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20 Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Mediterranean

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 chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The ... Read More
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The staff were friendly and efficient. Serenity has an all day coffee shop for snacks and pastries which was very popular. We were on the promenade deck so had a large window. I think that this was the least expensive level and I would want a balcony cabin should we sail this ship again. The cabin was compact, the bed comfortable and there was plenty of storage. Entertainment was good. We particularly enjoyed post dinner drinks in the Avenue Bar where we listened to a very talented pano player until late in the evening. The cruise itinerary was good and although tendering in Monte Carlo was extremely scary. We enjoyed the cruise very much and would sail with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, ... Read More
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, was varied and to a very high standard. Service was quicker than Seabourn and Barbara was a wonderful waitress. Service and dining in the speciality restaurants, Prego and Umi Uma, was absolutely first class. The decor is very old fashioned though. In the Italian Prego, that is almost forgivable as there is at least some soul to it. In Umi Uma the decor is dark, soulless and like a department store restaurant in the 1980s...it really could have done with something in the recent refit. Absolutely no problems with the wonderful cuisine and good quality included wines and spirits. We had a Penthouse Suite which, although only lightly refreshed on the recent refit, was very well appointed, with lots of space and well thought out. Our butler Richard was an absolute marvel...he deserves six stars for his positive can-do attitude and for serving meals in the cabin so well. Our stewardesses were completely wonderful and the cabin was kept pristine all through. The bathroom is good but old fashioned and the Etro toiletries are poor. Topped-up chocolates were unbelievably good. Enrichment was good. Entertainment was superb...better than Seabourn, with higher production values and a great theatre. The things that were missing were hard to put a finger on. Overall it was probably the ‘holiday’ feeling and warmth that you instantly get on Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd, the overall ship design and the ability to settle into that ship easily. Many of the staff and crew were excellent on Serenity, but many were also less than engaged and tired. The crew was invisible...however the entertainment director was fantastic. The ship doesn’t flow. It’s hard to find your way around. It feels old fashioned and it shows that the recent dry dock only refreshed certain areas. The fountain in the main atrium is a tacky shopping centre disgrace. The outside areas are poorly used: the back of the buffet area is too small and unshaded; there is no pool bar and no outside evening parties. Maybe it was just the time of year? Passengers from all over the world. Mainly US, China and Japan and many in groups. Ports were good, tendering OK but not as good as on Seabourn or Hapag Lloyd. Overall, maybe we are just used to a smaller ship? We’d still come back at the right price and itinerary though! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid ... Read More
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid vessel...good bones, as is often said. We opted for a Penthouse with Verandah and were very pleased with its layout and features. I especially liked the back-to-back desk, one prepared to serve as a vanity. The lighting was very good in the suite and especially in the vanity area. The bathroom included two basins and a very comfortable shower enclosure. There was a jetted tub, which we did not use. I was pleased to see the many drawers, shelves and nooks to organize our belongings. However, the best feature of the suite was Rao, our wonderful butler, and the two housekeeping attendants. We are have had butler in Silversea (which provides butlers for any suite level) and they have been very good, but Rao was so pleasantly effective! The best of the lot. We were pleased with all dining venues, especially Waterside and Prego, except for The Marketplace. This venue acts as the breakfast and lunch buffet style cafeteria. The offerings were good, but not as good as in Colonnade and Trerraza (SB and SS respectively). We did not like it mainly for its layout. The table/chairs are set in a very narrow space, galley like, and most times the waiters' stations were almost besides us. We very much preferred Waterside. We had unusually cold weather and could not use the pool. However, we found the pool to be small, narrow and with less depth that those in SS and SB. Also, there is no food/bar service at the pool. Overall level of service was very good...except for one incident, reported and corrected. I rate the gym the best. I especially enjoyed the cardio-disco classes offered; they were a lot of fun and quite challenging. We never had any problems accessing the treadmills for our daily routines. Entertainment and daily activities offerings were so much better than in SS and SB!! The dance classes led by Beverly and Curtis were very popular, and all the participants enjoyed them very much. The shows were varied and included a comedian, as well as a magician from the well known Magic Castle in Los Angeles. In summary, we plan on booking Crystal in the future, especially longer trips, in order to enjoy all the daily offerings on sea days. However...if weather is very good, other pools may beckon us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent 3 nights in Barcelona before we left and had a blast. The embarkation was smooth and the staff was excellent throughout. Our room with a veranda was larger than our hotel room in Barcelona. The first morning in Valencia they would not let "independents" off the ship until those who had made Crystal excursion reservations were allowed to leave. So we could have walked to our tour but because they would not let us leave so we had to race for a cab with other "independents." That was the only morning where leaving the ship was a problem. What needs to be added is that the Crystal excursions were priced way over the top-2 to 3 times as much as privately booked tours. I guess if you can afford it and you value seeming security then you might pay for the Crystal excursions but I did not see any extras booking that way since they were the same tours. For the most part people who write reviews have something very negative to say. I want to laud the staff and crew for wonderful service at every level. That being said, it is still hard to justify the amount of money that was spent for the cruise. All of our table mates raved about the food throughout every meal-perhaps leading to impossible expectations. At the main Crystal dining room the food was very good for cruise food, but it wasn't nearly as fresh or flavorful as the food we ate in each port city. At the end of the day, it was cruise ship food. The exception would be the Silk Road restaurant. We had a wonderful meal there but the Prego restaurant was only so-so. The breakfast buffet was good and the sit down cafe Tastes had excellent breakfasts also. For a ship this size the entertainment was good. There were many activities for people that did not want to leave the ship at each port but the are definitely geared to an older clientele. This is not a cruise for young couples or children. The cruisers were mostly affluent, white Americans who liked the America-centric aspect of an international cruise. Why you would travel 7000 miles to have the same experiences that you get in the USA is baffling to me. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
First, since Crystal Serenity goes to dry dock next month (October 2018), some of the comments may not be applicable. My wife and I took a Crystal river cruise last year (Danube) and were so impressed with the level of service and the ... Read More
First, since Crystal Serenity goes to dry dock next month (October 2018), some of the comments may not be applicable. My wife and I took a Crystal river cruise last year (Danube) and were so impressed with the level of service and the shore excursions that we booked the Italian/Greece cruise on Serenity. While we enjoyed the cruise, the level of service did not even compare to that of the river cruise. In talking to long-time Crystal cruisers (some over 10 trips), they say the quality has gone down since Crystal was sold and the bean counters took over. That is our opinion also—with just a few differences, we saw little to distinguish Crystal above other cruise lines. Pre-trip support was not that great. It was like pulling teeth to get transfer information (bot pre and post cruise). The only option I got was IF I booked their hotel, with pricing about 2 to 3 times what you can get online. I was given no transfer options post-cruise, yet found out once onboard they do offer transportation from the port (Civitacecchia) to the airport, but we had already arranged our own since we were not informed of that option beforehand. It does not show up in the list of excursions at the beginning or end of the cruise. This is completely different than the river cruise where you could easily select transportation before and after the cruise. While the Serenity might be an older ship, we found everything in good condition. The carpeting is very worn, particularly in the rooms, but it was not a problem. Everything else was in great shape which shows the continual maintenance. We had no issues at all anywhere on the ship where things were broken or didn’t work properly. Being older, some of the modern features found on other ships (interactive menu on the tv, real time billing information, electronic key fobs, et al) are obviously absent. But again, it did not detract from the cruise in any manner. The cruise was excellent. Upon boarding we found that one of the ports was changed (Zakynthos, Greece changed to Katakolon). Perhaps because it was an older ship, the tv information was never updated with this change, showing the original port and information and never the new port, even while docked. The shore excursion options were much more limited. Many of the ports selected required tendering, including this change. Crystal tends to fill the tenders to the maximum before they depart, so it gets stuffy and crowded. Return wasn’t as much of a problem as it becomes more staggered. Crystal ocean cruises do not offer any free excursions, as does the river cruise. Excursions are expensive, often 2-3 times what you can get online (TripAdvisor) or arrange on your own when in port. Like all ship excursions, they are convenient. We took some of the ship excursions, but arranged a couple on our own. Doing it on your own can result in a much smaller group (4-6 people), plus you can do several things vice the ship’s offering on usually just one major event (because of so many people). Food was excellent. If you want to dine at the specialty restaurants, you really need to book them before the cruise. We booked one before and tried to book one when we boarded, but they were full for the entire cruise. The buffet dining is open for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. So if an excursion brings you back after your assigned dining period, you don’t have a lot of options (room service works). We had a very enjoyable time in the main dining room, and had great table companions. Service was excellent. The one major disappointment in dining is that Crystal has moved to a more common menu (among all the ships) and thus you will get no cuisine from the areas you are visiting. At several ports, there were some great specialty foods that they were known for (pastries, main dishes, appetizers, or even wine and beer). None of these were ever available on board the ship. Because the ship excursions are so time-condensed, you don’t even have time to sample them on the excursion. So you miss out on great local food. For the long-time Crystal cruisers, they said that Crystal used to offer local specialties but no longer do that, and instead board the entire cruise food at the embarkation point (controlled by headquarters in Los Angeles). So I guess every ship gets the exact same menu option on any given day. I think this is the biggest disappointment in the cruise as we would have liked to have tried more regional foods. We ended up canceling some shore excursions just so we could go into the city and try new foods (like a true Italian pizza margherita). Forget the weather forecast the ship provides. At one port they ship said it would be 69F and rainy. In actuality it was 86F and clear and sunny. The ship’s forecasts were never close. Use your own app to get the real weather. Internet is free, but it is extremely slow (think slower than dial up). There will be times when you can’t even check email because it is so slow. Finally, the entertainment was good, but focuses primarily on the ship’s dance team and singers. I think they only brought in outside entertainment twice. Other cruises we’ve been on they’ve brought in comedians, magicians, aerial acrobats, and many other different forms of entertainment. While the ship’s dance crew is good, it would have been nice to have something else to see. This may be why the lounge was rarely full, so it is easy to find a seat. Overall the cruise was very enjoyable. We were just disappointed somewhat in Crystal as we expected more based upon our river cruise experience. I guess they are two completely different cruises as the river cruise offered pre and post cruise transportation, free excursions, local foods, and more. For a ship of 1200, that may not have been practical from a bean counter perspective. The point is that the Crystal ocean cruise seems to be the same as any other major cruise line (Holland, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, MSC). Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Before we sailed, we were full of expectation to sail with the Best Ship of the Year. However, we were so disappointed about everything we experienced right from the cruise terminal. When we arrived, no porters to carry out luggage and ... Read More
Before we sailed, we were full of expectation to sail with the Best Ship of the Year. However, we were so disappointed about everything we experienced right from the cruise terminal. When we arrived, no porters to carry out luggage and we asked, the staff said we had to carry our big luggage all the way to the ship for check in. We were astonished but no one at the terminal was able to help. After checked in ( inside the ship already ), we asked about our luggage since the room was not ready until 3pm, the staff did not know how to react and simply asked to check with the Reception. We were upset and she finally got up and asked someone ( the Officer I think ) and she came to us and said our luggage would be taken care of. This was a bad start. Then, we headed to the main dining room for lunch and the food was very ordinary, I asked for an orange juice and the juice was not fresh and I was surprised and asked the waiter for a fresh one and said all juices were from the machine. Later I asked another waitress whom said all juices are fresh and brought me a fresh one. How could this happen ? In 7 days sail, we found the services were mediocre and food on the whole ( except a couple of meals ) was just above average, even their flagship restaurant Nobu restaurant. There were however, a couple of meals which were good, like lobster night ! I also think they are under staff, I was standing in a queue for 20 minutes for a burger while my friend was sitting at the table for 25 minutes before being served ( after waiving to the waiters a couple of time for getting their attention ), there were so many people and so few staff at the deck. However, in Tastes, another restaurant, the service was much better though. Most of transportation ( shuttle bus and tender service to/from ports ) were not well managed and sometimes were left alone with the driver to show us the way to the town ! Entertainment not too good also. Last one good thing to add was the disembarkation which was very smooth, it took us 10 minutes to reach to the outside taxi stand ! In summary, we would not choose Crystal again, simply for worth the money ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We took a cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity for our Honeymoon. It couldn't have been better. We've been dreaming of the day we could return. Then we did, for our ten year anniversary. What a let down. Our luggage was ... Read More
We took a cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity for our Honeymoon. It couldn't have been better. We've been dreaming of the day we could return. Then we did, for our ten year anniversary. What a let down. Our luggage was 'lost' in Heathrow. We didn't get it back for 8 days (out of a 12 day cruise). I understand the lost luggage wasn't Crystal's fault, but if I'm paying $1,000/day, I expect some level of service. We got the concierge to make a few pathetic attempts at phone calls. Other than that, it was on us. We spent 8 days standing at the concierge desk making phone calls from their 'landline'. We sent emails all day long. When we went ashore for the day, all we had time to do was shop for whatever clothes we would need for that night and next day. Crystal did nothing to help. Crystal did nothing to accommodate us. How about a shipboard credit to help buy clothes and toiletries? How about a massage? How about assisting with out laundry (we spent 2 hours every night in the laundry room)? How about trying to find our luggage???? In the end, they sent me a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Gee, thanks. The ship was nice, and mostly well maintained. It is definitely due for refurb. The food was lousy, cheap, bland, mushy and tasteless. Maybe they are still used to catering to the elderly. My wife and I took to ordering two of each course, as we knew at least one would be inedible. The room service menu was a joke. Couldn't order breakfast other than once. Limited menu that was accessible only if you are not leaving for an excursion. Hello, room service, I'd like an omlette. Sorry, it's too late, but you can have scrambled eggs. Seriously? Don't they know an omelette is scrambled eggs with some stuff inside? Again, I'm paying $1,000/day to be there. Felt more like I was staying at a Holiday Inn. The waitstaff were rude. Why am I on board this 'luxury' ship, and the watier is a jerk? But it wasn't one bad seed, it was most of them. We actually had good service and food for dinner at Tastes. Their 'Nobu' restaurant.... not even close. It was fine, but I've had comparable sushi at the grocery store. There was one good thing was the booze. Thank god it was free, and there was plenty of it. Otherwise, I may have thrown someone overboard! All in all, Crystal is not what it used to be, especially for the price. Look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
My 4th cruise but first on Crystal Cruise. It will be very hard to cruise on any other line. Pros: Exceptional service. Our PURE room was kept in amazing shape as the attendant must have gone in multiple times throughout the day. So ... Read More
My 4th cruise but first on Crystal Cruise. It will be very hard to cruise on any other line. Pros: Exceptional service. Our PURE room was kept in amazing shape as the attendant must have gone in multiple times throughout the day. So pleasant and welcoming she was. Food is plentiful and clearly labeled. Ask for anything and they seem to have it and will bring it to you without question. Selection, taste and freshness of the food is better than Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean in my opinion. No up selling unless it is a very high end booze. I know you pay a premium for a Crystal Cruise but it seems worth it not to be nickle and dimed aboard when you are trying to relax. This includes the gratuities throughout the ship. Smaller ships (1000 people approx) You get to know so many people and very little if no wait times for anything. Entertainment is wonderful. I stopped going to most of the shows on the other lines as it was the same so-so talent teams but on Crystal the regular talent was amazing as was the headliners that they brought in at various stops. Cons:Very hard to find something to complain about but if I had to it would be that the service in the main dining room was very inconsistent depending on the crowd size. The first night was only half full so they set the bar high and it went up and down from there. Food in the dining room is wonderful as it is in the specialty restaurants with the Japanese restaurant being the best of the best Only went to one High tea as the "Mozart Tea" really interested me. While the food and tea were great the only thing that was special was the period costumes the staff wore. The pianist and violinist,played everything from New York New York to Fiddler on the Roof however no Mozart. Will be doing another Crystal cruise as soon as I can.. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
As avid independent travelers, my wife and I never thought we were cruise people. In fact we steadfastly resisted any suggestion of a cruise. Then the flyer arrived in the mail - we simply could not resist. Our experience on the Crystal ... Read More
As avid independent travelers, my wife and I never thought we were cruise people. In fact we steadfastly resisted any suggestion of a cruise. Then the flyer arrived in the mail - we simply could not resist. Our experience on the Crystal Serenity was absolutely impeccably perfect. All staff was extremely helpful and friendly - we felt like they were members of our family by the time we disembarked. A few highlights: - The dual dining choices in the main dining room (modern and classic) were perfect. We often mixed and matched, but in general the appetizers and deserts on the modern side were highlights. - Tastes is really so much more than "casual dining". The variety and quality of the tapas style dishes were exquisite and the service perfect and attentive. - Prego's lasagna is the best we've ever had. Yes I would have blushed to say I was ordering lasagna at such an exquisite Italian restaurant - but it was absolutely mouth wateringly good. - Silk Road has terrific, imaginative Asian fare. We were glad to have gone, but as we were more wine themed, we didn't repeat. - Crystal Cove is the perfect hide away very late at night - friendly staff, beautiful, quiet atmosphere. The ship itself is very clean and well maintained - everything is well thought out. Can't think of a thing we would change. We mostly took part in private shore excursions, but the one that we took from Crystal (Malta's Pre-historic Sites) was well organized with a fantastic local guide. Truly a terrific experience as the site we visited is extremely hard to book in advance. Frosch's wine theme was so special. We were lucky enough to have both Heitz and Kapcsandy on board pouring their magnificent wines. This added an extra dimension to dinner that is hard to overestimate. Also, the fellow wine enthusiasts were terrific to get to know. Disembarkation was orderly, easy - only problem is that it was so sad to leave. We loved the experience so much on Crystal Serenity that we are tempted to go somewhere that we are *less* interested in so we can spend more time on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My first Crystal Cruise last May was a disaster. 1. We had 8 people at our table and the servers were definitely overworked. The food preparation was great, buy the meal was most often cold. We had one breakfast in the main dining ... Read More
My first Crystal Cruise last May was a disaster. 1. We had 8 people at our table and the servers were definitely overworked. The food preparation was great, buy the meal was most often cold. We had one breakfast in the main dining room and it was room temperature. We went to the buffet after that. 2. Our mattress was horrible. There were two twin mattresses pushed together and both had a big depression in the middle. It was like having a bunting board between us. We complained and they put a foam topper on the beds. This didn't help at all. After a couple of days, I saw them loading new mattresses on the ship. I asked to have ours replaced, but were told that they were for the penthouses. 3. The wifi at $55/two hours was absolutely worthless. I couldn't send anything with an attachment or a photo or even a normal email. Downloading one email could take ten or fifteen minutes. They shouldn't charge for a worthless product. 4. I filled out the questionnaire after the cruise, but never heard a word from Crystal. Tauck would contact you immediately to correct any problems. 5. For the price that we paid, I would expect everything to be first class. We would be hard pressed to ever sail on Crystal again. I know that Crystal has their loyal customers, but they didn't shine for us. Oceania was definitely a better cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This cruise was our second crystal cruise. Last year we sailed from Venice to Rome and had an amazing time! The shore excursions were top notch and the service was amazing. The ship was quiet and there was a wonderful lack of children. We ... Read More
This cruise was our second crystal cruise. Last year we sailed from Venice to Rome and had an amazing time! The shore excursions were top notch and the service was amazing. The ship was quiet and there was a wonderful lack of children. We raved about Crystal for a year to everyone that would listen. We couldn't wait to get back on board. This trip, from Lisbon to Barcelona, was our honeymoon. It was a terrible experience, crowded with children and it did not justify the high costs. Because of the immense frustration level felt almost on a daily basis, we will not be going back onboard any time soon with Crystal. Dining--- First of all, we had requested a nice table for 2 by the windows ( which we were able to get) at the late dining time for romantic evenings. To my shock, we were next to 2 large tables, both of which had children ( one of which was in a highchair playing with an electronic game that dinged and played repetitive music the entire time.). The waiters, while extremely friendly and polite, just were overwhelmed with the large parties and our service lacked. Food mediocre. We attempted to eat in the main dining room one other night but due to the noise from the surrounding tables we left before ordering and headed up to Prego. One of the large groups were dancers and actors from one of the shows. They were very boisterous oblivious to the disturbance they were causing. We never bothered to go back to the main dining room, instead, we ate the rest of our meals at the speciality restaurants or room service. What a shame. Two of the nights we went to Nobu. Food is amazing and one of the reasons we went back. (After our cruise last year we have flown to Dallas twice just to eat at the Nobu restaurant there). Service on board this year was okay, but not 5 stars. Again, I was shocked to see small children in the highchairs during our late night dining. Food at Prego was really good, but service was so-so. One of the nights we were seated by a noisy service station and endured quite colorful conversations. It lacked an attention to detail, as we often had to continually ask for things. We headed up to Tastes one evening and our experience was so awful that it was THE tipping point for us in realizing Crystal service had dropped to sub par. We were ignored while waiting to be seated, treated rudely, and had to ask continually for obvious things such as refills to napkins. No one was removing our empty glasses so we made a game of stacking them on the ledge next to us in order to get them off of the small table. Our "waitress" spent almost the entire time talking to the table next to us with her back turned. When we showed displeasure at the lack of service she became defensive and blamed it on another girl, saying that refills and removing dishes were "not her department." When she tried to offer dessert we politely said that we were finished and stood up to leave, she followed us out and continued to argue with us that she, being our waitress was not responsible for service standards. It was really shameful and even worse because the manager or head waiter was standing right there watching the entire thing. I say that it is all a shame because the food we did have was really really good! Our last night on board we waited until late and ate at the Sushi bar in Nobu. It was an amazing experience. The Sushi chefs were entertaining and spoiled us rotten the entire time we were there. The bistro cafe was one of our favorite places. We spent a lot of time in there. Cheeses and pastries were decadent. You could piano trickling up from Crystal Cove below which just added to the relaxation. Activities---- Shore Excursions were top notch on our last sailing, but this time very disorganized and overcrowded. They varied in quality wildly. Kids. Kids. Kids. I wish that we had arranged excursions on our own as it would have made such a difference in our experience of these remarkable cities. Spa- tried to book the couples massage, but the room was unavailable. My husband and I chose to have separate massages at the same time. Very relaxing and pleasant experience from check-in to massage. We loved our massages. However, I was displeased when at the end of my massage and about to get dressed, she presented with a slip to sign if I wanted to give her an extra tip (on top of the automatic gratuity amount) and a sales pitch to buy anti-cellulite products. Sorry, but no. Cabin We booked a verandah cabin 9009. Very comfortable bed and cozy room. Roomy bathroom with double sinks and a generous sized shower tub combo. Plenty of space to spread out and relax. I usually love to keep my door open to listen to the water, but not able to do so as my neighbor had their tv on quite loud and it would drift into our cabin. This also made breakfast on the verandah sometimes difficult as I was forced to listen to their tv if I wanted to sit outside. The housekeeper was very nice. Friendly and always smiling. The Aveda products are not replenished throughout the trip. We never had a fresh fruit bowl despite asking on the first day. The sodas and waters in the minibar were never restocked unless we called room service and asked for it to be done. Room service- top notch service. No matter what time I picked up that phone and asked for something, and no matter what I asked for, it was always delivered quickly and with a friendly smiling face. Bernie was our steward most of the time and he's truly dedicated and hard working. I cannot say enough about these hard working crew members. Of all the extra gratuities we paid at the end of the cruise, a large majority went to the room service crew. My morning breakfast was always delivered punctually and made the start of the day wonderful. With such awful service elsewhere on the ship you can really see the Crystal standards upheld by them. I give room service a standing ovation. This brings me to another point. The front desk customer service. One day after coming back from 6 hours of hell on a shore excursion, I attempted to take an afternoon nap. A horrible banging sound started up and continued to escalate. It was metal upon metal. When a second hammer joined in, I called the front desk. The guy who answered the phone said that he would "look in to it." After 20 minutes and there was no abatement to the noise I called again. A female answered the phone and said that she would look into it. Another 20 minutes and the racket is intolerable. I get dressed and go downstairs to the promenade deck and notice immediately the workers on ladders banging metal hammers on the metal ship beneath our cabin. I proceed to the front desk where I told them exactly what was causing the noise. Finally, over an hour after it started the noise was stopped. Why could these things not be done while guests are off the boat for the majority of the day? There was no apology or concern over my visible displeasure. My husband, who does not have the same exacting standards that I do, was quite disappointed overall. He would be more open to going back on Crystal at some point ( for Nobu), however we will be definitely be sailing on alternative luxury cruise lines first. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My wife and I checked in to stateroom 7069 on 13th July in Barcelona. There is a lot to say, so let me break it down into sections: Stateroom: This was beautifully appointed for sure, but a few things annoyed me. I am a little over 6ft 3, ... Read More
My wife and I checked in to stateroom 7069 on 13th July in Barcelona. There is a lot to say, so let me break it down into sections: Stateroom: This was beautifully appointed for sure, but a few things annoyed me. I am a little over 6ft 3, and I found the bed a little short. The TV was in the far right hand corner above the vanity and quite difficult to look at from the bed area. The sofa was covered in very fancy cushions making it impossible to sit there unless you threw them all on the floor. For 226 sq feet, it felt smaller, because there was so much furniture and decoration everywhere, but very attractive. By the way, no chocolate on the pillow at night. The bathroom had 2 sinks, was all marble and glass, with a decent sized bath for a cabin this size. The best bathroom I have ever had on a cruise ship. Pool deck: Rearranged with a more contemporary country club feel, this was well organized and various seating options as well as plentiful beds for sunbathing. It was too hot for us, so we stayed in the shade. The saltwater pool and surrounding Jacuzzis were delightful. Crystal Dining Room: Wonderful standard of food and presentation. Best steaks I have eaten anywhere, wonderful deserts. Some of the staff were undertrained by 6 star standards and did not know how to attend to people at this level with some embarrassing results. The head waiters were always buzzing around to make sure everything was taken care of. No deserts prepared tableside as we were expecting which was a little disappointing. The 6.15 seating is much too early for dinner in the med in July, but we were with older relatives so we had no choice. Bistro: Oh boy - this is where I easily put away a bonus 1000 calories a day on scones, smoked salmon, cheese and cappuccinos. How can you resist? One of the best places on the ship with superb service. Lido/Tastes: Again, wonderful food, but the service stations are all the place, and if you want to get some butter to go with your roll and soup, good luck in finding it. I did not care very much for the layout. Tastes is where you are served in a wonderful atrium setting under an umbrella. The food was great and lovely window views. Bars: The drinks flow as you like, but the lack of quality canapés was a shock. Sometimes there would just be one offering and if you did not like it, too bad, there was nothing else - why? was I still hungry! Also, the pianists seem to finish just as I sat down, and I never caught more than 15 minutes of their playing. Gym and Spa: For a small ship this was fine. Dumbbells up to 60lbs and good resistance machines and nice treadmills. No lat pulldown machine for back, which I thought was strange. Small locker rooms with beautiful sauna and steam and great showers. I used this as my personal spa in the evening and this was one of the highlights for me. For a seven night cruise, the steam room was out of order for 2 of them. Evening entertainment: This was very limited to only a 45 min performance here and there. Found myself wandering around at 9.30pm in search of something to do that was not the casino. The song and dance routines were not great and some of the song selections from the musicals were very obscure. They had cut the entertainment budget to pay for the drinks, and it showed. Casino: Not like it used to be. Any Vegas or cruise ship casino, gone was the glamour, the cream leather and staff walking around with drinks and canapés. Also, I lost a bundle! Palm Court: A very nice area for tea with the string quartet playing in the background. The Mozart tea was fabulous, the other tea times were pretty bland. For all the culinary awards they do not know how to make tea sandwiches. Plus they come round and offer you everything all at once, which is not how it is done. Cinema: This is another highlight for me. What a wonderful room. I watched Noah with Russell Crowe and Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays. Really nice venue and not busy. Summary: In a 1973 film called La Grande Bouffe, 4 friends decide to eat themselves to death. On day 5 of my cruise, at about 6.30pm I thought I was having a heart attack. I spent the whole evening with the most terrible indigestion and heartburn, which was gone by the time I fell asleep. I missed Wiener Schnitzel night, my favorite as well! There is an enormous amount of high quality cuisine and alcohol on this ship. Because we only had 7 days, I treated it like an endless buffet and my body reacted badly. After day 2, I couldn't drink anymore booze despite the wonderful wines they were offering with dinner. I couldn't even finish a pre-dinner cocktail. If you are going to put Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb, Roast Turkey etc on the menu, I am going to eat like the last supper. Unless you are extremely restrained on your consumption, this can be difficult to manage. As my emphasis is more on training and spa and diet on these cruises, I am not sure the Crystal experience makes any sense for me, and I am sure my Doctor would agree. But if you are going to Grande Bouffe, what a way to do it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My husband and I (late 40s/early 50s) took this cruise with his brother's family which includes his wife and 2 daughters who are in their early 20s. This was our 17th cruise, but our first on a "premium" line. We were ... Read More
My husband and I (late 40s/early 50s) took this cruise with his brother's family which includes his wife and 2 daughters who are in their early 20s. This was our 17th cruise, but our first on a "premium" line. We were expecting an older crowd, similar to what we saw on HAL, but were pleasantly surprised that there was such a mix of passengers. I can understand that now as getting around the ports and doing most of the shore excursions would have been pretty challenging for most older folks. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, found the ship to be clean and the layout convenient, but with one or two minor exceptions, we did not find the food, service or entertainment/enrichment to be significantly better than what we have experienced on lines such as Celebrity and Princess. Yes, having drinks and gratuities included was great, but you certainly pay for that in the price of the cruise. Embarkation in Barcelona went quickly as we arrived in the late afternoon - it was a Friday so traffic getting from the airport to the port was a nightmare - we used Crystal's transfer service and somehow between taking our bags from the van to our cabin, they misplaced 2 of them and it took hours for them to find the bags again. Our in-laws said they were greeted with champagne when they arrived earlier in the day, but we were not. Our cabin was on deck 10, and was pretty much the size of other cabins we have been in, but the bathroom was bigger including double sinks and a real tub/shower, which we appreciated. We had a whole day in Barcelona the next day and had hired a private tour guide that was recommended by someone we know. Barcelona is a great city with lots to see and do, and we'd definitely like to go back again. Other ports/excursions included: Valencia - bike tour: nice ride through a very large park, spent some time in the old city and then rode around the City of Arts and Sciences which is very interesting; Palma de Mallorca - did the Valldemossa tour as it was recommended by a couple of friends, very quaint town; St Tropez - chose the winery and beach excursion and were expecting a picturesque estate and then onto a beach resort for relaxation and lunch (we're in France, right?) - it was actually a very small, rustic winery in a barn with a beach on the property and if you didn't bring a beach towel, you had nowhere to sit - fun and the food and wine were great, but not what we expected - maybe they need to rewrite the description of this one; Porto Venere - my favorite stop - we did the island trek and then walked around the town and went up to the fort and church - very beautiful; Genoa - the palaces tour did not disappoint; Florence - a long day but worth the bus ride. The entertainment on board was typical of what you would experience on any cruise - production shows, magician, string quartet, piano players, bands scattered around the common areas each evening. We particularly enjoyed the dancing in the Palm Court throughout the evening, and the Avenue Saloon was a crowd favorite with lots of sing-alongs. Overall we enjoyed this cruise, as we love cruising and it was our first time cruising in Europe, but I don't know if we would choose Crystal again.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Truly an exceptional experience in terms of being taken care of, feeling safe and completely content. The food is spectacular (not easily said since I am a gourmet home chef) . The staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and ... Read More
Truly an exceptional experience in terms of being taken care of, feeling safe and completely content. The food is spectacular (not easily said since I am a gourmet home chef) . The staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and at-home. The toughest part of a Crystal Cruise is the depressed feeling you get when you return to normal living and suddenly discover all that exceptional service has disappeared in Crystal's wake! We were very impressed with the way that Crystal seems to approach virtually any task. Whatever they do, they do it with class, excellent organization and customer safety in mind. If it is a Crystal event or excursion, you can be certain it is worth the price. We also greatly enjoyed having all gratuities and alcohol included in the booking fare. One other thing to mention: all of the people we met onboard were affable, well-mannered and educated. This is not the cruise line for frat parties, spoiled kids or noisy drunks.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
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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