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32 Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews

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
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
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 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
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date August 2018
This was our second cruise with Crystal - we took their Baltic Cruise on Crystal Symphony last year - and were very happy with that. I'll list the things that we liked, and the things that went wrong. I have e-mailed Crystal twice ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Crystal - we took their Baltic Cruise on Crystal Symphony last year - and were very happy with that. I'll list the things that we liked, and the things that went wrong. I have e-mailed Crystal twice since we returned pointing out these issues, but other than getting a standard "form"-type reply, we've heard nothing. This was the President's Cruise and we met him, Tom Wolber, and his family, in Barcelona - so next, I'll be writing to him. LIKED: - Stateroom: Our stateroom on Deck 8 was up to the usual high standards, and the room attendants were very friendly, helpful, and kept our cabin clean. We typically had breakfast in our room and the Room Service staff were excellent - always a smile on their faces and a cheery "good morning". - Dining: The number of dining options, whether for dinner or lunch was excellent. From the specialty restaurants, like Prego and Silk Road, to the casual Bistro and Lido, both the food and service were excellent. - Entertainment: We often went to the Galaxy Lounge after dinner, and the entertainment was good. We especially liked the Crystal Showband and Dancers, and the Comedian. - Excursions: This was very much a mixed bag, excellent for the Bordeaux ones, miserable for Lisbon (see below) WHAT WENT WRONG. - Stateroom: Like a number of our new-found dining friends, the bed-linens and towels were overly-bleached, causing me to sneeze every night, and my wife to develop sores on her lips (to the point that she went to see the ship's doctor). One of our fellow travelers described their stateroom as "toxic". We called the Front Desk and were informed this was not unusual, and these items would be washed less aggressively. - Excursions: (1): Our first excursion, in Guernsey, was cancelled at the last minute, and all the others were full, so we created our own tour. (2): Bordeaux: We had an excellent guide, but on two trips the air conditioning on the buses didn't work, and we all got very sweaty. After many complaints, Crystal offered everyone on those two tours a discount. (3): This was our first trip to Lisbon, and we were looking forward to visiting the place where they make the delicious Portuguese custard pastries. But we were disappointed when they substituted a (closed) museum cafe. That, plus another bus with broken air conditioning (it was 103 degrees F in the shade), that the bus company had to swap out. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
The service in the MDR was very slow - often waiting 25 minutes even to get a drink. Some waiters do not know it is impolite to interrupt a guest when talking. One waiter told me I could not change the "almond potato" because it ... Read More
The service in the MDR was very slow - often waiting 25 minutes even to get a drink. Some waiters do not know it is impolite to interrupt a guest when talking. One waiter told me I could not change the "almond potato" because it was with the dish - eventually I persuaded him, but it still arrived wrong. Personally I'd like a choice of eating in the Lido in an evening. There was much less entertainment than in the past - what happened to variety of activities, and the Liars Club? Most passengers did not get off the ship for the day in Charleston, due to freezing temperatures - still nothing to do on the ship (not to mention the terrible custom check) - only a 20 minute show in the evening - how many hours does it take us to pack our bags? Most of the entertainment was good, but the volume could certainly be 20% lower (in Switzerland, they try to avoid ear damage by giving all free ear plugs!) - am not a fan of The Tourist, and quite a few didn't want to see it a 2nd time. Very attentive up on the pool deck, but I agree.. music was rather loud to relax. Check in and out was great as usual. Crystal also excellent in assisting with the change of flight arrangements. The front desk service is excellent, but I don't understand why a ship credit cannot be forwarded to a future cruise? My cabin girl was good, and the ship generally kept very clean and nice. Children were well behaved. Hope Perry Grant will return to Serenity. Will sail with them again, albeit not what it used to be! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We have been repeat Crystal passengers. This last Carribean 14 days sailing was not up to par to past Crystal standards. let me share pros and cons: PROS: Our Butler , Costas was the best part of this sailing. An outstanding ... Read More
We have been repeat Crystal passengers. This last Carribean 14 days sailing was not up to par to past Crystal standards. let me share pros and cons: PROS: Our Butler , Costas was the best part of this sailing. An outstanding employee and a delight to see every day. Similarly, the stewardesses who cleaned our suite were most diligent and keeping our rooms in immaculate condition each day and night! Kudos to those spectacular staff members! Reception and Concierge desks were efficient and most welcoming! Production shows as well as individual artists were most entertaining and enjoyable . Similarly, most of the guest speakers were most informative and had good presentations, CONS: The service in the Crystal Dining Room was consistently slow, no matter what time we made our reservations and regardless where we sat. Some of the wait persons were quite lovely and attentive, while other appeared to be 'burned out' and ready to end their contracts and go home. The quality of the food in Dining room far less satisfactory than the alternative restaurants. Both the food and service was far better in alternative dining venues! Photographers not as well trained as they were in past. Phone operators usually most slow to respond Music played at pool whether it be recorded or live, far too loud. At times, not enough poolside attendants, requiring a long time to request a drink order. Towels left on lounges by guests who have clearly left the pool area, tend to be left there and not collected and new lounge covers replaced! Has Crystal cut back on staff? ALL excursions that we took were most poor.. One just showed flamingos, more flamingos and cacti FOR OVER TWO HOURS~! For us, the service in Crystal Dining Room was the most negative experience on this sailing as were the excursions. We are sadly questioning if we shall return to Crystal in view of the above. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We selected this cruise for its destination. We have sailed frequently on Crystal and other lines over the years and always thought highly of Crystal Cruises. There were many problems on this trip. Embarkation was only the ... Read More
We selected this cruise for its destination. We have sailed frequently on Crystal and other lines over the years and always thought highly of Crystal Cruises. There were many problems on this trip. Embarkation was only the beginning. The most serious was the flu-like illness that many, many passengers and crew suffered. While we accept that illness can always occur on a cruise, we were very disappointed not to see more proactive actions taken by Crystal to contain it. For example, never once did we see any sterilization of handrails, etc. Tables received cursory wipes but chairs, which people touched after coughing into their hands, were not wiped. People continued to come to dinner after being told by the medical staff that they had a virus. Despite all our efforts, it was impossible to avoid contacting the virus. This spoiled the cruise for us and many others. Many of the public venues, such as the Crystal Dining Room and the Crystal Cove were unpleasantly cold. Everyone had to wear shawls, sweaters or coats. Perhaps this was an attempt to contain the virus, but it succeeded only in making us feel worse. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We've cruised with Crystal before and have high expectations for this cruise line. The checkin and buses from downtown to Whittier was very confusing and a big mess, with no one really seeming to know what was happening, but the ... Read More
We've cruised with Crystal before and have high expectations for this cruise line. The checkin and buses from downtown to Whittier was very confusing and a big mess, with no one really seeming to know what was happening, but the buses arrived and we all got to the port eventually (our group was split over 3 buses). Cabins were ready early so we were able to unpack before dinner, which you don't see on the larger ships. The cabins are also much quieter and better insulated than other cruise lines. The quality of the food seems to have gone down a bit as well and they didn't have a formal night (which would have been nice to know in advance to save packing tux & dress). The daily tea time is wonderful and I highly recommend it. The service was good and staff very pleasant. Our main concern is that we had ongoing issues with our toilet not flushing properly that was never really resolved. Add to that a strong sewer odor in the hallway on our deck (7) outside our cabin. This made for a most unpleasant experience walking to/from the cabin. Fortunately it didn't smell INSIDE our cabin or I would have been most upset! Even our cabin steward said she had reported the sewer smells in the hallway. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with ... Read More
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with Savoir Faire. As to the food we found the food in the main dinning room to be fine but not outstanding. The service was good but our tow female servers were inexperienced . The female wine steward was very attentive and kept our glasses full. However, we were never shown or asked if we wanted to see a wine list. We found the the first two courses in Prego to be excellent and the main courses to be poor. The service was average on the first night but excellent on the second when we ate with a couple who had cruised several times before on Crystal. The service in the Lido buffet was excellent and the food for breakfast was above average. The dinner at Tastes was unusual and good and the service was very good. Our room was small but adequate space for clothing for a short cruise and our attendant was excellent. Overall we found the service to be outstanding but everything else just average. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We went on our second Crystal Cruise after taking a trip on Crystal Symphony a year ago. Our experience a year ago was so wonderful that we booked for the next year right away. What happened Crystal? The food was mediocre, though the ... Read More
We went on our second Crystal Cruise after taking a trip on Crystal Symphony a year ago. Our experience a year ago was so wonderful that we booked for the next year right away. What happened Crystal? The food was mediocre, though the service was good. The staff it seems were equivalent to any other cruise line where with our last experience the staff were extraordinary. The food was the biggest let down. Breakfast & lunch remained the same but the dinners were awful. Everything served to us was luke warm and of poor quality. Menu choices were very limited which seemed to be similar every night. The daily "Reflections" scheduled advertised a film to be shown, when arriving at the theater, there was no movie and no notice that it wasn't being shown. We needed to go to the concierge desk to ask and got a blank stare saying, it must not be showing. For the price that line charges, it was ridiculous. That was our last cruise on Crystal. Frankly, I think we are done with cruises in general. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Yes this is cruise critic and yes I am a harsh critic. This was a first Crystal Cruise and we hoped to make it a habit. We are regulars on Oceania and Silversea and did not find Crystal any better -- in fact in some cases below the ... Read More
Yes this is cruise critic and yes I am a harsh critic. This was a first Crystal Cruise and we hoped to make it a habit. We are regulars on Oceania and Silversea and did not find Crystal any better -- in fact in some cases below the standards of O and Silversea. The cruise was a rather simple one – pretty much a western Caribbean with stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and Key West. I will not spend much time talking about the ports. Both my DW and me had bronchitis as it seemed to being going around the ship so our off ship activity was limited. Embarkation: First impressions were not good. We departed from Terminal B (same as Norwegian uses). The line was long. The hold time was unacceptable. This is at 1:30pm. Took almost 45 minutes from the entrance to the Terminal until we had our room card. The ship was built in 2005 and recently refurbished. It did look new – sharp style and not a blemish anywhere. Very well maintained. The Room: Were Crystal really fails is their staterooms in Veranda class. Since most guests travel this way – I will do the comparison here. Size is 246 sq feet which includes the veranda. What makes this feel smaller is the fact that the bathroom is large, including a tub and a double sink. This makes the room extra small. Closet space was good. TV was actually good with more choices including the NFL Playoffs and the NCCA Finals. Bed for me was comfortable. One BIG negative was the stateroom service. Just plain bad. We returned to the cabin generally around 8pm and room was still unmade. Unacceptable -- room attendant was told we generally come back quickly from dinner. The food: The best part of Crystal is its food. Some very unique menus are offered, plus also a classic menu. The classic menu also has a steak entrée nightly (whether Filet, Rib Eye or Sirloin strip). I suppose you can ask for any of the three, nightly -- just ask as they were very accommodating to our table mates, who did a special order on some nights. MDR has main and late seating – you can also op for dining by reservation. Service was prompt and well executed but generally was at least a 90 minute seating. Specialties – Prego is an Italian restaurant and food quality was excellent -- Osso Buco was good. Silk Road had a fusion Japanese menu plus excellent Sushi/Sashimi. In fact the Sashimi was so good ,I could make a meal out that alone – but I had the pepper Lobster which was excellent. Specialties are included. But additional bookings are $30 pp – done in order to make sure everyone has a chance to book a least once. They do not have an evening buffet like many ships. Their light meal is by reservation but we saw many on the last night come without a reservation. Place is called Tastes – but they should rename it Tasteless. The style is a Tapas menu where you can order many small items, Maybe the chef had a bad night – but the fish, chicken and lamb we had were all dry and overdone. The Ahi Tuna was done properly – raw. Trident Grill – is similar to Waves and serves the same fare. Exception is no lobster. Burgers were better than O, but the Fries on O are much better. They also have a ice cream bar next to the Grill. Bistro – a coffee bar. Good coffee plus food (fruits, cookies, cakes, cold cuts) throughout the day (late breakfast through late lunch. The Drink: Beer, house wines, and drinks (top shelf) are included. House wines were OK nothing special, no worse/better than O or Silversea. Drinks were strong and smooth – no water in these and they were large. No mini Martini’s like on Oceania. Service: Outstanding. Even the officers are always visible and friendly Enrichment: Love the term and their lectures were really good. Bob Ray was one which gave talks on Motown and also the Beach Boys with little heard recording takes and items that belong on trivia. Some negatives: The new Crystal web site is bad. Difficult to navigate and to book restaurant and shore excursions. So bad is it the after trip survey crashed. Shipboard Wi-Fi was slow and not free. They give you 60 minutes free. Inclusive certainly does not apply to the wifi with Crystal. As noted above -- the embarkation was really disorganized. Crystal does all of the work on board the ship so there were multiple queues at security, in the port hall where they checked the passenger heath and passport exam, then in the holding pen (Norwegian style), at the gangway, and then on the ship at the registration tables. So was I Crystalized?? Maybe, with the right itinerary yes. But they really need to up their game with some new builds with bigger staterooms which have become common with new builds from Seaborne, Silversea, Oceania and Regent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My 2nd time on Crystal, and the first since the new owners Genting took control, I did not check reviews beforehand and am not looking at any now, I just feel compelled to share my thoughts on how things have changed subtly in some areas, ... Read More
My 2nd time on Crystal, and the first since the new owners Genting took control, I did not check reviews beforehand and am not looking at any now, I just feel compelled to share my thoughts on how things have changed subtly in some areas, and obviously in others. My aha moment for writing this came when I overheard a conversation about Genting always wanting to be the Number One cruise line in the world (having previously owned NCL) and rather than keep working it, “they bought their way to supremacy” Today is the last day of this trip a sea day and a gentle cruise to Miami. There is no television this afternoon on the ship, we did have pictures and no sound, now nothing, a day when news of tragedies in Berlin and Turkey make it important to know what is going on, It seems frivolous to be writing this review at all in reality so please forgive this. Tastes restaurant is closed “for maintenance” tonight, why would that be other than to push people into the main dining room or the $30 PP extra at the specialty restaurants. Nobody is working on maintenance, it closed at 2:30 pm as it does every day. The verandas were unavailable last night and all day today as they hosed them down, no notice just a guy and a hosepipe suddenly watching me get dressed (more sickening for him in fairness) It seems like there is constant maintenance going as generally, the first three days had internet that was unavailable, (while they fixed something) The first two days the casino was closed (as they were installing all new slot machines and did not complete the job on time. The main dining room is dirty, there is no other word for it. Walking to the table last night there was some pasta and a French fry on the floor, it was still there an hour later. It is clear that there are a huge % of people in training, that is fine, but the ship is far from full and when you ask a question as simple as “where is the nearest restroom, erm..toilet, sorry” you might expect something other than “I can get you a map of the ship” then the colleague next to the young man slaps him (literally) and says "show him where" Our room is very nice, 10079, spacious wardrobe, nice and quiet, lovely full bathroom, great butler and very pleasant room attendant. The front desk was excellent, very helpful with my many requests for print outs of documents that I could sign and scan back, nothing was too much trouble for them, a great team all round. A high point of the trip was spending evenings at the sushi bar with the superb Executive Chef called Toku, the Toro was incredible, his culinary skills superb and the atmosphere perfect. Prego was much better this trip than last, I had lamb rack twice and it was perfect both times. The expansion that is underway is clearly challenging the business and its most important resource, its people. The push into river cruises, air cruises and mega ships with residences is removing the focus that is laser like still at Seabourn and Silversea, luxury cruise lines that have stood the test of time. In some respects, it feels like a company in transition, we might have been the unlucky ones that had to suffer disruption to get the ship ready for the next guests out of Miami on the 20th December, but having lived in Hong Kong and see what Star Cruises is like I get the distinct impression that the focus is moving from a focus on serving the ultra-luxury market to one focused on the ultra-wealthy, there is a clear difference. I run a business, we have happy customers and some of the time we also let people down, it’s hard to be on top of your game all of the time and I will take things away that will help me in my own company for sure. One huge takeaway is you can not expect your customers to get less than they expected just because you are doing maintenance however you disguise it. If the ship needed so much work, it should have been taken out of service, or as hotels do, tell you in advance that they are renovating the pool/lobby etc and book if you don’t care about those things. Yes, I am disappointed with the trip but I have had a rest, met some nice people one of which taught me to play craps properly rather than my terrible way, in that respect the educational part of the trip was a winner! Ultimately when you are paying top dollar, you should get the best, nothing less and if you do not, you have the option to vote with your wallet and spend money elsewhere, for me that will be back to Seabourn with the whole family this summer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We boarded the ship in NYC which was great as we live here. Embarkation was very easy, its on the ship. We were meet at the gangway and escorted to the desk, on the way a steward took our carry-on and delivered it to our stateroom. There ... Read More
We boarded the ship in NYC which was great as we live here. Embarkation was very easy, its on the ship. We were meet at the gangway and escorted to the desk, on the way a steward took our carry-on and delivered it to our stateroom. There was champagne and lunch in the MDR. I was surprised the lido was not open. The ship is 1000 passengers, about the right size for us. It is in excellent shape and very clean all around. Its about 25 years old so the design is dated, that said it is easy to get around and find places. You can see how it has been changed over the years as the decor seems rather hap hazard. The lido has just been done, looks modern and new. This should be carried throughout the ship. I missed the interactive TV in the room however the internet was OK although you just get 1 hour a day, the rest you must pay for. As a all inclusive luxury line I would expect it to be included. The public spaces were very spacious however the ship was just 2/3 full. If full some would be crowded. Cabin was a OV on deck seven, number 7068. Excellent location, quiet with little ship movement. Cabin is very small for a luxury line, that said it was in excellent shape, very clean at all times. Steward was eager to do all that was asked. If you go aboard expecting same cabin as a mass market line you will not be let down. Food was very good. There are plenty of choices and its apparent Crystal uses excellent ingredients and cooks to order. I liked most things, sent a few back. They are eager to please and do all they can to give you a nice meal. Dinning is the deal breaker for me on Crystal. I think the main dinning room has about as much ambience as the local dinner. Its small, noisy and restrictive. There is just first, second and reservation dinning. We had first sitting, it was full so we were stuck in a poor table for 2 for two weeks. Service was very rushed. The specialty restaurants were very nice, easy to make reservations for although I find paying for extra tackier in the luxury market. The service and ambiance they have should be what you experience throughout the ship. The lido, tastes and grill were excellent. A real downside for me is the lido is closed for dinner. If you miss your sitting its room service or nothing. The rooms are really to small to eat in. The Bistro was a nice place to stop for coffee however I found their snacks odd. Entertainment and activities are nice and plentiful. Like anything I found some great and skipped some. I liked the idea there are two shows most nights, easy to get a seat. There is so much going on day and night it would be hard to be board. Service is great all around the ship. Again it was just 2/3 full. This was a Caribbean trip so the ports were beach and shopping. We missed one and they gave 250$ FCC to each person. I felt that was very generous Overall this was a nice trip, I would judge it average, or a 3, comparing it to other luxury lines. I found my fellow guests to be extremely nice, I did not hear complaints, see fights for seats or get run over by a scooter however the pool chair hog's were out in full force. I would go again however Crystal is not my go to cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise for the itinerary (Canada-New England) and because we wanted to try Crystal. We found lots to like. The ship is pretty, easy to navigate, and generally very comfortable. We enjoyed the food in the main dining room ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary (Canada-New England) and because we wanted to try Crystal. We found lots to like. The ship is pretty, easy to navigate, and generally very comfortable. We enjoyed the food in the main dining room and had an excellent meal in Prego. I loved the cabin, which was admittedly small but otherwise perfect. Housekeeping was excellent. What didn't we like? We opted for an additional night in a Montreal hotel because it included airport transfers and transport to the ship, which was in Quebec City. This turned out to be a disappointing choice - most of the time was spent on buses, and the hotel served a buffet breakfast on the morning of departure that had a limited selection and hot food that was room temperature. In hindsight, I wonder why Crystal didn't offer the option of a Quebec City embarkation - a lovely town that we would have liked more time to explore than a couple of hours before we sailed. The actual embarkation was smoothly managed. We like the lectures on Cunard and looked forward to those on Crystal, which have been rated highly. We found them to be more entertainment than enrichment. The port talks only addressed US stops (including, for some reason, the Salem witch trials), and one lecturer devoted 3 talks to female musical and film stars of the mid-20th century. Entertaining, but not really informative or thought provoking. The food was generally good. Food in the main dining room was overall very good. We liked our dinner in Tastes but wished the menu was larger; one night there and we felt like we'd explored it fully. Lunch in the Lido was very good. Sadly, we thought Silk Road was a let-down. We love good sushi, but found the fish to be less than impeccably fresh. We ate only from the appetizer menu there and perhaps would have found the entrees more satisfying. The included wines are okay, typical supermarket wines where we live (Northern California). They are not "luxury" wines, which I mention because that is how Crystal chooses to market itself. The list of wines for purchase offers safe and familiar choices at a reasonable mark-up. We had a nice bottle with our dinner in Prego. Service was good, as it should be on a cruise in this price range. We were mistakenly seated at a table for 8 on the first night but were quickly reseated at the requested table for 2. The dining room is noisy and the staff move at high speed, but the table service was smooth and capable. Occasional oversights in the bars and Bistro happened but were minor. My final observation has to do with the public rooms. They are comfortable, but there are few places quiet enough to hole up with a book. I didn't actually see many readers on this cruise. We didn't try the entertainment or any of the excursions so I can't comment on those. The dress code is easy (we liked it). We decided that a fixed dining time is simply not our thing, at least if the choice is either 6:00 or 8:30. We learned that we could be seated earlier than 8:30 if a table was available, so we took advantage of that. I've tried to give enough detail so that people can judge if our experiences are relevant to them or not. I've highlighted the things we think are important. Obviously, other people will have their own priorities. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The food was great in Silk road, average in Prego, inconsistent in the Crystal dinning room, but great in Tastes and Lido. Housekeeping missed an entire day in the middle of the cruise... Room service never showed, housekeeping had to ... Read More
The food was great in Silk road, average in Prego, inconsistent in the Crystal dinning room, but great in Tastes and Lido. Housekeeping missed an entire day in the middle of the cruise... Room service never showed, housekeeping had to bring the limes, tonic water, etc. Entertainment was average except for the Cruise Director who is a ventriloquist and was very good. One of the bartenders was great....however when asked for the same drink from a different bartender, it was not as good. The wines in the crystal dinning room were very limited....one of each one, chardonnay, one cab, one merlot, etc...that wine from from their own crystal vineyards. The shore excursions were not good, the tour director and bus driver were not on the same page and the bus left us in town and was lost at one point...tour guy who was a local could not find the bus. Some of these towns looked like third world countries. The add on tour to Montreal at the end, everyone complained because we were told it would be 2-1/2 hours on a luxury bus ....it was not...it was four hours and no water for us on that bus and no cup holders in the seats. The best part was the embarkation and disembarkation....it was the best on any cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We wanted to see Alaska again and based on Crystal's previously held number one rating by a popular travel magazine and the many glowing reviews on CC we booked 10 days on the Crystal Serenity. We thoroughly enjoyed Alaska and our ... Read More
We wanted to see Alaska again and based on Crystal's previously held number one rating by a popular travel magazine and the many glowing reviews on CC we booked 10 days on the Crystal Serenity. We thoroughly enjoyed Alaska and our cruise. There were many things we enjoyed on Serenity, however, Crystal didn't live up to it's reported luxury status on our cruise. We are most likely "One and Done" with Crystal. The overall quality of the food was good to excellent. The overall layout, condition and cleanliness of the ship was excellent. The entertainment was a mixed bag but I would say it was above average to excellent. We thought the lectures and the iMovie classes were outstanding! Our cabin service was excellent and for the most part the crew was cheerful and engaging. So why the 'One and Done"? Our difficulties started with three trips to front desk to get functioning keys. (We all know about first impressions.) Next our experience in the Main Dining Room was the worst experience of any of our two dozen cruises. Our waiter was actually working in another section of the Dining Room so it wasn't poor service, it was literally no service. After three nights I complained and all subsequent visits to MD were excellent. We found Silk Road and Prego to be excellent. However, our worst dining experience was showing up 10 minutes before closing at Tastes without a reservation and being told we should consider room service. Ok, I was rather surprised but it was late and I agreed that RS would be ok. We ordered RS but somehow the order was lost or delivered to someone else. For the first time ever on a cruise we retired to bed hungry. We called RS after one hour had passed and were told it should be arriving soon. It never arrived! Crystal delivered a bottle of champagne the following day with an apology. Oh well, two points for that. Here's the issue I am most astonished by: We booked the train excursion in Skagway for 12:30 PM. That morning we wanted to shop in Skagway and asked the Crystal Excursion Rep if we would be able to board the train at the Train Depot in Skagway? Her answer: "absolutely"! At 12:15 we asked the ticket agent at the station where we needed to be to board the Crystal Excursion? Answer: "Back in front of your ship, the train for your excursion does not pass thru the station!" We had to literally run all the way back to the ship in an effort to make it back to the train in time! It left moments after we boarded! We were half way up the mountain before we stopped sweating.There was no miscommunications to the Crystal Rep, she was simply not educated on the specifics of that excursion, another simple fail for Crystal. In conclusion, in spite of these issues we had a overall enjoyable cruise. Crystal got a bunch right and a bunch wrong and that averages out to basically an "above average, also ran" experience for us. Not much different from other cruising we've done on other lines for substantially less cost. One additional observation was the intense preoccupation that the crew had towards preparing for the next NWP cruise. At times it seemed like we were aboard a sort of "dry run" for that cruise. Lastly, we are business owners that require the ability to stay accessible to clients for emergency situations. Crystal's internet access and speed does not meet our minimum requirements to stay connected to our business. That alone probably excludes us from future Crystal Cruising. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We chose Crystal because we had heard if was a luxury experience. We paid top dollar for this cruise. Unfortunately, the Serenity was rather mundane -- nice but nothing special. The food was OK but not better than other cruises we have ... Read More
We chose Crystal because we had heard if was a luxury experience. We paid top dollar for this cruise. Unfortunately, the Serenity was rather mundane -- nice but nothing special. The food was OK but not better than other cruises we have taken on other lines. The food portions in the dining room were small -- not a bad thing on a cruise -- but they were unnecessarily small in the wrong ways. Example French toast with berries in the main dining room included two toast triangles, four blueberries and three thin slices of strawberry. An appetizer of prosciutto and melon featured 4 tiny cubes of melon -- each about 1/4 the size of a marble. Cutting back on melon Crystal?? The preboarding experience on Crystal was the worst we have ever had. Other passengers expressed the same frustration with getting any information from Crystal directly. They would only communicate with us through our travel agent even for the most mundane requests. Onboard the staff was exceptional although hampered by Crystal's procedures. The onboard entertainment was very good but there were only four performances in the main theater in seven days. Onboard wifi was overly complicated -- expensive if you didn't continually log out and log back in. All-in-all it was an enjoyable cruise but since our expectations for Crystal were very high -- we were disappointed. Our next cruise will be on a less expensive line such as Royal Caribbean or Oceania Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We had sailed on Crystal Serenity previously on the Baltic cruise and had a great time. The crew seemed overworked and stretched and unfriendly. One waitress was rather rude when I requested for just hot water and honey and some slices of ... Read More
We had sailed on Crystal Serenity previously on the Baltic cruise and had a great time. The crew seemed overworked and stretched and unfriendly. One waitress was rather rude when I requested for just hot water and honey and some slices of lemon for a bad throat. Food was not up to expectations - the buffet spread in Lido deck was so so. We had looked forward to dining at the Silk Road - the sashimi was not fresh and the quality seemed to be compromised. The soup came out lukewarm and salty. Food in Prego was also not great - again, too salty and the quality seemed lacking. Shore excursions were boring. Fortunately the entertainment on most nights was quite good. The internet was patchy. The guy manning the help desk at the Computer room was hostile and rude and impatient when we approached him for help. What was good - the Trident Grill delivered. Our butler was always very polite and willing to go the extra mile to meet our needs and our room was well taken care of by our room's housekeeper. We probably will not pay so much for a cruise again. Crystal charged 6 stars' prices but did not deliver. Very very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous ... Read More
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous cruise, so we were prepared for the down time Embarkation was smooth and professional. Using the website to book our shore excursions and to complete all data requirements saved a great deal of time and travail. All in all, we only spent about twenty-minutes from the announcement of boarding to sitting down for lunch. Baggage was delivered without incident and we were in our stateroom (as insistently named by Crystal) by 3:10 PM. The cabin (10097) was quite small; we could not both pass by the foot of the bed concurrently. The closet was adequate, but below the standard set by other lines. The carpet was faded and a bit worn, while the drapes were consistently off-track. The balcony worked quite well. No on-line library of current movies exists on the Serenity, so when the satellite TV reception was spotty (as it often was), reading or drinking seemed to be the only alternative. Dining was a hit and miss affair. The specialty restaurants lacked flair and the food was inconsistent. The buffet (the Lido) provided fresh, well-prepared food in very limited variety. Both breakfast and lunch were okay; no casual dinner service is offered on the Serenity -- a genuine mistake. Dinner at the Crystal Dining Room displayed excellent service, mediocre wines and average cuisine. The usual lobster and lamb entrees appeared as well as lots of fish. The soups were universally excellent. A note about the "Modern" items isolated to one side of the menu: they should be isolated to the moon. No mass feeder can bring off the delicate foams and molecular gastronomy promised by these items. The wines in the all-inclusive program were mid-level supermarket brands, available at my grocer for about $10 - $12 a bottle (the in-house "C" pinot noir was excellent, however). Enrichment activities ranged from world-class to galaxy-class. The sea-day lectures were meticulously researched, eloquently presented and rich with content. Most were quite well-attended. The lecturers succeeded in bringing an immediacy to topics ranging from an historical series on populating the islands through a set of eco-lectures on topics including the California Condor and the Easter Monarch butterfly. All in all, the lectures and lecturers were the finest in our memory. Entertainment, on the other hand, was cruise ship standard...which is to say very mediocre indeed. Everyone we met on the crew and staff were personable, quite articulate and often anticipated our requests. They were also stressed and tired. The thin veneer of effortless service cracked regularly. However, our stateroom was regularly re-stocked with goodies and housekeeping was excellent. Should we cruise with Crystal in the future, we will not avail ourselves of the proffered excursions. While of reasonable value, the variety lacked range. Port choice was limited by our destination and the size of the Serenity. Hilo was our favorite. Reading other reviews of the Serenity and its cruises, it seems to us that what we found is typical of the experience. While our expectations remained unmet, the cruise still lingers in a rosy glow in our memory. We cruise primarily by destination, not cruise line, so we may sail on Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We recently returned from Crystal Cruises Serenity Vancouver BC to San Francisco cruise from 5/22 till 5/28. We took this cruise because we wanted a short break. We hoped to go in early June, but could not find a cruise that met our ... Read More
We recently returned from Crystal Cruises Serenity Vancouver BC to San Francisco cruise from 5/22 till 5/28. We took this cruise because we wanted a short break. We hoped to go in early June, but could not find a cruise that met our requirements: Less than a week and easy access to and from the ship. Convenient flights were available on both ends of the cruise and we have been to all the ports, so we planned not to get off the ship until the end of the cruise. We just wanted to be idle, comfortable, and extremely well fed and wined. Unfortunately, idle was the only thing that lived up to our expectations. We were very disappointed in the food. Veal chop and lobster were the only good dinners. I had veal scallopini which I sent back and the replacement was just as dry, but it was hotter than my original serving. Two nights I ordered different cuts of Angus steaks and both were overcooked and very dry. The fish was very fishy and/or dry. Breakfast on Lido deck was quite good. We had lunches in the main dining room and on Lido. They were okay, but not as good as we expected. The wines included in the cruise price seemed to vary depending on where we ordered them. We tried chardonnay twice and did not like either one. So we changed to Sauvignon Blanc that was sometimes very good and sometimes only so-so. The one Cabernet we had was good and the Pinot Noir was another iffy wine. Our cabin was the smallest we’ve ever had on a cruise and it was called deluxe! I did like the buttons for door access ‘do not disturb’, ‘clean up’ and ‘ring’. The organization of the cruise and dissemination of information were poor. I was told the only choice for the main dining room was early or late seating and there were no tables for two. When we received our cruise documents, I learned that the ship offered ‘dinner by reservation’. But by then, I could not get that choice. And when we went to the dining room the first night, we discovered there were many tables for two. The first information I got about transfers on embarkation was that, for no cost, we would be taken to a hotel near the port where a ballroom was reserved for the afternoon because we could not board the ship until 6pm. Then I was called and told that this plan was only for people who booked directly with Crystal. So, I called our travel agent, who contacted Crystal and was told the room was for all passengers, but we would have to pay for the transfer. We were finally on board about 7:30pm. For disembarkation, Crystal’s original schedule was that its transfers to the airport would only be available for flights departing after noon. Our flight was at 11:55am, so I arranged a private transfer. Then 2 days or so before disembarkation, we were notified that we could use the Crystal transfer, first bus would leave about 8:20am, and because of the embarkation confusion, Crystal was giving us a shipboard credit that we could use for the transfer. Fortunately, I was able to cancel the private transfer. I like detailed plans (with no surprises), so the multiple changes and conflicting information were annoying. The weather was good and the sea calm so cruising was pleasant, and the staff was courteous and helpful, but the overall experience was dominated by the unsatisfactory food & wine service, so that this was the least pleasant of some 16 cruises plus 3 river cruises. This was the first time we reserved a cruise so late that we got the "fill the ship" price. But it was still a bit much for our experience. This was our first and most likely will be our only Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal ... Read More
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) over a dozen times in the past several years. We treat it as a comfortable boutique hotel where everyone knows your name. It’s consistently a nice getaway that lacks all that herding, hustling, and hollering for which cruises are stereotyped. Nevertheless, there are some real limits on what the Serenity offers all of us who don’t stay up there in those elite penthouses. Travel agents who want to book repeaters should use caution to avoid an expectation gap. Regardless of the fancy ads, this aging ship doesn’t meet the assumptions for unabashed “ultra luxury.” There are simply too many little “no’s” and missing touches for that. Overall, I rate this cruise as a “3” (on a scale of 5) when judged against Crystal’s asserted standards of “all exclusive” and “ultra luxury.” But there are definitely some pockets of real luxury on the Serenity, including some crew members who consistently offer a luxury level of service. Among the latter are the cruise director and the famous Lido waiters -- true masters of making you feel welcome. So we enjoy what’s there, and overlook what’s not. And we keep coming back. For customers that insist on absolute pampered perfection, travel agents should carefully brief them on the market’s offerings and realities. DINING: The quality of food on the Serenity was quite variable during this cruise. For my taste buds, the following hodgepodge was delicious and memorable: monkfish (a rare treat where we live); fishermen’s platter (perfectly breaded); salzburger nockerl (custom dessert from our Austrian head waiter); homemade corned beef hash (a breakfast treat); Ovaltine (a childhood memory); all that super-creamy ice cream (including arcane flavors like lychee and green tea). As in the past, the Lido Cafe’s steaks, hamburgers, and chimichurri beef were consistently delicious. And my wife had a good filet in the dining room. But the rest of the ship’s beef cuts lacked flavor at best, and were hard to eat at worst. (I actually pushed two servings aside.) One of the Serenity’s pasta offerings (spaghetti with meat sauce) was quite tasty. With that one exception, the ship’s pasta was disappointing. One serving lacked flavor and arrived lukewarm. Another serving arrived so cold that I reported it to the head waiter for replacement. The Serenity is a good choice if you like the treasure hunt of sampling the world’s cuisine. It may not be a good fit for those who passively expect meals of predictable perfection (that is, eaters with little tolerance for uncertainty and experimentation). On the other hand, the head waiters on the Serenity are outstanding and, with a day’s notice, will arrange just about any food you want (as close as we come to having a personal chef). And this option for customized, off-menu items is indeed a luxury. Last spring, Crystal’s president expressed her understandable need for “making sure every berth is full every sailing” (Wall Street Journal, 4-23-15). That apparently means marketing to more than us empty-nesters, as well as steps like deformalizing the dining room a bit for those who wear the “$400 jeans” (as she expressed it in an onboard video of a March 7 passenger briefing). The apparel debate has now been addressed in a 350-word “Dress Codes for Your Cruise,” which was distributed at the start of the voyage. After dissecting the document and looking at the diners’ attire, I concluded that the dreaded jeans are now permissible anywhere and anytime except the two formal nights. Once again, the key is for travel agents to openly cover this issue with their shoppers. If customers prefer more or less formality, they can vote with their checkbooks. But it’s not just about the ups and downs of the food (or even the tuxes). We much enjoy our table talk with some of the world’s most interesting people. All those people who do things we’ll never do ourselves. And those dining conversations are the real luxury for us. In fact, we often remember those chats in more detail than what we ate at a given feeding. MUSIC & LECTURES: This was a repositioning cruise with less than 1,000 passengers. But it was definitely the land of luxury for musicians and music lovers. The little ship was saturated with three bands, two pianists, nightly music shows, a Mozart tea, and a Russian string quartet. Three lecturers did a memorable series of 11 presentations about the “American Songbook.” And the Serenity provided free wireless access to 300+ videos of its past lectures. However, the ship’s online portal needs to label these videos by topic, rather than just by the name of the lecturer. STATEROOM & PUBLIC SPACES: Cruising need not mean crowding. Though a small ship, Serenity was somehow built with “endless” nooks and crannies in which one can limit contact with other humans to the desired degree. On this cruise, as before, we found the Serenity’s basic veranda stateroom to be adequate and comfortable. The housekeeper was thorough, attentive, pleasant, and dependable. However, the ship’s voicemail system was broken for most of the cruise. This frustrated messages from passengers and crew. Crystal’s daily newsletter acknowledged the problem on December 16, 20, and 21. But the failure to provide this basic service is not consistent with luxury cruising. The broken voicemail reminded us of our cruise last year, when the Serenity’s connection to the Internet was broken across much of the Pacific. Again, this is an aging little ship with limitations that travel agents should alert their customers to expect. PRE-CRUISE & POST-CRUISE: We’ve given up on using taxicabs due to various incidents over the years. A problem with a cab driver can be a real spoiler at the beginning of a trip. Thus, in Lisbon, we reserved a private driver to meet us at the airport. In setting the pickup time, be sure to make a pessimistic allowance for baggage claim and the passport line. Before the cruise, we built in a “cushion day” at the Sheraton Lisboa hotel. Great place to park for the day of waiting, but be sure to read your bill before paying. The Sheraton felt free to tack on an unrequested donation to a charity. They took it off when I spotted it. We used a private driver again for the ride down to the Serenity. At the end of the cruise (Miami), we rode Crystal’s bus from the ship to the airport. If Crystal offers a transfer bus, it’s a good deal and we take it. HEALTH & SAFETY: There’s a lot to like about the Serenity, but one concern is hard for customers to assess because it’s hard to see. At the start of this cruise, the Serenity’s daily newsletter asserted that “Crystal Cruises consistently receives the highest scores from the United States Public Health service after inspections of our culinary operations.” Crystal is referring to the inspections that cruise ships get from a federal health agency (Center for Disease Control) based in Fort Lauderdale. These inspections can occur when the ship docks at a U.S. port (the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program). CDC considers inspection scores from 86 to 100 to be in the passing range. I checked CDC’s website for the last inspection before our cruise. CDC gave the Serenity a score of 88 in its May 2015 inspection. This score is 3 points above CDC’s “not satisfactory” threshold of 85. CDC issued a 15-page report that detailed 62 deficiencies. Per CDC’s website (visited 12-29-15), the agency has conducted 230 inspections of cruise ships during 2015. Serenity’s score of 88 was among the 16 lowest scores, that is, in the bottom 7%. These inspection reports are publicly available (in all their technical tedium) at www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp. Travel agents can read for themselves and discuss any item of concern with their doctors that deal with travel health. Part of the “value added” by a travel agent can be a realistic assessment of the risks of an itinerary. Another option, which I’ve found quite helpful, is a pre-cruise consultation with a national chain of travel medicine clinics (see www.passporthealthusa.com). CDC hopefully did a re-inspection when this cruise ended in Miami. And the Serenity hopefully got a better score (which will ultimately be reported on CDC’s website). Crystal continues to boast that it caters to the “top 2% of the world’s wealthiest.” (See the marketing interviews on Fox News (12-14-15) www.youtube.com/watch?v=1--zYYGJukQ, and on CNBC (4-23-15) http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000373868 ) But an inspection score in the lowest 7% is not consistent with luxury cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Background - have previously cruised the inside passage in Alaska with Holland America, Caribbean islands with Princess, Crystal was equivalent but a smaller ship (for better and worse) The food and service were excellent. Especially ... Read More
Background - have previously cruised the inside passage in Alaska with Holland America, Caribbean islands with Princess, Crystal was equivalent but a smaller ship (for better and worse) The food and service were excellent. Especially Verner Petrovic as our waiter in the main dining room. Prego and Silk Road specialty restaurants were very nice. Lido buffet and Trident grill excellent Free liquor is a mixed blessing, one tends to overdo and not be as energetic for the excursions. One show (Billy joel imitator) was excellent, rest were adequate. Uncrowded but dead nightlife, glad I wasn't a single. Older crowd 7th deck room with a view but no veranda was nice and equivalent to previous experiences, Crystal overall organizational skills were OK except the interface with excursions and when something went wrong Unfortunately we got hit by pickpockets in Barcelona, the 5th floor office staff were generally of no help and actually gave us misinformation while acting like she knew what she talking about. Then Thursday or so the final bill from Crystal was to be settled, all the sudden we could make free international collect calls from their desk instead going onshore to the police stations, or aural facetiming on iphone using wifi to relatives in states. DEFINITELY NOT a luxury touch when stressed, and when WiFi is 55 euro/120 minutes with spotty SLOW reception even when docked. AND NO ATM on board. Also they didn't email us in advance what pier to arrive at in Barcelona, there's 6 km of piers for the taxi in traffic to navigate BCN 3 days, lots to see, PICKPOCKETS, beaches a subway ride, Crystal's Gaudi tour was excellent Ibiza interesting for 1 day, snorkeling excursion for 4 hrs was only 45 minutes in the water each for >150 euro each, some fish and grasses, warm salty water, bring your own mask Cartagena interesting for 1 day, excursion was OK Gibraltar interesting for 1 day, the park is huge and hilly - take a taxi Casablanca interesting for 1 day, I wont go back, tour guide not what he seemed to be, flim-flam attempts were laughable Algarve Tivoli hotel in Carvoeiro or all of Lagos was very nice, finally a good excursion guide, I might go back if I wanted a beach vacation almost rivaling Cinque Terra in Italy, LIS 3 days, enough sights for 3 days no days at sea so we did excursions rather than dance or art etc on board, gym was ok If the itinerary fits I'd do Crystal again, but prefer Holland America and Princess Read Less
Sail Date July 2015

Top Crystal Serenity Itineraries

Crystal Serenity Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 5.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 4.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 4.5 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 5.0 4.1

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