gem. Our Head Waiter was wonderful. We dined at Silk Road one time and chose to eat the other two times in our room. There is no question on seven day cruises with high occupancy the specialty restaurants get very busy and IMHO work better on longer cruises with less people visiting them each evening. With that said, while very busy the waitstaff team was able to keep up with it by working as a "team". Often various dishes were served by several different waiters and this made things work. Many of the waiters have been working there since we first sailed in 2005 and have been there since 2003. Head Waiter Mario from Prego was filling in as Head Waiter on these voyages and demonstrated team work himself. We dined at Prego three times. Its busiest times were during the last part of our meals and later at night. The overall experience was wonderful and what we have come to expect from Prego; great food, cuisine, service and a wonderful dining experience. On two of the three visits I had the addition (they don't call them specials) and on the last visit the item I had for an entree didn't work for me. So I can say that twenty of twenty one dinner entrees were wonderful and one was not. That is a good statistic. We dined at Tastes two time for dinner. Both were very enjoyable. Between the two nights we tried most of the items and loved the majority of them. We keep breakfast simple. I chose not to have the birthday breakfast. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room two times. Actually if time permitted I would go each day because we love the service but with me playing paddle tennis we go to the Lido Cafe. That is the one meal that we don't linger like we do with other meals. The variety of food offered at the Lido Cafe was terrific. Since these were seven day cruises they didn't have any themed buffets. As this was a port intensive cruise and with touring many times it was not busy when we dined there other than the day that we arrived to port at Noon and it opened at 11:30 AM. We had the Vintage Room dinner and the food was terrific as was the wine and the overall experience. The difference between Symphony and Serenity is the location of the galley to each room so the food on Symphony arrives hotter than Serenity. BEVERAGES ========== We continue to enjoy the inclusive wine. It is diverse and we find it better than we have had on other cruise lines offering inclusive wine. Since inclusive rolled out a few years ago the number of spirit brands has greatly increased, as has the beer selection. As noted below Crystal has also rolled out a new drink menu. We had three different sommeliers during our sailing as they rotate each voyage. All three were very knowledgeable and two of the three I thought were excellent with one very good. The bar staff is superb. We primarily went to the Crystal Cove. One night we went to the Palm Court. One of the bartenders was a bar server in January of 2007 and when we were on Northwest Passage the year before. She hadn't seen us since then. She not only remembered our name but where we sat in the Avenue Saloon. Amazing. ENTERTAINMENT ============== The cruises featured individual artists as well as Crystal’s own team of entertainers who in our opinion are the best in the cruise industry. Since these were short cruises unlike longer cruises there were not as many shows offered at night. We didn't go to much of the evening entertainment for a couple of reasons. My only suggestion is that given the number of in-transit guests (250 continued from cruise one to cruise 2 and around 125 from cruise two to cruise three it would have been better to have varied the production shows a bit more from cruise to cruise to minimize repeat performances. There certainly are other shows that could have been performed. I understand the first show being repeated and one other one but would have avoided any other repeats. As has been the case the past couple of years we enjoyed having more than one musician in the Crystal Cove before dinner as was the case with Irina on Violin and Richard on the Piano. They are wonderful performers individually and as a duet they have amazing chemistry and just added to the overall experience when we had pre-dinner drinks. THE LOUNGES =========== We changed things up on this cruise often sitting at the bar and mainly in the Crystal Cove. In the past we rarely have sat at the bar and really enjoyed this. It provided an opportunity to speak with the various bartenders, to watch them perform their magic, to learn about all sorts of drinks, and it had the added benefit of allowing us to converse with lots of guests and many we have never sailed with. Recently Crystal rolled out a new special drink menu, which includes a focus on drinks made with gin served in Sangria Glasses. This is in vogue in some selected places on land. For me this was something new, and I enjoyed many of the drinks instead of having wine before dinner. I feel that I have a much better appreciation of differences in gin and an array of drinks. I would not have tried this if not for a few folks on this board sharing their experiences from recent cruises. THE CREW & SERVICE ================= The crew is amazing and reflects the culture we have seen since we first stepped onto our first Crystal Cruise in 2002 on the former Crystal Harmony. The crew is professional but also is very human and very welcoming and we adore them. It is that human side and feeling of family that I have not experienced on other lines. Yes, the more you sail with the crew the more you get to know them but I am reminded on that very first Crystal Cruise how in very short order I realized they were seeing us as people rather than just a number or just a suit. They truly have become our extended family. They work hard to make the experience theybest they can. We met some crew members for the very first time and in a matter of a day or two we felt the same chemistry with them as we have with so many other members of Team Serenity. INTERNET ======== This was our second cruise since full complimentary internet was rolled out. Overall we had a similar experience between this cruise and our one on Symphony in May. The overall Internet ranged from excellent to very good. Yes, there were a few times when the Internet slowed or when it was not available but this was the exception. and far better than a few years ago. With this said experiences can vary by person. Early on the first voyage a friend on-board from Cruise Critic said her Internet was poor while at that point in time ours was terrific. It could be that her room is located in an area of the ship where the connectivity is less strong as ours. Another factor can be where in the room one is using it and other factors include type of advice used and even the internet browser. I do post a lot of photos and when I post them on my blog I go with lower pixels and that allows for easy uploading of photos. Since we are not printing those photos uploading with lower pixels does not change the view of the photo on a blog on cruise critic, etc. We also experienced excellent quality when placing phone calls using a Wi-Fi connection on board the ship, using apps such as WhatsApp for phone calls, texting and even video calls. THE PORTS ========= This was a port intensive cruise as we visited 19 ports over 21 days. We enjoyed the vast majority of ports and the time spent in port. We were able to revisit ports and see many for the very first time. In short, these three cruise was a fantastic opportunity to experience a nice range of ports. We love the Mediterranean and prefer visiting this area in September/October or April/May. SHORE EXCURSIONS ================ We did one Crystal Tour, which we arranged through the Los Angeles Office, which was a tour of Florence. The tour exceeded our expectations. Our tour guide had a solid background in art so she could lead us through the artwork in the places we visited and explain what we were seeing in a way that was easy to understand. The driver was courteous and drove safely to and from and inside Florence. This is a tour we will remember for the rest of our lives. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION ============================ The process of getting on and off the ship was terrific. We would have to say this was one of or the most organized disembarkations we have ever experienced. We used a Crystal private transfer. We met the Concierge at the designated time, which is 15 minutes prior to the transfer time. The vehicle was already there. The concierge took us down to the port shuttle, which took guests between the ship and the building where the luggage was being held. When we entered the building the Chief Concierge greeted us, took us to the section where are luggage was located, and one of the many porters who were all in suits took our bags and put them on a trolley. After saying our goodbyes to the Chief Concierge a Crystal representative escorted us to the vehicle waiting for us. She went over the details with the driver. When we arrived to the airport another Crystal representative who escorted us inside and verified where we would go for check-in met us. CHANGE ======= In the eighteen plus years we have been sailing Crystal and close to thirty years of cruising we have seen a lot of change. Then again the same applies to all our life experiences. Change in today's environment is coming at a faster pace than ever before. Today most of us use smart phones. Those didn't exist back in the day nor did the ability to use your own personal computers when we first sailed. On our first Crystal cruise sodas and bottled water were not included. Many of the changes have been driven by three things; Innovation by Crystal Cruises. The competitive environment. Changes demanded by people of all cruise lines. Most of us are resistant to change. We are creatures of habit. I found that at work and with people we know and see it when we cruise. Yes there are a few items we miss from those earlier days of cruising but they have been driven mainly by the three areas I mentioned. At the same time we appreciate many of the changes. I remember when inclusive was rolling out the vast majority of Crystal Society Members who we know said this would be the end. Crew would leave. How would the bar staff know your names? The service would be poor. Etc., Etc., Etc. Like most new things there were some startup issues. Slow pouring of wine. Insufficient choices of wine, beer and spirits. In time, IMHO all of this was worked out and just like other luxury lines new guests would think this is the way it has always been. On of the things I like best about inclusive is that it has made the lounges so much more social and vibrant. I also like that if you invite someone to join you there is not the issue of who pays for the drink. I also like not signing for each drink. The change to open dining is the most current of the changes. Just like inclusive this will be tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked until Crystal gets it as good as they can. I am reminded that the ships were not built with open dining in mind or for that matter the new evening dining venues. The reality though is both ships have been evolving to open dining the past couple of years. On our recent cruises many people were showing up at hours that we not the time for main or late dining and the Maitre d' was being creative to get them seated. I believe that each of us has changes that we like, some that we are indifferent and some we don't care for. That's the way changes work, but some of them that one person doesn't like another one does and again some of these are driven by people. An example of that is evening dining attire. FINAL COMMENTS =============== We have another Crystal cruise on Serenity scheduled for late December and look forward to seeing the "changes" that are being implemented in the dry-dock. We have already experienced open dining on Symphony but even this on Serenity could look slightly different based on experience gained on Symphony such as the set up of the tables at the new Serenity Waterside. After sailing this ship so many times and with Crystal Cruises frequently these back-to- back cruises still exceeded our expectations. I can't tell you how much my wife and I enjoyed these cruises. When you arrive back to the ship from port each day they say welcome home. For us that is the way we think of Crystal. Until next time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I chose this cruise as it is the only one that Crystal do to Israel. Billed as a Holy Lands cruise, it was two weeks of luxury on-board and fascinating tours ashore. This was my 15th cruise on Crystal and, even though none of them have ... Read More
I chose this cruise as it is the only one that Crystal do to Israel. Billed as a Holy Lands cruise, it was two weeks of luxury on-board and fascinating tours ashore. This was my 15th cruise on Crystal and, even though none of them have been perfect, they have all been consistently excellent. There was a lot of negative talk on-board about the upcoming refurbishment in relation to the move from assigned dinner seatings to open dining. I enjoyed a travellers table for eight and we had a variety of interesting "visitors" each night. As a solo cruiser I really hope Crystal will figure out a way to keep this going. I sailed on Symphony in February (not solo) after their dry dock and most of the larger tables had been replaced with tables of two and four - great if you are a couple but not for the many solo travellers or those who like to join a larger table. That aside, the service in the MDR was superb, it always amazes me how they get to know you and your preferences on the first night - another aspect which will I think deteriorate with open seating. I do think that the menus aren't quite what they used to be, there were a few nights where nothing really appealed (and I don't think I am a fussy eater) I really enjoyed Tastes restaurant on the open deck, great for a late breakfast or late lunch. The lectures and most of the evening entertainment was first rate, an aspect I think Crystal have made great improvements to over the years. I also enjoyed the casino, friendly dealers but the new small denomination blackjack rules really favour the house - it was hard to win!! As always, it's the elegance of the ship, the attention and friendliness of staff and the never crowded public spaces which keep me coming back. I have two cruises booked for next May, am looking forward to the dry dock changes and hopefully they will sort out solo travellers for the MDR. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I chose this cruise as a surprise for my wife as it encompassed our actual anniversary. Unfortunately, our travel agent messed it up within 48 hours by emailing my wife the receipt. We had sailed three previous times with Crystal. ... Read More
I chose this cruise as a surprise for my wife as it encompassed our actual anniversary. Unfortunately, our travel agent messed it up within 48 hours by emailing my wife the receipt. We had sailed three previous times with Crystal. This cruise was a 6 day "Getaway" voyage that is really one half of the normal cruise itinerary. We were worried about boarding in the midst of the cruise but those fears were quickly alleviated. Boarding was smooth and we quickly fell into the ship's routine. We were quickly recognized by staff who knew us from previous cruises (Tipping helps!). Service is always 10 out of 10 on Crystal and this cruise did not disappoint. Bar help and dining staff is excellent. We sometimes shy away from buffets or "the feeding trough" as we call it, but Crystal's staff makes the experience pleasant as the staff finds seats, carries food and is quick to refill drinks or clear plates. Our actual anniversary was in Prego where the evening was nothing short of perfect. Prego prepares the best dish I have had on a ship, the Beef Carpachio. We had a Penthouse, the smaller of the 2 but we actually prefer it to the Penthouse Suite with Veranda. The butler was excellent as was the cabin stewardess. The price on this short cruise was acceptable. However, we are finding that Crystal is taking major price increases. We inquired about the 2019 85 day World cruise in the smaller Penthouse. The price quoted was breathtaking and if anything will drive us away from Crystal it will be the pricing. Our opinion is that the Air cruises failed, Crystal is rebuilding both big ships in order to add larger Penthouses and that we are being asked to pay for it. Yes, we could step down to the standard cabins, but Crystal's standard rooms are too small. The closets are not walk in and are stuffed beside the bed, causing closet access and use issues which in turn turn into "marital discord". Our only other beef with Crystal is the lack of an outside bar. Trying and find a ship of any size in the cruise industry where you can't sit at the bar and enjoy a drink and fresh air. Crystal's staff will bring you a drink but it comes from inside. Overall, Crystal provides the best experience in cruising for us. We just hope that they will come to their senses on pricing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
6 stars is good for me. We already booked another cruise and after trying almost all cruise companies we feel that Serenity is the ship for us. The ship was in beautiful shape and yet it is going for a major makeover in November 2018 we ... Read More
6 stars is good for me. We already booked another cruise and after trying almost all cruise companies we feel that Serenity is the ship for us. The ship was in beautiful shape and yet it is going for a major makeover in November 2018 we hear. Again the cabin was comfortable with two sinks and shower and bath. Very luxurious furniture and decorations. The room attendant was fabulous and we left her extra tips although this is an all inclusive cruise. There were approximately 900 passengers and lots (600)of crew members to look after the guests The dining experience was absolutely perfect and commended 6 stars. The lectures were of prime quality and up to two or three a day The movies were well chosen according the area where we were at the time of the movie. The waiters and bar tenders were so attentive to and new our preferences after a day or two.. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Entertainment,food,accomadation,service fantastic.Could not have better.Cruise at night disembark during the day,great citys visited.One bad experience in the Falklands,on the way to Goose Green our driver stopped the bus,to clean the ... Read More
Entertainment,food,accomadation,service fantastic.Could not have better.Cruise at night disembark during the day,great citys visited.One bad experience in the Falklands,on the way to Goose Green our driver stopped the bus,to clean the windows and never came back,he had a heart attack and died,we were stranded in the middle of the island without communications.The shore excursions were great.Thank goodness not thousands of people not a disgusting floating hotel.The entertainment was fantastic and world class.The talks on the cruise were fantasticThe best cruise we have ever had,and we have cruised on the majority of the large cruise liners,Australia,Carribean,Meditteranian,Mauritious,The far east. The Crystal Serenity was by far the best of all cruises we have been,and certainly recommend the Crystal cruise lines.The Casino was well organised and very professional The prices for the photos were expensive,and we received full DVDs on our whole cruise,which always bring back happy memories and the interesting people we met from all over the world Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This was our fifth cruise with Crystal and it was wonderful. At first we were a bit wary because Thanksgiving week means families and although there were many aboard, we never encountered an unruly or bratty child the whole time. The only ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with Crystal and it was wonderful. At first we were a bit wary because Thanksgiving week means families and although there were many aboard, we never encountered an unruly or bratty child the whole time. The only way to explain the Serenity is impeccable service, delicious food, clean ship and wonderful entertainment. The Serenity is the whole deal & once you sail her, you'll keep coming back. Two waitstaff remembered our names from 3 years ago when we had last sailed. That shocked me!!! Our cabin steward was Tatjana and she was okay. I'm pretty sure she was fairly new because she forgot to replenish and some other minor things but when I reminded her, it was there right away. She covered herself by saying, "If there's anything you need, just ask." I requested goose down pillows that were so soft, when my head hit them, my face disappeared!!! The linens were very soft & luxurious as well. The entertainment was very good: one night with James Fox's homage to Billy Joel, a wonderful Broadway singer named Rachel York, the Serenity dancers and of course, Gary, the social director and ventriloquist/comedian who was hysterically funny yet clean. The gym had plenty of machines and they offered spin classes, abs and all kinds of different options to work off those delicious desserts. You could also get individual training sessions. I found the people in the SPA to be very pushy. They were always trying to close a sale. I asked someone for a price on body wash, and she wanted my room number. I said, "Why do you need my room number just to give me a price? Just tell me the price." I'd say when dealing with them, proceed with caution and make sure you know exactly what you're being charged up front. Don't give them any information unless you're buying. The SWANK app for movies did not work on cellphone or I-pads while we were on board. I went to the computer room & they said it was a problem with the vendor. If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to have a laptop. The Serenity library was fully supplied with bestsellers and very recent books. Awesome! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We love Crystal and were interested in exploring the Amazon River. For us, this is a once in a lifetime destination both because it is so exotic and because once was great but enough. The Amazon is very hot and humid, and the blast of ... Read More
We love Crystal and were interested in exploring the Amazon River. For us, this is a once in a lifetime destination both because it is so exotic and because once was great but enough. The Amazon is very hot and humid, and the blast of air conditioning was a welcome relief each time we returned to the ship. There is not a whole lot to see from the ship itself, because the river is so wide that we were close to shore only in ports. But the ports were interesting. The jungle hikes were billed as "strenuous" and we were probably more timid than necessary about them. The two "strenuous" activities we did were really not so bad, and we should have done more. They were the most interesting of our excursions -- the Rubber Museum and native village in Manaus and the Jungle Trek in Santarem. Crystal, as usual, did a fantastic job of providing a lot of interesting lectures and on board activities, especially on the sea days. And the food was outstanding. This was a Food and Wine theme cruise, so they added some cooking demonstrations and wine tastings, which were very nice. Crystal really shines in the service department. The crew were very attentive, and quickly learn the names and preferences of the passengers. When my husband walked into his favorite bar, his favorite drink would appear before him by magic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
It seems that the Crystal crew seems to always anticipate your needs. They keep the ship spotless. I see them late at night cleaning hall baseboards while on their knees. Food in the regular restaurant is awesome. You don't ... Read More
It seems that the Crystal crew seems to always anticipate your needs. They keep the ship spotless. I see them late at night cleaning hall baseboards while on their knees. Food in the regular restaurant is awesome. You don't normally see JUMBO shrimp, lobster, filet mignon, caviar, crab over and over again on the menu. Nobo's menu in Silk Road specialty restaurant was great as was the menu in Prego's. All those at no extra charge. Drinks and gratuities were included and the drinks were not the normal bar type alcohol. Example for vodka Grey Goose was an option. High quality single malt scotches were also available at no extra charge. If I need to make one constructive comment to them it would be for them to cut down on the salt in soups and sauces and let us add what we need. But then that comment needs to be told to ALL cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
All expectations met on our recent 14 day sailing from Quebec City to FLORIDA. Enjoyed perfect weather, perfect service, amazing food and great enrichment and entertainment The staff was up to the usual high Crystal standards. Ship ... Read More
All expectations met on our recent 14 day sailing from Quebec City to FLORIDA. Enjoyed perfect weather, perfect service, amazing food and great enrichment and entertainment The staff was up to the usual high Crystal standards. Ship is so well designed it feels very special and yet we feel right at home, Initia check in is a breeze, no line ups and lots of help. Front desk staff are helpful and cheerful. We especially love the Palm Court for beautiful vistas and sunsets. Two highlights were the fun evenings in the Aveue Saloon enjoying Perry Grant's fun and funny show. The Bridge lessons were something special. Roseanne Levinson is a patient and entertaining teacher who has tons of patience and great teaching skills. We learned enough basics to feel confident going forward with the game. As always the day we disembark is always sad, hate to leave the ship and the staff - but look forward to next time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Cruised on Crystal Serenity Oct 3 to Oct 13, NYC to Quebec City. Sailing out of NYC at sunset is an experience everyone should have - with the sun setting in back of the Statue of Liberty and then a full moon. Simply amazing! I really ... Read More
Cruised on Crystal Serenity Oct 3 to Oct 13, NYC to Quebec City. Sailing out of NYC at sunset is an experience everyone should have - with the sun setting in back of the Statue of Liberty and then a full moon. Simply amazing! I really miss the leaves turning as I live in the desert. But the colors in Quebec were specular in early October. And Quebec City is an amazing walking town with plenty to see and do. And Crystal is an amazing experience - beautiful, friendly and all inclusive. The cabins even with a veranda are a little small for 2 people but we spent most time in the public areas. We also ate in Nobu sushi bar most nights - Simply amazing food and the chefs are fabulous. Will prepare a meal for you that will far exceed your expectations. Rough seas and winds one night that I truly enjoyed - like being on a roller coaster while cruising. Just love cruising! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose this itinerary so we could see the Hubbard Glacier and not all ships go there. Also, we took a Princess cruise in 2005 and after that experience I couldn't have cared less if we ever cruised again. Then comes our 20th wedding ... Read More
We chose this itinerary so we could see the Hubbard Glacier and not all ships go there. Also, we took a Princess cruise in 2005 and after that experience I couldn't have cared less if we ever cruised again. Then comes our 20th wedding anniversary and I started the research. Crystal seemed to meet all of our criteria - outstanding dining, great wines, less passengers, and their staterooms. We booked a Penthouse with Verandah and it was worth every penny! Our cabin was HUGE, walk in closet, large bathroom with full size tub, good sized shower, double sinks. I loved the dressing area and make up mirror. The Nespresso coffee machine was a great feature and we used it every day. Our butler Neil was beyond delightful. The service provided on the entire ship (except for the Prego restaurant we visited one night- meh) was nothing but top notch. The hidden gem on this ship is the Tastes restaurant on the Lido desk. Dinner there was fantastic, as was Silk Road. I was never disappointed with the MDR. Their food was outstanding. Service exceptional. I read reviews about the ship needing some care and, yes, there are some things that show a little wear but it wasn't anything horrific as indicated in many reviews. I will say that it's an older crowd and the entertainment is geared towards them as well. The music in the Crystal Cover Bar got a little old but I realize they are appealing to a very affluent and well-traveled clientelle. We didn't care about the entertainment to be quite frank. We enjoyed being together, being on our balcony, dining well and just relaxing. NEVER EVER take an Alaska cruise without visiting the Hubbard Glacier. It's UNREAL! I would do this all over again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This was my first cruise in decades, and the first ever for my husband. He was particularly worried about the "people" factor. Suffice it to say, we are converted and cannot wait for our next crystal experience! ... Read More
This was my first cruise in decades, and the first ever for my husband. He was particularly worried about the "people" factor. Suffice it to say, we are converted and cannot wait for our next crystal experience! Accommodations Our room was very nice and roomy enough. We had a balcony which I think is a must. We were traveling with my parents who had the cabin next to use and we were able to open the door between our balconies which allowed us some common space without giving up our privacy. We loved this. I was especially impressed with the bathroom - a double sink and roomy shower. The closet was a good size, room under the beds for luggage, and a stocked refrigerator. Dining We were extremely impressed with the food options and felt that every dinner in the dining room was like a fine dining experience. The dishes were elegant, delicious and well presented. The wine options were really nice as well and people really went out of the way to make sure everyone had their favorite drink. We also really enjoyed the specialty restaurant Prego - the carpaccio was amazing! Silk Road was good but I expected better. I think I would probably opt for the sushi bar next time around. Most mornings were had breakfast at the buffet and the options were comprehensive and of high quality - we especially appreciated all the healthy options. Lunches in the dining room were good but not as stellar as the dinners - although the coconut nut shrimp I had one had was one of my favorite dishes on the trip! We also enjoyed the fancy tea one afternoon and the spread for that was incredible. The bistro always had something available, if you just wanted a bite, and it was a nice area to enjoy an afternoon coffee or tea. Service One word describes the service: exceptional. Our waiters in the main dining room - Nicola and Emir were wonderful - very personable and great at making us feel welcome. Our wine steward Mila knew all our favorites after our second night and had my husband's drink almost as soon as he sat down. We felt like special guests everywhere we went. It was a great feeling. Our cabin attendant Jasmina was wonderful and always friendly and interested in making us as comfortable as possible. The ship The spaces on the ship were comfortable and attractive and spacious enough that everyone could find their spot without being on top of each other. There were lots of areas that looked lovely that I never got to spend time in because I was so busy. I especially loved the Saloon bar. Entertainment There are a lot of options hoping to appeal to a wide range of interests I never got to see a movie but thought the variety was great. The main stage shows were okay - I'm not a fan of singing to pre-recorded music so when that was used I wasn't a fan. The billy Joel show was good -a great lead and well produced. We also loved Perry Grant (who performed nightly in the Saloon) and his extremely unique style. There was a community that formed just from people who enjoyed Perry every night. We also thought the magician Derek Hughes was excellent and were super excited to see Crystal has a relationship with the Magic Castle. It means the quality of magic going forward will be high. My husband thought that much of the evening entertainment, while well-produced, lacked any edge. He would have preferred a nightly band (rock, jazz, blues) in one of the bars that strayed from the smooth lounge music that was ubiquitous on the ship. Activities I'm sorry that I did not have more hours in the day to take advantage of everything offered. I really wanted to take a dance class but never had the time. My dad loved the bridge classes and raved about the teacher on board. Excursions and sites We enjoyed all of our excursions. My husband was especially fond of the the fishing trip in Juneau and felt it was the experience of a lifetime. We also felt the trip to see the Davidson glacier up close was very special. Seeing the glaciers in glacier bay and then the Hubbard glacier were the highlights of the trip. They were spectacular!! The captain steered the ship to make sure everyone had a fantastic view. I would have liked to have at least an idea ahead of time what we would be seeing. I ended up canceling a massage appointment I had been looking forward to because it turned out to be right when we were passing the glaciers in Glacier Bay. I understand that likely the times are tentative due to weather, but I felt there wasn't even an idea given beforehand about what to expect. Perhaps that is my one complaint, it would be helpful to have more information earlier, instead of agendas delivered to cabins in the evening, so we can plan better. For example, if bridge classes are almost always beginners in the morning and intermediate in the afternoons, why not tell us that? or if dance classes almost always happen right after lunch - let people know that. Or that every evening a movie will be shown twice, and then again the next afternoon. For those of us new, it took us days to get the pattern and it would have been helpful to have a sense of this earlier. Overall, our experience was excellent. We can't wait to return. It was wonderful to cruise with family as everyone could do their own thing and meet up for dinner each night to share experiences. Crystal really impressed us at every turn. It's well worth the cost. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017

Top Crystal Serenity Itineraries

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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