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10 Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Pacific Coastal

Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, ... Read More
Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, the weather was the worst on this voyage. Crystal was not at fault for the lousy weather. Luckily, the service and food on board were excellent as were all the personnel on board. Everyone had a "can do" attitude and could seem to do enough to please. So why the poor review? My wife and I caught the NOROVIRUS! Although I had it worse than my wife. How could two healthy individuals board a SHIP and become violently ill just 3 days in. We specifically chose Crystal due to its service that we have experienced firsthand (what I thought was 5 star all the way) and for the smaller passenger count (only 900 passengers). After feeling better on the last 2 days, I spoke to at least 20 different people who were sick or knew of others who got sick on this 7 day voyage. Couple this with a full Medical waiting room and nurses buzzing about patients who were in quarantine and it was not hard to see that we were on our way to an epidemic onboard. A quick search on the internet and we got to the CDC website (I had plenty of time in my stateroom as I was quarantined for 1 day and chose to stay in for feeling too ill to move about the day prior). We typed in norovirus on cruise ships and there was the history. I was shocked at how many cruises were listed in increasing numbers since 2000. I was also shocked to see that Crystal Cruises joined the ranks a few years ago. Sadly, most cruise lines are on this list, BUT THERE ARE A FEW THAT ARE NOT. It should be noted that so far, this cruise did not make the CDC list as a certain percentage must report being ill before the cruise line has to report it to the CDC. Nevertheless, at least 25 - 30 people (maybe more) had it and that was just who I was able to confirm! When we shared our dismay of this cruise with Crystal (most likely due to lax standards this ship had on cleaning surfaces, public restrooms, not to mention elevators and buffets), Crystal only offered us a $1000 voucher for a future cruise we would have to take in the next year. I don't know that I will ever sail again let alone in the next year! We asked them to not give us an expiration date on this voucher and they declined. We can see how seriously they are taking this growing problem. We did appreciate the fine dining and service but this event left such a sour taste in our mouth (literally) that unless there is a preventative medicine for norovirus, I doubt I will ever step foot on a cruise again, on any cruise line. It is hard to comment on the entertainment and activities or many of the ports as I only went to one show and one event the entire cruise. I didn't leave the ship in Ensenada, San Diego or Catalina. (Not by choice). Beyond my sickness issues, The Crystal Serenity was a disappointment, as was the recent renovation of the ship. The ship has no special rooms on board, they all look and feel the same. Low ceilings and no sense of grandeur. The renovation was like putting lipstick on a pig. They need to retire these vessels and design something entirely new and special. As for me going on a 13th cruise, I will wait until there is preventative medicine for getting any sort of stomach virus on board a cruise ship. Until then, land based vacations. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the Crystal and were finally able to get them to come with us only to find it was not as good as it used to be. The lunch buffet was so bad that we just gave up after a couple of days. We tried the dining room which turned out to be even worse The specialty restaurants were fabulous. The food, staff and atmosphere were exemplary. The ship did not appear to be as clean as it used to be. Our suite which had been refurbished seemed smaller due to the new configuration but the shower was incredibly worth the extra money.The toiletries were horrible, with artificial scent which I am highly allergic to. Entertainment was excellent. However, the casino rules were disgusting and no wonder it was always empty. Lastly - to have 6 ports on a 7 day cruise on the West Coast was a total loss. Aside from San Francisco and Cabo San Lucas (which was not on the itinerary) are the only 2 safe and exciting places to stop at. Most passengers complained they did not enjoy the quiet ocean experience when the ship is at sea. Crystal needs to recognize that plus the savings on Port Charges could benefit the pricing for passengers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a ... Read More
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a limited way by increasing the number of penthouses and penthouse suites but, for many, its too little too late. Personally I don't mind the trade off of smaller staterooms for so many large and well thought out public spaces. This cruise was pretty well sold out (we were lucky enough to get an upgrade of several categories from a picture window room to one with a veranda on deck 9) yet the ship never seemed crowded, we never had to queue for anything, the feeling of gracious spaciousness sets this ship apart in my view. Embarkation was a breeze, the greeting was warm and our room was ready pretty well after lunch. We ate at all the eating venues and the quality was consistently good - and sometimes outstanding. The matching wines at dinner were sometimes ordinary but its easy enough to request something different. One thing I noticed in particular (this was my 12th cruise with Crystal) was the quality of the evening entertainment. It has improved markedly from what used to look like amateur high school productions, the Billy Joel tribute show was again outstanding, I'm still not sure about the Illuminate light show, impressive enough in the first 5 minutes and then you are stuck in the dark for another 25 minutes for much of the same thing. I just don't think it matches the type of passenger which Crystal attracts. The staff were consistently friendly and helpful, I was remembered by several of them which I think is always a nice touch. We did a Crystal excursion in each port, they were all overpriced for what they were but pleasant enough. This is an area they could do better in although I like the fact they never completely fill the buses so there's room to spare always. This cruise was originally intended to stop at Monterey, they quietly cancelled that without advising anyone and added another day onto San Francisco - so we ended up being there two nights - great city but a bit lazy on their part. The call to Astoria was a waste of time, we went to a cooking demonstration which was interesting enough but there was clearly very little to do there. So overall a pretty good experience, I am booked again next February on Symphony which will be after their dry dock, looking forward to seeing the improvements. On a separate subject, no surprise to see their recent announcement that the "air cruise" initiative has been cancelled before it even got off the ground. Blind Freddie could see this was never going to fly. "Redeploying" it to charter work is just about saving face. As many others have mentioned, their crazy expansion plans under the new CEO will only lead to tears. They need to stick to their core business, in my humble opinion. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with ... Read More
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with Savoir Faire. As to the food we found the food in the main dinning room to be fine but not outstanding. The service was good but our tow female servers were inexperienced . The female wine steward was very attentive and kept our glasses full. However, we were never shown or asked if we wanted to see a wine list. We found the the first two courses in Prego to be excellent and the main courses to be poor. The service was average on the first night but excellent on the second when we ate with a couple who had cruised several times before on Crystal. The service in the Lido buffet was excellent and the food for breakfast was above average. The dinner at Tastes was unusual and good and the service was very good. Our room was small but adequate space for clothing for a short cruise and our attendant was excellent. Overall we found the service to be outstanding but everything else just average. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining room. This cruise we felt that the food was improved, with more selections that were different than what was served in the Main Dining Room. Silk Road was delicious again. The Main Dining Room and the Buffet were both impressive, as was room service. The second-to-last evening's Dover Sole meal was truly spectacular. Wait service was impeccable as always, with the exception of the second evening's dinner in MDR. Then, it was slow almost to the point of being ridiculous. I attribute this mainly to the fact that almost every seat was filled for the special lobster/chateaubriand dinner. They really do need to try to stagger people more on that evening. Our cabin attendant, Natasa, was very attentive. The room was always serviced at a convenient time, and extra items supplied quickly when requested. I loved our cabin, a veranda stateroom. Even though it is pretty small, it is well-designed and cozy. If only it were about six inches wider, it would be easier to get around the bed, and my hubby wouldn't keep banging into the waste can in the middle of the night. There is plenty of storage for a one-week cruise and huge amounts of space that we left unused in the bathroom. The one thing that disappoints sometimes on Crystal is the entertainment. We are 50-somethings, quite a bit younger than the average age on this ship. We loved the Billy Joel show. However some of the other entertainment seemed to be aimed squarely at the 80+ crowd. One night it was such a tired cliche presentation, almost like Lawrence Welk, that I walked out. The music that I enjoyed most from the last cruise, the Astoria Strings, were gone. Just the violinist remained, and she played in the Crystal Cove with the pianist Richard Pucci most nights. In fact Richard seemed to be the one remaining of my favorite acts from the last cruise. He is very talented and I could listen to him all night. The excellent lounge pianist in Avenue Saloon from our last cruise was also gone, replaced with another tired, hokey guy who talked constantly and played little of interest. If Crystal wants to bring in the 40 and 50-somethings they are going to have to revamp all this. The movies shown on board in the Hollywood Theater are also bizarre: titles I had largely never heard of. Yet they played new releases on the TV's in the stateroom. Why not in the Theater? Overall I enjoyed the cruise, a 7-day through California which was competitively priced. However I will be watching to see if there is more cost-cutting in the entertainment before I Take a longer cruise on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so ... Read More
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so for us, not too much to explore. We were basically taking this cruise to unwind, have some great food and drink and be treated in luxury. Crystal satisfied that need for us. In fact we have done this (or a very similar itinerary) on Crystal twice before. So we did no shore excursions, but did wander a bit at the port cities. We were upgraded from an Ocean View to a nice 9th floor Veranda. The stateroom was excellent as was our stateroom attendant (waitress). Food and Service were impeccable throughout. Prego was especially good this time and my wife was very impressed with the Mushroom Soup in a bread bowl. At Silk Road (Nobu's Joint), we ordered a ton of appetizers, the popular Black Cod and the Steak. Mushroom soup here as well was a treat. Overall very tasty, but apparently the same meal at Nobu's NYC restaurant would set us back $400. It was not $400 worth of food, but it was quite nice! The surprise here was TASTES! What a great concept and delivery. We ate there every other night other than the two aforementioned specialty restaurants. We also loved to snack at the Bistro. Good stuff in there. My wife loved the Casino! She actually won. I was neutral. Bingo was a bit lame and we did not care for the Afternoon Tea sandwiches. Those need improvement. The Mozart Tea was a bit more impressive though. Entertainment was good, but I do miss the String Quartet! The Piano players and the violinist were good, but a Quartet would have been quite nice. The show that played in the dark with flashing lights was quite an experience. Do see it! The price was right and the week was great. No complaints! Well done Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We just returned from our first Crystal cruise, a quick 6-nite voyage from San Francisco to Vancouver. Crystal had been on our radar for a while and we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to do a test cruise before committing ... Read More
We just returned from our first Crystal cruise, a quick 6-nite voyage from San Francisco to Vancouver. Crystal had been on our radar for a while and we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to do a test cruise before committing to a longer voyage. By way of background, we've been cruising for over 20 years. In the beginning we sailed HAL almost exclusively and then moved onto Oceania and Azamara. We've also sailed on luxury lines, including Paul Gauguin, Regent and Seabourn. Our objective on this short Crystal cruise was to get a feel for the product and to determine if we'd be a good fit for the line. EMBARKATION Serenity was staying overnite in San Francisco and we were only a short flight away, so we decided to arrive on embarkation day. We made our own flight arrangements and booked Crystal transfers from SFO to Pier 27. Our outbound flight was delayed but Crystal reps were still at the airport to greet us and escort us to the transfer bus. We waited about 10 min for the bus to arrive and then were on our way. There was a quick check of passports and cruise tickets at the cruise pier, then we were aboard and ready to start our Crystal adventure. FIRST IMPRESSIONS We boarded Serenity on Deck 6 outside Apropos and were struck by the elegance of the ship. The atmosphere was decidedly calm and unhurried for embarkation day. We didn't know where to go for check-in and there weren't any staff at the entrance to greet us except security personnel. But we figured it couldn't be far. We wandered past the Bistro and spotted the check-in counters on the deck below. As we entered Crystal Plaza for check-in, flutes of champagne were offered and soft piano music filled the air. In a matter of mere moments, our photos were taken and we had our All Exclusive Passes. ACCOMMODATION We navigated our way to our deluxe veranda and discovered a nicely appointed and functional room. The bathroom was well laid out with generous cabinet storage and Etro toiletries. I loved the colourful packaging! The balcony was outfitted with comfortable furniture and there was excellent privacy between neighbours. Our stewardess introduced herself shortly after we arrived. We asked to have all items in our mini-fridge removed and restocked with only San Pellegrino and Club Soda. Done! We couldn't find the the beverage request card in our room and our stewardess told us Crystal wasn't providing them anymore but beverages were still available upon request. We asked for Grey Goose. Done! We also advised her we were early risers and would appreciate having our room serviced as quickly as her schedule allowed. Done! She did an excellent job of keeping our suite immaculate and replenishing our mini-fridge, usually by the time we returned from breakfast. DINING We had high expectations for dining aboard Serenity and were not disappointed. In every venue, menus were interesting, ingredients were fresh, flavors were delicious and presentation was artful. Dining and wine service across all venues was excellent. We chose Dining by Reservation and selected our preferred times for dinner in each restaurant in PCPC. When we arrived on board, there was a reservation card confirming our selections. I loved that PCPC gave a sneak peek at the type of entertainment planned for each evening as well as the showtimes, which aided us in making dinner reservations. Even on a short 6-nite cruise, we got an opportunity to sample every dining venue. We downloaded PressReader before we boarded and were able to read upcoming menus in advance. We got into the practice of always checking what was offered in the Crystal Dining Room, even if we had reservations in a specialty restaurant. I could see this feature being quite helpful in making dining decisions on a longer cruise. Tastes We ate dinner in Tastes on our first nite and it was a great choice. We were seated at a lovely deuce overlooking San Francisco and enjoyed multiple plates of cold and hot tapas with a fabulous Crystal "C" Pinot Noir. I had a list of gotta try items with me and we ordered everything on it. The tapas were delicious with authentic global flavours. We started with Ahi Tuna Poke, Pastrami Cured Salmon and Arctic Black Cod Chowder and then moved to Gambas a la Plancha, Saffron Lamb Kebobs and California Street Tacos. When I looked at my cheat sheet later, I noticed we forgot to order the Alsatian Tart. Next time! We loved the casual ambiance and returned for lunch the next day. Alsatian Tart wasn't available but Chinoise Chicken Salad turned out to be another great choice. We certainly would return to Tastes for dinner if we were on a longer cruise. Crystal Dining Room We enjoyed three dinners in the main dining room. DBR worked very well and we lucked out with great tables each time. We had different serving staff each evening, but all were professional and efficient. We mixed and matched our dinner selections from both Modern Cuisine and Crystal Classics. We were pleased with the overall flavours and preparations, though sometimes we were disappointed by being served lukewarm food that should have been hot. We weren't tempted by any of the wonderful dessert choices and instead opted for a cheese plate after dinner. The selections were very impressive and perfectly plated. We usually had the complimentary wine of the day. On a few occasions we requested a different wine and it was cheerfully poured. When we initially booked the cruise, it had a Black Tie Optional nite and we intentionally chose to be in the main dining room on that evening. Shortly before sailing, PCPC was updated to show no BTO and all Crystal Casual. We figured that many guests probably wouldn't notice the updated info, so we decided to go BTO anyway. I estimate that 70%-75% of guests showed up in more elegant evening attire. It was nice to have a more refined atmosphere on that evening. We never made it to the dining room for lunch but did have breakfast there once. We ordered Japanese Breakfast and a Crab Omelet with fresh squeezed juices. Excellent. Service was a little slow in the morning, which was surprising since wait staff outnumbered guests by a significant margin. Silk Road A fantastic meal. I had my trusty list of gotta try items and we got through them all and then some. We ate family style and shared everything from appetizers to sushi to entrees. We ordered appetizers from both Silk Road and the Sushi Bar. Some memorable bites included Salmon Tartar with Caviar, Broiled Eggplant with Miso and Crispy Rice Cake with Spicy Tuna Tartar. We then moved to a selection of Nobu New Style Sashimi from the Sushi Bar, which was simply outstanding in both presentation and flavour. Next up was Miso Soup and Spicy Seafood Soup followed by Nobu signature dishes of Miso Black Cod and Grilled Wagyu Beef. When it was time for dessert, we decided to have more sashimi from the Sushi Bar! We ended the evening with Whisky Cappuccino with Buttermilk Ice Cream. Not very Japanese but sure delicious. Prego Our meal at Prego was a disappointment. We arrived on time and were seated at a table squeezed between other diners along the banquette wall. We preferred something a bit more private and since the room wasn't full, we asked if we could move to a different table. So sorry, no can do. Maybe the better tables were being held for later reservations, but they remained empty for the entire time we were in the restaurant. We shared a few antipasti items as starters and while the presentation was impressive, they were uninspired. We each had the famous Mushroom Soup which was delicious. Next time, I'll have it in a regular bowl rather than the bread bowl. We had a tough time making secondi choices as nothing really appealed. We settled on Rack of Lamb (a house specialty) and Veal Parmigiano, with a side order of Penne in Tomato Sauce with Goat Cheese, which was the pasta of the day. Nothing was memorable, other than our entrees arrived lukewarm and the pasta was seriously overcooked. On the positive side, we had a very attentive sommelier who kept us well oiled. I'm sure our experience at Prego wasn't par for the course and we probably would give it another try on a future cruise. Lido Cafe What an impressive buffet in a lovely room! The divider screens which separate the dining tables from the buffet line are a brilliant idea. They make the space more intimate while also reducing noise and visual clutter. We ate most of our breakfasts at the Lido. The hot and cold buffet items were similar each day and featured the usual suspects, along with a made-to-order egg station and some Asian specialties. There were lots of fresh fruit and berries, most at the perfect stage of ripeness. As on most cruise lines, yogurt choices were no fat or low fat. I prefer full fat real Greek yogurt! We had lunch at the Lido most days. The cold buffet included an assortment of salads, deli, panini, sushi, seafood and cheese. Hot items included soup, a daily carving station and multiple entrees that included and went beyond those available in the Crystal Dining Room. The made-to-order pasta station was my go-to spot and it never disappointed. The pasta was actually better than we had in Prego! I had dessert a few times in the Lido, since my absolute fave Creme Caramel was always available. We were fortunate to have the Asian Buffet even on such a short cruise. It featured a large assortment of hot and cold specialties from Japan, China, Thailand, India, Philippines and Malaysia. It was a feast for the senses! The Bistro We boarded Serenity too late for embarkation lunch in the Crystal Dining Room and we weren't in the mood for Trident Grill, so we had a quick bite in the Bistro. We enjoyed charcuterie, smoked fish and cheeses, along with another glass of bubbly. Over the course of our cruise, we popped into the Bistro regularly to grab specialty coffees and to check out the daily offerings. I loved the chocolate covered strawberries! Trident Grill & Scoops Truth be told, the menu at Trident Grill was the least appealing to us and we didn't eat there at all. I had sweet potato fries on my gotta try list and we sampled them at the Lido. Yummy. I had a bowl of ice cream from Scoops on embarkation day and it was OK but nothing special. We really liked the living walls which surround the dining courtyard of Trident Grill. They create a very vibrant atmosphere. Afternoon Tea We attended Mozart Tea and thoroughly enjoyed the affair. Palm Court was transformed into a Viennese court with suitably attired wait staff and accompanying classical music. We resisted the lovely tea sandwiches and headed straight for the pastries, even though we're not dessert fans. We shared Black Forest Cake and Apple Strudel, along with Hot Chocolate Amadeus and Kapuzina. Everything was delicious. I was surprised that the food offerings at Mozart Tea were buffet style and not served by waiters from trolleys. We didn't make it to any other afternoon tea so I don't know if this is the usual set-up on Crystal. ENTERTAINMENT There were three production shows by the Crystal Ensemble of singers and dancers: Across the Pond; Curtain Call; and My Life The Music of Billy Joel. In a most unusual move for us, we attended each show and loved them all. Galaxy Lounge was a perfect venue and we managed to snag excellent seats for each show. There were also headliner entertainers but we didn't go to see any of them. We were lucky to get tickets to Magic Castle at Sea. There were initially six time slots that were quickly subscribed and the magician had to put on an additional shows. We were front row centre and close to the action but were still mystified by the magic! This is a wonderful Crystal exclusive. There were also live performers in the various lounges each evening. Perry Grant was super popular in Avenue Saloon and played to SRO every nite. We went once but found the venue too crowded and too difficult to see the performance unless you're right up front. Crystal Sextet were at Palm Court during cocktail hours and we went a few times. We found service to be spotty, sometimes great, sometimes not so much. Towards the end of our short cruise, we found our Goldilocks bar at Crystal Cove where we enjoyed pianist Scott Mitchel and the Capricco String Quartet, either at pre-dinner cocktails or after-dinner nitecaps. ENRICHMENT Dr. Jay Wolff was the destination lecturer and he delivered two outstanding presentations on the areas we visited. Professor Louis Rene Beres was a special interest lecturer and he gave two presentations with a focus on current affairs, specifically terrorism and espionage. Before we sailed, we had expressed interest in some classes offered by Computer University@Sea on PCPC. When we arrived in our stateroom, there was a confirmation card showing the date and time of each class. We attended an instructive presentation by Chip Adams on iCloud. There were other enrichment activities in which we didn't participate, such as Digital Film Making, Odyssey Art at Sea, Walkvest and Nordic Walking. There was also a Paddle Tennis Instructor and a Golf Professional available for those who were interested. We were very impressed that on such a short cruise, Crystal managed to squeeze in so many enrichment activities of such incredible variety. PORTS This was a close-to-home cruise and we had visited all the ports before so we took it easy. San Francisco: Crystal shorex to Muir Woods and Sausalito. Walked along Embarcadero to Ferry Building. Astoria: Crystal shuttle to Maritime Museum. Continued to Pier 39. Walked along Waterfront Promenade back to ship. Seattle: Chihuly Glass Gardens. EMP Museum. Pike Place Market. Victoria: Crystal shuttle to Empress Hotel. Walked to Royal BC Museum for Aboriginal Festival. DISEMBARKATION All good things must come to an end and it was soon time for us to leave Serenity. As independent guests, we requested an early disembarkation so we could make our transfer/ferry connection from Canada Place. We were assigned to the first group which was scheduled to leave the ship at 8:00 am. We ordered room service breakfast and then made our way to Galaxy Lounge. Our group was called about 8:10 am and we swiped our cards to get off the ship for the last time. Customs and immigration had already been handled in Victoria so it was a quick and simple breeze through Canada Place. The cruise terminal was busy with three ships in port but it seemed organized. We quickly spotted our transfer/ferry desk, checked in and were on our way. FINAL THOUGHTS Our short test cruise gave us a wonderful orientation to the Crystal product. It's amazing how much we got to experience and discover in such a brief period of time. We enjoyed our time on board and felt very comfortable among our fellow guests and staff. We concluded that Crystal is a good fit for us. On the last day of the cruise, we visited the Cruise Sales Consultant and purchased a Future Open Booking. We've been Crystallized! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
In the past 20 years, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to take 29 cruises, with 26 of them in the space of the past 11 years. We've been on a wide variety of cruise lines, from the most basic up to the deluxe Azamara and ... Read More
In the past 20 years, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to take 29 cruises, with 26 of them in the space of the past 11 years. We've been on a wide variety of cruise lines, from the most basic up to the deluxe Azamara and Oceania (one each). Crystal is the only luxury line we've taken, and so far we've done one on Symphony and now this one on Serenity. Our ship overnighted in San Francisco. We boarded around noon, which was a breeze. A crew member escorted us from deck six to deck five, and five minutes later, we were free to wander the ship, with all our check-in details taken care of. We had intended to have lunch in the main dining room but we were waiting for a friend whose plane was a bit late, so we had a light snack in the Bistro, which happens to be on deck six, where we had a perfect view of people boarding. Alas, by the time she arrived, we had gotten bored waiting, gone up to the Trident to share a burger, and then we forced ourselves to enjoy our third course of lunch, at Tastes. Cabins were ready earlier than expected and we made our cabin attendant, Casia, who was possibly the best cabin attendant we've had in all 29 cruises. Then we spent two hours wandering off the ship at its space at Pier 27, up Embarcadero to see the sea lions at Pier 39. It really didn't take long, but we were also people-watching and talking about past visits to San Francisco. It was sunny and balmy, a lovely bonus. The next day we had a glorious day for more wandering. The Ferry Market (the outdoor with the local people) is always fun to check out, and then two of us went up to the top of Lombard St. and walked down. The other one of us went to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked a small way across (we'd done the whole thing two years ago). Dinner the first night in the Crystal Dining Room was as nice as we remembered from our previous Crystal, and Serenity seems to handle Dine by Reservation a tad better (or they've perfected it a bit in the past year). I had made all our reservations in advance, but then when I saw the show times, I decided we'd prefer a different time. "No problem, sir!" after a brief check of the computer (sent husband to ask for the change while I was unpacking). Unpacking was easy. It was a cruise of just six nights, after all, but with a complimentary well-outfitted guest laundry, I could've easily had enough for two weeks and taken up the same amount of space (which was not all of it). The cabin gives us everything we need and the bed is super comfortable. I love the bathtub, and I think perhaps Serenity's tub is a bit more user-friendly than Symphony's, or perhaps I'm not remembering it correctly. I had enjoyed Symphony's, too. All of the service at the dining venues was excellent. The one weakest spot, same as on Symphony, was Prego. My husband had the halibut and he feels as though they overcooked it. He thoroughly enjoyed it in the Crystal Dining Room (and it was his favorite dinner a year ago on Symphony in the Crystal Dining Room). The wait staff in Prego failed to offer me mint jelly for my lamb, which I forgot about until I saw them (same wait staff) offer it to a nearby table. The three different serving pairs in the CDR were all very good, and we really enjoy Crystal's food. I mean, we REALLY enjoy it! Silk Road was good, and won the award for best dessert (the chocolate one) among many nice desserts. We are very happy with the Lido breakfast and lunch, and particularly pleased to have found an omelet-maker who definitely knows his job with no coaching from my picky husband. The Trident burger-chef is also extremely good at what he does. Even the ice cream guy wins our approval. You would think that would be easy, but alas, not always so! So we love the food, love the service, and are perfectly happy in our cabin. We enjoyed the evening shows very much (especially James Fox from Movin' On, doing Billy Joel), and Gary Hunter is a charming cruise director. We were particularly pleased to find Perry Grant in the Avenue Saloon. We are fans of his from years ago at Michael's Club on Celebrity Constellation. Still, the absolute best thing about this (and our previous) Crystal cruise was the enrichment. Both Jay Wolff and Dr. Louis Rene Beres are a pleasure to listen to, as far as I'm concerned. This was a port-intensive cruise, so they didn't have very much time to speak. On the morning we were cruising into Seattle, I had to choose between going to their live lectures and being up top to watch us cruise through Puget Sound. I could've watched the lectures later on the t.v. in our cabin, but there's just something about being there with them. I'm in awe of them! Both carry around a wealth of information with them at all times and deliver it to the audience in a way that I love. I am still sorry I missed Puget Sound, though! I took one port excursion. Crystal offers Voluntourism, complimentary little jaunts into the community. Two of the ones offered on this cruise were helping out for a few hours at a local food bank. The one I chose, however, was in Astoria, OR, and went to Fort Stevens State Park. Perfect! We (a group of just seven of us, with a local guide, in a school bus) went to three different areas of the park and picked up trash while learning about the history of the area. Perfect weather and a beautiful locale, ending at South Jetty, with a great view of Washington State across the Columbia River. For Seattle and Victoria, BC, we just wandered off the ship and did our own thing. In Seattle, we were a stone's throw from Pike's Market, which is exactly what I wanted to see (and the line for people waiting to go into the original Starbuck's). The fish markets there are just incredible. In Victoria, we took the Crystal complimentary shuttle into town and took a tour of the legislative building, then a friend took us to a garden and home that was an interesting place to visit. So -- why do I love Crystal? For all the big reasons: they cook perfectly for me; the crew is outstanding at taking care of me in a friendly manner; the ship is beautiful; and the small things all add up for me to an outstanding experience. Besides the voluntourism, here are some more small things: the three-plug outlet on the desk/dressing table; the do-not-disturb/clean-my-cabin lights at the door of the cabin; the signage that tells me, when I exit the elevator or get to the top or bottom of my stair climb/descent, which way to go for port and which way for starboard; the guest laundry rooms with pre-loaded detergent and always-up ironing boards. When I filled out my evaluation to Crystal for this cruise, I said: thank you for continuing to offer me a totally pleasurable cruise experience. We have three more cruises booked with Crystal and I expect them to keep me happy, yet again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We selected this cruise to try out both the ship and Crystal. If this is representative of what to expect, my advice is to look elsewhere for an exceptional cruise experience. There were some positives and a lot of negatives. Here we ... Read More
We selected this cruise to try out both the ship and Crystal. If this is representative of what to expect, my advice is to look elsewhere for an exceptional cruise experience. There were some positives and a lot of negatives. Here we go: Embarkation: A nightmare from the start. It was delayed until 6:00 pm due to port congestion and the fact that the ship was coming out of a short drydock. Hospitality facilities were to be set up to accommodate passengers prior to boarding, but Crystal said these were only for passengers that were taking their airport transfers. Our TA was told point blank that independent passengers (we arrived the night before as is our custom) could drop bags and were on our own until boarding. Nice to know that we were not really considered passengers until we set foot on-board ship. When we arrived close to noon to drop our bags, we were informed of the hospitality arrangements across the street at the Fairmont. The Crystal rep said boarding might start as early as 4:00-4:30, so plan to come back by then. We were happy about the arrangements and possible speed up of boarding, but it would have been nice to know of the changes to the stated status of independent passengers. We got to the hotel and it seemed that there was a very large contingent of Crystal ground personnel. They had food, drinks, complimentary 3.5 hour city tours arranged, and were placing you in groups to walk over to the ship to board. Then it was hurry up and wait. We saw the Crystal personnel talking quietly among themselves, but almost no information was passed along to the passengers. Finally a Crystal spokesperson showed up (about 4:30 to 5:00) and said they expected boarding to commence about 6:00. They were still waiting for the ship occupying our pier to exit. The Serenity was anchored out in the harbor. Once the groups were called, then it was a parade across the street into Canada Place, through security and on-board to register. If you knew this was going to be a mess, why not set up registration at the Fairmont. We did that very thing some years ago for a Princess cruise and it made things smooth as silk. Little did we know that the miscommunication and confusion to start the cruise would dog it for the duration. By the way, the initial keycards did not work and it took two trips to the front desk to get a set that did function. Not a good start. Cabin: Very nice and well designed. Plenty of storage, a very well laid-out bathroom, and nice balcony. The bed was a little soft for our taste, but that is a nitpick. Dining: MDR - pretty good, but hit and miss. Portions of one T-bone steak was as tough as leather. Prime meat - absolutely not. Filets the last night were excellent. Fish was good to very good. Breads and many desserts seemed to lack much flavor. No matter the venue baking throughout the ship was only so-so. Silk Road and Prego were consistently excellent in food quality and prep. The Lido buffet was good to very good, but the hours were a real pain in the neck. For lunch, the MDR and Lido were open only 1.5 hours (12:00 noon - 1:30 pm). In Astoria, they changed this to 11:30 am - 1:00 pm. If you had a tour or got off the ship, it was almost certain you would miss a real lunch. The alternatives were not an acceptable substitute. At the Trident Grill, the cook lied to my girlfriend's face about having chicken breast for a chicken sandwich, he said he only had ground meat and then proceeded to start cooking chicken breast for a guest almost directly behind her. Had I been there when it happened, there would have been an ugly scene. NOT ACCEPTABLE on any cruise line, and certainly not one who prides itself on being at the top of the industry. Service: Very hit and miss. With one exception, the service in the MDR (and other non-buffet venues) was aloof to almost rude. This attitude was echoed by at least one front of house manager. Totally unacceptable. Service in Silk Road and Prego was 180 degrees opposite. It was relaxed, friendly helpful, professional, and efficient. How is this possible on the same ship? Training and attitude from management have to be the answer. Otherwise, Crystal is hiring the wrong people. Maybe both. Bars: Again, a mixed bag. An excellent drink followed by one (the same drink) that is unrecognizable and undrinkable. Something as simple as a Lina Colada should be a no-brainer, but that is what we found. Service: Housekeeping service was efficient and excellent. Service (other than in the dining venues described above) was never exceptional and often seemed almost perfunctory. Not what we would have expected. Entertainment: The one production show we saw (Across the Pond) was amateurish. The Galaxy Lounge is small and OK, but there are some obstructed sight lines. Dancing is restricted by the small stage, but that might have been a blessing. Production shows are not really suited for this size ship and I think people are really tired of them. The magician from the Magic Castle was fantastic. Staged for very small groups of 20-30 people, it these were up-close sleight-of-hand illusions that amazed the audience. Crystal still managed to mess this performance up by being unable to get the spotlight working. The magician was left to perform in reduced light that lessened the impact of his performance somewhat. Just another example of Crystal lowering their marks at every opportunity. Customer service: There was no acknowledgement of the problems with the embarkation and delivery of a sub-par experience until there were only 2 days left in the cruise. After we sailed from Seattle, we got a notice that they were giving us a $100.00 pp shipboard credit. What were we expected to do with it now with only a stop in Astoria' OR and a sea day left? This should have been offered the day after embarkation, but I think they waited to see how bad the passenger reaction was. Too little to late. A simple gesture (a small box of candy or a bottle of wine or ??) waiting in the cabin (when we finally boarded) with a note apologizing for the rocky start and a commitment to make this the cruise we had ever taken would have gone a long way to starting things off as well as possible. Be pro-active, not reactive. The Captain's reception was not even held until half-way through the cruise. They made special mention that the officers would not shake hands to prevent the possible spread of disease. I am sure there are measures that could have been taken, but the tone was just wrong so we returned this lukewarm gesture by skipping the reception (a first for us). There was almost no presence of officers to be seen during the cruise (also a first). The only officer I saw was the Hotel Manager. Another gaff. Lots more I could add, but I think you have enough of my opinions to know I will never take another Crystal cruise. Disembarkation: Excellent. On-time and efficient. We were definitely ready to get off the Serenity. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this cruise as a getaway cruise that we combined with a four night stay on land in San Francisco. It worked perfectly for our schedule. While this was our shortest cruise ever we had an absolutely wonderful time on board ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a getaway cruise that we combined with a four night stay on land in San Francisco. It worked perfectly for our schedule. While this was our shortest cruise ever we had an absolutely wonderful time on board Crystal Serenity and at each of the ports we visited. The enrichment and entertainment that was offered on the ship was amazing with so much to see and do during the daytime and evening hours. This included several land based entertainers brought on board for this cruise and also a couple of productions by the Crystal Serenity dancers and singers. During the day there was so much enrichment offered from lecture on destinations and politics and classes ranging from bridge to fitness to iMovie Classes. The service was outstanding and the food continues to amaze. With only five days we still made it to each of the dining venues for dinner including the Main Dining Room on two nights and each of the three Specialty Restaurants. This included a visit to Prego which is the Italian Specialty Restaurant, Silk Road which serves Japanese Cuisine based on the land based Nobu Restaurants and Tastes which serves Tapas representing countries from around the world. We had one sea day and then visits to three ports of call two of which we had never sailed to. This included Victoria, Canada which we have been to before but also Astoria, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. There were many first time Crystal Cruisers on board as this gave them an opportunity to try out Crystal. The overall Cruise far exceeds our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016

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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