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7 Crystal Serenity Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

Good friends of ours convinced my wife and I to book this cruise two months before the sailing. I absolutely was so impressed and felt totally pampered by the team on the Serenity. All the fine staff aboard really do enjoy what they do ... Read More
Good friends of ours convinced my wife and I to book this cruise two months before the sailing. I absolutely was so impressed and felt totally pampered by the team on the Serenity. All the fine staff aboard really do enjoy what they do and go far above and beyond to insure a very high level of guest satisfaction. This was our 7th cruise after six in a row with Royal Caribbean......well Crystal is certainly a much different kind of company. I felt the "Crystal Touch" throughout....from the personal greetings at the start of each day right through to the evening turn down service! Highlights: personal touch everywhere on the ship fantastic food with many choices of dining real room service! prompt and high class. premium cocktails at the various wonderful lounges delivered with a smile and a most professional & personable service team. excursion process was the most organized that I have ever enjoyed! No long waits for anything! constant attention to detail and notifications to insure that nothing is missed and the guests are well informed about everything. anything asked of me was positively dealt with and it seems the guest is always right and gets the benefit of any doubt. Interactions with the staff were met with "it's our pleasure...when you need anything, just ask." Suggestions for improvements? Well my wife and I had to dig deep here.... 1. Galaxy theater seating: could use more angle so the folks in front don't block the view from behind. 2. would be nice if one could order food from the beverage servers on the pool deck. 3. Except for when the quartet band (and they were fantastic by the way) played on the pool deck, there was no music. Please allow background tunes on the pool deck speakers. I could go on and on with the highlights...suffice to say I would recommend a cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity for anyone who really enjoys the ship life. They seem to specialize in providing many venues, entertainment and much to do for those at sea days. Be prepared to be pampered and feel like you are among family! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We are still on the Serenity and having a fantastic time. We came across from NZ on the Queen Victoria in the Queens Grill to join the Serenity and there is no comparison to the two ships with the Serenity being so superior in every way . ... Read More
We are still on the Serenity and having a fantastic time. We came across from NZ on the Queen Victoria in the Queens Grill to join the Serenity and there is no comparison to the two ships with the Serenity being so superior in every way . The service and the staff throughout the Serenity are absolutely outstanding and the food in all the restaurants is beautifully presented and served hot and served with style. We ate in the MDR by reservation which worked perfectly with us always getting a table for two no matter what time we turned up and the wait time for meals was minimal. After having a suite on the Victoria we booked a standard window on the Serenity and found the room very light and very comfortable with beautiful linen and thick white towels. The window looking on to the promenade we thought would bother us but in fact it was perfectly fine and since the weather was very hot we wouldn't have used the balcony as we are not sun worshippers. The ship overall is beautifully maintained but the Palm Court lounge is very dated and lets the ship down compare to the Symphony which has been beautifully refurbished and looking very stylish. The age of the passengers were mixed and we are in our 50' s and found everyone friendly and very sociable ( I think the inclusive cocktails help). We have travelled previously on Crystal and were a little worried after reading some of the negative reviews on CC but our opinion is that Crystal is still the best value for money in the premium cruise lines and the staff are the best we have had and we have done in excess of 100 cruises so have something to compare them with. So go ahead and book your cruise and you won't be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
My wife and I took a cruise on Crystal Serenity Nov. 30 – Dec. 11, 2014, from the west coast of Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, up the east coast of Central America and Mexico, ending in Miami, FL, USA. We're not members (yet) ... Read More
My wife and I took a cruise on Crystal Serenity Nov. 30 – Dec. 11, 2014, from the west coast of Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, up the east coast of Central America and Mexico, ending in Miami, FL, USA. We're not members (yet) of the cruiser subculture. Our only prior cruise was on the Crystal Harmony in 1996, so we have nothing with which to compare Crystal. That having been said, our overall experience was excellent. Crystal is on the pricey side, but you get pretty much what you pay for. Crystal's marketing hype is over the top, so we came in with very high expectations. Mostly our expectations were met, one was more than met, and a couple not quite. Still, for the price we think it's a good value and would consider taking a cruise on Crystal again if the time and place were right. The passenger crowd is mature. I'm in my early 70s and may have been slightly on the younger side of the average age of all passengers. There were no children that we saw on the cruise, and the ship is not geared at all toward children. The rooms are small (ours was 8116) but well laid out and furnished – quite adequate – as was the small bathroom. The common areas are very nice, close to over the top, but not over the top. The Serenity holds about 1070 passengers, I recall, and we had about 950 on our cruise. Except for breakfast rush in the Lido cafeteria (only one of the many breakfast options, including room service and the main dining room), the boat never felt crowded, or empty. The cruise was "all inclusive" – no gratuities asked for or expected. Notwithstanding, the service was mostly excellent. At the worst service was workmanlike, and at the best very attentive and friendly. Only once in the dining room did we have to ask for wine at the beginning of our meal. Speaking of wine, good wines are included in "all inclusive." What they like to do is offer one red and one white each night. You can ask for a small "all inclusive wine list," or a list of premium wines for an extra charge. However, in our first night's experience we learned that it was extra trouble for the staff to go beyond the standard basic offerings, so thereafter we went that way and were quite satisfied. All of the food was very good to excellent. The optional Prego and Silk Road restaurants, and Taste, were very good, but no better than the main dining room. What they offer is welcome variety. What I particularly liked was that the portions were relatively small. If you wanted more, you could have it, but you weren't presented with a ton of food you felt like to had to eat rather than let it go to waste. There are three nice lounges (not counting the cigar lounge), all of which we enjoyed. The entertainment was very good, too, as were the educational speakers – we heard three out of four of the latter. Production shows were an hour or less, not so much as to wear you out. The main house (small) orchestra was very, very good, and the house lounge musicians just fine. On the downside, our cruise was advertised as a "jazz theme" cruise. We did not take it for that reason, and did enjoy some of the jazz performances. However, it turned out that the jazz program was run by a separate tour company, and the passengers who booked through them got the full deal. According to the Crystal Society Hostess on board, they "let other passengers hear some of their programs." We asked the rep on board for some more information, but it was made clear that we weren't part of their group. So, here's the lesson. If you want to take a Crystal cruise and the "theme," if there is one, is important to you, make sure you know exactly what you'll be entitled to. Will you be a first class passenger, or as we were on our cruise, second class passengers. The ship also has what struck me as a fairly large gambling room. We're not gamblers, so I can't say anything about its quality, it's right next to the main showroom and yet never seemed very busy to me. I'm not an expert, but it looked like most of the offerings were electric slot or other gambling machines. Finally, we booked the complete travel package with air. All was very smooth. The disembarkation was excellent, much better than our Crystal Harmony experience in 1996. The only negative was that by the time we got our flight information and went in to make seat reservations, we had to pay about $120 extra so my wife and I could sit together on the 4 hr. flight from Atlanta to San, Jose, CR.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Background Information - The Panama Canal has always been on my "Bucket List" and when I discovered that this cruise was offered thru Road Scholar' Adventures Afloat program with free airfare, my husband and I booked it ... Read More
Background Information - The Panama Canal has always been on my "Bucket List" and when I discovered that this cruise was offered thru Road Scholar' Adventures Afloat program with free airfare, my husband and I booked it immediately! Travel To Port of Embarkation - A direct flight to Miami booked by Road Scholar Hotel Info - Overnighted at the Courtyard by Marriott Miami Airport South; a nice enough accommodation with free airport shuttle service running every 20-30 minutes. The block square Marriott Miami Airport Campus also included a Residence Inn & The Miami Airport Marriott, giving you ample restaurant options. The only thing that I found lacking was a room safe. Stateroom - Category A on Deck 9 Forward: A very quiet location on the port side, 4 cabins down from the front elevator bank, allowing us easy access to most areas of the ship. The only disadvantage to this location was the distance to the self-service laundry room which was located beyond the mid-ship elevator bank and the small sun deck located on the ship's aft. The stateroom itself was lovely and very well maintained. Hanging storage space was more than ample and both terry and light weight bath robes were provided, as well as two pairs of cheap one-size fits no one slippers. Drawer space for folded clothing items was less generous, but we managed. The 2 adjoined twin bed set-up made the room a bit tight, but we appreciated the sleeping comfort they provided. We were rocked to sleep many a night with a gentle breeze coming from our open Veranda. A small fridge, stocked with soft drinks and bottled water as well was a fresh fruit plate both of which were updated daily were nice no charge extras. Ship Info - Very comfortable and well maintained...everything was ship/shape! Dining - We were in the early dining seating and enjoyed dinner followed by entertainment options and being early risers, we were usually in bed by 10. Five course dinners were the norm, although we quickly learned to limit ourselves to either the soup or salad option. Five entree offerings were standard fare as well as a Vegetarian option and the deserts were to die for! Activities - Spas, a Salon, Workout area, walking/jogging track, swimming, hot tubs, golf nets, table tennis, shuffleboard, and paddle tennis... Children's Clubs - As no grandchildren were with us, I'm pretty clueless, although I did note a special computer center and an activity room which did't seem to be in use much on our cruise as most of the children, as well as their parents, seemed to be back to the daily post-holiday grind. Service - In a word, EXCELLENT! The staff often thought of things I might require before I knew that I needed them... Entertainment - Daily lecturers were excellent and offered insight on the history and politics of the Panama Canal and Central America as well as their personal experiences in that part of the world. Nightly entertainment could be found at the Piano Bar, Night Club, and a Las Vegas Style Lounge. Shows including comedy, broadway style shows, and celebrity entertainers were also featured on a daily basis. Port & Shore Excursions - Ports of Call included George Town/Grand Cayman, Cartagena/ Columbia, Panama City/Panama, and Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta, & Cabo San Lucas Mexico. Excursions were available for passengers with various physical abilities and budgets. Disembarkation - Smooth and efficient with many Crystal ground support people to assist you once you left the ship. Summary - Loved t he cruise and would certainly consider sailing with Crystal again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We returned this week from our second cruise on the Serenity - about our 25th cruise overall. This was a 14 day itinerary from Miami to LA through the Panama Canal. Boarding was effortless. A nice buffet was ready for us to help kill ... Read More
We returned this week from our second cruise on the Serenity - about our 25th cruise overall. This was a 14 day itinerary from Miami to LA through the Panama Canal. Boarding was effortless. A nice buffet was ready for us to help kill time until our cabin was ready. Food - Overall the food was excellent with one notable exception. We requested a table for 2. We were assigned one but in a very poor location that could not be corrected for a couple of days. Apparently many more oele than expected requested early seating and this created seating issues. Eventually more and more people starting opting for room service and this opened up more tables in the dining room. My wife did get I'll afterveating in the Italian restaurant - not sure exactly what the culprit was but it took her a couple of days to recover. Food at the grill was very good. Room service was quick but the food could have been hotter. I thought the lunch buffet could have had more variety - roast chicken of one type or another every day. The 2 special buffets were excellent. Cabin - we had a deluxe stateroom with balcony. Nice size, comfortable bed, very nice towels in the bathroom. Our stewardess was fantastic. Major drawback was shortage of electrical outlets. Service - the room, pool, and bar staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and very good at their jobs. Atmosphere - I am 59 years old and felt very young, definitely in the youngest 20 percent of the guests. The ship seemed very empty except just before and after the early dinner seating. I'm not a fan of formal nights but most everyone on this ship loved it. No other options other than room service. Someone even complained because some people dared to walk around the ship not appropriately dressed up. Too snobby for my tastes and almost a deal killer if I consider Crystal again. Excursions - one of Crystal's strongpoints and excellent on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Our experience aboard the Crystal Serenity was marvelous. Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. The staff was outstanding. We were skeptical that they could be as legitimately warm, friendly and unhesitatingly helpful as ... Read More
Our experience aboard the Crystal Serenity was marvelous. Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. The staff was outstanding. We were skeptical that they could be as legitimately warm, friendly and unhesitatingly helpful as previous reviewers had described, but it was true. We wanted to take some of them home. The Crystal orchestra was terrific -- and trumpeter Rafael worth taking the cruise to hear. The Broadway style productions were spectacular, some of the best we have seen anywhere. Some appealed a bit more than others to our tastes, but it would hard to fault anyone on professionalism. Special moments in some productions were quite moving. There was so much quality entertainment that it was difficult to take everything in. I thought it interesting that the two lecturers on the Panama Canal disagreed as to whether the USA should have retained control. The officers aboard were as charming as staff, and the captain was especially charming and helpful. We have frequented many top restaurants, none superior to every option aboard Serenity. This was the first ever cruise to offer "open dining by reservation," and that helped schedule times that worked well for us. Our every request was honored and seating for two (our general preference) was always available. With only 569 fellow passengers and a crew of 630, we felt anointed. In summary, this vessel is beautifully designed and maintained, it's staff well managed and lavishly helpful, and although it wasn't inexpensive it was worth every penny. Bravo. PS: We would have favored a stop other than the Cayman Islands. Huatulco, Mexico was delightful, and the dock an easy walk to everything. We would return here. We would have preferred at least one additional stop, preferably in Panama. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Third Crystal cruise, first on the Serenity, 34th cruise overall. I will not go over the stops and excursions because you can find this information on most reviews, and this is Caribbean and Mexico stops which means beach. The ports were ... Read More
Third Crystal cruise, first on the Serenity, 34th cruise overall. I will not go over the stops and excursions because you can find this information on most reviews, and this is Caribbean and Mexico stops which means beach. The ports were Key West, Aruba, Puntaneras, Huatulco, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas. Pros: Service - 611 passengers, 640 crew 'nuff said. No bingo, Dance Hosts, Lecturers, Dance Instructor -Natalia Lind, Internet in-room - expensive, I paid $420 for the cruise. Shows - full production, although not as well done as the mega-ships. Berlitz language course - just sign up and learn. Yamaha music course - same full gym and spa - included in price. Tea time! Bridge. lounge No kids!!!! Ok, a few.. No drunk teens. Clean, one more time clean. Activities aplenty - just too many. Bistro Cafe - coffee from whole bean All soft drinks, Perrier Water, bottled water included in price. Sushi bar has toro! Ultra expensive underbelly of tuna. Silk road and Prego restaurants - just pay tip. Cons: Ran out of blueberries. Ran out of Cherry Ice Cream. Ran out of mangos. Too much service - like being asked if I wanted another ice tea when I had a full glass in front of me. Sticking food in my face constantly. Having to say thank you over 100 times a day. Tipping too many individuals for outstanding service. You can see that I thought this ship outstanding. Yes, in almost every way. I booked two more on the ship. If you want the absolute best then you can't go wrong here. Oh yes, Ziplining - awesome!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
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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