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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent 3 nights in Barcelona before we left and had a blast. The embarkation was smooth and the staff was excellent throughout. Our room with a veranda was larger than our hotel room in Barcelona. The first morning in Valencia they would not let "independents" off the ship until those who had made Crystal excursion reservations were allowed to leave. So we could have walked to our tour but because they would not let us leave so we had to race for a cab with other "independents." That was the only morning where leaving the ship was a problem. What needs to be added is that the Crystal excursions were priced way over the top-2 to 3 times as much as privately booked tours. I guess if you can afford it and you value seeming security then you might pay for the Crystal excursions but I did not see any extras booking that way since they were the same tours. For the most part people who write reviews have something very negative to say. I want to laud the staff and crew for wonderful service at every level. That being said, it is still hard to justify the amount of money that was spent for the cruise. All of our table mates raved about the food throughout every meal-perhaps leading to impossible expectations. At the main Crystal dining room the food was very good for cruise food, but it wasn't nearly as fresh or flavorful as the food we ate in each port city. At the end of the day, it was cruise ship food. The exception would be the Silk Road restaurant. We had a wonderful meal there but the Prego restaurant was only so-so. The breakfast buffet was good and the sit down cafe Tastes had excellent breakfasts also. For a ship this size the entertainment was good. There were many activities for people that did not want to leave the ship at each port but the are definitely geared to an older clientele. This is not a cruise for young couples or children. The cruisers were mostly affluent, white Americans who liked the America-centric aspect of an international cruise. Why you would travel 7000 miles to have the same experiences that you get in the USA is baffling to me. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction ... Read More
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction of Leo, to me the master of all cruiseship Maitre D’s, could still greet me in name. Such is the hospitality level of Crystal cruises that many Crystal Society members return to the ship. The embarkation took no time, even the ship was practically full. Embarkation began at noon though in theory rooms are available from 3pm, but in a PH cabin mine was ready. There was a special luggage storage that takes care of hand luggages so that any guest can enjoy a leisurely lunch. Such is the hospitality with full attention to detail that makes what Crystal is, particular with direct comparison to the two cruises that I just had disembarked (I took 3 consecutive cruises in 30 days). This cruise, trade named Iberian Sojourn, a standard 7-day trip ending in Lisbon, has an ideal itinerary in that travel distance is short so that it is all port days and passengers have ample time in each port. The Spanish ports are, to me, more interesting than the Mediterranean ports in Italy that practically every cruiser has visited. In each port Crystal of course provides free shuttle so that one enjoys free and easy visits. Because of all-port, there was no formal night and the well-loved Mozart tea was not served. I have had many Crystal Cruises (my first was on Crystal Harmony, before Serenity was built), and as an old timers I can see good changes under new ownership of Genting Hong Kong. The ship was renovated only about 4 years ago, and on embarkation I learned that after this trip the ship will undergo dry docking for a whole month for another important renovation, probably the most important because the ship will re-emerge in November offering open sitting dining (Crystal Symphony had completed that process). Hitherto if Crystal was to be faulted as a luxury ship it was the two sitting system that requires one to eat either too early or too late. No more, and then my only regret is that, if I had this knowledge, I would have chosen to cruise after the renovation. A luxury cruise differs from a standard one mainly in space per passenger and crew to passenger ratio, and of course in service and food. Crystal offers best service second only to SeaDream (but the latter carries only 100 passengers with similar number of staff). Crew members here do not change ships, though there can be re-deployment as since the Genting takeover, Crystal has added two yachts and five river boats (not to mention even a luxury air operation). Great that virtually same staff members serve so that the important ‘recognition scenes’ are in place. But it is the delicate improvement of food standard that makes the ship remarkable, at a time when cutback is seen in the whole trade (including Silversea which serves packaged orange juice unless you ask for the fresh). I agree with the latest Berlitz guide as it now rates Crystal above competitors Silversea, Seabourn and Regent. The Crystal food is truly enjoyable, now that the restaurant offers two menus, one modern and one traditional, therefore many choices. On this visit I tend to conclude that the ‘modern’ menu has improved much, with artful presentation and good taste (it had been a bit ‘funny’ in the beginning as I tasted it on Symphony two years ago). There are three alternative dining choices in addition to the main restaurant, all offering good quality of food (rather than quantity in the number of available restaurants). All guests can dine twice in an alternative restaurant free (otherwise it is a mere cover charge of $35). Dining on Crystal Serenity is a real pleasure even for gourmets, and among the best at sea. Entertainment is never a strong area for Crystal. Ship size and mature passengers not really keen on shows do not justify lavish productions such as on sister company Dream Cruises, but the quality is good, and even more than on a big ship, there are always also alternative local shows in port in addition to the production show. Of these I watched one of the best acrobatic show at sea (or indeed on land) in the Balskat Duo which had performed with Circuit de Soleil. But I see the very same production shows that are old fashioned. The singers try to make more noises to lure the young, but I see few youngish passengers. The cruise director, Gary Hunter is a master of his trade, however. It is the most port intensive cruise that calls on a port very day, and all ports are interesting except for me, Gibraltar, which is however a convenient stop on route. The last night we stayed overnight in Lisbon. Valencia was the first port of call and the free shuttle takes passengers directly to the old town. It was a great visit, walking old streets and seeing various historic landmarks. Next port is Alicante and we arrived on a Spanish holiday that most shops are closed, but the town is beautiful and even with some initial rain it still makes a day of pleasant stroll. The weather was cool and pleasant. Malaga is next, and alas there was no sunshine on the Costa del Sol on our arrival. Some rains in the morning and I wonder if those who took excursion to Seville fared better. Malaga itself is interesting and it is gateway to many interesting points. As a frequent visitor to this region, I did not rush to any places, having seen them many times, and to me the ship is the destination Particularly the ship is Crystal, no matter rain or shine. Pouring rain in Gibraltar in the morning but it cleared up in the afternoon. I always think it is funny to see UK chain stores in town and here one dispenses the British pound. But Cadiz is interesting, as we had the full day I went out on my own in the afternoon my way while I have time to take an excursion in the morning. As if by bad luck it falls on another Spanish holiday, though many shops open for tourists. The morning excursion was good in that I visited sights slightly out of town that I had not seen out of my two previous visits. There was ample time to return to Cadiz proper for a stroll in its old streets in the afternoon. The trip ends in Lisbon and we stayed overnight here. It was good as there is much to see in Lisbon but a very strong wind arrived at dinner time so that the terminal was closed for the night. This is strange; though I am sure no one will opt to go ashore in such windy condition anyway. I took Crystal’s transfer to the airport early in the morning and the trip was perfectly organized, with many helpers that virtually take your luggage from ship to your check-in counter. This ends my very pleasant trip and I look forward to returning to Crystal Serenity when it operates the Open Sitting Dining. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be ... Read More
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be all ports and no sea days other than a planned arrival to one port at Noon which still isn't a sea day. As a result we knew less enrichment, less time to get to know fellow guests not staying on and that with full cruises that specialty restaurant venues would be busy. We knew that we would have to move one time. This is a review of our sailing on board Crystal Serenity between September 23, 2018 and October 14, 2018. OVERVIEW ========= Three seven day cruises comprised this back-to-back sailing . We visited 19 Mediterranean ports-of-call with no sea days over twenty-one days. Overall, we had an outstanding time between the on-board experience and the ports of call we visited. Although Serenity was going into dry-dock the day we disembarked one would never get the sense of this. The crew was focused on the present cruise, providing an outstanding experience to the guests. Almost all food items were available and the end of the cruise ended on a high note. There was not attempt to push guests off the ship on disembarkation day. THE SHIP ======= Crystal Serenity is now fifteen years old, and the ship continues to be in excellent shape. It is well maintained. Yes, there are some areas that need a makeover and also some areas needing to be detailed. Areas that have gone through makeover since the inaugural voyage include all staterooms and suites, the lido deck, the shops, portions of the casino area , the children's area, the Crystal Cove lounge and a few other areas. The upcoming dry dock will bring several changes including open seating and the conversion of the Crystal dining room to Waterside, the change from Tastes to a Silk Asian restaurant, the makeover of the Palm Court and Stardust Lounges, the addition of a nighttime restaurant on the Lido Deck, the conversion of some staterooms to suites, new flat screen televisions in all rooms and a few unannounced enhancements. The makeover of Stardust which I mentioned will provide lots of new possibilities for that room. We continue to enjoy the layout of the ship, the wrap-around promenade deck and the space to passenger ratio. When we boarded Serenity in 2005, we realized this ship was a perfect size for us; not too large and not too small. It was on that cruise that we decided to book a World Cruise. Those areas that I think will benefit the most from the dry dock will be addressed; Palm Court and Stardust. I hope that the Crystal Cove can be updated in a future dry-dock. CUISINE ======= We thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. We dined at most of the venues with the exception of The Trident Grill and The Bistro. This is not to say that each and every item was perfect but if something was not to our liking this was an exception. Most items were very much to our liking. We enjoyed the selection of food items including its diversity. Something that is very important to us is the ease of being able to change something out whether that is how an item is cooked to ingredients in a salad. We enjoyed the wait staff in all dining venues. We have had the same Senior Waiter in the past including when our family was on board last year and on Northwest Passage. Our waiter was wonderful as well. We didn't know him from prior cruises but he was truly a gem. Our Head Waiter was wonderful. We dined at Silk Road one time and chose to eat the other two times in our room. There is no question on seven day cruises with high occupancy the specialty restaurants get very busy and IMHO work better on longer cruises with less people visiting them each evening. With that said, while very busy the waitstaff team was able to keep up with it by working as a "team". Often various dishes were served by several different waiters and this made things work. Many of the waiters have been working there since we first sailed in 2005 and have been there since 2003. Head Waiter Mario from Prego was filling in as Head Waiter on these voyages and demonstrated team work himself. We dined at Prego three times. Its busiest times were during the last part of our meals and later at night. The overall experience was wonderful and what we have come to expect from Prego; great food, cuisine, service and a wonderful dining experience. On two of the three visits I had the addition (they don't call them specials) and on the last visit the item I had for an entree didn't work for me. So I can say that twenty of twenty one dinner entrees were wonderful and one was not. That is a good statistic. We dined at Tastes two time for dinner. Both were very enjoyable. Between the two nights we tried most of the items and loved the majority of them. We keep breakfast simple. I chose not to have the birthday breakfast. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room two times. Actually if time permitted I would go each day because we love the service but with me playing paddle tennis we go to the Lido Cafe. That is the one meal that we don't linger like we do with other meals. The variety of food offered at the Lido Cafe was terrific. Since these were seven day cruises they didn't have any themed buffets. As this was a port intensive cruise and with touring many times it was not busy when we dined there other than the day that we arrived to port at Noon and it opened at 11:30 AM. We had the Vintage Room dinner and the food was terrific as was the wine and the overall experience. The difference between Symphony and Serenity is the location of the galley to each room so the food on Symphony arrives hotter than Serenity. BEVERAGES ========== We continue to enjoy the inclusive wine. It is diverse and we find it better than we have had on other cruise lines offering inclusive wine. Since inclusive rolled out a few years ago the number of spirit brands has greatly increased, as has the beer selection. As noted below Crystal has also rolled out a new drink menu. We had three different sommeliers during our sailing as they rotate each voyage. All three were very knowledgeable and two of the three I thought were excellent with one very good. The bar staff is superb. We primarily went to the Crystal Cove. One night we went to the Palm Court. One of the bartenders was a bar server in January of 2007 and when we were on Northwest Passage the year before. She hadn't seen us since then. She not only remembered our name but where we sat in the Avenue Saloon. Amazing. ENTERTAINMENT ============== The cruises featured individual artists as well as Crystal’s own team of entertainers who in our opinion are the best in the cruise industry. Since these were short cruises unlike longer cruises there were not as many shows offered at night. We didn't go to much of the evening entertainment for a couple of reasons. My only suggestion is that given the number of in-transit guests (250 continued from cruise one to cruise 2 and around 125 from cruise two to cruise three it would have been better to have varied the production shows a bit more from cruise to cruise to minimize repeat performances. There certainly are other shows that could have been performed. I understand the first show being repeated and one other one but would have avoided any other repeats. As has been the case the past couple of years we enjoyed having more than one musician in the Crystal Cove before dinner as was the case with Irina on Violin and Richard on the Piano. They are wonderful performers individually and as a duet they have amazing chemistry and just added to the overall experience when we had pre-dinner drinks. THE LOUNGES =========== We changed things up on this cruise often sitting at the bar and mainly in the Crystal Cove. In the past we rarely have sat at the bar and really enjoyed this. It provided an opportunity to speak with the various bartenders, to watch them perform their magic, to learn about all sorts of drinks, and it had the added benefit of allowing us to converse with lots of guests and many we have never sailed with. Recently Crystal rolled out a new special drink menu, which includes a focus on drinks made with gin served in Sangria Glasses. This is in vogue in some selected places on land. For me this was something new, and I enjoyed many of the drinks instead of having wine before dinner. I feel that I have a much better appreciation of differences in gin and an array of drinks. I would not have tried this if not for a few folks on this board sharing their experiences from recent cruises. THE CREW & SERVICE ================= The crew is amazing and reflects the culture we have seen since we first stepped onto our first Crystal Cruise in 2002 on the former Crystal Harmony. The crew is professional but also is very human and very welcoming and we adore them. It is that human side and feeling of family that I have not experienced on other lines. Yes, the more you sail with the crew the more you get to know them but I am reminded on that very first Crystal Cruise how in very short order I realized they were seeing us as people rather than just a number or just a suit. They truly have become our extended family. They work hard to make the experience theybest they can. We met some crew members for the very first time and in a matter of a day or two we felt the same chemistry with them as we have with so many other members of Team Serenity. INTERNET ======== This was our second cruise since full complimentary internet was rolled out. Overall we had a similar experience between this cruise and our one on Symphony in May. The overall Internet ranged from excellent to very good. Yes, there were a few times when the Internet slowed or when it was not available but this was the exception. and far better than a few years ago. With this said experiences can vary by person. Early on the first voyage a friend on-board from Cruise Critic said her Internet was poor while at that point in time ours was terrific. It could be that her room is located in an area of the ship where the connectivity is less strong as ours. Another factor can be where in the room one is using it and other factors include type of advice used and even the internet browser. I do post a lot of photos and when I post them on my blog I go with lower pixels and that allows for easy uploading of photos. Since we are not printing those photos uploading with lower pixels does not change the view of the photo on a blog on cruise critic, etc. We also experienced excellent quality when placing phone calls using a Wi-Fi connection on board the ship, using apps such as WhatsApp for phone calls, texting and even video calls. THE PORTS ========= This was a port intensive cruise as we visited 19 ports over 21 days. We enjoyed the vast majority of ports and the time spent in port. We were able to revisit ports and see many for the very first time. In short, these three cruise was a fantastic opportunity to experience a nice range of ports. We love the Mediterranean and prefer visiting this area in September/October or April/May. SHORE EXCURSIONS ================ We did one Crystal Tour, which we arranged through the Los Angeles Office, which was a tour of Florence. The tour exceeded our expectations. Our tour guide had a solid background in art so she could lead us through the artwork in the places we visited and explain what we were seeing in a way that was easy to understand. The driver was courteous and drove safely to and from and inside Florence. This is a tour we will remember for the rest of our lives. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION ============================ The process of getting on and off the ship was terrific. We would have to say this was one of or the most organized disembarkations we have ever experienced. We used a Crystal private transfer. We met the Concierge at the designated time, which is 15 minutes prior to the transfer time. The vehicle was already there. The concierge took us down to the port shuttle, which took guests between the ship and the building where the luggage was being held. When we entered the building the Chief Concierge greeted us, took us to the section where are luggage was located, and one of the many porters who were all in suits took our bags and put them on a trolley. After saying our goodbyes to the Chief Concierge a Crystal representative escorted us to the vehicle waiting for us. She went over the details with the driver. When we arrived to the airport another Crystal representative who escorted us inside and verified where we would go for check-in met us. CHANGE ======= In the eighteen plus years we have been sailing Crystal and close to thirty years of cruising we have seen a lot of change. Then again the same applies to all our life experiences. Change in today's environment is coming at a faster pace than ever before. Today most of us use smart phones. Those didn't exist back in the day nor did the ability to use your own personal computers when we first sailed. On our first Crystal cruise sodas and bottled water were not included. Many of the changes have been driven by three things; Innovation by Crystal Cruises. The competitive environment. Changes demanded by people of all cruise lines. Most of us are resistant to change. We are creatures of habit. I found that at work and with people we know and see it when we cruise. Yes there are a few items we miss from those earlier days of cruising but they have been driven mainly by the three areas I mentioned. At the same time we appreciate many of the changes. I remember when inclusive was rolling out the vast majority of Crystal Society Members who we know said this would be the end. Crew would leave. How would the bar staff know your names? The service would be poor. Etc., Etc., Etc. Like most new things there were some startup issues. Slow pouring of wine. Insufficient choices of wine, beer and spirits. In time, IMHO all of this was worked out and just like other luxury lines new guests would think this is the way it has always been. On of the things I like best about inclusive is that it has made the lounges so much more social and vibrant. I also like that if you invite someone to join you there is not the issue of who pays for the drink. I also like not signing for each drink. The change to open dining is the most current of the changes. Just like inclusive this will be tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked until Crystal gets it as good as they can. I am reminded that the ships were not built with open dining in mind or for that matter the new evening dining venues. The reality though is both ships have been evolving to open dining the past couple of years. On our recent cruises many people were showing up at hours that we not the time for main or late dining and the Maitre d' was being creative to get them seated. I believe that each of us has changes that we like, some that we are indifferent and some we don't care for. That's the way changes work, but some of them that one person doesn't like another one does and again some of these are driven by people. An example of that is evening dining attire. FINAL COMMENTS =============== We have another Crystal cruise on Serenity scheduled for late December and look forward to seeing the "changes" that are being implemented in the dry-dock. We have already experienced open dining on Symphony but even this on Serenity could look slightly different based on experience gained on Symphony such as the set up of the tables at the new Serenity Waterside. After sailing this ship so many times and with Crystal Cruises frequently these back-to- back cruises still exceeded our expectations. I can't tell you how much my wife and I enjoyed these cruises. When you arrive back to the ship from port each day they say welcome home. For us that is the way we think of Crystal. Until next time. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I chose this cruise as it is the only one that Crystal do to Israel. Billed as a Holy Lands cruise, it was two weeks of luxury on-board and fascinating tours ashore. This was my 15th cruise on Crystal and, even though none of them have ... Read More
I chose this cruise as it is the only one that Crystal do to Israel. Billed as a Holy Lands cruise, it was two weeks of luxury on-board and fascinating tours ashore. This was my 15th cruise on Crystal and, even though none of them have been perfect, they have all been consistently excellent. There was a lot of negative talk on-board about the upcoming refurbishment in relation to the move from assigned dinner seatings to open dining. I enjoyed a travellers table for eight and we had a variety of interesting "visitors" each night. As a solo cruiser I really hope Crystal will figure out a way to keep this going. I sailed on Symphony in February (not solo) after their dry dock and most of the larger tables had been replaced with tables of two and four - great if you are a couple but not for the many solo travellers or those who like to join a larger table. That aside, the service in the MDR was superb, it always amazes me how they get to know you and your preferences on the first night - another aspect which will I think deteriorate with open seating. I do think that the menus aren't quite what they used to be, there were a few nights where nothing really appealed (and I don't think I am a fussy eater) I really enjoyed Tastes restaurant on the open deck, great for a late breakfast or late lunch. The lectures and most of the evening entertainment was first rate, an aspect I think Crystal have made great improvements to over the years. I also enjoyed the casino, friendly dealers but the new small denomination blackjack rules really favour the house - it was hard to win!! As always, it's the elegance of the ship, the attention and friendliness of staff and the never crowded public spaces which keep me coming back. I have two cruises booked for next May, am looking forward to the dry dock changes and hopefully they will sort out solo travellers for the MDR. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
First, since Crystal Serenity goes to dry dock next month (October 2018), some of the comments may not be applicable. My wife and I took a Crystal river cruise last year (Danube) and were so impressed with the level of service and the ... Read More
First, since Crystal Serenity goes to dry dock next month (October 2018), some of the comments may not be applicable. My wife and I took a Crystal river cruise last year (Danube) and were so impressed with the level of service and the shore excursions that we booked the Italian/Greece cruise on Serenity. While we enjoyed the cruise, the level of service did not even compare to that of the river cruise. In talking to long-time Crystal cruisers (some over 10 trips), they say the quality has gone down since Crystal was sold and the bean counters took over. That is our opinion also—with just a few differences, we saw little to distinguish Crystal above other cruise lines. Pre-trip support was not that great. It was like pulling teeth to get transfer information (bot pre and post cruise). The only option I got was IF I booked their hotel, with pricing about 2 to 3 times what you can get online. I was given no transfer options post-cruise, yet found out once onboard they do offer transportation from the port (Civitacecchia) to the airport, but we had already arranged our own since we were not informed of that option beforehand. It does not show up in the list of excursions at the beginning or end of the cruise. This is completely different than the river cruise where you could easily select transportation before and after the cruise. While the Serenity might be an older ship, we found everything in good condition. The carpeting is very worn, particularly in the rooms, but it was not a problem. Everything else was in great shape which shows the continual maintenance. We had no issues at all anywhere on the ship where things were broken or didn’t work properly. Being older, some of the modern features found on other ships (interactive menu on the tv, real time billing information, electronic key fobs, et al) are obviously absent. But again, it did not detract from the cruise in any manner. The cruise was excellent. Upon boarding we found that one of the ports was changed (Zakynthos, Greece changed to Katakolon). Perhaps because it was an older ship, the tv information was never updated with this change, showing the original port and information and never the new port, even while docked. The shore excursion options were much more limited. Many of the ports selected required tendering, including this change. Crystal tends to fill the tenders to the maximum before they depart, so it gets stuffy and crowded. Return wasn’t as much of a problem as it becomes more staggered. Crystal ocean cruises do not offer any free excursions, as does the river cruise. Excursions are expensive, often 2-3 times what you can get online (TripAdvisor) or arrange on your own when in port. Like all ship excursions, they are convenient. We took some of the ship excursions, but arranged a couple on our own. Doing it on your own can result in a much smaller group (4-6 people), plus you can do several things vice the ship’s offering on usually just one major event (because of so many people). Food was excellent. If you want to dine at the specialty restaurants, you really need to book them before the cruise. We booked one before and tried to book one when we boarded, but they were full for the entire cruise. The buffet dining is open for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. So if an excursion brings you back after your assigned dining period, you don’t have a lot of options (room service works). We had a very enjoyable time in the main dining room, and had great table companions. Service was excellent. The one major disappointment in dining is that Crystal has moved to a more common menu (among all the ships) and thus you will get no cuisine from the areas you are visiting. At several ports, there were some great specialty foods that they were known for (pastries, main dishes, appetizers, or even wine and beer). None of these were ever available on board the ship. Because the ship excursions are so time-condensed, you don’t even have time to sample them on the excursion. So you miss out on great local food. For the long-time Crystal cruisers, they said that Crystal used to offer local specialties but no longer do that, and instead board the entire cruise food at the embarkation point (controlled by headquarters in Los Angeles). So I guess every ship gets the exact same menu option on any given day. I think this is the biggest disappointment in the cruise as we would have liked to have tried more regional foods. We ended up canceling some shore excursions just so we could go into the city and try new foods (like a true Italian pizza margherita). Forget the weather forecast the ship provides. At one port they ship said it would be 69F and rainy. In actuality it was 86F and clear and sunny. The ship’s forecasts were never close. Use your own app to get the real weather. Internet is free, but it is extremely slow (think slower than dial up). There will be times when you can’t even check email because it is so slow. Finally, the entertainment was good, but focuses primarily on the ship’s dance team and singers. I think they only brought in outside entertainment twice. Other cruises we’ve been on they’ve brought in comedians, magicians, aerial acrobats, and many other different forms of entertainment. While the ship’s dance crew is good, it would have been nice to have something else to see. This may be why the lounge was rarely full, so it is easy to find a seat. Overall the cruise was very enjoyable. We were just disappointed somewhat in Crystal as we expected more based upon our river cruise experience. I guess they are two completely different cruises as the river cruise offered pre and post cruise transportation, free excursions, local foods, and more. For a ship of 1200, that may not have been practical from a bean counter perspective. The point is that the Crystal ocean cruise seems to be the same as any other major cruise line (Holland, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, MSC). Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Before we sailed, we were full of expectation to sail with the Best Ship of the Year. However, we were so disappointed about everything we experienced right from the cruise terminal. When we arrived, no porters to carry out luggage and ... Read More
Before we sailed, we were full of expectation to sail with the Best Ship of the Year. However, we were so disappointed about everything we experienced right from the cruise terminal. When we arrived, no porters to carry out luggage and we asked, the staff said we had to carry our big luggage all the way to the ship for check in. We were astonished but no one at the terminal was able to help. After checked in ( inside the ship already ), we asked about our luggage since the room was not ready until 3pm, the staff did not know how to react and simply asked to check with the Reception. We were upset and she finally got up and asked someone ( the Officer I think ) and she came to us and said our luggage would be taken care of. This was a bad start. Then, we headed to the main dining room for lunch and the food was very ordinary, I asked for an orange juice and the juice was not fresh and I was surprised and asked the waiter for a fresh one and said all juices were from the machine. Later I asked another waitress whom said all juices are fresh and brought me a fresh one. How could this happen ? In 7 days sail, we found the services were mediocre and food on the whole ( except a couple of meals ) was just above average, even their flagship restaurant Nobu restaurant. There were however, a couple of meals which were good, like lobster night ! I also think they are under staff, I was standing in a queue for 20 minutes for a burger while my friend was sitting at the table for 25 minutes before being served ( after waiving to the waiters a couple of time for getting their attention ), there were so many people and so few staff at the deck. However, in Tastes, another restaurant, the service was much better though. Most of transportation ( shuttle bus and tender service to/from ports ) were not well managed and sometimes were left alone with the driver to show us the way to the town ! Entertainment not too good also. Last one good thing to add was the disembarkation which was very smooth, it took us 10 minutes to reach to the outside taxi stand ! In summary, we would not choose Crystal again, simply for worth the money ! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We had previously cruised with Crystal in 2014 and 2015 and I was concerned about recent reviews about the Serenity. Our cruise involved ports in the UK, Ireland, Amsterdam and Belgium. I am happy to say that the overall experience ... Read More
We had previously cruised with Crystal in 2014 and 2015 and I was concerned about recent reviews about the Serenity. Our cruise involved ports in the UK, Ireland, Amsterdam and Belgium. I am happy to say that the overall experience concerning service and food was uniformly excellent. We did not experience any significant delays in service in the main dining room or speciality restaurants. Cabin service and service at the Lido buffet and other areas of the ship was excellent. Cruise excursions and featured speakers on the cruise were excellent. The evening entertainment which was a mix of on board entertainment staff or local talent was excellent. We always book a cabin on deck 7 and found ample space and drawers in the cabin. Cabin service was excellent. The staff makes an effort to know the passengers and we were happy to see staff from our previous cruises. We look forward to our next Crystal cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We have recently disembarked from the Crystal Serenity where we enjoyed 14 nights going around the UK and also stopping in Amsterdam and in Zebbrugge before returning to our point of embarkation which also served as the port of ... Read More
We have recently disembarked from the Crystal Serenity where we enjoyed 14 nights going around the UK and also stopping in Amsterdam and in Zebbrugge before returning to our point of embarkation which also served as the port of disembarkation, namely Dover on the Irish Soliloquy cruise. We thought it would be helpful to post this review. We recognize in so doing that some of our comments will be of more value than others, with the ship heading to dry dock shortly. Embarkation was a breeze. It started punctually at noon for us and we were onboard and seated in the MDR for lunch by 12:45. All necessary formalities were handled in the lobby adjacent to the Crystal Cove. Our room was ready for us as soon as we checked in and thanks to our travel agent, our various special requests were dealt with and our room properly stocked and augmented with extra items we usually like to have before we even set foot inside. We were warmly greeted by all of the folks we came in contact with from the ship—some who we had seen in October and others who we had not seen in a few years. Called by name and warmly received and acknowledged, we were welcomed “home” and very much felt that way. We settled for our customary embarkation lunch which for me was THE COBB SALAD and a half order of the spaghetti Bolognese. One thing which was immediately noticeable was that the portion size of the Cobb was small—about the same size as it had been when we were last on in October 2017. It was not puny but the portion size was such that a person with a reasonably sized appetite would likely want more and as we all know, requesting additional portions or special orders was not a problem. Throughout the cruise we found the food portions to be appropriate portion sizes at least according to our personal registered dietician. The menu usually presented sufficient options to select from and only the final night's dinner was disappointing with food lacking in seasoning, overcooked, and poorly presented. The dessert options were, perhaps as a side benefit to our efforts to control our waistlines, reasonable in variety and portion size. And of course we availed ourselves on a couple of occasions to request special items which we enjoy like the wiener schnitzel and the sole meuniere. We found our luggage was in the room within a very short time after we finished lunch and well before 3. The condition of the room slowed wear and tear and while cleaned nicely, the ship is showing its age. A couple of items worthy of particular note: The shower controls have been replaced since we were last onboard and the new mixing apparatus does not get hot to the touch as the old one did which is a nice change. Also turning the shower on and off and adjusting the temperature is easier with the new handles and apparatus. It also appears, but I cannot be sure, that there is a prefilter on the apparatus or actually directly below it, so the water did not seem as harsh over long periods of use. The option of a Aramis (?) products as an option (since we are not fans of the musk scented skin care products) was lovely and helpful. The clock in out stateroom no longer sported a socket for an iPod which was no loss. The new clock had a nice easy to read face and easy adjusting instructions. Very helpful. The cushions on the veranda which had been a powder blue color are now a slate grey color which shows less dirt and may wear better. There is a new computer sign in regimen which was again revised about three days into our cruise with another interface which, like its immediate predecessor allowed us to sign up and login from our stateroom. Connectivity was sketchy in our stateroom and we were located fairly close to midship on the 10th floor, but connectivity from locations in the common area were excellent. Speed and bandwidth continue to be a problem which the company has stated that it intends to address during drydock. In the meanwhile my wife and I were each allowed to register two devices to be used at a time on the internet. But as Crystal is quick to point out and as we long ago understood and appreciate, download times are still much slower at sea than on land. There were several choices for entertainment nightly, many shows in the Galaxy being performed twice each evening for early and late seating passengers. Local shows were also brought on in Dublin and in Scotland and a delight as always. And some new acts were also well received as was the new production show Crystal In Motion. Post late seating dinner and late shows in the Galaxy, there were a few choices—dancing in Palm Court but attendance there in the later hours was sparse, a duo in the Crystal Cove on some evenings which again was sparsely attended and the wonderful piano playing of Scot Mitchel who is grossly under appreciated for his talents on the ship, and then there was the busiest spot —the Avenue Saloon where Perry Grant kept the room packed nightly and the nonstop laughs and music going most nights until after midnight (without taking a break from the start of his set at 9:45 until he ended his cabaret performance). Some evenings seating was problematic as that venue just cannot contain all who wish to see him. We continue to wish that Perry might be moved to the Stardust and that room set up in the evening as a sort of nightclub with tables and chairs on the dance floor and Perry at the piano on the stage. The Stardust was used 3-4 times during the trip for other shows and Perry played one night there to a SRO audience, but it is under utilized. The push and pull of competing expectations of the Avenue Saloon does contribute to some ill will among some passengers. During the late set which Perry does, which both Crystal and he typify rightfully as a cabaret, some of the more inebriated passengers at the bar disrupt the enjoyment of those who come to the cabaret to experience Perry Grant. The professional that he is, Perry soldiers on, but for guests it results in some harsh words and irritation which makes the evening less pleasant. The bar personnel continue to have difficulty cutting off people who have had too much to drink. When we were onboard in October we saw a gentleman fall not once but twice from a bar stool and it was only after he fell the second time that he was escorted out—but not before his conduct disrupted the performance. We opted to take only one shore excursion during the cruise as we had been to most of the ports before. Some like Dundee, only really offered golf enthusiast excursions which did not interest us. Others like Guernsey offered more variety but the nature of the port is such that options are limited and expensive. We showed private guides who we hired on our own the little pamphlets about each port made available the night before and on the day of various ports of call and at least one noted to us that the data was inaccurate and appreciably so. Those guides need to be updated for accuracy. The population count for Belfast alone was off by several hundred thousand people. We also heard from tablemates that in Bruges that leaflet gave incorrect information about the point of drop off and pick up for the shuttle. We enjoyed a sort of last hurrah at our late seating table of eight which was curated by Mario Gallo. We enjoyed sharing dinner every night with the same other fellow travelers, and while we did not discuss politics or religion we were still never at a loss for topics of conversation each night and often were among the last folks to leave the MDR. One subject which was discussed at length at our table, was the fact that the new post dry dock dining arrangement appeared to put the final nail in the coffin of being able to have a table for 8 of people put together by the maitre d’ to which one can return nightly to the same wait personnel and same dinner companions and we think that it be a grave miscalculation on Crystal’s part. In the past two cruises, we found that the folks who ask to be assigned to a table of 8 were very upset to hear of the elimination of that option. I discussed this item with both Mario Gallo and Leo Assmair. Neither seemed able to do other than toe the party line that we could put together a table of people and come to the maitre d each night with them in tow and see what he could do to arrange a table. The issue, as we tried to explain, is that the “matchmaking” was something we would need days to try to accomplish rather than the maitre d’ knowing the personalities of those of us who have cruised before, doing so. When I posited the notion of dedicating a small portion of the dining room at a given time, say 8:30 for people who wanted to eat at a travelers table every night to do so, it was summarily dismissed. Instead Crystal is determined that after the dry dock is done, there will be enough tables and seats in the dining room so that all 980 guests could all be seated in that room if they wished on the same date and at the same time...which will NEVER EVER happen. With multiple restaurants to choose from and the addition of the Brazilian dinner venue and the replacement of Tastes with Silk, coupled with the rebranding of the Nobu outlet as Umi Uma, the powers that be still want to load up the MDR with rows of tables upon rows of tables for 2 or 4. One look at the seating from the Symphony tells the story. Think school cafeteria seating, rows after rows of 2 and 4 tops, separated by about a foot from one another. Like a dining hall. Very sad. It is difficult to understand what Crystal has been up to of late. They are slicing 14 day cruises into two 7 day pieces to attract those who can’t afford a 14 day cruise, they are going to “as you wish” dining to attract the younger crowd of cruisers (the same ones who can’t afford more than a 6 or 7 day cruise or can’t be away from their obligations at work or at home for more than a week, while turning their corporate back on those of us with longevity of loyalty to the line ignoring requests to maintain some semblance of travelers table options (more than once a week or once a cruise), they had Perry Grant set for November and December and many folks signed up for that cruise because he was going to be onboard and has quite a following. They then cancel his engagement and several customers cancel their cruises. How is this helping the bottom line? We have spoken with employees onboard who have confided that they may not be returning preferring instead to move to the river boats closer to home, and others who say that what they have heard from passengers who have been on Symphony about the new dining arrangements is disturbing. We know of families who have opted to not sign up for more Crystal cruises until the dining room situation is made more palatable. As for us, we have opted to book two cruises with another line to explore our options. We acknowledge that these are first world problems and we need to recognize the need for change and give it a try and try it we will. We will be onboard in December and approach these things with an open mind. So time will tell and we will, ultimately allow the the power of the purse to show our determination about these changes. Indeed there are other options and while we would much prefer to stay with Crystal, we will need to see if the new way of doing things results in an equally pleasurable experience for us. That would be ideal but only time will tell. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We have been Celebrity loyalists (with one Oceania cruise as well), but a Crystal cruise was on my bucket list, so when Crystal offered a sale and the itinerary was appealing, I jumped on it. My husband was skeptical—how could it be ... Read More
We have been Celebrity loyalists (with one Oceania cruise as well), but a Crystal cruise was on my bucket list, so when Crystal offered a sale and the itinerary was appealing, I jumped on it. My husband was skeptical—how could it be worth more than twice what we usually pay for a cruise? Now we know. This was everything I hoped it would be. We always build in an extra day in our flight plans, and it was a good thing we did; our flight from Newark was about ten hours late getting into Marseille. We missed the day of exploring marseille, but didn’t miss the ship. Embarkation at the pier was slower than I expected (we waited maybe 20 minutes to board) but check-in on the ship was quick and easy. After a nice lunch on the aft deck, we went to our cabin a little past 2:00 and were surprised to find our luggage already delivered and on the bed ready for unpacking. Just the first of many instances of superior service. The two areas in which Crystal excels, inour opinion, are service and food. Service was impeccable: our sommelier was the best we’ve ever encountered; our wait team in the dining room was first class; our room steward was great; and every staff person was friendly and helpful. We ordered room service a few times, and were impressed by how timely and gracious the service was. (Love the fact that the coffee table is raised to dining table height and set elegantly even for breakfast.). The food on Serenity was the best we’ve experienced on any ship. The main dining room offerings were varied and consistently excellent; we enjoyed breakfast and lunch dishes at the Lido cafe; but our favorite place for lunch was the grill. Best cheeseburgers ever, according to my husband, and I appreciate the fact that they have a variety of burgers, including salmon and a really tasty veggie burger. We tried both specialty restaurants, which were good but not as good as the main dining room, in our opinion. Oceania may claim to be the foodie line, but we rate Crystal highest in that category. One of the main reasons we like to cruise is that it gives us a chance to dance every night. Serenity has the largest dance floor and nicest dance venue in the Palm Court of any ship we’ve been on. The dance quartet is great; they play exactly the music dancers want to hear. The dance instructors did a wonderful job with dance lessons on sea days. Because we were always in Palm Court, we didn’t experience any of the shows, so can’t comment on those. We did enjoy trivia on sea days and wished they had it more often, and we enjoyed the world affairs speaker. The ambiance of the ship is one of quiet elegance and casual refinement. Fellow passengers are well-traveled, though many we talked to were, like us, on their first Crystal cruise. Guests are better dressed than on the other ships we’ve sailed (a welcome change from the increasingly casual, even sloppy “fashion” that seems ubiquitous these days). We saw no sign that the ship needs to be refurbished, though it is scheduled to be this year. With the exception of Barcelona, the ports on the itinerary were new to us, and we enjoyed all of them. We would have liked longer stops in Gibraltar and Guernsey, which were only half days. We didn’t take any ship excursions, preferring to explore on our own. In all, this was a bucket list cruise worthy of the designation. I only wish we were able to sail on Crystal every year. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Embarkation was not very smooth. Waited in groups with a number. When it came time to board, stood outside in the rain, without umbrellas, to get through security, Dining by reservation was a hassle if you wanted to change your time. ... Read More
Embarkation was not very smooth. Waited in groups with a number. When it came time to board, stood outside in the rain, without umbrellas, to get through security, Dining by reservation was a hassle if you wanted to change your time. MDR service was often slow. Waited 45 minutes one evening to get appetizer. Food often didn't come out as requested (salad with dressing on the side). Went to Tastes for lunch. Ordered salad with grilled chicken, it was raw. The cruise itinerary wasn't very exciting. Leaving from Marseille created some problems. Many people were missing luggage, probably due to the air traffic controllers striking. The ship can definitely use some refurbishing. Enjoyed the entertainment and met some very nice people. Participated in the art class which was lots of fun. Medical staff was very attentive. Food was very good. Enjoyed the Crystal Cove, the servers and bartenders work nonstop. Enjoyed going to the Bistro after returning from excursions. Read Less
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 2.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 5.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 5.0 4.1

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