1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Crystal Cruises
  4. Crystal Serenity Review
  5. Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews

15 Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Transatlantic

In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s ... Read More
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries around 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. ROUTE: This type of cruise is for those who enjoy the boat ride itself. It started in Lisbon and ended in Fort Lauderdale. The only enroute stop was at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which placed us back in the U.S. It was Sunday, and the onboard border clearance was quick and painless -- took only five minutes from leaving our room to returning. OVERALL RATING (5 OUT OF 5): I rate this cruise as excellent (an overall “5” on a scale of 5). My score is based on the high quality of (1) live music in the small venues, (2) food offerings (truly perfect), and (3) service in the food and entertainment areas (still the most attentive service anywhere on land or sea). However, we’ve never found the Serenity to be perfect “ultra luxury” in every way. We keep coming back year after year because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where the predictable pleasures outweigh the problems of an aging ship. In fact, the cruise’s most memorable lecturer was a writer for the old “Cheers” television comedy (Cheri Steinkellner). She gave you the juicy backstory of that neighborhood bar where “the troubles are all the same” and “everyone knows your name.” If you’re looking for a low-key, relaxing, good old-fashioned voyage across the Atlantic, this is your ship. Luxury measured by what’s not there. No stateroom announcements. No pressure to buy anything or do anything. No gaming to get your keycard for just one more charge (Crystal’s price is all inclusive). For cruisers who’ve tired of harried herding on the mass-market lines, the absence of certain nuisances on Crystal may be worth an overall “5” in itself. ENTERTAINMENT: When it comes to entertainment, what get’s the perfect “5” from me is the live jazz and show tunes performed in the ship’s small venues (the “Great American Songbook” from the 1940s and 50s). Crystal calls this its “supper club” and “cabaret” entertainment. I found these talented performances every bit as enjoyable as a night clubbing in Seattle or New Orleans. But no cover charges, taxi fares, exorbitant parking, or pestering to buy another drink. Crystal’s musical offerings continued right up to the end, with five shows on the final night of the cruise. The last of these shows ended at 11 pm, just as luggage was due outside the staterooms. Pretty impressive for a cruise with less than 900 passengers. There are lots of amazing musicians out there who never do albums or arenas. Crystal finds them; some stay for a cruise, others stay for years. But if live music isn’t your niche, think of the Serenity as your floating senior center. One with lots of pampering (they even have a “valet service” that parks the scooters and wheelchairs to keep the halls clear after bedtime). And the ship’s veteran waiters are saints of the sea when it comes to their patience and respect toward the older crowd that frequents Crystal. Yup, you’ll find all the day-to-day activities that you’d expect in a well-appointed senior center: bingo, bridge, needlepoint, knitting, shuffleboard, slots, puzzles, trivia, liars club, name-that-tune, karaoke, parlor magic, tribute shows, afternoon tea, and dance hosts for the ladies. (About a fourth of the passengers on this cruise were involved in a bridge tournament.) Music and comedy shows are focused on the tastes and memories of the “extra generation” of seniors blessed with extended retirements. There was even the screening of a new film about finding late-life romance in a nursing home (yes, including sex). The filmmaker (Neil Leifer) was onboard and understandably pegged the Crystal crowd as a sympathetic test audience. But I’ll say it again: travel agents should use caution in sending children under age 50 on this ship. Though Crystal’s current president came over from Disney, absolutely none of the following “advancements” in onboard entertainment are found on this ship (thankfully): water slide; climbing wall; zipline; go-carts; carousel; laser tag; bungee trampoline; bumper cars; surfing simulator; trapeze training; skydiving wind tunnel. After all, this ship is called the Serenity -- a synonym for quiet peacefulness. There is, however, a golf net, a little swimming pool, and a “shopping mall” of three stores (including one that sells the Chico’s line). While there are no midnight buffets, there is 24-hour room service for those who can’t wait until the next meal at 6 am. Not surprisingly, the youngest on board are usually the employees. No teen gangs here. And nature seems to impose its own curfew, with the halls largely empty after midnight. DINING: We dined in all of the ship’s venues with the exception of its Italian restaurant (Prego). When it comes to dining, I give this cruise a perfect “5” simply because I found it perfect in every respect. Taste, variety, presentation, novelty, service, and overall enjoyability were all consistent with luxury cruising. It’s not just about the food, though. You get to leisurely visit with some of the world’s most interesting people. Table topics go far beyond the common senior focus on kids’ foibles, grandkids’ achievements, and perpetual medical procedures. While this is indeed God’s waiting room, people here aren’t in a hurry to keep their appointment with Him. In fact, the more they cruise, the less they rush to get to the next onboard activity. Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. We much appreciated Crystal’s new walk-in flexibility (open dining) for time, table location, and the number of diners joining us. With little fanfare, you can now bring along your onboard friends, old and new. Or dine in a quiet secluded corner and share secrets. Gone are those days when disappointed cruisers went up to a hearing room for an audience before the maitre d’. There you lined up and pled your case for the dining dispensation of a better table or feeding time. Never quite seemed consistent with Berlitz’s definition of luxury cruising as “the kind of stylish ships aboard which the word ‘no’ is virtually unheard.” STATEROOM: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). Though Crystal had just remodeled this ship’s “penthouse” class of rooms, the only change we found in the standard stateroom was a bigger TV screen. But we frankly don’t come here for the rooms. We keep returning to this ship because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where seasoned employees year after year provide the most attentive service anywhere. And an expected part of a comfortable old hotel (ship) is old rooms with problems that we just get fixed as they arise. This time it was slow drains, faucets without cold water, no clock, no shower curtain, and a stuck sliding door that kept us from using the veranda. All eventually fixed after a little intervention from an officer. Onboard television was limited to a few generic international channels. Those who live for American reality shows or Monday night football may need to schedule their cruise during the annual rerun doldrums. On the other hand, the Lido Deck’s sound system was unintelligible, and a channel on our television was a good alternative for hearing the captain’s daily announcement on weather conditions and routing adjustments. Travel agents should alert customers that, even on a cruise billed as ultra luxury, an aging ship’s staterooms may be in less than perfect condition. INTERNET ACCESS: You really don’t come here for the Internet. A few months before our trip, Cruise Critic published its article, “6 Cruise Lines With Great WiFi.” Crystal didn’t make the list. Those tethered to the rituals of social media may consider it more of a forced silent retreat than a vacation. Internet connectivity varied greatly throughout the cruise, with regular display of the dreaded message, “Internet access is currently not available” (even when approaching Florida). Passengers grabbed it while they could. And ocean crossings like this one obviously lack port stops where an Internet cafe could come to the rescue. For some primitive, less-connected retirees like ourselves, a vacation with sporadic Internet is no deal-breaker. And there’s something to be said for the attitude of a past Crystal president that cruisers should “turn off the Internet and just enjoy the moment.” (Virtuoso Life, May-June 2015, p. 99) However, travel agents should caution their customers that this ship may not be a good fit if they must stay in uninterrupted email contact with a business or relative back home. Nor should passengers count on Internet availability to make enroute arrangements for port stops or post-cruise travel. Or for online bill paying or holiday shopping at the last minute. SHIP’S MUSEUM: The lore of cruising traditionally has the rich & famous dining at the captain’s table. But Crystal has something just as good for the rest of us. Captain Vorland periodically opens up the ship’s museum and serves as its docent and resident storyteller -- sort of a Norwegian cross between Sully Sullenberger, Garrison Keillor, and your favorite humanities professor. This guy really has been everywhere, man (he even took a break as a Crystal vice president). The museum, in a restricted area, has a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect the Serenity’s visits to the world’s ports, both famous and obscure. While some of the plaques are simple pieces of wood, the more elaborate ones feature local art, crafts, and materials. Tell the cruise director or Crystal Society host if you’d like to be included when a group does this. Like the free kitchen tours, backstage tours, magic shows, and guided stargazing, Crystal doesn’t charge for this onboard activity. I’ve always been impressed by Captain Vorland’s daily explanation of the sea conditions and resulting navigation adjustments. Reminds me of the aviation saying that “a superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.” Or success is measured by all the potentially bad days that cruisers never know they have been spared. Captain Vorland may in fact be eligible for the honor of the Explorers Club, given his work in advancing passenger cruising through the Northwest Passage (like another Norwegian who pioneered polar air routes back in the 1950s). Crystal recorded the many lectures that experts gave during the Serenity’s treks through the Northwest Passage. I’ve watched around 40 of these videos, and the collection should be sent to the Vancouver Maritime Museum (rather than just forgotten, lost, or erased). FEDERAL INSPECTION SCORES: Federal agencies in both the United States and Canada conduct health inspections of cruise ships. The inspection scores are posted on the agencies’ public websites. See www.cdc.gov and www.canada.ca. For the U.S. inspections (CDC), cruisers can read the full reports online in all their technical detail (as well as Crystal’s side of the story). For the Canadian inspections, you’d need to email a request to see the report behind a score. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score (both countries) is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 means no significant deficiencies, not perfection. The Serenity’s most recent U.S. inspection occurred in December 2018 (about three weeks after the end of our cruise). Score was 95. The inspection report listed 43 violations around the ship, none of which would deter me from booking the ship again. (Gluttony at that Churrascaria dessert bar was a health risk for me, though.) A few months passed before CDC published the results of this inspection. Perhaps due to the famous shutdown of some federal agencies for about a month. The Serenity’s most recent Canadian inspection was in June 2017. Score was 99. However, even well-inspected luxury liners can face that noro nastiness (vomiting, diarrhea). There’s a limit to what cruise lines and governments can do to protect passengers from their own health habits. While we were crossing the ocean, Crystal’s other ship (the Symphony) had a norovirus outbreak on the Amazon. No secret, though. It was publicly reported on CDC’s home page, in Cruise Critic’s passenger chat room, and in USA Today. The Symphony’s doctor made daily reports to CDC, sought CDC’s assistance, and was able to contain the illness (less than 5 percent of the passengers reported symptoms). While passengers in a Cruise Critic chat room are not a statistical sampling, their online thread on the Symphony didn’t signal any cruise-spoiling panic. They made passing references to onboard norovirus in the midst of much more vigorous exchanges over the ethics of petting sloths and the merits of selling the Chico’s brand in the ship’s clothing store (true story). Per these stats and chats, it’s not inevitable that most people on board will get sick if there’s a norovirus outbreak (defined by CDC as 3% of passengers). A clinic that specializes in travel medicine can give you a thorough briefing on how to handle this contingency, including what remedies to take along. Here are two lists of doctors with this type of practice: (1) the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org) and (2) the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (www.astmh.org). Measles has made quite the comeback across the U.S., and is highly contagious. CDC presumes that travelers born in the U.S. before 1957 have childhood immunity. If you were born later and have had the shots, you may want to take along proof in case there’s a quarantine in your travels. (See www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html) EVOLVING AMBIENCE: Crystal’s customer core is retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. Crystal continues to preserve traditions from a prior era of travel. There are still formal nights (“black tie optional” and some tuxedos), daily afternoon tea, a dress code after 6 pm, and an ornate hideaway for smoking cigars. We continue to feel safe from onboard crime. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. But Crystal is not an isolation ward, and travel agents may need to prepare some customers to expect subtle changes in the ship’s atmosphere. For instance, the music. The Russian string quartet has been replaced by a solo performer with an electronic violin. Crystal has invested heavily in computerized neon costumes for performers to dance in the dark. The young jazz crooner that faithfully replicates the 1940s may wear his hair in a modern man bun. (But just be glad that yet another generation is striving to perpetuate the old favorites from before it was born.) The crew members who give you super service may sport a few tattoos. (We’re talking pretty young ladies here, not muscled male deckhands.) And you’ll see cruisers who whip out their smartphones whenever there’s a lull in table talk. (We’re talking seniors here, not millennials.) And you might even see a dog on board these days. Folks on this cruise reported dog sightings at the buffet line, ice cream bar, clothing store, Lido Deck dining, Japanese restaurant, and ledge around the hot tub. The tiny hound that I saw didn’t make a sound, didn’t bother anyone, and was even wearing a dress at one point. And the affection from crew members suggested that they might be missing their pets back home. Or perhaps their parents just raised them to be kind to animals (and seniors). Social media polarizes this sort of thing in a rhetoric of rights. But it’s not really a legal matter until a foreign ship (here the Serenity) departing from a foreign port (here Lisbon) finally reaches an American port (here the Virgin Islands). (49 CFR 39.5(b)) Until we reached the Virgin Islands, it was just a customer relations call as to which species Crystal wished to accommodate in the price of a ticket. Regardless of a dog’s purpose, the practical problems for “pet parents” make it unlikely that cruises will ever really go to the dogs (become truly “pet friendly”). There are issues like dog-sitting during port stops, local health regs, security screenings, and distinctive nasties from nature. Things like fleas with plague, cute little snakes, and big birds that really do eat small mammals. Nature is indifferent to the rhetoric of rights. In the event of a canine unthinkable, it can be a long wait until the next port stop with a veterinarian. And I have no idea whether Crystal’s onboard physician would agree to treat a suffering non-human. If you insist on bringing Fido or Fifi, a competitor’s megaship will be more likely than tiny Crystal to include a vacationing veterinarian among its passengers. Of course, you never know what travel entrepreneurs will develop for an unmet need. While we were docked in the Virgin Islands, the humane society was having a dog-washing fundraiser at the yacht marina. Proceeds of $10 a dog went to “fly homeless pets to stateside rescues and better lives.” Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
WE love Crystal. However, when it takes 45 minutes to get served in no man's land for their dining by reservation anytime dining program, it makes me wonder what is going on with this company. Is profit driving a wedge into what was ... Read More
WE love Crystal. However, when it takes 45 minutes to get served in no man's land for their dining by reservation anytime dining program, it makes me wonder what is going on with this company. Is profit driving a wedge into what was excellent service, fantastic food and beverage service at your fingertips? Heaven help you if you make a reservation for 7:45 for the main dining room. You are in between seatings and depending on where you are seated, service is dismal. We felt that not only was service lacking, but their servers didn't seem dialed in, more interested in just getting you something, the attentiveness wasn't there and many crew seemed new. There also seems to be less crew/servers, the servers to guest ratio seems less and service suffers. Getting a drink at the pool after 5:15pm or so is almost impossible and so I walked back to the Tastes bar to get my own in my bathing suit and cover up, but still dripping wet. I'm sure they didn't like seeing me there but I don't like not being served and to make it easier on the crew, since there seemed to be so few of them, I though I'd just go get a drink myself. Gone are the fresh berries. You have to know "who" ask for them at breakfast, and even then, they dole them out with a mere 5 berries at a time. No truffle honey, probably have to ask for that too. In general, the food just didn't seem to be what we fondly thought of as the Crystal difference. I think if you want the old Crystal experience you can still get it, you just have to ask and know "who" to ask when it comes to food and beverage service. . Having said all of this, yes of course we will still cruise Crystal, but there are changes and new guests may or may not notice. The lectures and guest speakers remain out of this world and I can't help but think I get to go back to college when I am onboard. Kudos to Crystal for having the best of the best in the world for cruise speakers. Both our embarkation and debarkation had issues and thank God we weren't in a hurry, otherwise we'd have missed our plane. Ft Lauderdale terminal was a nightmare for many for a variety of reasons. It was very inexcusable in many passengers opinions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We love Crystal and were interested in exploring the Amazon River. For us, this is a once in a lifetime destination both because it is so exotic and because once was great but enough. The Amazon is very hot and humid, and the blast of ... Read More
We love Crystal and were interested in exploring the Amazon River. For us, this is a once in a lifetime destination both because it is so exotic and because once was great but enough. The Amazon is very hot and humid, and the blast of air conditioning was a welcome relief each time we returned to the ship. There is not a whole lot to see from the ship itself, because the river is so wide that we were close to shore only in ports. But the ports were interesting. The jungle hikes were billed as "strenuous" and we were probably more timid than necessary about them. The two "strenuous" activities we did were really not so bad, and we should have done more. They were the most interesting of our excursions -- the Rubber Museum and native village in Manaus and the Jungle Trek in Santarem. Crystal, as usual, did a fantastic job of providing a lot of interesting lectures and on board activities, especially on the sea days. And the food was outstanding. This was a Food and Wine theme cruise, so they added some cooking demonstrations and wine tastings, which were very nice. Crystal really shines in the service department. The crew were very attentive, and quickly learn the names and preferences of the passengers. When my husband walked into his favorite bar, his favorite drink would appear before him by magic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
It seems that the Crystal crew seems to always anticipate your needs. They keep the ship spotless. I see them late at night cleaning hall baseboards while on their knees. Food in the regular restaurant is awesome. You don't ... Read More
It seems that the Crystal crew seems to always anticipate your needs. They keep the ship spotless. I see them late at night cleaning hall baseboards while on their knees. Food in the regular restaurant is awesome. You don't normally see JUMBO shrimp, lobster, filet mignon, caviar, crab over and over again on the menu. Nobo's menu in Silk Road specialty restaurant was great as was the menu in Prego's. All those at no extra charge. Drinks and gratuities were included and the drinks were not the normal bar type alcohol. Example for vodka Grey Goose was an option. High quality single malt scotches were also available at no extra charge. If I need to make one constructive comment to them it would be for them to cut down on the salt in soups and sauces and let us add what we need. But then that comment needs to be told to ALL cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal ... Read More
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) over a dozen times in the past several years. We treat it as a comfortable boutique hotel where everyone knows your name. It’s consistently a nice getaway that lacks all that herding, hustling, and hollering for which cruises are stereotyped. Nevertheless, there are some real limits on what the Serenity offers all of us who don’t stay up there in those elite penthouses. Travel agents who want to book repeaters should use caution to avoid an expectation gap. Regardless of the fancy ads, this aging ship doesn’t meet the assumptions for unabashed “ultra luxury.” There are simply too many little “no’s” and missing touches for that. Overall, I rate this cruise as a “3” (on a scale of 5) when judged against Crystal’s asserted standards of “all exclusive” and “ultra luxury.” But there are definitely some pockets of real luxury on the Serenity, including some crew members who consistently offer a luxury level of service. Among the latter are the cruise director and the famous Lido waiters -- true masters of making you feel welcome. So we enjoy what’s there, and overlook what’s not. And we keep coming back. For customers that insist on absolute pampered perfection, travel agents should carefully brief them on the market’s offerings and realities. DINING: The quality of food on the Serenity was quite variable during this cruise. For my taste buds, the following hodgepodge was delicious and memorable: monkfish (a rare treat where we live); fishermen’s platter (perfectly breaded); salzburger nockerl (custom dessert from our Austrian head waiter); homemade corned beef hash (a breakfast treat); Ovaltine (a childhood memory); all that super-creamy ice cream (including arcane flavors like lychee and green tea). As in the past, the Lido Cafe’s steaks, hamburgers, and chimichurri beef were consistently delicious. And my wife had a good filet in the dining room. But the rest of the ship’s beef cuts lacked flavor at best, and were hard to eat at worst. (I actually pushed two servings aside.) One of the Serenity’s pasta offerings (spaghetti with meat sauce) was quite tasty. With that one exception, the ship’s pasta was disappointing. One serving lacked flavor and arrived lukewarm. Another serving arrived so cold that I reported it to the head waiter for replacement. The Serenity is a good choice if you like the treasure hunt of sampling the world’s cuisine. It may not be a good fit for those who passively expect meals of predictable perfection (that is, eaters with little tolerance for uncertainty and experimentation). On the other hand, the head waiters on the Serenity are outstanding and, with a day’s notice, will arrange just about any food you want (as close as we come to having a personal chef). And this option for customized, off-menu items is indeed a luxury. Last spring, Crystal’s president expressed her understandable need for “making sure every berth is full every sailing” (Wall Street Journal, 4-23-15). That apparently means marketing to more than us empty-nesters, as well as steps like deformalizing the dining room a bit for those who wear the “$400 jeans” (as she expressed it in an onboard video of a March 7 passenger briefing). The apparel debate has now been addressed in a 350-word “Dress Codes for Your Cruise,” which was distributed at the start of the voyage. After dissecting the document and looking at the diners’ attire, I concluded that the dreaded jeans are now permissible anywhere and anytime except the two formal nights. Once again, the key is for travel agents to openly cover this issue with their shoppers. If customers prefer more or less formality, they can vote with their checkbooks. But it’s not just about the ups and downs of the food (or even the tuxes). We much enjoy our table talk with some of the world’s most interesting people. All those people who do things we’ll never do ourselves. And those dining conversations are the real luxury for us. In fact, we often remember those chats in more detail than what we ate at a given feeding. MUSIC & LECTURES: This was a repositioning cruise with less than 1,000 passengers. But it was definitely the land of luxury for musicians and music lovers. The little ship was saturated with three bands, two pianists, nightly music shows, a Mozart tea, and a Russian string quartet. Three lecturers did a memorable series of 11 presentations about the “American Songbook.” And the Serenity provided free wireless access to 300+ videos of its past lectures. However, the ship’s online portal needs to label these videos by topic, rather than just by the name of the lecturer. STATEROOM & PUBLIC SPACES: Cruising need not mean crowding. Though a small ship, Serenity was somehow built with “endless” nooks and crannies in which one can limit contact with other humans to the desired degree. On this cruise, as before, we found the Serenity’s basic veranda stateroom to be adequate and comfortable. The housekeeper was thorough, attentive, pleasant, and dependable. However, the ship’s voicemail system was broken for most of the cruise. This frustrated messages from passengers and crew. Crystal’s daily newsletter acknowledged the problem on December 16, 20, and 21. But the failure to provide this basic service is not consistent with luxury cruising. The broken voicemail reminded us of our cruise last year, when the Serenity’s connection to the Internet was broken across much of the Pacific. Again, this is an aging little ship with limitations that travel agents should alert their customers to expect. PRE-CRUISE & POST-CRUISE: We’ve given up on using taxicabs due to various incidents over the years. A problem with a cab driver can be a real spoiler at the beginning of a trip. Thus, in Lisbon, we reserved a private driver to meet us at the airport. In setting the pickup time, be sure to make a pessimistic allowance for baggage claim and the passport line. Before the cruise, we built in a “cushion day” at the Sheraton Lisboa hotel. Great place to park for the day of waiting, but be sure to read your bill before paying. The Sheraton felt free to tack on an unrequested donation to a charity. They took it off when I spotted it. We used a private driver again for the ride down to the Serenity. At the end of the cruise (Miami), we rode Crystal’s bus from the ship to the airport. If Crystal offers a transfer bus, it’s a good deal and we take it. HEALTH & SAFETY: There’s a lot to like about the Serenity, but one concern is hard for customers to assess because it’s hard to see. At the start of this cruise, the Serenity’s daily newsletter asserted that “Crystal Cruises consistently receives the highest scores from the United States Public Health service after inspections of our culinary operations.” Crystal is referring to the inspections that cruise ships get from a federal health agency (Center for Disease Control) based in Fort Lauderdale. These inspections can occur when the ship docks at a U.S. port (the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program). CDC considers inspection scores from 86 to 100 to be in the passing range. I checked CDC’s website for the last inspection before our cruise. CDC gave the Serenity a score of 88 in its May 2015 inspection. This score is 3 points above CDC’s “not satisfactory” threshold of 85. CDC issued a 15-page report that detailed 62 deficiencies. Per CDC’s website (visited 12-29-15), the agency has conducted 230 inspections of cruise ships during 2015. Serenity’s score of 88 was among the 16 lowest scores, that is, in the bottom 7%. These inspection reports are publicly available (in all their technical tedium) at www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp. Travel agents can read for themselves and discuss any item of concern with their doctors that deal with travel health. Part of the “value added” by a travel agent can be a realistic assessment of the risks of an itinerary. Another option, which I’ve found quite helpful, is a pre-cruise consultation with a national chain of travel medicine clinics (see www.passporthealthusa.com). CDC hopefully did a re-inspection when this cruise ended in Miami. And the Serenity hopefully got a better score (which will ultimately be reported on CDC’s website). Crystal continues to boast that it caters to the “top 2% of the world’s wealthiest.” (See the marketing interviews on Fox News (12-14-15) www.youtube.com/watch?v=1--zYYGJukQ, and on CNBC (4-23-15) http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000373868 ) But an inspection score in the lowest 7% is not consistent with luxury cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I found the atmosphere on the Serenity to be intolerable by the end of the first few days. I will not go into much detail here but suffice it to say I was ignored by others when I as a solo traveler sat down and waited to play. As soon as ... Read More
I found the atmosphere on the Serenity to be intolerable by the end of the first few days. I will not go into much detail here but suffice it to say I was ignored by others when I as a solo traveler sat down and waited to play. As soon as a couple came along, the couple who had been playing addressed them and aid they would take them on. I was never acknowledged, greeted , etc nor did they consider rotating so we could all at least hit balls until someone from the fitness center came to run the morning session. Most of the time there was no one running the paddle tennis program, and that permitted more assertive guests to play as long as they wanted to and in at least one instance kept me from playing when I wanted to as there was no one for solo players to play with at times. I was harassed by someone at the Magic show, a mother in a wheelchair and her daughter, who took it upon themselves to be the seating police and said "She should move" not addressing me directly, when a couple entered the room and were making their way around the stool type seats in the second ro. The couple did not ask me to move and the women in question were not sailing with them. I would have gladly moved had the couple asked me to but this woman was way out of line to tell me to move. I was there first. Ultimately I left the show before it started. The Avenue Saloon piano player did not interact with guests and that surprised me-negatively as I am used to Mark Farris and the fun people have when he is on board. My room stewardess brought me mushy brown spotted bananas even after I told her what I wanted and had told her those were too ripe. It took a message to the home office to get the bananas to magically appear. (I had been told they were usually like that (?) and she didn't think there were any more since they had gotten them in Miami) One of the Ambassador hosts (his first time on Crystal) constantly held hands with an older guest and spent an inordinate amount of time outside the dance floor with her inappropriate behavior according to my gf on my trivia team. That wasn't so much of an issue to me personally, but his demeanor was not professional. he was so phony that it was laughable. The shore excursions were okay but we did have an incident in Lisbon which resulted in the 5 members of our Jeep receiving a full refund of the cost of the Jeep Safari. I did not like having to go through the Casino to get to the Bistro, shops or to head downstairs to the Crystal Cove. Many guests dressed like they were off to a State dinner on Crystal casual nights (what was left to wear on the formal nights, I wondered?) and more than occasionally people looked at me (and I am sure others) up and down like they were the dress code police,giving disapproving looks as if I was wearing rags! I have made my grievances known to the head office but there is nothing they can do about fellow passengers for the most part. Some of you will say I am making this up but believe me I compared notes to others on board and they experienced similar issues. I have nothing to gain by posting this and frankly am likely to be setting myself up for ridicule but I experienced all that I have written here and it was enough, frequently enough, such that you could not pay me to step foot on the Serenity again!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our 13 cruise on crystal all have been on symphony, this was our first on Serenity. This was our third crossing that lectures were over the top the shows were also good. I thought the food service in the main dinning room ... Read More
This was our 13 cruise on crystal all have been on symphony, this was our first on Serenity. This was our third crossing that lectures were over the top the shows were also good. I thought the food service in the main dinning room was ok not great. The presentations of the plates had no garnish at all. We were in Penthouse with a regular suite not worth the money. Flowers were dead most of the time. Service was nothing to write home about. The seas were very calm the Captain was delightful. The ship was very clean as clean as you can get with all the people on board. But I would sail symphony any time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Crossing the Atlantic Solo! Miami to Lisbon May 4 - 17, 2015 Background Information: I have cruised extensively on Princess, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean and always enjoyed these vacations immensely. When I became a widow I ... Read More
Crossing the Atlantic Solo! Miami to Lisbon May 4 - 17, 2015 Background Information: I have cruised extensively on Princess, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean and always enjoyed these vacations immensely. When I became a widow I wanted to continue to travel so once again tried Royal Caribbean and Holland America and found these lines didn't really encourage solo travellers starting with 200% solo fares and an indifferent onboard experience. I was first encouraged to try Crystal due to some favourable solo pricing and I have now completed three Crystal cruises within a year! I chose the Classic Atlantic Crossing so I would have more time onboard to enjoy the Crystal Experience! Embarkation and Disembarkation: Crystal is noted for its efficient onboard check-in but this option was not available on this cruise due to the fact that over 600 passengers would be departing the Serenity after being on board for 108 days, many crew were leaving for vacation with replacements arriving, and there was also a health inspection being conducted. Crystal had been proactive in informing travel agents and passengers individually that embarkation would be much later than normal, after 2:00 PM. However many guests had early morning arrival times and a major accident caused the tunnel to the port to be closed so taxis had to reroute. As a result, many passengers arrived early to the port, expecting a long wait. However, in true Crystal style, a champagne reception with sandwiches, fruit, and pastries was set up in the terminal. Multiple agents completed the terminal check-in, boarding numbers were assigned, and a festive atmosphere prevailed. In fact, this solo traveller met many others and the first connections were made! I was onboard by 1:30! Disembarkation is also seamless. Crystal sends small groups ashore, luggage is easy to identify, porters are there to assist, and you tend to be off the ship a bit earlier than scheduled. Crystal transfers to the Lisbon airport were efficient and agents are also there to ensure everyone makes it to the correct airline check-in. Entertainment and Enrichment: With a dual theme of Film and Theatre, Experiences of Discovery, and 25th Anniversary Captain's Cruise hosted by former Captain Glenn Edvardsen, Crystal presented a dizzying array of entertainers, lecturers including an Asian film historian, Hollywood stylist, producers, directors, and choreographers, tribute artists, as well as film screenings. In honour of Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday, many interesting lectures complete with music and movie clips, a tribute artist, and even a birthday tea were featured. These guest lecturers were extremely personable and willing to interact with passengers and were true ambassadors for their craft. As always the Crystal Ensemble performed outstanding production shows including 6/8 Cafe, Across the Pond, and Curtain Call. The Music of Billy Joel, performed by James Fox, was a definite highlight. Individual vocalists, a guitarist, pianists in the Cove and Avenue and the Astoria Strings provided ongoing entertainment in various areas around the ship. The Avenue Saloon, with pianist Brian Johnson, was packed every evening till closing, another great venue for solos to gather. World Affairs Lecturer Ronald Marks and Destination Lecturer Ken Rees offered a variety of interesting and informative lectures. Computer University at Sea provided excellent instruction on a variety of topics including Digital Filmmaking on the IPad, Photoshop, and Wordprocessing. Crystal is noted for its Ambassador Host program, where hosts are available to dance with solo ladies each evening. On previous cruises this was an excellent way to be introduced to others, partake in some dancing, and be greeted around the ship and ashore. Although there were six hosts on this segment, at least half were inexperienced, lacking in interpersonal skills, and even when escorting a shore excursion had little or no interaction with guests. This was my only disappointment on this cruise and in sharp contrast to what I had experienced on two previous cruises. Art classes, Needlepoint, Knitting, Bridge, Dance Lessons, Fitness Classes, Stretch, Yoga, Golf, Paddle Tennis are also available. First run movies, Magic Castle at Sea, and a well stocked library are also available. On a sea day, over 50 activities will be listed in the program, so there is something for everyone. Dining: I choose first seating dinner even though it is a bit early, but seems to mesh well with all the entertainment options provided. Seated at a solo table for eight, my tablemates were well travelled, sociable, and enjoyable to be with. Outstanding service, two menu options including modern and classic were available each night. It was no problem to order smaller portions or have something special preordered in advance. Our table had the wonderful Salzburger Knockerl served table side to celebrate a birthday. The specialty restaurants Prego and Nobu are outstanding, service impeccable, and offer a leisurely dining experience. Although I did not join this group, a no-host Table for Eight is offered for solo cruisers. The dining experience in Tastes is a wonderful casual, relaxing affair, and is more enjoyable if you invite others. A few more people, a few more tantalizing tapas to taste! It is also a lovely venue for late risers breakfast or lunch. The incredible deck stewards with their warm, contagious smiles, not only remember your name and your beverage, they work nonstop! The Lido, Bistro, and Room Service also provide alternate dining options. The presentation of the delicacies at the Mozart Tea and the Gala Buffet is appealing and impressive. Service: In this area Crystal not only sparkles and shines, it dazzles! The highlight is the high level of name recognition onboard, their ability to remember you from one cruise to the next, and the warm, personable service provided. "It's my pleasure" is their attitude and they oblige many challenging requests with a smile. Not once did I ever detect a "roll of the eyes" when some things I heard had me rolling mine! When you are greeted with "Welcome home" you truly feel it is your home away from home. My stewardess was outstanding. My room was made up promptly each morning and evening, and whenever I passed her in the hallway she never failed to ask if there was anything I needed. I have already mentioned the incredible Deck Stewards, but they deserve another mention because their warmth, sincerity, and hospitality is the true backbone of Team Crystal. Kudos for a job well done! With the wonderful Crystal family, one never feels alone! Conclusion: The interesting, friendly guests, the welcoming atmosphere, and the wonderful Crystal officers and staff make being onboard the Serenity a memorable experience. I have met many new friends, made some magical memories, and never felt alone. In fact, on other cruises I would often retreat to my stateroom for peace and quiet--on Serenity the large public areas and no announcement policy make for a calm, serene environment. 3,774 nautical miles, 8 days at sea, Miami, Bermuda, The Azores, Lisbon--would I do it again? In a heartbeat! It is a great way to "Begin a New Story"! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
If you want a REAL vacation it would be on the Crystal. I have been on both the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity. My last cruise was on the Serenity and it sure sticks to its name. My vacation WAS really serene! Every staff member ... Read More
If you want a REAL vacation it would be on the Crystal. I have been on both the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity. My last cruise was on the Serenity and it sure sticks to its name. My vacation WAS really serene! Every staff member is so very well trained in how to deal with the passengers that you feel like you have died and gone to heaven. The food is 1st class and very elegantly presented. The embarkation process is very easy and no lining up. The cabin was spotlessly clean and maintained at that level the whole time we were on the ship. The most impressive part is when you leave your cabin to go home the housekeeping staff comes in and removes EVERYTHING to get it washed. This includes the curtains, duvets, all the covers including the throw pillow covers. Wish other cruise lines would do that. I cruise about 6 or 7 times a year on different cruise lines and have only seen this kind of cleanliness on Crystal. Entertainment - 1st class. Disembarkation -very well organized so there are no lines when going through customs. The ship has more staff than passengers so everyone is very well taken care of. The cruise director is a fine gentleman - well spoken and also a great entertainer. The jazz band was also terrific! Highly recommend this line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We joined Crystal Serenity in beautiful Barcelona, for a favourite cruise, the leaisurely Transatlantic to Miami. We embarked with Crystal's minimum fuss or delay, after luggage was whisked away, and once on board, were quickly helped ... Read More
We joined Crystal Serenity in beautiful Barcelona, for a favourite cruise, the leaisurely Transatlantic to Miami. We embarked with Crystal's minimum fuss or delay, after luggage was whisked away, and once on board, were quickly helped with our hand luggage and enjoying a delightful al fresco lunch and chilled champagne. We admired the elegant makeover of the Lido casual cafe, and the charming green living wall and large olive trees decorating the Tastes grill area, now the venue for Tapas style evening dining, under the lit up olives trees, Our Deck 8 cabin was ready by 2pm, som wen quickly unpacked, met our charming stewardess and enjoyed the city views from the balcony. Cabins on Serenity are fairly small, but with a well planned layout, comfortably furnished in serene taupe and grey shades , have ample storage space and a lovely marble bathroom . Our small dislikes are the medicinal scented Aveda toiletries, and wardrobe alongside the bed. We looked over the featured programme for this Big Band themed cruise, and were delighted to discover that the band was to play 2 sets each night, and an excellent show programme and featured artists were going to be on board to entertain guests each evening. We particularly enjoyed the terrific Elton John tribute show, and the guest classical musicians. It was a. delight to see so many dance hosts , happy to dance with ladies who cared to dance, and also the Crystal initiative in having dance hostesses to partner gentlemen. On repositioning cruises, Crystal offer an excellent programme of dance tuition, delivered at 2 skill levels by well qualified and enthusiastic teachers. Additionally, we were to have excellent lectures and creative activities to keep us entertained and as busy as we cared to be. We both thoroughly enjoyed the quality art and golf tuition, delivered with charm and skill by featured tutors. Crystal Serenity has a superb library with a wide book selection for those quiet moments enjoying the sun, on the comfortable sun deck loungers. Serenity dining was superb each evening, whether in the lovely main dining room , with its varied menus, beautifully presented food and attentive service, or n the 2 speciality restaurants, Mediterranean Prefo and oriental Silk Road, a Nobu dining experience, with added sushi bar, whose chef prepared fresh delights as diners watched. Both the speciality restaurants require reservation and guests are limited as to the number of times they may dine there, so that all can enjoy these excellent . We did not try dining in Tastes , but it looked charming , intimate and fun. Daily lunch for us was always in the outdoor area of the lovely Lido, with a superb daily choice and delightful mini desserts to tempt. Waiters quickly offered drinks and were happy to bring preferred wines , even if they were not the daily selection. In fact, we found the wine service to be the best we have had on any cruise line, with knowledgeable sommeliers, helpful waiters, and a superb selection on offer. A lovely treat on Crystal Serenity was a gorgeous Mozart aftenoon tea, with costumes servers, a string quartet playing , and a fantastic pastry and cake display that would break any diet resolutions! As we prefer to breakfast in cabin, we enjoyed the full breakfast service available, served hot and promptly by cheerful room service staff. When we finally reached Miami, after 2 port stops in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and busy St Maarten, we were sad to leave such a lovely ship, and return to reality after such a superb pampering, sybaritic experience. We feel that a Crystal ship provides a wonderful quality cruise , in elegant , stylish surroundings with superb service levels , provided by well trained, motivated and charming staff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We so much liked the Fall 2012 T/A on Serenity that we didn't need much convincing to book this voyage as well. In both cases the chief attraction for Nancy was the ballroom dancing theme, with the opportunity to take private dance ... Read More
We so much liked the Fall 2012 T/A on Serenity that we didn't need much convincing to book this voyage as well. In both cases the chief attraction for Nancy was the ballroom dancing theme, with the opportunity to take private dance lessons from the on board professionals. As for me, I just like to be at sea. This voyage was more heavily booked than the previous one by about 15%. Wile the differences were perhaps not striking, this did show up in the quality of the service. While we could not recall a single complaint in the Fall, this time around there were three or four occasions on which we we failed to be noticed when we wanted to place an order in the bars and I had to go in search of a server. I understand this was a function of overcrowding of the facility for one reason or another and not a reflection on the extraordinary willingness of the staff to please, but it should be mentioned that, even on Crystal, at peak occupancy, there are glitches. Nancy was slightly disappointed, particularly as we had persuaded her mother and another lady to join us on the cruise, that this time the ladies were not escorted into the dining room at dinner by a member of the staff, certainly a courtly touch, but again, the passenger to crew ratio did not allow this. To make up for this however, the willingness of the Maitre d'Hotel to find us a good table at the early sitting each evening although, by the time we booked, this was theoretically sold out, went well beyond the call of duty. I like to eat well, and I certainly was not disappointed in this expectation. The quality of the food as well as the preparation in both the main dining room and in the Lido was absolutely first rate, I truly can't think of a single course in all of our meals there about which I could voice a complaint. I wish I could be equally enthusiastic about the specialty restaurants but, alas, this is not the case. Silk Road, while the food was uniformly superb, was distinguished by service of veritably glacial slowness, so that Nancy's Mom absolutely refused to return there and we cancelled our reservation for a second dinner in that venue. Prego, while once more producing flawless first and last courses, once again fell flat on its face with the main course. Having disliked their Osso Bucco in the Fall, I went for the saddle of lamb this time. One would think this would be all but impossible to ruin, but the chef at Prego managed the feat, the lamb was all but drowned in garlic. Garlic is a very good thing but, please, in measure! I realize that the Crystal Can Do No Wrong set will jump all over me for daring to make this criticism, but I will make it anyway. Also, although I'm not a great fan of after dinner entertainment, Nancy is and we thought it a pity that the shows were identical with the ones we had seen in the Fall. So much for quibbles. On a much more positive note Nancy was absolutely delighted with the quality of the dance instruction and with the expertise and grace of Rudy, Natalie and Beverly. The evident dedication and solicitousness with which the staff at the Lido cared for Nancy's mom, who had a tendency to get lost, was absolutely touching. Embarkation, in spite of warnings that the Miami Port Authority would throw up roadblocks, proceeded flawlessly, and when we informed the desk that we had a relatively early flight from Lisbon to Madrid, we were gotten off the ship in record time. If it wasn't the perfect cruise, it surely came close, and that's all that a reasonable man can ask. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Overall 9/10 The entire ship is clinically clean. Service is attentive pleasant and sharp. Facilities are first class. A happy and rewarding experience we would recommend highly to anyone. Cabins are tiny, and need getting used to. ... Read More
Overall 9/10 The entire ship is clinically clean. Service is attentive pleasant and sharp. Facilities are first class. A happy and rewarding experience we would recommend highly to anyone. Cabins are tiny, and need getting used to. Its not however 6* plus as Crystal and other probably paid reports state. Commonly high end market regular cruisers quote Seabourns product to set the standard for comparison. Seabourn's small ships are superior in food quality, choice, service and presentation. Also cabins are larger. Food in dining rooms is excellent, adequately varied and very good quality. Nobu is excellent in both food quality & presentation, although late dining is a rushed experience always reminiscent of an early closing restaurant in a major city, where waiters want to rush off home. An ill placed experience on a cruise ship. Prego Italian is sadly well below the general standard of the ship. The menu, presentation and taste can be found in most average mid market city restaurants, and certainly could be bettered by thousands of them. The decor is massively superior to the food offering. Menu is boring, poorly constructed. Ingredient quality is low. Specifically :- steak is tough and tasteless, Pasta is passable. Gnocchi a pitiable excuse. The Rissotto is the worst Ive ever tasted, made from the wrong type of rice, undercooked and tasteless. The Osso Buco was veal lacking in both taste and flavor. Tagliatale was good, as was the simple but notably farmed sea bass. 8 diners ate there twice and sent most food back uneaten. The management don't care, for other pax informed us its unchanged for at least a year. The service however is fantastic. Room service is appallingly slow, being badly managed for Crystal uniquely don't have dedicated staff, instead they use the already occupied room stewards who have to drop their prime cleaning task to obtain it from the galley and serve. Ridiculously unworkable. Entertainment is good, pianists, quartet all except the main show which is severely lacking in polish resembling a high school effort. The waiters although very efficient, rather obviously seem to operate on the previous tip culture, so much so that everyone around were discussing how much to pay them towards the end of the cruise, which sadly created a tense finale. The burning question is " Would we choose Crystal again?" The answer is "Most certainly yes and we look forward to cruising with them again soon". Theres so much excellent food and entertainment, lectures, and assorted lessons available all over the ship, its simply a matter of ignoring the Prego & main show embarrassments. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Since I began cruising in the late 90's I have heard and read things about Crystal Cruises which made me doubt it would ever be a cruise line I would like. The usual gist of the comments were "why pay more when it is nearly the ... Read More
Since I began cruising in the late 90's I have heard and read things about Crystal Cruises which made me doubt it would ever be a cruise line I would like. The usual gist of the comments were "why pay more when it is nearly the same as what you get on [fill in the blank]?" And too, there was always some allusion to the ratio of older passengers. In order to keep my comments brief, I will say only that none of this is true. What IS true in my mind is that Crystal Cruises is tailor made for the discerning traveler. I will leave the specific comparisons of food, entertainment and quality of service for others to comment on. They are all good to great, but they are not what sets Crystal apart in my mind. Let me explain: Cruising is about leaving cares and troubles behind for a time and enjoying life. This begins with embarkation. If you have to enter a terminal, figure out WHAT LINE YOU BELONG IN, or figure out which line is moving the fastest, then you are NOT on Crystal. My first Crystal experience taught me that one merely needs to walk onto the ship and pick up the room key. VOILA! If you are reminded everyday what benefits you get based on how many times you have cruised, you are not on Crystal. As first time cruisers we were given $100 shipboard credit each and an additional $200 each as part of our booking. Everyone I talked to received credit just for booking which one that gets to decide on how to use, e.g., internet, spa, stores, excursions, private dance instruction. This gets to the heart of what impressed me the most about Crystal. At no point did I detect or recognize the difference in passengers. Officers did not parade into the dining room with privileged guests, suite passengers received no special dining room or specialty restaurant booking privileges, there was no mention anywhere that if you are such and such you get such and such. No private parties for "special" groups. We did have a cruise critic party, but anyone could attend. If the cruise line does this sort of thing, it is discreet and that is really my point. They make it their business to treat everyone on board as a first class passenger. No difference is the difference! This is a brilliant business strategy in my way of thinking. The other key business strategy that puts Crystal at the very top is the public space to passenger ratio. Read: no crowds anywhere!!! No buffet lines, no chair hogs because there are so many wonderful choices, lots of dance floor. A WIDE WRAP AROUND PROMENADE for those who love to walk or run. Space, space, space. Another small example that speaks volumes: I learned Crystal has guest laundry services. HURRAY! I followed a sign, found it, and discovered, wow, no charge to use the machines. But alas, no machine for laundry soap. I thought, ah ha, this is where they will get you, they will charge $10 for soap! So I checked the stores and then asked at the desk with a rather wry look on my face. She looked at me quizzically and said, "madam, you simply push the button when you need soap". You mean bing, bang, boom, it is free? She laughed at me. Then, to top it off, I learned there is not one guest laundry, no, there is one ON EVERY FLOOR! A big example of how Crystal is out-thinking other cruise lines is their strategy of transatlantic big band dance cruises. If you are a dance lover, there is no better ship venue. The professional instructors (4) gave multiple group lessons every sea day, private instruction and they performed at various times with each other, crew and passengers. I count myself as a dance instruction snob and they outclassed the competition on land and sea by a mile. Seven dance ambassadors were onboard and were tireless in dancing with the ladies on-board. This has to be the best kept secret in the cruising industry but I think it is just starting to take off so if you are interested, act fast and book! Finally, let me say a word about the passengers. The first week I kept asking myself, "is it the passengers aboard who make this a more enjoyable experience, or is it the way Crystal does business that makes every happier and therefore the experience more enjoyable?" I have concluded that it must be both.On Crystal, you will see smiling octogenarians showing the middle aged folks how to have fun. Common etiquette is evident everywhere. If you are on a ship with whiners, complainers, "me too" or "me first" needy type folks, you are not on Crystal! Before I conclude, I will point out two areas that are good but could be better. The spa. It is disconnected in culture from the rest of the ship. To be brief, they should be more inviting and offer more amenities in the locker room, especially at those prices. Second, the regular production stage performers (not the professional ballroom instructors onboard) are good, not great. I might point to Azamara as a cruise line that excels in maximizing the potential of a small dance/vocal performer group. Crystal cruises are a class act all the way. The discerning cruiser will see it at every turn and it will be experienced as a warmth that melts ones cares away. The ships are large enough to provide a smooth ocean experience, but small enough to make friends and find your way around. It is, after all, the perfect all around luxury cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Having sailed with a couple of other "luxury" cruise lines, we have found Crystal to be the most consistently enjoyable experience in cruising. This was our seventh Crystal cruise and our second TransAtlantic cruise on the ... Read More
Having sailed with a couple of other "luxury" cruise lines, we have found Crystal to be the most consistently enjoyable experience in cruising. This was our seventh Crystal cruise and our second TransAtlantic cruise on the Serenity. We've learned that each cruise is very different in terms of the people we meet, the crew, and the overall experience, but each Crystal cruise leaves us wanting another. Embarkation in New York was a breeze. It was only about twenty minutes from the time we stepped out of the taxi until we were through security and had our room cards in hand. Since we had an overnight on the ship in NYC, we flew in the day of embarkation. Otherwise, we always arrive in our departure city at least a day in advance. A flight delay meant we missed the lovely champagne lunch we had eagerly anticipated, and we arrived hungry in the middle of the afternoon. After leaving hand luggage in our room, we headed for the Trident Grill and the fabulous burgers served by the incredible Lido Team. We were offered champagne and happily made toasts to a great cruise. Although ice cream is always available on Lido Deck, I was in the mood for pastries and realized it was time for tea in the Palm Court. We were feeling relaxed and relieved to be onboard so we headed for the Palm Court which was almost deserted at tea time on embarkation day. We chose a table in the bow of the ship next to the large windows and gazed at the New York skyline as a parade of waiters visited our table with tea and a variety of pastries. We leaned back and enjoyed the scenery and agreed that "This is a great life." The great life on Crystal continued for sixteen days until we disembarked in Dover. Other reviewers have described the rooms. We were on Deck 8, our preferred deck. We have always found the rooms to be sufficiently large for our needs. The closet occasionally seems a bit small, but we manage. We enjoy the shower/tub combination and the ample storage in the bathroom. We've had many wonderful stewardesses on Crystal, but Indre was among the best. She was fast, efficient, friendly and happy to honor our requests. I typically ordered a pot of coffee each morning, sometimes with fruit and croissants. Indre always gave me an estimate of when it would arrive, and it was never a long wait. This was our first time for late dining. We had a window table for two and enjoyed the fine cuisine that is attractively presented and efficiently served on Crystal. We also enjoyed several meals in each of the speciality restaurants. We found that if we were flexible, we were able to make speciality restaurant reservations easily. Silk Road is simply one of the best restaurants on either land or sea, and we tried many of the sushi items and regular entrees while on this trip. The service is outstanding as well. Prego, the Italian restaurant, also has outstanding service and marvelous food. Eating there three times, we were able to enjoy our favorites like the mushroom soup and also try nightly specials like fresh fish cooked to perfection accompanied by grilled Italian vegetables. We have long been fans of the Crystal production shows. They aren't as flashy as similar shows on some cruise lines, but they are sophisticated, polished productions with excellent performers and beautiful costumes. We saw one of the first performances of the new Elton John musical and found it a lively welcome addition to the basic rotation of shows. The other entertainment was of high quality and included a vocalist and an organist. This was the first All Inclusive cruise on Serenity. As such, the bars and evening spots seemed more lively in the evening. We enjoyed several evenings listening to Colin Salter in the Avenue Saloon. He is a fine entertainer and a master at engaging the audience in song and dance. The ports included Newfoundland, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, and three Norwegian ports. All were highly enjoyable, and Geiranger Fjord was stunning. Our evening sail out of Geiranger Fjord was made even more enjoyable by viewing it from the Palm Court and then from a window table at Tastes on Lido Deck where we enjoyed a mix of the new Chinese comfort food items and steak and chicken from the regular Tastes menu. Bravo to Crystal for offering these dining options, and bravo to the Lido crew who provide some of the best service on the ship, quickly learning and remembering guests' preferences. Disembarkation went smoothly, and the Concierge recognized us at luggage pickup in the terminal and came to tell us that our driver had arrived. It was yet another Crystal personal touch that contributed to a lovely experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Allow me to qualify the following by stating unequivocally that Crystal provides the best service, food and cruising experience one will ever have. After a personally challenging 2011, I was so ready for this cruise, I was packed a week in ... Read More
Allow me to qualify the following by stating unequivocally that Crystal provides the best service, food and cruising experience one will ever have. After a personally challenging 2011, I was so ready for this cruise, I was packed a week in advance. We left a few days early to explore Lisbon which was worthwhile, but finally Thursday afternoon arrived and we readied for the cruise. Embarkation was as easy as it gets. As we walked up the gangway, we were greeted with flutes of champagne & smiling faces. Our C-category cabin was perfect since we spend minimal time there. I was amazed at the the amount of storage, drawers and shelves, especially in the bathroom. The plan was very well thought out. The daily REFLECTIONS offered so many events, we were busy from 7:00 am and onward, starting at the gym, breakfast and then a continuum of talks, trivia, lessons and movies. OR you could just relax and watch the beautiful Crystal passengers sachay by. I must comment that the women dressed beautifully. St. John knits, Chico's and other designers were commonplace. Formal nights featured beautiful gowns and all the men looked so handsome in their tuxedos!!! The food was consistently very good to excellent. The waiters, asst. waiters and wine steward were very attentive & always behaved in a professional manner. I was very disappointed in PREGO. They tried too hard and the Italian food was nothing like I know. Lasagne made with bechamel sauce??? I ordered osso buco & it was so full of carrots & vegetables, I sent it back. Also, our waiter seemed rather rushed. I also heard same from our table companions. People were underwhelmed. The guest speakers were marvelous and very well versed in their individual subjects. Bill Miller spoke on the history of cruising. His presentations were excellent and to the point. I learned a lot. Bill Boggs dovetailed off his career as a talk show host and spoke about the celebrities he interviewed over the years. He concentrated on Frank Sinatra because Sinatra was his favorite. But my personal favorite was former FBI profiler, Clint Van Zandt. His talks attracted so many people, it was SRO. He was unbelievably interesting,approachable and his wife, Diane, was very sweet. I did not attend any of Dr. Ruth Westheimer's lectures although I heard from others they were also very good. Our cabin steward, Reema, was average to good. She tended to be a bit forgetful but she seemed overwhelmed. I found I had to ask her for things which automatically would've been provided by a more experienced steward. She was very polite and agreeable to any request. Comparing her to the woman we had on the Harmony, Reema needs more training in the small details perhaps. The nightly entertainment was good but not exceptional. A featured dancing/singing troupe entertained us with Broadway hits one night, Rodgers & Hammerstein the next and other dance numbers. An Irish flutist and a professional guitar player filled in. I realize that Crystal is not for everyone, but I can state that this is one of the few cruises in the world where you get what you pay for. From the moment you walk on board, it's all about YOU. I would rather go on one Crystal cruise than five of any other cruises. Crystal clients are refined, employees are always trying to please, the food is delicious and they even provided a rainbow for us to sail under one morning (see picture). Crystal thinks of everything!!! ADDITIONAL NOTE: CASABLANCA is a port not mentioned but one visited. We took a terrible tour led by a terrible little old man who did not let us enter any of the buildings or mosques he took us to nor did he offer explanations. The worst part was when he guided us aimlessly through the dangerous alleyways and sewage ridden streets of old Casablanca. I wouldn't risk anyone going through these paths filled with feral cats and ominous looking people. We felt like sacrificial lambs. As usual, after people lodged complaints, Crystal refunded half our money (so classy!). I have since written a letter to HQ recommending to remove Casablanca from their itinerary. I do not blame Crystal in this instance. I believe they were lied to and these excursions were a complete sham. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011

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

Find a Crystal Serenity Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click