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274 Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews

Greetings! I am a former luxury cruise TA and had sailed on Serenity 3 times in a PH, about 12-14 years ago. This is the my first time back as a 'civilian' and first time on Crystal for my husband. Our last 4 cruises have been ... Read More
Greetings! I am a former luxury cruise TA and had sailed on Serenity 3 times in a PH, about 12-14 years ago. This is the my first time back as a 'civilian' and first time on Crystal for my husband. Our last 4 cruises have been NCL, NCL, Cunard, Cunard. Much has changed with Crystal since my last voyages and I had been warned that it 'isn't what you remember' but my expectations were exceeded in almost every way, We had a standard Oceanview on deck 7. Sure we missed a balcony but otherwise the cabin was great. The most outstanding & memorable aspect was the dining. Every single day, no matter where we ate, every meal was great. I don't know how many times one of us would taste something & say "mmm..wow, that's so good" And we're foodies...not easily pleased. I am a pescatarian but I never felt there weren't enough non-meat options for me. All the fish & seafood dishes were wonderful, fresh and creative. My husband did have beef a few time and this in the only time he felt a bit let down. Having had very dismal desserts, pastries etc on our previous cruises, the outstanding desserts on the Serenity were a welcome relief. Kudo's to the Exec Pastry Chef! We dined at every venue for dinner & in order of most liked to least, we would rate them: Prego, Waterside, Umi Uma, Silk, Churrasqueira. We would gladly do all again but pass on the last...not quite up the standards of the others. Prego is wonderful, best menu, best service, a real highlight. The other 'bests' for us were the production shows - top notch singers & dancers, very professional & entertaining. And the guest/space ratio. My husband was so impressed with how much public space vs guests there is on the Serenity. We were never crowded, virtually no lines, always a lovely, calm atmosphere. My 3 top observations: - relaxed dress codes were noticeable since my last Crystal voyages, but I was pleasantly surprised that about 80% of the guests still dress up for dinner...women in cocktail dresses, men in casual office or suits/sport jackets. We dressed up every night but 1 (after a very long day in Florence/Pisa) I love this aspect of cruising and so did most of my fellow pax from the look of things - the service was great, especially the bar & wine stewards... far more attentive than any cruise we've done where alcohol is a revenue maker. At dinner I had to start saying 'no, thanks' with my hand over my wine glass! Too much of a good thing and all that! - I did find that the friendliness of the crew overall may have been a wee bit less than I remember but it was still excellent and I wish I had written down some names to include in the survey sent by Crystal. Definitely some outstanding service by some individuals. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was ... Read More
We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was uniformly friendly and helpful, and staff seemed to enjoy their jobs. The ship was beautiful and it did not seem dated or tired. Our B1 verandah cabin was very comfortable, with plenty of storage for clothes and a lot of counter space in the bathroom. We were very happy with the dining options on the ship. Room service breakfasts were delivered quickly and exactly as ordered. Lunch options, including the grill and the salad bar in Marketplace, were very good. The ship had excellent choices for dinner. We absolutely loved Umi Uma (yes, the black cod is as good as they say it is). Our dinners in Churrascuria and Prego were outstanding. Silk was just ok. We enjoyed Waterside but we only had one lunch and one dinner there. We did not attend any shows, but we really enjoyed the atmosphere and the piano player in the Avenue Saloon. We were in port every day and didn't have a chance to spend much time on the ship, so we did not advantage of the enrichment opportunities or activities. The ship has an excellent health club and spa. The hair stylist who blow dried my hair did a great job. A spa treatment was ok, but nothing special. We went on three shore excursions. They were fine, but If I did this itinerary again, I would just visit the ports on my own. Overall, we loved this cruise and hope to return to another Crystal cruise in the future. We also hope to see Crystal add another ocean ship and more 7-8 day itineraries in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch by noon. We utilized PCPC and any Crystal cruiser should take advantage of this service. Our disembarkation in Venice was efficient with Crystal personnel assisting at each stage of the process. Dining; Better than ever IMHO. Sauces were perfect and sadly desserts were outstanding. Mains were abundant and included veal, duck, fish, beef, poultry and vegetarian entrees. We dined at Prego ; the world's best carpacio. Silk has done a turnaround and our group of 8 enjoyed new entrees and appetizers. While the service in Waterside was a bit slow at times we felt that there was always an effort to make the dining a great experience. Bar service was terrific. Entertainment: New shows finally. While I find the entertainment geared towards an older generation the shows were well attended. I heard no negative comments.Enrichment was a disappointment as the lecturer as a poor presenter to say the least. The computer classes are geared to novice users. Staff of computer rooms are superb Ports: We tendered a few times but mainly docked. The Crystal shuttle was prompt. We had been in every port except Dubrovnik, and had a private guide (tours by locals) to show us the city. Every port was packed with tourists by the way. Service: The best. The Lido crew always has a smile, and friendly word. The Captain was visible as were many senior crew members. Cabins: A well worn subject as this is the only downfall. Crystal cabins are small by today's standards when compared to other luxury lines. . While very clean they could use a refresher, such as new bed covers. Crystal sent out a note early on asking passengers to let the staff know of any issues so remedies could be initiated. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for ... Read More
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for it. The shows were fantastic. I especially loved the white extravaganza and the show band. The main bar in the atrium was the perfect place to gather. Though it was billed as a romantic cruise the passengers were by no means all couples. I went with a girlfriend. Her tastes were different from mine so we didn’t do everything together. The bars an lounges and even the casino proved to be highly social. We met so many great people. It wasn’t a party atmosphere but was convivial. I really enjoyed the all inclusive aspect and not having to sign for drinks or figure out how to tip everyone. All restaurants were terrific but be sure to get on the guest website in advance to book them. Otherwise there is a steep fee for booking on board. The Brazilian steakhouse on aft of ship doesn’t have to be reserved. we went there the evening of our Kotor departure. It was magical with mild night and mountains all around and near full moon. An aspect that can’t be controlled is weather and ours that week was perfect. Crystal is masterful at details. We were pier side most of time and it was clear the did their best to time port calls at times when other ships were not in. This made the excursions less hectic and less competitive with thousands of passengers from mega ships. Even on tender ports it was pleasant. I like excursions which we orchestrated separate from the ship, but the ship comfort and service is most important to me. One bit of serendipity was the onboard dance hosts and the amazing quartet. I danced years ago but didn’t know these were embarked. The know swings, tangos, salsa - everything. I was able to validate that I still can dance if I have a good leader. Despite all the amazing food and drink, we walked five files daily on excursions and danced all night! I didn’t gain any weight. We frequented the blackjack tables and learned the “rules” from friendly dealers and we mostly won! Crystal has a fantastic tech lab. We could easily send emails and research. The Moxsrt high tea was a hoot and talent from the piano bar to the violinist in the lobby bar was abundant. Heck I didn’t even get to play paddle tennis. I just couldn’t get it all in. By the way the entry into Venice at noon through the Grand Canal on a gorgeous day with tugs assisting and the magnificent old skyline was absolutely spiritual. I left the ship with a tear in my eye. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & ... Read More
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & Oceana and were not overly fond of the first two and felt that Oceana was an upgrade, but with something still missing. Based on the requirements (premium dining, polished service, big ship amenities, refined decor, uncrowded hushed public areas) that we provided to our travel agent, she highly recommended the Crystal Serenity and she was spot on. Our only concern was that we had read that the fellow passengers skew older (our party was mid- 40s to 60s) and be very clubby. We never once encountered this experience and found the fellow passengers to be very well mannered and inviting. While the dining, overall ship appointments and atmosphere are akin to high end resort experience, what truly sets this cruise line apart is the entire crew's kindness and keen attention to detail. The little things that sometimes go missed (food trays in hallways, incomplete orders....) do not happen on Crystal. It's back to the gym and making our own beds until..... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
For those interested, here are impressions of a first-time Crystal cruiser on Serenity, comparing our experience mainly with Regent Seven Seas. We’ve also cruised Oceania, Viking Ocean, Azamara and a number of other lines. In summary, ... Read More
For those interested, here are impressions of a first-time Crystal cruiser on Serenity, comparing our experience mainly with Regent Seven Seas. We’ve also cruised Oceania, Viking Ocean, Azamara and a number of other lines. In summary, Crystal wins big on food and service to passengers, and also on public spaces. It loses big to Regent on cabins and included excursions. The food was outstanding. Some of the presentations in the main dining room rivalled dishes we've seen at expensive restaurants ashore. The Japanese restaurant was outstanding and the Brazilian steakhouse was fun. The Chinese restaurant disappointed us and the other Chinese people we talked to. We found it ordinarly; Red Ginger on the larger Oceania ships is far superior. Italian is Italian, although Regent and Oceania do a better job than Crystal of making that experience special. Crystal's service was better than any other line we've cruised on. Speed of dining room service was far better than other lines (except Viking Ocean which is also fast). We could get dinner in an hour to 90 minutes; other lines can take as long as 2 hours. At the breakfast buffet we rarely had to wait more than a minute or two for tea or another cappuccino. Perhaps best of all, in the hour before the start of before breakfast service, the buffet room was open to passengers. I could sit down and get coffee and whatever food was already out. On other lines I have stood outside with my nose pressed against locked doors until the stroke of 7 am. This speaks loudly of a cruise line that prioritizes the passenger experience, more so than Regent despite its slightly higher crew ratios. Cabin service was also great. I mentioned a non-adjustable showerhead to our attendant. Although I accepted that it was normal, the next time we got back to our cabin it had been replaced with a newer model. I would never have considered Crystal had it not relaxed the dress code a few years back. There are still occasional formal nights, so I had to pack a dinner jacket for the first time in some 15 years. The code is “dark suit and tie” but many of us wore a sport coat or blazer with tie. On our next Crystal cruise I may well leave the jacket home and forego the main dining room on formal nights. What we really missed from Regent were the larger cabins and the included shore excursions. One of the best things about Regent is that almost all shore excursions are included at no extra charge. Beyond the price-value equation, this provides a wonderful flexibility and relief from stress. Money isn’t a constant consideration in planning shore activities. If we get up in the morning and feel like skipping a tour, we just do. Last-minute changes are almost always available. In contrast, I thought Crystal’s shore excursions were overpriced and usually quite short. For the first time ever on an ocean cruise, we didn’t take any of them. Crystal’s ships were built in the early 2000's and our cabin reflected that. Although Serenity was remodeled late last year, I understand that our deck 9 and those below did not get much in the way of cabin upgrades, except for a large screen TV. We had a bathtub with a cloth shower curtain. Our 265 sq. ft. (including veranda) cabin was miniscule compared to Regent’s minimum 356 sq. ft. All Regent cabins have verandas; some cabins on Serenity only have fixed windows. We are used to 30-42,000 ton 600 passenger ships. Serenity is 69,000 tons and 980 passengers, and with the small cabins it makes sense that public spaces are larger and there are more of them. Shipwide wifi was upgraded lat year, and easier to use than other lines - no sharing of an account and rarely necessary to re-login. Finally, as to price, those comparing Crystal with Regent should keep in mind that Regent prices include business-class airfare, almost all shore excursions, and often a pre- or post-cruise stay. The air and pre/post-cruise can be declined for a credit which lowers Regent’s prices dramatically. However, those who prefer to make their own shore excursion arrangements will not benefit from Regent’s included tours. We will add Crystal to the list of lines whose itineraries we inspect for possible future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us ... Read More
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us very well. We liked the way every time we sat down, whether it was in the central lounge on Deck 5 or the Forward lounge on Deck 12, there was someone approaching us to ask if there was anything they could get for us. It was called an "amenity" cruise, and it was indeed. We were treated extremely well from the time we arrived at the ship, throughout the cruise, and when we left to go home. The food was fabulous, the prosecco, chamboard cocktails and wine flowed freely, and there were light activity shore excursions that I could enjoy. Crystal is definitely now my favorite cruise line, and I hope we can take another cruise with this line soon. Having talked with others who have taken other cruise lines to the same locations, I find that the fact that Crystal allows you to take as many or as few shore excursions, but only pay for the ones you take, is an advantage. As my ability to walk decreases, I would take fewer shore excursions, but would enjoy every bit of the cruise as much or more than I did this time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The ... Read More
We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The check in was seamless. Our butler and cabin attendants, Jose and Lydia, were the best!!!! You could not find anything lacking in their lovely demeanor and commitment to our well being. The first two days we were in Copenhagen. The weather was less than attractive, rainy and overcast, but the city's personality shown through. The Danes are a wonderful people, very conscious of the environment, very hygge, the perfect city to start the cruise. The second port in Germany was kind of a bust. The town was ‘eh’. It is a nice little seaside town in Northern Germany. We took a long walk into town along a boardwalk filled with German tourists. English was rather sketchy. I recommend getting off the main tourist area and walking into town. They have a lovely church square and a sweet little park that the local use. Day 4 was the day at Sea and Formal Night. The cruise seemed very casual. Less than half the men was saw adhered to Crystal Casual or the Semi Formal attire. We had dinner in the dining room which is where our problems started. My husband was the first to succumb to the norovirus the morning of day 5. I will not subject you to the details, but suffice it to say it was extremely unpleasant. The medical team admonished him for not washing his hands enough, and he was quarantined leaving me to go to a lower floor overnight. His poor health lasted two days missing Helsinki and one day in St. Petersburg. I succumbed the 2nd day in St. Petersburg missing St. Petersburg and Tallin. I did not expect to find the Norovirus in such a high end cruise. I don’t have an official count but the ship has seemed very quiet and the medical center was very busy both days we visited. An airborne food disease is not the ‘fault’ of guests. It is the responsibility of the ship to provide a clean and disenfected environment. The first evening aboard the ship I witness tissue on the ground on the 11 floor, trash left in a stairwell to the work out room and napkins in the elevator. Really! On a Crystal ship! We have sailed on 17 different cruise ships since 1991 and this is the first time we have encountered the Norovirus. As far as other aspects of Crystal, I have yet to find a barista on board at least at the Marketplace that can make a decent cappuccino. How can you call yourself a luxury cruise line when the coffee station cannot make cappuccinos and don’t use the proper size cup to get the ingredients correct. I don’t drink alcohol but I do love my mocha and cappuccinos. Sorry to say, I have not had a decent one since we left the d’Angleterre hotel in Copenhagen. Excursion desk. My question is this, how can I purchase my ticket to the Russian ballet 5 months in advance and be seated with the crew, when someone who bought their ticket for the excursion a couple of hours before the show had tickets in the second row. Also, did I mention we purchased penthouse suite? That just did not make sense to me☹️. Also, you need better excursions. The company that took us to Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg also took us to a place to purchase souvenirs. On another day a private guide we arranged to use to a souvenir shop and the items were 40-50% less. Beware! I thought the service staff was great. Crystal society rep was less than lack luster, I approached while my husband was in the room, he was getting up to join his friend at the Cruise Sale desk. I stopped him to tell him what was going on, he did not ask me sit just let me talk to him in an open lobby, and immediately joined his friend when I was finished talking. I don’t like to say never, but after having travelled on the Espirit, I will not ever take another voyage on Crystal Serenity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable ... Read More
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable service, cuisine, facilities, entertainment- there cannot be a better cruise line than this. I am a customer service expert, so I have high standards and Crystal surpassed every expectation. Every single item of cuisine at every single meal or snack was exceptional. They even had a wonderful variety of sugar-free and gluten-free treats which were most welcome for those of us with dietary restrictions. The staff handled all that with ease and a smile. Every single staff member from the gangplank to the crew to the waiters to the stewardesses were delightful and the best you will ever experience. Really marvelous service. The entertainment was way beyond what I was expecting, and there were informative lectures and movies, and so much more. They even had the astronaut who rescued the Hubble Space Telescope giving talks. Very impressive. They imported a number of special guests performers, and the in-house artists were all world class too. The excursions, while expensive, and extra, were ll top notch and absolutely beautiful. The fjords are astonishing and spectacular. The ship has been nicely refurbished and is spacious, bursting with every possible amenity, planet of space. There is so much to do, or not do, that every taste will be satisfied. The spa and fitness center were excellent and spacious. The cabin was ample and the double sink in its bathroom was a nice touch. the bathroom was sizable, and I could even stand up n the show and in 99% of the ship even though I am 6'-8"/203cm tall. We loved having a verandah and could have sat out there all day and never left and been very happy (thanks to the free and wonderful room service). Of course, there was some internet spottiness above the Arctic Circle and in the fjords, but it's still miraculous to even have internet on the high seas. It turned out to be a minor inconvenience, but was better than our last Crystal cruise on the Symphony, but that was before their remodel and internet upgrade. I would HIGHLY recommend Crystal Cruises for any route, and I would very much recommend Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords as destination- really exceptional and awesomely beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was our 24th cruise on Crystal and the first after the Serenity came out of dry dock. We took this cruise to relax as my husband was recuperating. The boarding process in Reykjavik was a little off as there was no cruise terminal ... Read More
This was our 24th cruise on Crystal and the first after the Serenity came out of dry dock. We took this cruise to relax as my husband was recuperating. The boarding process in Reykjavik was a little off as there was no cruise terminal but Crystal handled what they were given very well. Once onboard we received our cruise cards without any wait and enjoyed a champagne lunch at Waterside. The ship was immaculate and the service superb. The menus in the Waterside contained many new selections as well as traditional ones and we walked into the dining room each evening, received a table for 2, and never had to wait whether we dined at 6:30 or later at 8pm. The cabin stewardess went out oh her way to make sure we were comfortable. The lido personnel were as attentive as ever even ordering from the grill for us. The onboard activities were over the top, as this was a double theme cruise, mind,body, and Soul. And a wine theme. There were over 6 lectures per day on sea days and so many other events and parties that you had to choose, as you could not do them all Even though the ship was full, there was never a problem getting seats for meals, or at the shows. The entertainment was the best I have experiences so far. Ports were wonderful, even with cool and misty days, we enjoyed them all Disembarkation was flawless. We sat in the Galaxy lounge no more than 5 minutes till we were escorted to baggage claim and our motorcoach to the airport in Copenhagen. Truly a memorable cruise. We relaxed, had wonderful meals, saw magnificent scenery and experienced another wonderful cruise on Crystal Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service ... Read More
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service in the Marketplace and Waterside remains good. We were always seated promptly at the Waterside. The food overall in the Waterside and the specialty restaurants was uniformly good. The entertainment was excellent and there was a good variety of entertainers with a combo of performers brought onto the ship and the on ship entertainment staff. The enrichment lecturers (3) were uniformly good speakers with interesting well organized presentations. We were traveling as a family and there were other multigenerational families on board. There was a smattering of younger couples. The ports were good although I do wish there was 2 days in Lisbon rather than 1. The Crystal excursions had excellent local tour guides and were well organized. We were on deck 8 midship with a verandah. The cabin is adequate in size with plenty of closet and draw space with a well appointed bathroom. The upgraded TV and entertainment system is an improvement. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and will travel on Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The ... Read More
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The staff were friendly and efficient. Serenity has an all day coffee shop for snacks and pastries which was very popular. We were on the promenade deck so had a large window. I think that this was the least expensive level and I would want a balcony cabin should we sail this ship again. The cabin was compact, the bed comfortable and there was plenty of storage. Entertainment was good. We particularly enjoyed post dinner drinks in the Avenue Bar where we listened to a very talented pano player until late in the evening. The cruise itinerary was good and although tendering in Monte Carlo was extremely scary. We enjoyed the cruise very much and would sail with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very ... Read More
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very comfortable and attractive. Our only complaints were 2: the inclusion of Corsica where there was nothing to do or to see; and the cost of excursions, e.g. $599pp for a trip to the Blue Grotto.Fortunately, one can book tours privately at much lower cost, and Corsica allowed for a day of rest. The verandah room we booked (8042) was average size but extremely well designed with numerous well-sized drawers and all the hangers one could possibly need, a large TV, roomy bathroom with double sinks and large tubes of quality toiletries. There are 2 hair dryers, an umbrella and excellent binoculars in each room. The balcony had 2 large wing chairs with deep cusions and a small table with room to move around. Dining was generally very good to excellent, with Prego being the only disappointment (chewy veal). Poerions were more generous than what we have had on HAL and Celebrity. Entertainment was pretty good. We saw 3 shows: a Billy Joel tribute band, a Broadwy revue, and a local Flamenco group in Barcelona. Staff everywhere was courteous and always helpful. Embarkation and Debarkation both went very quickly and smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We were celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary and wanted a special experience so that is why we chose Crystal. We were not at all disappointed . The food was amazing the best we have ever had on a cruise ship . We also loved ... Read More
We were celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary and wanted a special experience so that is why we chose Crystal. We were not at all disappointed . The food was amazing the best we have ever had on a cruise ship . We also loved the buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch so much choice the best we have ever experienced at sea. Loved that it was all inclusive and gratuities included. We enjoyed sitting in the Atrium in the evening before our meal to enjoy a pre dinner drink and the canapés they brought round. Staff were really attentive and they all seemed so genuine , nothing was too much trouble . Evening entertainment was a tad disappointing but you cannot expect London/Westend products on a cruise ship of this size. We arranged our own excursions through a cruising excursions company as the trips on Crystal were so expensive ! We would defiantly recommend Crystal for service and food . Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, ... Read More
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, was varied and to a very high standard. Service was quicker than Seabourn and Barbara was a wonderful waitress. Service and dining in the speciality restaurants, Prego and Umi Uma, was absolutely first class. The decor is very old fashioned though. In the Italian Prego, that is almost forgivable as there is at least some soul to it. In Umi Uma the decor is dark, soulless and like a department store restaurant in the 1980s...it really could have done with something in the recent refit. Absolutely no problems with the wonderful cuisine and good quality included wines and spirits. We had a Penthouse Suite which, although only lightly refreshed on the recent refit, was very well appointed, with lots of space and well thought out. Our butler Richard was an absolute marvel...he deserves six stars for his positive can-do attitude and for serving meals in the cabin so well. Our stewardesses were completely wonderful and the cabin was kept pristine all through. The bathroom is good but old fashioned and the Etro toiletries are poor. Topped-up chocolates were unbelievably good. Enrichment was good. Entertainment was superb...better than Seabourn, with higher production values and a great theatre. The things that were missing were hard to put a finger on. Overall it was probably the ‘holiday’ feeling and warmth that you instantly get on Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd, the overall ship design and the ability to settle into that ship easily. Many of the staff and crew were excellent on Serenity, but many were also less than engaged and tired. The crew was invisible...however the entertainment director was fantastic. The ship doesn’t flow. It’s hard to find your way around. It feels old fashioned and it shows that the recent dry dock only refreshed certain areas. The fountain in the main atrium is a tacky shopping centre disgrace. The outside areas are poorly used: the back of the buffet area is too small and unshaded; there is no pool bar and no outside evening parties. Maybe it was just the time of year? Passengers from all over the world. Mainly US, China and Japan and many in groups. Ports were good, tendering OK but not as good as on Seabourn or Hapag Lloyd. Overall, maybe we are just used to a smaller ship? We’d still come back at the right price and itinerary though! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid ... Read More
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid vessel...good bones, as is often said. We opted for a Penthouse with Verandah and were very pleased with its layout and features. I especially liked the back-to-back desk, one prepared to serve as a vanity. The lighting was very good in the suite and especially in the vanity area. The bathroom included two basins and a very comfortable shower enclosure. There was a jetted tub, which we did not use. I was pleased to see the many drawers, shelves and nooks to organize our belongings. However, the best feature of the suite was Rao, our wonderful butler, and the two housekeeping attendants. We are have had butler in Silversea (which provides butlers for any suite level) and they have been very good, but Rao was so pleasantly effective! The best of the lot. We were pleased with all dining venues, especially Waterside and Prego, except for The Marketplace. This venue acts as the breakfast and lunch buffet style cafeteria. The offerings were good, but not as good as in Colonnade and Trerraza (SB and SS respectively). We did not like it mainly for its layout. The table/chairs are set in a very narrow space, galley like, and most times the waiters' stations were almost besides us. We very much preferred Waterside. We had unusually cold weather and could not use the pool. However, we found the pool to be small, narrow and with less depth that those in SS and SB. Also, there is no food/bar service at the pool. Overall level of service was very good...except for one incident, reported and corrected. I rate the gym the best. I especially enjoyed the cardio-disco classes offered; they were a lot of fun and quite challenging. We never had any problems accessing the treadmills for our daily routines. Entertainment and daily activities offerings were so much better than in SS and SB!! The dance classes led by Beverly and Curtis were very popular, and all the participants enjoyed them very much. The shows were varied and included a comedian, as well as a magician from the well known Magic Castle in Los Angeles. In summary, we plan on booking Crystal in the future, especially longer trips, in order to enjoy all the daily offerings on sea days. However...if weather is very good, other pools may beckon us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
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
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
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal ... Read More
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal again, as their prices were comparatively more affordable than in the 90's. I read some pretty negative comments on Cruise Critic and was dubious, but it turned out to be a fabulous cruise. The ship is beautiful and super-spacious and from the outside has beautiful lines reminiscent of the old ocean liners. There was never a wait anywhere (except getting on the tenders). The service was impeccable and the food and entertainment fabulous. I loved some of the special touches in the stateroom not found on other ships. I went as a single and never felt uncomfortable, ignored, or crowded out and though I didn't dance I appreciated the presence of the dance hosts. The entertainment was much better than on other ships despite being on a smaller one-story stage. There was never a problem finding a seat in the showroom, unlike other cruises where you had to show up an hour ahead to even get a seat. And the shows were a full 45 minutes and 3 production shows on this cruise versus 30 minutes on Princess and only one production show. I loved the ballroom dance quartet that performed in the Galaxy lounge twice on our cruise. Tea in the Palm Court was wonderful. The Brazilian BBQ at Churrascaria was unbelievably good as was the food and service in Uma Uni Japanese restaurant. I did not try Prego. It was really nice to not have to deal with paying for alcohol, soda, etc., tips and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi speed was excellent. I had a few nit-picky complaints about the stateroom design, embarkation in L.A. was awkward and confusing, and the tendering operation was not very efficient. An added bonus, since I am now cruising single, is they are single-friendly, with single supplements from 30% to 75% depending on the cruise and how early you book. I am switching my allegiance from Princess to Crystal now! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. ... Read More
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. Excursions were overpriced and terrible! Staff was nice but struggled serving a full ship. We often had to flag down our wine steward for refills. Long time Crystal cruisers commented that things have gone down hill with the new ownership. They needed a dedicated children’s section in the main dining room so other diners were not impacted by children crying, whining, etc. Lots of little things disappointed us given we are long time cruisers. They ran out of food items like tea bags to make decent ice tea. Hallway carpets are worn out and need repalcing. They say the cabins have 110 and 200 outlets but there was only one 110 outlet and it was by the vanity. If you wanted to plug in something by the bed nightstands you need to bring plug adapters. Save your money and go on other high-end cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The ship is truly showing its age ,even after a major drydock. We stayed in a new seabreeze penthouse. Sofa was so hard that it felt as if we were on a park bench. No bed ruffle to hide our luggage. Ship is all cut up and just not ... Read More
The ship is truly showing its age ,even after a major drydock. We stayed in a new seabreeze penthouse. Sofa was so hard that it felt as if we were on a park bench. No bed ruffle to hide our luggage. Ship is all cut up and just not graceful. Not many public spaces. Mozart tea was served and i was brought tea without a cover and the cakes tasted as if they had freezer burn. Too many smoking areas on the ship. No introduction to the officer staff.or medical staff. The palm court is no longer a comfortable place to sit and watch the ocean. They chopped up the room with a huge bar and halving the size of the dance floor. The spa is showing its age.. so, so ,small. One more thing.. i was surprised by the lack of the handwashing reminders! Many times when i put my hands to get the hand cleaners at the restaurant I found they were empty or not working. The food was very good though. We travel alot and frankly the ship and Crystal just disappointed me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , ... Read More
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , 2019 85 Day Los Angeles to Monte Carlo World Cruise April 7, 2019 11 Day Monte Carlo to Venice Cruise April 18, 2019 9 Day Venice to Athens Cruise April 26, 2019 7 Day Athens Round Trip Cruise Overall Summary During this voyage we celebrated our 100th Crystal Society milestone a few voyages before departing Serenity for Mozart. We have sailed Crystal since 2002. This was our ninth World Cruise. It was our second longest time on board Crystal. Overall, our experience was outstanding. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect all the time. Rather, as a whole we had a wonderful time and the positives significantly outweighed the few exceptions. We were fortunate to have excellent weather other than a few days in Hawaii with rain on the Holiday Cruise and just a few days at sea with choppy seas. Although we boarded on the fourth cruise after dry-dock you would think the changes including new dining venues and open seating were in place for years. The vast majority of the crew were on-board for the dry-dock and you could see on their faces and in their words their pride of what was accomplished in the dry dock. The ship looks better than ever. We had a wonderful experience. It was great to sail with guests some of whom we hadn’t sailed with for four or more years and to meet many new guests for the first time. We had so many nice times with the guests from Yoga for Anne Marie, from Indoor Cycling Class and Paddle Tennis for me, and from people we met over the course of the cruise including some special people from this board. We felt right at home when we sail with Crystal and that includes Symphony which we don’t sail often, Serenity which we do sail often and Mozart which we sailed this onetime. The crew across all three vessels is amazing IMHO which I will discuss later in the review. Below please find narrative and a rating of the categories I chose to include in this review. Ratings are tough because if this was my first cruise I might rate something differently and sometimes higher. As I mention below, we had an extraordinary time. This doesn’t mean that a few items could not benefit from changes and I note them. Also, while we loved the cuisine, this doesn’t mean that every item we had was perfect. Rather this means that overall we thought the cuisine was terrific. I can remember a handful of times where something was not to our liking but given we had hundreds and hundreds of different items that says a lot IMHO. As I always say the only opinion that matters is your very own, and that applies to all things in life. These days when someone asks me about an opinion about a cruise, hotel, restaurant, port, tour or an entirely different area such as automobiles, movies, books when I give my opinion I preface it like this. If it’s something I like I will say this works for us and the reason(s) why but quickly mention this is my opinion and it might not work for you. Conversely, if we don’t care for something we will say that and explain why but quickly say you might like it. Also, experiences can vary. For example, I have found that weather can impact an experience on or off the ship such as encountering bad storms at sea or torrential rain on land. I also think t other factors come into play such as those you are sharing the experience with and the overall length and overall guest occupancy on a voyage. Most of this is subjective. With that said here goes. Embarkation/Disembarkation - Excellent Embarkation was very smooth. The information provided ahead of time via PCPC and the ability to check in guests on board the ship facilitates an orderly embarkation. Disembarkation went well. We used the Crystal Car service and were guided off the ship by the concierge who turned us over to one of the local representatives. We were taken to the incorrect area for our vehicle but within a minute that was corrected when another representative came over and brought us over to the correct location. Cuisine/Beverages - Outstanding I thought that the cuisine was better than ever. Waterside benefited from open seating with it operating more of a restaurant and less of a banquet facility. This translated to better presentations, with warmer moist food served. Umi Uma (Japanese Specialty Restaurant) has a new and enhanced menu as Symphony had after her dry-dock. Prego continues to have food that we enjoy very much. On the World Cruise they modified the menu on each segment to replace some items with new items. We enjoyed the new Asian Restaurant Silk. Food is served family style. Over a few cruises we tried a variety of items and determined which ones worked best for us. We also learned after placing our order how to sequence the food to avoid too many items being served at once and getting cold. We ate at the new Brazilian Restaurant Churrascaria one time as we did on our Symphony cruise in 2018. We think it’s a great concept but for us it’s a dining venue that we will only go to occasionally. Since inclusive rolled out about six years ago this area has gone through its own evolution. This includes a greater diversity in wine and spirits offered. In addition Crystal under the direction of one of its former Bar Managers has developed special drink menus for Gin and Manhattan’s. Overall Ship – Excellent The ship looks great, and the enhancements made to the public areas during last years dry-dock are amazing. This includes the major enhancements made to Waterside, Palm Court , Stardust, Computer University along with new carpeting. Waterside not only has a new look, but it has enhanced the dining venue between allowing for the rollout of open dining and it becoming quieter with smaller tables and changes to reduce overall sound levels. Palm Court is beautiful and still serves many diverse functions. Stardust is better positioned to support groups and very special in the evening when on one or two selected evenings it transforms to a supper club. The Computer University is beautiful and has all new computers. It flows so much better as they opened up the entranceway. I would have given the overall ship an outstanding except for one area. I believe that some “detailing” work is needed on the standard rooms and suites . During this cruise we were in three different rooms so that gave us some additional perspective on this. Itinerary – Excellent Overall we enjoyed the itineraries and that started with the Holiday cruise of Hawaii. We appreciated the World Cruise going mainly from the East to the West so we turned the clocks back rather than forward. In most cases the schedule called for us to arrive to ports early morning which we prefer and stay until 6:00 PM or later. If I had one wish, it would be like this. One is not to arrive to any port after 9:00 AM and especially not 11:00 AM or later, especially if you are there for one day. Late morning arrival make eating lunch challenging while trying to enjoy the limited time you have in port. Second would be to minimize departures where you leave at 7:00 to 9:00 PM rather than 6:00 PM as I believe it changes the evening experience. While we don’t gamble or frequent the stores much, I just think with those venues open and the ship sailing it is different than when you are in port With this said I realize for departures they are trying to find the right balance and sometimes the driver are the tours and trying to give people more time in port. As to last morning arrivals I think most people would enjoy an early arrival and sometimes I believe a voyage would be enhanced with maybe one less port to allow enhanced time I the other ports. This is just my two cents. Apart from this we loved the vast majority of ports including some that we visited for the first time, some that we hadn’t visited since 2005, 2007 or 2008 and some that we have visited recently but enjoy seeing again and again. We had some surprise ports in terms of their sheer beauty as they were first time visits for us. Entertainment - Excellent The evening entertainment has been going through an evolution the past few years with greater diversity in the number and choices available at night. We very much enjoyed that there were regularly four different acts playing in the lounges in the evening and on many nights there were two different acts performed for the shows. The new times of the shows based on open dining work better for us. Enrichment - Excellent The World Cruise included some segments where Ocean Views was offered and the talent was so strong they had two panel discussions per cruise on at least two of the segments. Ocean Views is a panel discussion comprising three or four panelists. The format allows for a question to be asked, for the audience to respond by voting with a hand-held device, for the results to be shared, for the panelists to provide their respective thoughts/opinions on the question and for the audience to vote again with the results shared. They covered five or more topics each time. We thought these were some of the best Ocean Views we had seen with a strong moderator and strong panelists in place. Overall, we enjoyed the lectures and appreciated there was more emphasis than we had seen before of having speakers on board from countries outside of the USA. The item that I would like to see addressed is not having speakers lecture who continually give the same lectures as they have done in the past. The rest of the enrichment program was as strong as ever with many programs offered and on sea days 50+ enrichment activities offered. Fitness Center - Excellent Since we use the Fitness Center frequently, I wanted to touch on it for a moment. There was a good selection of classes offered and we both thought the two Fitness Directors were excellent. Besides taking group classes we had personal training we each had a different Fitness Instructor. Each one was prepared and because she wanted a copy, each evening the Fitness Instructor dropped off a copy of the training program that she took Anne Marie through during her personal training from earlier in the day. I continue to appreciate Crystal’s Fitness Center being open 7x24. Shore Excursions - Outstanding We do very few of the excursions because of a medical issue that Anne Marie has. We did do a couple of private ones arranged with Crystal and each one was outstanding and exceeded our expectations which is why I am rating this area outstanding. We found the Managers and their people very helpful when we asked them some questions even though we were not on one of the excursions offered. If not for my wife’s illness there were many excursions, we would have booked with Crystal. Ship-Board Account & Accounting- Outstanding I don't believe I have rated this area before. I wanted to mention how easy the bill is to read and appreciate the changes previously made. It was not long ago when the bill was difficult to read and more challenging when sailing on two or more voyages. All of the on-board credits were applied on-time including ones when the original Serenity itinerary post World Cruise was revised. We appreciate the ability to view the account on-line. Internet – Excellent The reality is the experience on any cruise across any cruise line and ship can vary based on so many factors including location of the ship, overall demand, equipment issue on the ship and with the satellite provider, weather, interference from military installations along with other factors. Given the time we were on board we thought the overall reliability and performance of the internet was the best we have experienced on any Ocean Vessel. There were very few outages. We could post daily here, on a blog, and on one other social media area and make phone and video calls through the internet and access websites and send and receive e-mail. Getting Off & On The Ship In Port – Excellent In general, we were in ports on-time or early most days. I think this is extraordinary given the diversity and distance of where we traveled and in the challenges of getting ships cleared in foreign ports. We missed a port because of high tides that impacted the ability to safely get up and down the steps at one of the tender landings. There were very few times with lines for the tenders. If I made one suggestion, it would be the placement of a couple of additional signs noting the location and deck for the gangway when in ports where a tender is not involved. Service – Outstanding +++ I saved the best for last. One of the reasons we sail Crystal is the crew. On our first Crystal Cruise within the first hour I knew something was special with Crystal when I needed help from the concierge on-board Harmony and for the first time in all of my cruising days I was treated as a person and not a number if you will. With each passing cruise we have found the service to be better each time. Sure part of that is familiarity with us but another part is with the increased emphasis in this area. Every cruise line has to differentiate itself from its competition. Some do it with newer ocean vessels or with an array of areas. Crystal certainly differentiates itself in various areas such as enrichment. However, there is something very special about the crew no matter if they have been there for years or on their first contract. It rarely happens but you can pick out someone on their first contract who likely will be around for one contract. We can’t say enough about the people who work on –board in all areas. They have dealt with the recent changes very well along with al of the other changes as Crystal has gone through a major evolution since we first sailed with them in 2002 including open dining, inclusive, and in many other areas including enrichment and entertainment. I wish I could mention each person and each department by name when I discuss how special the members of the vessel are and the departments that they represent. They do represent all departments including those we see day-in-and-day out along with those that are less familiar to guests. They are truly amazing. IMHO it takes a special person to work for Crystal. They have my respect and admiration for all they do. For those of you sailing Crystal for the first time I want to note that if you are on a short sailing such as ones of six/seven or even eight days with high guest occupancy the experience might not be like it will be on longer voyages as dining venues can get very busy and there is just not enough time for the crew to get to know you as they can and will on longer voyages. Land Based Departments The land-based departments were very helpful in putting this adventure together. This included the cooperation that our TA received from reservations. This booking was fairly complicated between all of the voyages and using a couple of Crystal Society Milestones including the one that involved the CP. Special thanks to on-board guest services for their assistance including getting the World Cruise voyages loaded for the visitor request authorization via PCPC and for communicating two special requests to purchasing and to Land Programs for organizing our private Crystal shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed in many ways with Crystal ... the food, entertainment, lack of activities, the invisibility of officers, etc. Don’t know what the CD does to earn his keep. Saw the captain ... Read More
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed in many ways with Crystal ... the food, entertainment, lack of activities, the invisibility of officers, etc. Don’t know what the CD does to earn his keep. Saw the captain only once in 14 days. Long-time Crystal cruisers were not welcoming to newcomers. Food was hit and miss ... usually a miss. Not at all the gourmet cuisine I expected on Crystal. Entertainment was, at least in the Galaxy Lounge, far too loud and not geared toward us older folk. Trivia was held only four times in fourteen days! I’m used to Trivia four times a day! Not a friendly ship. Will not sail on Crystal again. Apart from the Christmas decirations, there was no ‘merry’ atmosphere and very little (if any) Christmas music ... not even piped. No carol singing or Christmas show. The two bartenders in Crystal Cove bar, Themyo snd Marja, were great. And, single malt scotches were available on the all-inclusive drinks menu. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food ... Read More
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food and service are as memorable and perfectly executed as we remembered them to be, and some events, such as the Vintage Room and the supper club very much exceeded expectations. The new all-inclusive service is very comfortable, and we never felt pressured to order upgrades to the very fine list of wines, spirits and beers on board, although we did treat ourselves to some outstanding labels under the guidance of our amazing sommelier, Tilmar Pfefferkorn! The service aboard ship is outstanding. Not only are your every needs met swiftly and with grace, but staff quickly gets to know your preferences and often seems to anticipate your next request. Special services are also outstanding. We had a member of our party that required medical attention due to a pre-existing condition, and the medical staff did an outstanding job of successfully dealing with the problem in a caring manner. We will definitely be returning to crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony for our next cruise experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
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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