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165 Crystal Serenity Cruise Reviews

This ship is elegant and the staff are all wonderful. Lounges are delightful. Entertainment is amazing. They even have a magician aboard who entertains groups of only 20 at a time with very clever tricks. Beautiful live music everywhere. ... Read More
This ship is elegant and the staff are all wonderful. Lounges are delightful. Entertainment is amazing. They even have a magician aboard who entertains groups of only 20 at a time with very clever tricks. Beautiful live music everywhere. Cabins are spacious and excellent. The food is to die for. It is the best cruise line we have ever been on and we have been on most. This was not our first time and it will not be our last. We have done over 150 cruises. Crystal is doing everything right. Anyone who complains about the deck chairs being held unfairly or toiletries not being properly displayed in the gift shop should get a life. This is truly a wonderful cruise line in every way. The specialty dining rooms are fantastic. Our favorite was the Japanese dining. The main dining room was also terrific. The Brazilian Churasceria was very different and we loved it also. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was my 60th birthday celebration so we decided to go higher end. We have sailed with Disney with our kids and lately on the newer HAL pinnacle ships. We were overall thrilled with the cruise and are now spoiled. We booked a verandah ... Read More
This was my 60th birthday celebration so we decided to go higher end. We have sailed with Disney with our kids and lately on the newer HAL pinnacle ships. We were overall thrilled with the cruise and are now spoiled. We booked a verandah cabin and were fortunate to be upgraded to a Seabreeze Penthouse with butler. I think the word penthouse was a little over exaggerated although very nice it was basically a larger verandah cabin with nice seating area and larger bathroom not a whole lot bigger than our verandah cabin on HAL Konningsdam earlier this year. The butler was awesome and was unobtrusive however there if you needed him keeping our cabin stocked up on wine, beer, soft drinks, water and snacks. every afternoon around 4pm he brought a selection of cheese, fruit , shrimp cocktail etc. Service on the ship was outstanding and the staff seem genuinely friendly and warm. Not having to sign for drinks, specialty coffees and specialty dining was great. As soon as you sat down in bar or Restaurant they were all over you with a welcome smile. I oversee a high end country club so I feel I am more picky than the average guest and I could find no faults. The food was super impressive even the basic dining room Waterside was outstanding. On HAL only the specialty restaurants were excellent the basic dining room was not that good. Prego , Umi Umi were fantastic, Silk was very good we did not try the Brazilian steakhouse. Pastries and Cappuccino were a welcome mid morning and afternoon pleasure in the Bistro. My wife and I are in our late 50's and were amongst the younger crowd , most guests seemed in their 70's however this did not bother us. Not nearly as much wheelchairs and scooters as on HAL. Entertainment for a smaller ship was excellent and exceeded our expectations, the Broadway themed cruise had a broad variety of shows which we enjoyed. The Stardust Dinner show was fantastic 50's style dinner and dancing with band, singers and dancers. Although we payed more for this cruise by the time you pay gratuities, specialty dining, pressing, internet, drinks and specialty coffees it was not a whole lot more than our recent HAL cruise and far superior. We also enjoy the casino and on this ship not was no smoking unlike the HAL ships which we hated. Overall we loved this cruise and will definitely cruise with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We went on this cruise to relax and get a full service treat and in one. This is our 3rd cruise on this ship and we were not disappointed with the room,service or entertainment. I enjoyed the trip because everything you do is paid for and ... Read More
We went on this cruise to relax and get a full service treat and in one. This is our 3rd cruise on this ship and we were not disappointed with the room,service or entertainment. I enjoyed the trip because everything you do is paid for and they don't nickel and dime you for everything . It is nice to order a new drink and if you don;t like it then you can order something else. It is also enjoyable to have internet service in your room and any where on the ship. The casual attire at dinner is a very comfortable way to enjoy the cruise and yet have great dining experiences . The choices for evening meals at 5 different locations is nice to experience and a change of taste at each one. I will book my next cruise on Crystal even if it cost more the experience is worth it . I have travel on over 25 cruise and this by far is the best cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
One of the major reasons was they marketed as a wine and food cruise, and there were only two wine tastings in 12 days. They were very limited to 4 two ounce pours each and that was it. Additionally I would suggest more on board ... Read More
One of the major reasons was they marketed as a wine and food cruise, and there were only two wine tastings in 12 days. They were very limited to 4 two ounce pours each and that was it. Additionally I would suggest more on board activities for port days. Many of us have been to the islands many times and we picked Crystal for the ship. I also feel three evenings of magician entertainment was too much. However, after all is said and done I will definitely be going Crystal again. When you market a cruise as a Wine and Food cruise we expected you to live up to your description. To only have two wine tastings, each with only four two ounce pours is less than a reasonable person would expect. Their specialty restaurants were very good! I would highly recommend dinner in Prego and the late breakfast in the Grill. Those two rooms were lovely with great food and service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We just returned from another fabulous Crystal transatlantic crossing (our 5th) on Crystal Serenity. Crystal seems to just get better every year and a transatlantic crossing is the best way to take advantage of all the ship (and the ... Read More
We just returned from another fabulous Crystal transatlantic crossing (our 5th) on Crystal Serenity. Crystal seems to just get better every year and a transatlantic crossing is the best way to take advantage of all the ship (and the cruiseline) has to offer. With only about 800 people on a good-sized ship, the ship is small enough to seem intimate, but large enough to have multiple activities taking place from early morning to late at night. The ship is beautiful, the food is delicious with many choices and lots of flavor, the all-inclusive amenities are top notch. It is truly a fantastic experience. Many people often ask if the transatlantic crossing is boring or if the seas are rough. We have never had rough seas, and Crystal has so many activities going on that we need to prioritize our activities during the day and seem to be going non-stop from 8am to 1am! A typical day for us is: some kind of fitness in the morning (not always, but we tried!), breakfast, bridge lesson, trivia with our "team" at noon, lunch, dance lesson, duplicate bridge, snack and French press in the Bistro, get ready for dinner and watch the wonderful lectures we missed on our stateroom tv, before dinner drinks in the Crystal Cove, dinner, some kind of great entertainment, dancing with the Tommy Dorsey Big Band and finally listening to great piano in the Avenue Saloon. Whew! Of course, you can do as much or as little as you like. There are art courses, computer classes, movies...probably 4 things happening at once. Or, you can just relax in your stateroom, in the library, or out on deck. The entertainment at night was so varied...there was something for everyone from a violinist or guitarist, to a duo, the Crystal Quartet, the Showband who played Dixieland Jazz one night in the Crystal Cove, and of course the fabulous Tommy Dorsey Orchestra! We did stop in 2 ports - Antigua and St. Thomas (only half the passengers went ashore!) - the real attraction was the ship itself, where we were able to take advantage of all that Crystal has to offer. What a Wonderful World! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We really enjoyed the Crystal experience. We had decided to try a luxury cruise as a special treat and are glad we chose Crystal. The Barcelona to Lisbon itinerary was perfect for us and the ship is lovely and well kept. Our stateroom ... Read More
We really enjoyed the Crystal experience. We had decided to try a luxury cruise as a special treat and are glad we chose Crystal. The Barcelona to Lisbon itinerary was perfect for us and the ship is lovely and well kept. Our stateroom was compact, with a nice balcony and a very nice bathroom, with double sinks. The food in the main dining room was wonderful--so good, in fact, that we never even tried to dine in to any of the speciality restaurants. We like to dance and the Crystal Quartet was great. It is nice to find wooden dance floors as so many of the other lines have done away with them. Service was smooth--all the staff was courteous and helpful. We enjoyed the onboard enrichment lectures. Some other lines have turned those into sales opportunities, which really turns us off. We particularly enjoyed was not being subject to a constant barrage of sales pitches from shops and beverage services. We only took one shore excursion--from Malaga to the Alhambra. It was expensive, but worth the money as the guides were great and it included a very nice lunch. Overall, a wonderful cruise and we will be repeat customers for Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
In the past 3 years we have sailed with Silversea 4 times, with Regent 3, with Oceania 1 and with Seabourn 2 times. We had heard excellent comments about Crystal when their Mediterranean cruise caught our attention. We booked a penthouse ... Read More
In the past 3 years we have sailed with Silversea 4 times, with Regent 3, with Oceania 1 and with Seabourn 2 times. We had heard excellent comments about Crystal when their Mediterranean cruise caught our attention. We booked a penthouse suite and it was an overwhelming experience. After the other cruise lines we had become familiar with our expectations of Crystal were high, but the Crystal exceeded our expectations by far. For us no other cruise line comes even close. They are simply the best! If you really want to spoil yourself to a cruise of a lifetime, book a penthouse suite on Crystal. Before we left on this cruise we had already booked a cruise with Seabourn in January, but now that we have experienced Crystals Serenity, we are no longer excited to cruise with any other cruise line. Crystal is a whole new experience. Embarking with the penthouse suite ticket is like flying first class, within minutes your are on board, you are accompanied to your suite. All is ready and our luggage was delivered before we had a chance to admire the tastefully designed suite in delightful light colors, wow! We choose to have our lunch not in the main restaurant Waterside but in the Marketplace where a sumptuous buffet awaited us. This was the way to travel. Announcements over the public address system were practically non existent. We always were annoyed by the frequent PA announcements on other lines, too often in a phoney British accent. Soliciting for future cruises was prohibited, if you are interested in future cruises you were of course welcome to so on beard. This all added to a totally relaxed and comfortable and unique cruise experience. The food was divine, there were options for everybody, even for health food nuts like us. Personally we are vegetarians but do eat fish. There was always something new and delicious on the menu. Starting with the amazing breakfast buffet at the Marketplace. The fresh fruit selections, especially mangoes, papaya, pine apple and strawberries were of the highest quality and always perfectly ripe. What a better way to start a day. The lunch buffet at the Marketplace was always a special treat, unfortunately we were mostly on an excursion at lunch time and too often missed the feast. We always had the choice of freshly steamed rice and vegetables. If you prefer the buttered kind, of course that was offered too. After our first nights dinner in the Waterside restaurant, where we were spoilt by the best waiters Raj and Ewa we knew that was going to be our dinner table for the entire cruise. There was absolutely no reason to try a different table we were so much at home. Soon we started talking that this was the only ship so far, where we could imagine to sail into the perpetual sunset. Seriously, instead of moving into an old folks home, why not spending the last years aboard Serenity. We are still talking about it, maybe one of these days. This was the only ship we have ever felt we could sail on forever. Our Med. Cruise had so many interesting landfalls that we couldn't really appreciate all the amenities. One of the great pluses on the Serenity are the possibilities to move and walk a around freely. On deck 7 there is a wide teak deck all around the ship offering the best walking in addition to the possibility to walk on the top deck. There was an internet lounge with iMacs and a differnt lectures could be followed about working with apple computers. Of course internet was free and of a good quality considering the fact that we were on a moving vessel with a satellite link. The entertainment on board was first rate, we missed most of the shows as we were very busy during the days and went to bed early. But our fellow cruisers were enthusiastic about the shows. Often I had watched other people soon falling asleep during lectures, not on board Serenity. The lecturers captured their audience and even you could watch the lectures on live TV in the privacy of your suite, most guests went to the lectures including ourselves to enjoy the lecturers. Ken Walsh, a long time White House correspondent and Dr. Jim Rowe talking about our destinations more than enriched our cruise experience. Booking a Med. Cruise at the end of October is always picking a wild card, the weather can change suddenly and summer just a memory. Still the touristic hot spots during our cruise like Santorini, Sorrento, Rome, Florence, Monaco, Marseille and Barcelona were still extremely crowded by fellow tourists. Still it is more pleasant to experience the world famous sights without the heat of summer but, rainy and cool days are not rare late in the fall. Much too soon our 13 day cruise came to an end, we hated to leave. The disembarking process was so perfectly organised, not one P.A. announcement, no pushing or shoving, just a relaxed walking off the boat and the luggage so cleverly arranged that finding our luggage was so easy. Thank You Crystal. We can't wait to come back. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Greetings! I am a former luxury cruise TA and had sailed on Serenity 3 times in a PH, about 12-14 years ago. This is the my first time back as a 'civilian' and first time on Crystal for my husband. Our last 4 cruises have been ... Read More
Greetings! I am a former luxury cruise TA and had sailed on Serenity 3 times in a PH, about 12-14 years ago. This is the my first time back as a 'civilian' and first time on Crystal for my husband. Our last 4 cruises have been NCL, NCL, Cunard, Cunard. Much has changed with Crystal since my last voyages and I had been warned that it 'isn't what you remember' but my expectations were exceeded in almost every way, We had a standard Oceanview on deck 7. Sure we missed a balcony but otherwise the cabin was great. The most outstanding & memorable aspect was the dining. Every single day, no matter where we ate, every meal was great. I don't know how many times one of us would taste something & say "mmm..wow, that's so good" And we're foodies...not easily pleased. I am a pescatarian but I never felt there weren't enough non-meat options for me. All the fish & seafood dishes were wonderful, fresh and creative. My husband did have beef a few time and this in the only time he felt a bit let down. Having had very dismal desserts, pastries etc on our previous cruises, the outstanding desserts on the Serenity were a welcome relief. Kudo's to the Exec Pastry Chef! We dined at every venue for dinner & in order of most liked to least, we would rate them: Prego, Waterside, Umi Uma, Silk, Churrasqueira. We would gladly do all again but pass on the last...not quite up the standards of the others. Prego is wonderful, best menu, best service, a real highlight. The other 'bests' for us were the production shows - top notch singers & dancers, very professional & entertaining. And the guest/space ratio. My husband was so impressed with how much public space vs guests there is on the Serenity. We were never crowded, virtually no lines, always a lovely, calm atmosphere. My 3 top observations: - relaxed dress codes were noticeable since my last Crystal voyages, but I was pleasantly surprised that about 80% of the guests still dress up for dinner...women in cocktail dresses, men in casual office or suits/sport jackets. We dressed up every night but 1 (after a very long day in Florence/Pisa) I love this aspect of cruising and so did most of my fellow pax from the look of things - the service was great, especially the bar & wine stewards... far more attentive than any cruise we've done where alcohol is a revenue maker. At dinner I had to start saying 'no, thanks' with my hand over my wine glass! Too much of a good thing and all that! - I did find that the friendliness of the crew overall may have been a wee bit less than I remember but it was still excellent and I wish I had written down some names to include in the survey sent by Crystal. Definitely some outstanding service by some individuals. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was ... Read More
We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was uniformly friendly and helpful, and staff seemed to enjoy their jobs. The ship was beautiful and it did not seem dated or tired. Our B1 verandah cabin was very comfortable, with plenty of storage for clothes and a lot of counter space in the bathroom. We were very happy with the dining options on the ship. Room service breakfasts were delivered quickly and exactly as ordered. Lunch options, including the grill and the salad bar in Marketplace, were very good. The ship had excellent choices for dinner. We absolutely loved Umi Uma (yes, the black cod is as good as they say it is). Our dinners in Churrascuria and Prego were outstanding. Silk was just ok. We enjoyed Waterside but we only had one lunch and one dinner there. We did not attend any shows, but we really enjoyed the atmosphere and the piano player in the Avenue Saloon. We were in port every day and didn't have a chance to spend much time on the ship, so we did not advantage of the enrichment opportunities or activities. The ship has an excellent health club and spa. The hair stylist who blow dried my hair did a great job. A spa treatment was ok, but nothing special. We went on three shore excursions. They were fine, but If I did this itinerary again, I would just visit the ports on my own. Overall, we loved this cruise and hope to return to another Crystal cruise in the future. We also hope to see Crystal add another ocean ship and more 7-8 day itineraries in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch by noon. We utilized PCPC and any Crystal cruiser should take advantage of this service. Our disembarkation in Venice was efficient with Crystal personnel assisting at each stage of the process. Dining; Better than ever IMHO. Sauces were perfect and sadly desserts were outstanding. Mains were abundant and included veal, duck, fish, beef, poultry and vegetarian entrees. We dined at Prego ; the world's best carpacio. Silk has done a turnaround and our group of 8 enjoyed new entrees and appetizers. While the service in Waterside was a bit slow at times we felt that there was always an effort to make the dining a great experience. Bar service was terrific. Entertainment: New shows finally. While I find the entertainment geared towards an older generation the shows were well attended. I heard no negative comments.Enrichment was a disappointment as the lecturer as a poor presenter to say the least. The computer classes are geared to novice users. Staff of computer rooms are superb Ports: We tendered a few times but mainly docked. The Crystal shuttle was prompt. We had been in every port except Dubrovnik, and had a private guide (tours by locals) to show us the city. Every port was packed with tourists by the way. Service: The best. The Lido crew always has a smile, and friendly word. The Captain was visible as were many senior crew members. Cabins: A well worn subject as this is the only downfall. Crystal cabins are small by today's standards when compared to other luxury lines. . While very clean they could use a refresher, such as new bed covers. Crystal sent out a note early on asking passengers to let the staff know of any issues so remedies could be initiated. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for ... Read More
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for it. The shows were fantastic. I especially loved the white extravaganza and the show band. The main bar in the atrium was the perfect place to gather. Though it was billed as a romantic cruise the passengers were by no means all couples. I went with a girlfriend. Her tastes were different from mine so we didn’t do everything together. The bars an lounges and even the casino proved to be highly social. We met so many great people. It wasn’t a party atmosphere but was convivial. I really enjoyed the all inclusive aspect and not having to sign for drinks or figure out how to tip everyone. All restaurants were terrific but be sure to get on the guest website in advance to book them. Otherwise there is a steep fee for booking on board. The Brazilian steakhouse on aft of ship doesn’t have to be reserved. we went there the evening of our Kotor departure. It was magical with mild night and mountains all around and near full moon. An aspect that can’t be controlled is weather and ours that week was perfect. Crystal is masterful at details. We were pier side most of time and it was clear the did their best to time port calls at times when other ships were not in. This made the excursions less hectic and less competitive with thousands of passengers from mega ships. Even on tender ports it was pleasant. I like excursions which we orchestrated separate from the ship, but the ship comfort and service is most important to me. One bit of serendipity was the onboard dance hosts and the amazing quartet. I danced years ago but didn’t know these were embarked. The know swings, tangos, salsa - everything. I was able to validate that I still can dance if I have a good leader. Despite all the amazing food and drink, we walked five files daily on excursions and danced all night! I didn’t gain any weight. We frequented the blackjack tables and learned the “rules” from friendly dealers and we mostly won! Crystal has a fantastic tech lab. We could easily send emails and research. The Moxsrt high tea was a hoot and talent from the piano bar to the violinist in the lobby bar was abundant. Heck I didn’t even get to play paddle tennis. I just couldn’t get it all in. By the way the entry into Venice at noon through the Grand Canal on a gorgeous day with tugs assisting and the magnificent old skyline was absolutely spiritual. I left the ship with a tear in my eye. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & ... Read More
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & Oceana and were not overly fond of the first two and felt that Oceana was an upgrade, but with something still missing. Based on the requirements (premium dining, polished service, big ship amenities, refined decor, uncrowded hushed public areas) that we provided to our travel agent, she highly recommended the Crystal Serenity and she was spot on. Our only concern was that we had read that the fellow passengers skew older (our party was mid- 40s to 60s) and be very clubby. We never once encountered this experience and found the fellow passengers to be very well mannered and inviting. While the dining, overall ship appointments and atmosphere are akin to high end resort experience, what truly sets this cruise line apart is the entire crew's kindness and keen attention to detail. The little things that sometimes go missed (food trays in hallways, incomplete orders....) do not happen on Crystal. It's back to the gym and making our own beds until..... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
For those interested, here are impressions of a first-time Crystal cruiser on Serenity, comparing our experience mainly with Regent Seven Seas. We’ve also cruised Oceania, Viking Ocean, Azamara and a number of other lines. In summary, ... Read More
For those interested, here are impressions of a first-time Crystal cruiser on Serenity, comparing our experience mainly with Regent Seven Seas. We’ve also cruised Oceania, Viking Ocean, Azamara and a number of other lines. In summary, Crystal wins big on food and service to passengers, and also on public spaces. It loses big to Regent on cabins and included excursions. The food was outstanding. Some of the presentations in the main dining room rivalled dishes we've seen at expensive restaurants ashore. The Japanese restaurant was outstanding and the Brazilian steakhouse was fun. The Chinese restaurant disappointed us and the other Chinese people we talked to. We found it ordinarly; Red Ginger on the larger Oceania ships is far superior. Italian is Italian, although Regent and Oceania do a better job than Crystal of making that experience special. Crystal's service was better than any other line we've cruised on. Speed of dining room service was far better than other lines (except Viking Ocean which is also fast). We could get dinner in an hour to 90 minutes; other lines can take as long as 2 hours. At the breakfast buffet we rarely had to wait more than a minute or two for tea or another cappuccino. Perhaps best of all, in the hour before the start of before breakfast service, the buffet room was open to passengers. I could sit down and get coffee and whatever food was already out. On other lines I have stood outside with my nose pressed against locked doors until the stroke of 7 am. This speaks loudly of a cruise line that prioritizes the passenger experience, more so than Regent despite its slightly higher crew ratios. Cabin service was also great. I mentioned a non-adjustable showerhead to our attendant. Although I accepted that it was normal, the next time we got back to our cabin it had been replaced with a newer model. I would never have considered Crystal had it not relaxed the dress code a few years back. There are still occasional formal nights, so I had to pack a dinner jacket for the first time in some 15 years. The code is “dark suit and tie” but many of us wore a sport coat or blazer with tie. On our next Crystal cruise I may well leave the jacket home and forego the main dining room on formal nights. What we really missed from Regent were the larger cabins and the included shore excursions. One of the best things about Regent is that almost all shore excursions are included at no extra charge. Beyond the price-value equation, this provides a wonderful flexibility and relief from stress. Money isn’t a constant consideration in planning shore activities. If we get up in the morning and feel like skipping a tour, we just do. Last-minute changes are almost always available. In contrast, I thought Crystal’s shore excursions were overpriced and usually quite short. For the first time ever on an ocean cruise, we didn’t take any of them. Crystal’s ships were built in the early 2000's and our cabin reflected that. Although Serenity was remodeled late last year, I understand that our deck 9 and those below did not get much in the way of cabin upgrades, except for a large screen TV. We had a bathtub with a cloth shower curtain. Our 265 sq. ft. (including veranda) cabin was miniscule compared to Regent’s minimum 356 sq. ft. All Regent cabins have verandas; some cabins on Serenity only have fixed windows. We are used to 30-42,000 ton 600 passenger ships. Serenity is 69,000 tons and 980 passengers, and with the small cabins it makes sense that public spaces are larger and there are more of them. Shipwide wifi was upgraded lat year, and easier to use than other lines - no sharing of an account and rarely necessary to re-login. Finally, as to price, those comparing Crystal with Regent should keep in mind that Regent prices include business-class airfare, almost all shore excursions, and often a pre- or post-cruise stay. The air and pre/post-cruise can be declined for a credit which lowers Regent’s prices dramatically. However, those who prefer to make their own shore excursion arrangements will not benefit from Regent’s included tours. We will add Crystal to the list of lines whose itineraries we inspect for possible future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us ... Read More
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us very well. We liked the way every time we sat down, whether it was in the central lounge on Deck 5 or the Forward lounge on Deck 12, there was someone approaching us to ask if there was anything they could get for us. It was called an "amenity" cruise, and it was indeed. We were treated extremely well from the time we arrived at the ship, throughout the cruise, and when we left to go home. The food was fabulous, the prosecco, chamboard cocktails and wine flowed freely, and there were light activity shore excursions that I could enjoy. Crystal is definitely now my favorite cruise line, and I hope we can take another cruise with this line soon. Having talked with others who have taken other cruise lines to the same locations, I find that the fact that Crystal allows you to take as many or as few shore excursions, but only pay for the ones you take, is an advantage. As my ability to walk decreases, I would take fewer shore excursions, but would enjoy every bit of the cruise as much or more than I did this time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable ... Read More
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable service, cuisine, facilities, entertainment- there cannot be a better cruise line than this. I am a customer service expert, so I have high standards and Crystal surpassed every expectation. Every single item of cuisine at every single meal or snack was exceptional. They even had a wonderful variety of sugar-free and gluten-free treats which were most welcome for those of us with dietary restrictions. The staff handled all that with ease and a smile. Every single staff member from the gangplank to the crew to the waiters to the stewardesses were delightful and the best you will ever experience. Really marvelous service. The entertainment was way beyond what I was expecting, and there were informative lectures and movies, and so much more. They even had the astronaut who rescued the Hubble Space Telescope giving talks. Very impressive. They imported a number of special guests performers, and the in-house artists were all world class too. The excursions, while expensive, and extra, were ll top notch and absolutely beautiful. The fjords are astonishing and spectacular. The ship has been nicely refurbished and is spacious, bursting with every possible amenity, planet of space. There is so much to do, or not do, that every taste will be satisfied. The spa and fitness center were excellent and spacious. The cabin was ample and the double sink in its bathroom was a nice touch. the bathroom was sizable, and I could even stand up n the show and in 99% of the ship even though I am 6'-8"/203cm tall. We loved having a verandah and could have sat out there all day and never left and been very happy (thanks to the free and wonderful room service). Of course, there was some internet spottiness above the Arctic Circle and in the fjords, but it's still miraculous to even have internet on the high seas. It turned out to be a minor inconvenience, but was better than our last Crystal cruise on the Symphony, but that was before their remodel and internet upgrade. I would HIGHLY recommend Crystal Cruises for any route, and I would very much recommend Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords as destination- really exceptional and awesomely beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was our 24th cruise on Crystal and the first after the Serenity came out of dry dock. We took this cruise to relax as my husband was recuperating. The boarding process in Reykjavik was a little off as there was no cruise terminal ... Read More
This was our 24th cruise on Crystal and the first after the Serenity came out of dry dock. We took this cruise to relax as my husband was recuperating. The boarding process in Reykjavik was a little off as there was no cruise terminal but Crystal handled what they were given very well. Once onboard we received our cruise cards without any wait and enjoyed a champagne lunch at Waterside. The ship was immaculate and the service superb. The menus in the Waterside contained many new selections as well as traditional ones and we walked into the dining room each evening, received a table for 2, and never had to wait whether we dined at 6:30 or later at 8pm. The cabin stewardess went out oh her way to make sure we were comfortable. The lido personnel were as attentive as ever even ordering from the grill for us. The onboard activities were over the top, as this was a double theme cruise, mind,body, and Soul. And a wine theme. There were over 6 lectures per day on sea days and so many other events and parties that you had to choose, as you could not do them all Even though the ship was full, there was never a problem getting seats for meals, or at the shows. The entertainment was the best I have experiences so far. Ports were wonderful, even with cool and misty days, we enjoyed them all Disembarkation was flawless. We sat in the Galaxy lounge no more than 5 minutes till we were escorted to baggage claim and our motorcoach to the airport in Copenhagen. Truly a memorable cruise. We relaxed, had wonderful meals, saw magnificent scenery and experienced another wonderful cruise on Crystal Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service ... Read More
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service in the Marketplace and Waterside remains good. We were always seated promptly at the Waterside. The food overall in the Waterside and the specialty restaurants was uniformly good. The entertainment was excellent and there was a good variety of entertainers with a combo of performers brought onto the ship and the on ship entertainment staff. The enrichment lecturers (3) were uniformly good speakers with interesting well organized presentations. We were traveling as a family and there were other multigenerational families on board. There was a smattering of younger couples. The ports were good although I do wish there was 2 days in Lisbon rather than 1. The Crystal excursions had excellent local tour guides and were well organized. We were on deck 8 midship with a verandah. The cabin is adequate in size with plenty of closet and draw space with a well appointed bathroom. The upgraded TV and entertainment system is an improvement. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and will travel on Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very ... Read More
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very comfortable and attractive. Our only complaints were 2: the inclusion of Corsica where there was nothing to do or to see; and the cost of excursions, e.g. $599pp for a trip to the Blue Grotto.Fortunately, one can book tours privately at much lower cost, and Corsica allowed for a day of rest. The verandah room we booked (8042) was average size but extremely well designed with numerous well-sized drawers and all the hangers one could possibly need, a large TV, roomy bathroom with double sinks and large tubes of quality toiletries. There are 2 hair dryers, an umbrella and excellent binoculars in each room. The balcony had 2 large wing chairs with deep cusions and a small table with room to move around. Dining was generally very good to excellent, with Prego being the only disappointment (chewy veal). Poerions were more generous than what we have had on HAL and Celebrity. Entertainment was pretty good. We saw 3 shows: a Billy Joel tribute band, a Broadwy revue, and a local Flamenco group in Barcelona. Staff everywhere was courteous and always helpful. Embarkation and Debarkation both went very quickly and smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal ... Read More
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal again, as their prices were comparatively more affordable than in the 90's. I read some pretty negative comments on Cruise Critic and was dubious, but it turned out to be a fabulous cruise. The ship is beautiful and super-spacious and from the outside has beautiful lines reminiscent of the old ocean liners. There was never a wait anywhere (except getting on the tenders). The service was impeccable and the food and entertainment fabulous. I loved some of the special touches in the stateroom not found on other ships. I went as a single and never felt uncomfortable, ignored, or crowded out and though I didn't dance I appreciated the presence of the dance hosts. The entertainment was much better than on other ships despite being on a smaller one-story stage. There was never a problem finding a seat in the showroom, unlike other cruises where you had to show up an hour ahead to even get a seat. And the shows were a full 45 minutes and 3 production shows on this cruise versus 30 minutes on Princess and only one production show. I loved the ballroom dance quartet that performed in the Galaxy lounge twice on our cruise. Tea in the Palm Court was wonderful. The Brazilian BBQ at Churrascaria was unbelievably good as was the food and service in Uma Uni Japanese restaurant. I did not try Prego. It was really nice to not have to deal with paying for alcohol, soda, etc., tips and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi speed was excellent. I had a few nit-picky complaints about the stateroom design, embarkation in L.A. was awkward and confusing, and the tendering operation was not very efficient. An added bonus, since I am now cruising single, is they are single-friendly, with single supplements from 30% to 75% depending on the cruise and how early you book. I am switching my allegiance from Princess to Crystal now! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , ... Read More
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , 2019 85 Day Los Angeles to Monte Carlo World Cruise April 7, 2019 11 Day Monte Carlo to Venice Cruise April 18, 2019 9 Day Venice to Athens Cruise April 26, 2019 7 Day Athens Round Trip Cruise Overall Summary During this voyage we celebrated our 100th Crystal Society milestone a few voyages before departing Serenity for Mozart. We have sailed Crystal since 2002. This was our ninth World Cruise. It was our second longest time on board Crystal. Overall, our experience was outstanding. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect all the time. Rather, as a whole we had a wonderful time and the positives significantly outweighed the few exceptions. We were fortunate to have excellent weather other than a few days in Hawaii with rain on the Holiday Cruise and just a few days at sea with choppy seas. Although we boarded on the fourth cruise after dry-dock you would think the changes including new dining venues and open seating were in place for years. The vast majority of the crew were on-board for the dry-dock and you could see on their faces and in their words their pride of what was accomplished in the dry dock. The ship looks better than ever. We had a wonderful experience. It was great to sail with guests some of whom we hadn’t sailed with for four or more years and to meet many new guests for the first time. We had so many nice times with the guests from Yoga for Anne Marie, from Indoor Cycling Class and Paddle Tennis for me, and from people we met over the course of the cruise including some special people from this board. We felt right at home when we sail with Crystal and that includes Symphony which we don’t sail often, Serenity which we do sail often and Mozart which we sailed this onetime. The crew across all three vessels is amazing IMHO which I will discuss later in the review. Below please find narrative and a rating of the categories I chose to include in this review. Ratings are tough because if this was my first cruise I might rate something differently and sometimes higher. As I mention below, we had an extraordinary time. This doesn’t mean that a few items could not benefit from changes and I note them. Also, while we loved the cuisine, this doesn’t mean that every item we had was perfect. Rather this means that overall we thought the cuisine was terrific. I can remember a handful of times where something was not to our liking but given we had hundreds and hundreds of different items that says a lot IMHO. As I always say the only opinion that matters is your very own, and that applies to all things in life. These days when someone asks me about an opinion about a cruise, hotel, restaurant, port, tour or an entirely different area such as automobiles, movies, books when I give my opinion I preface it like this. If it’s something I like I will say this works for us and the reason(s) why but quickly mention this is my opinion and it might not work for you. Conversely, if we don’t care for something we will say that and explain why but quickly say you might like it. Also, experiences can vary. For example, I have found that weather can impact an experience on or off the ship such as encountering bad storms at sea or torrential rain on land. I also think t other factors come into play such as those you are sharing the experience with and the overall length and overall guest occupancy on a voyage. Most of this is subjective. With that said here goes. Embarkation/Disembarkation - Excellent Embarkation was very smooth. The information provided ahead of time via PCPC and the ability to check in guests on board the ship facilitates an orderly embarkation. Disembarkation went well. We used the Crystal Car service and were guided off the ship by the concierge who turned us over to one of the local representatives. We were taken to the incorrect area for our vehicle but within a minute that was corrected when another representative came over and brought us over to the correct location. Cuisine/Beverages - Outstanding I thought that the cuisine was better than ever. Waterside benefited from open seating with it operating more of a restaurant and less of a banquet facility. This translated to better presentations, with warmer moist food served. Umi Uma (Japanese Specialty Restaurant) has a new and enhanced menu as Symphony had after her dry-dock. Prego continues to have food that we enjoy very much. On the World Cruise they modified the menu on each segment to replace some items with new items. We enjoyed the new Asian Restaurant Silk. Food is served family style. Over a few cruises we tried a variety of items and determined which ones worked best for us. We also learned after placing our order how to sequence the food to avoid too many items being served at once and getting cold. We ate at the new Brazilian Restaurant Churrascaria one time as we did on our Symphony cruise in 2018. We think it’s a great concept but for us it’s a dining venue that we will only go to occasionally. Since inclusive rolled out about six years ago this area has gone through its own evolution. This includes a greater diversity in wine and spirits offered. In addition Crystal under the direction of one of its former Bar Managers has developed special drink menus for Gin and Manhattan’s. Overall Ship – Excellent The ship looks great, and the enhancements made to the public areas during last years dry-dock are amazing. This includes the major enhancements made to Waterside, Palm Court , Stardust, Computer University along with new carpeting. Waterside not only has a new look, but it has enhanced the dining venue between allowing for the rollout of open dining and it becoming quieter with smaller tables and changes to reduce overall sound levels. Palm Court is beautiful and still serves many diverse functions. Stardust is better positioned to support groups and very special in the evening when on one or two selected evenings it transforms to a supper club. The Computer University is beautiful and has all new computers. It flows so much better as they opened up the entranceway. I would have given the overall ship an outstanding except for one area. I believe that some “detailing” work is needed on the standard rooms and suites . During this cruise we were in three different rooms so that gave us some additional perspective on this. Itinerary – Excellent Overall we enjoyed the itineraries and that started with the Holiday cruise of Hawaii. We appreciated the World Cruise going mainly from the East to the West so we turned the clocks back rather than forward. In most cases the schedule called for us to arrive to ports early morning which we prefer and stay until 6:00 PM or later. If I had one wish, it would be like this. One is not to arrive to any port after 9:00 AM and especially not 11:00 AM or later, especially if you are there for one day. Late morning arrival make eating lunch challenging while trying to enjoy the limited time you have in port. Second would be to minimize departures where you leave at 7:00 to 9:00 PM rather than 6:00 PM as I believe it changes the evening experience. While we don’t gamble or frequent the stores much, I just think with those venues open and the ship sailing it is different than when you are in port With this said I realize for departures they are trying to find the right balance and sometimes the driver are the tours and trying to give people more time in port. As to last morning arrivals I think most people would enjoy an early arrival and sometimes I believe a voyage would be enhanced with maybe one less port to allow enhanced time I the other ports. This is just my two cents. Apart from this we loved the vast majority of ports including some that we visited for the first time, some that we hadn’t visited since 2005, 2007 or 2008 and some that we have visited recently but enjoy seeing again and again. We had some surprise ports in terms of their sheer beauty as they were first time visits for us. Entertainment - Excellent The evening entertainment has been going through an evolution the past few years with greater diversity in the number and choices available at night. We very much enjoyed that there were regularly four different acts playing in the lounges in the evening and on many nights there were two different acts performed for the shows. The new times of the shows based on open dining work better for us. Enrichment - Excellent The World Cruise included some segments where Ocean Views was offered and the talent was so strong they had two panel discussions per cruise on at least two of the segments. Ocean Views is a panel discussion comprising three or four panelists. The format allows for a question to be asked, for the audience to respond by voting with a hand-held device, for the results to be shared, for the panelists to provide their respective thoughts/opinions on the question and for the audience to vote again with the results shared. They covered five or more topics each time. We thought these were some of the best Ocean Views we had seen with a strong moderator and strong panelists in place. Overall, we enjoyed the lectures and appreciated there was more emphasis than we had seen before of having speakers on board from countries outside of the USA. The item that I would like to see addressed is not having speakers lecture who continually give the same lectures as they have done in the past. The rest of the enrichment program was as strong as ever with many programs offered and on sea days 50+ enrichment activities offered. Fitness Center - Excellent Since we use the Fitness Center frequently, I wanted to touch on it for a moment. There was a good selection of classes offered and we both thought the two Fitness Directors were excellent. Besides taking group classes we had personal training we each had a different Fitness Instructor. Each one was prepared and because she wanted a copy, each evening the Fitness Instructor dropped off a copy of the training program that she took Anne Marie through during her personal training from earlier in the day. I continue to appreciate Crystal’s Fitness Center being open 7x24. Shore Excursions - Outstanding We do very few of the excursions because of a medical issue that Anne Marie has. We did do a couple of private ones arranged with Crystal and each one was outstanding and exceeded our expectations which is why I am rating this area outstanding. We found the Managers and their people very helpful when we asked them some questions even though we were not on one of the excursions offered. If not for my wife’s illness there were many excursions, we would have booked with Crystal. Ship-Board Account & Accounting- Outstanding I don't believe I have rated this area before. I wanted to mention how easy the bill is to read and appreciate the changes previously made. It was not long ago when the bill was difficult to read and more challenging when sailing on two or more voyages. All of the on-board credits were applied on-time including ones when the original Serenity itinerary post World Cruise was revised. We appreciate the ability to view the account on-line. Internet – Excellent The reality is the experience on any cruise across any cruise line and ship can vary based on so many factors including location of the ship, overall demand, equipment issue on the ship and with the satellite provider, weather, interference from military installations along with other factors. Given the time we were on board we thought the overall reliability and performance of the internet was the best we have experienced on any Ocean Vessel. There were very few outages. We could post daily here, on a blog, and on one other social media area and make phone and video calls through the internet and access websites and send and receive e-mail. Getting Off & On The Ship In Port – Excellent In general, we were in ports on-time or early most days. I think this is extraordinary given the diversity and distance of where we traveled and in the challenges of getting ships cleared in foreign ports. We missed a port because of high tides that impacted the ability to safely get up and down the steps at one of the tender landings. There were very few times with lines for the tenders. If I made one suggestion, it would be the placement of a couple of additional signs noting the location and deck for the gangway when in ports where a tender is not involved. Service – Outstanding +++ I saved the best for last. One of the reasons we sail Crystal is the crew. On our first Crystal Cruise within the first hour I knew something was special with Crystal when I needed help from the concierge on-board Harmony and for the first time in all of my cruising days I was treated as a person and not a number if you will. With each passing cruise we have found the service to be better each time. Sure part of that is familiarity with us but another part is with the increased emphasis in this area. Every cruise line has to differentiate itself from its competition. Some do it with newer ocean vessels or with an array of areas. Crystal certainly differentiates itself in various areas such as enrichment. However, there is something very special about the crew no matter if they have been there for years or on their first contract. It rarely happens but you can pick out someone on their first contract who likely will be around for one contract. We can’t say enough about the people who work on –board in all areas. They have dealt with the recent changes very well along with al of the other changes as Crystal has gone through a major evolution since we first sailed with them in 2002 including open dining, inclusive, and in many other areas including enrichment and entertainment. I wish I could mention each person and each department by name when I discuss how special the members of the vessel are and the departments that they represent. They do represent all departments including those we see day-in-and-day out along with those that are less familiar to guests. They are truly amazing. IMHO it takes a special person to work for Crystal. They have my respect and admiration for all they do. For those of you sailing Crystal for the first time I want to note that if you are on a short sailing such as ones of six/seven or even eight days with high guest occupancy the experience might not be like it will be on longer voyages as dining venues can get very busy and there is just not enough time for the crew to get to know you as they can and will on longer voyages. Land Based Departments The land-based departments were very helpful in putting this adventure together. This included the cooperation that our TA received from reservations. This booking was fairly complicated between all of the voyages and using a couple of Crystal Society Milestones including the one that involved the CP. Special thanks to on-board guest services for their assistance including getting the World Cruise voyages loaded for the visitor request authorization via PCPC and for communicating two special requests to purchasing and to Land Programs for organizing our private Crystal shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food ... Read More
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food and service are as memorable and perfectly executed as we remembered them to be, and some events, such as the Vintage Room and the supper club very much exceeded expectations. The new all-inclusive service is very comfortable, and we never felt pressured to order upgrades to the very fine list of wines, spirits and beers on board, although we did treat ourselves to some outstanding labels under the guidance of our amazing sommelier, Tilmar Pfefferkorn! The service aboard ship is outstanding. Not only are your every needs met swiftly and with grace, but staff quickly gets to know your preferences and often seems to anticipate your next request. Special services are also outstanding. We had a member of our party that required medical attention due to a pre-existing condition, and the medical staff did an outstanding job of successfully dealing with the problem in a caring manner. We will definitely be returning to crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony for our next cruise experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s ... Read More
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries around 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. ROUTE: This type of cruise is for those who enjoy the boat ride itself. It started in Lisbon and ended in Fort Lauderdale. The only enroute stop was at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which placed us back in the U.S. It was Sunday, and the onboard border clearance was quick and painless -- took only five minutes from leaving our room to returning. OVERALL RATING (5 OUT OF 5): I rate this cruise as excellent (an overall “5” on a scale of 5). My score is based on the high quality of (1) live music in the small venues, (2) food offerings (truly perfect), and (3) service in the food and entertainment areas (still the most attentive service anywhere on land or sea). However, we’ve never found the Serenity to be perfect “ultra luxury” in every way. We keep coming back year after year because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where the predictable pleasures outweigh the problems of an aging ship. In fact, the cruise’s most memorable lecturer was a writer for the old “Cheers” television comedy (Cheri Steinkellner). She gave you the juicy backstory of that neighborhood bar where “the troubles are all the same” and “everyone knows your name.” If you’re looking for a low-key, relaxing, good old-fashioned voyage across the Atlantic, this is your ship. Luxury measured by what’s not there. No stateroom announcements. No pressure to buy anything or do anything. No gaming to get your keycard for just one more charge (Crystal’s price is all inclusive). For cruisers who’ve tired of harried herding on the mass-market lines, the absence of certain nuisances on Crystal may be worth an overall “5” in itself. ENTERTAINMENT: When it comes to entertainment, what get’s the perfect “5” from me is the live jazz and show tunes performed in the ship’s small venues (the “Great American Songbook” from the 1940s and 50s). Crystal calls this its “supper club” and “cabaret” entertainment. I found these talented performances every bit as enjoyable as a night clubbing in Seattle or New Orleans. But no cover charges, taxi fares, exorbitant parking, or pestering to buy another drink. Crystal’s musical offerings continued right up to the end, with five shows on the final night of the cruise. The last of these shows ended at 11 pm, just as luggage was due outside the staterooms. Pretty impressive for a cruise with less than 900 passengers. There are lots of amazing musicians out there who never do albums or arenas. Crystal finds them; some stay for a cruise, others stay for years. But if live music isn’t your niche, think of the Serenity as your floating senior center. One with lots of pampering (they even have a “valet service” that parks the scooters and wheelchairs to keep the halls clear after bedtime). And the ship’s veteran waiters are saints of the sea when it comes to their patience and respect toward the older crowd that frequents Crystal. Yup, you’ll find all the day-to-day activities that you’d expect in a well-appointed senior center: bingo, bridge, needlepoint, knitting, shuffleboard, slots, puzzles, trivia, liars club, name-that-tune, karaoke, parlor magic, tribute shows, afternoon tea, and dance hosts for the ladies. (About a fourth of the passengers on this cruise were involved in a bridge tournament.) Music and comedy shows are focused on the tastes and memories of the “extra generation” of seniors blessed with extended retirements. There was even the screening of a new film about finding late-life romance in a nursing home (yes, including sex). The filmmaker (Neil Leifer) was onboard and understandably pegged the Crystal crowd as a sympathetic test audience. But I’ll say it again: travel agents should use caution in sending children under age 50 on this ship. Though Crystal’s current president came over from Disney, absolutely none of the following “advancements” in onboard entertainment are found on this ship (thankfully): water slide; climbing wall; zipline; go-carts; carousel; laser tag; bungee trampoline; bumper cars; surfing simulator; trapeze training; skydiving wind tunnel. After all, this ship is called the Serenity -- a synonym for quiet peacefulness. There is, however, a golf net, a little swimming pool, and a “shopping mall” of three stores (including one that sells the Chico’s line). While there are no midnight buffets, there is 24-hour room service for those who can’t wait until the next meal at 6 am. Not surprisingly, the youngest on board are usually the employees. No teen gangs here. And nature seems to impose its own curfew, with the halls largely empty after midnight. DINING: We dined in all of the ship’s venues with the exception of its Italian restaurant (Prego). When it comes to dining, I give this cruise a perfect “5” simply because I found it perfect in every respect. Taste, variety, presentation, novelty, service, and overall enjoyability were all consistent with luxury cruising. It’s not just about the food, though. You get to leisurely visit with some of the world’s most interesting people. Table topics go far beyond the common senior focus on kids’ foibles, grandkids’ achievements, and perpetual medical procedures. While this is indeed God’s waiting room, people here aren’t in a hurry to keep their appointment with Him. In fact, the more they cruise, the less they rush to get to the next onboard activity. Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. We much appreciated Crystal’s new walk-in flexibility (open dining) for time, table location, and the number of diners joining us. With little fanfare, you can now bring along your onboard friends, old and new. Or dine in a quiet secluded corner and share secrets. Gone are those days when disappointed cruisers went up to a hearing room for an audience before the maitre d’. There you lined up and pled your case for the dining dispensation of a better table or feeding time. Never quite seemed consistent with Berlitz’s definition of luxury cruising as “the kind of stylish ships aboard which the word ‘no’ is virtually unheard.” STATEROOM: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). Though Crystal had just remodeled this ship’s “penthouse” class of rooms, the only change we found in the standard stateroom was a bigger TV screen. But we frankly don’t come here for the rooms. We keep returning to this ship because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where seasoned employees year after year provide the most attentive service anywhere. And an expected part of a comfortable old hotel (ship) is old rooms with problems that we just get fixed as they arise. This time it was slow drains, faucets without cold water, no clock, no shower curtain, and a stuck sliding door that kept us from using the veranda. All eventually fixed after a little intervention from an officer. Onboard television was limited to a few generic international channels. Those who live for American reality shows or Monday night football may need to schedule their cruise during the annual rerun doldrums. On the other hand, the Lido Deck’s sound system was unintelligible, and a channel on our television was a good alternative for hearing the captain’s daily announcement on weather conditions and routing adjustments. Travel agents should alert customers that, even on a cruise billed as ultra luxury, an aging ship’s staterooms may be in less than perfect condition. INTERNET ACCESS: You really don’t come here for the Internet. A few months before our trip, Cruise Critic published its article, “6 Cruise Lines With Great WiFi.” Crystal didn’t make the list. Those tethered to the rituals of social media may consider it more of a forced silent retreat than a vacation. Internet connectivity varied greatly throughout the cruise, with regular display of the dreaded message, “Internet access is currently not available” (even when approaching Florida). Passengers grabbed it while they could. And ocean crossings like this one obviously lack port stops where an Internet cafe could come to the rescue. For some primitive, less-connected retirees like ourselves, a vacation with sporadic Internet is no deal-breaker. And there’s something to be said for the attitude of a past Crystal president that cruisers should “turn off the Internet and just enjoy the moment.” (Virtuoso Life, May-June 2015, p. 99) However, travel agents should caution their customers that this ship may not be a good fit if they must stay in uninterrupted email contact with a business or relative back home. Nor should passengers count on Internet availability to make enroute arrangements for port stops or post-cruise travel. Or for online bill paying or holiday shopping at the last minute. SHIP’S MUSEUM: The lore of cruising traditionally has the rich & famous dining at the captain’s table. But Crystal has something just as good for the rest of us. Captain Vorland periodically opens up the ship’s museum and serves as its docent and resident storyteller -- sort of a Norwegian cross between Sully Sullenberger, Garrison Keillor, and your favorite humanities professor. This guy really has been everywhere, man (he even took a break as a Crystal vice president). The museum, in a restricted area, has a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect the Serenity’s visits to the world’s ports, both famous and obscure. While some of the plaques are simple pieces of wood, the more elaborate ones feature local art, crafts, and materials. Tell the cruise director or Crystal Society host if you’d like to be included when a group does this. Like the free kitchen tours, backstage tours, magic shows, and guided stargazing, Crystal doesn’t charge for this onboard activity. I’ve always been impressed by Captain Vorland’s daily explanation of the sea conditions and resulting navigation adjustments. Reminds me of the aviation saying that “a superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.” Or success is measured by all the potentially bad days that cruisers never know they have been spared. Captain Vorland may in fact be eligible for the honor of the Explorers Club, given his work in advancing passenger cruising through the Northwest Passage (like another Norwegian who pioneered polar air routes back in the 1950s). Crystal recorded the many lectures that experts gave during the Serenity’s treks through the Northwest Passage. I’ve watched around 40 of these videos, and the collection should be sent to the Vancouver Maritime Museum (rather than just forgotten, lost, or erased). FEDERAL INSPECTION SCORES: Federal agencies in both the United States and Canada conduct health inspections of cruise ships. The inspection scores are posted on the agencies’ public websites. See www.cdc.gov and www.canada.ca. For the U.S. inspections (CDC), cruisers can read the full reports online in all their technical detail (as well as Crystal’s side of the story). For the Canadian inspections, you’d need to email a request to see the report behind a score. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score (both countries) is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 means no significant deficiencies, not perfection. The Serenity’s most recent U.S. inspection occurred in December 2018 (about three weeks after the end of our cruise). Score was 95. The inspection report listed 43 violations around the ship, none of which would deter me from booking the ship again. (Gluttony at that Churrascaria dessert bar was a health risk for me, though.) A few months passed before CDC published the results of this inspection. Perhaps due to the famous shutdown of some federal agencies for about a month. The Serenity’s most recent Canadian inspection was in June 2017. Score was 99. However, even well-inspected luxury liners can face that noro nastiness (vomiting, diarrhea). There’s a limit to what cruise lines and governments can do to protect passengers from their own health habits. While we were crossing the ocean, Crystal’s other ship (the Symphony) had a norovirus outbreak on the Amazon. No secret, though. It was publicly reported on CDC’s home page, in Cruise Critic’s passenger chat room, and in USA Today. The Symphony’s doctor made daily reports to CDC, sought CDC’s assistance, and was able to contain the illness (less than 5 percent of the passengers reported symptoms). While passengers in a Cruise Critic chat room are not a statistical sampling, their online thread on the Symphony didn’t signal any cruise-spoiling panic. They made passing references to onboard norovirus in the midst of much more vigorous exchanges over the ethics of petting sloths and the merits of selling the Chico’s brand in the ship’s clothing store (true story). Per these stats and chats, it’s not inevitable that most people on board will get sick if there’s a norovirus outbreak (defined by CDC as 3% of passengers). A clinic that specializes in travel medicine can give you a thorough briefing on how to handle this contingency, including what remedies to take along. Here are two lists of doctors with this type of practice: (1) the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org) and (2) the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (www.astmh.org). Measles has made quite the comeback across the U.S., and is highly contagious. CDC presumes that travelers born in the U.S. before 1957 have childhood immunity. If you were born later and have had the shots, you may want to take along proof in case there’s a quarantine in your travels. (See www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html) EVOLVING AMBIENCE: Crystal’s customer core is retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. Crystal continues to preserve traditions from a prior era of travel. There are still formal nights (“black tie optional” and some tuxedos), daily afternoon tea, a dress code after 6 pm, and an ornate hideaway for smoking cigars. We continue to feel safe from onboard crime. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. But Crystal is not an isolation ward, and travel agents may need to prepare some customers to expect subtle changes in the ship’s atmosphere. For instance, the music. The Russian string quartet has been replaced by a solo performer with an electronic violin. Crystal has invested heavily in computerized neon costumes for performers to dance in the dark. The young jazz crooner that faithfully replicates the 1940s may wear his hair in a modern man bun. (But just be glad that yet another generation is striving to perpetuate the old favorites from before it was born.) The crew members who give you super service may sport a few tattoos. (We’re talking pretty young ladies here, not muscled male deckhands.) And you’ll see cruisers who whip out their smartphones whenever there’s a lull in table talk. (We’re talking seniors here, not millennials.) And you might even see a dog on board these days. Folks on this cruise reported dog sightings at the buffet line, ice cream bar, clothing store, Lido Deck dining, Japanese restaurant, and ledge around the hot tub. The tiny hound that I saw didn’t make a sound, didn’t bother anyone, and was even wearing a dress at one point. And the affection from crew members suggested that they might be missing their pets back home. Or perhaps their parents just raised them to be kind to animals (and seniors). Social media polarizes this sort of thing in a rhetoric of rights. But it’s not really a legal matter until a foreign ship (here the Serenity) departing from a foreign port (here Lisbon) finally reaches an American port (here the Virgin Islands). (49 CFR 39.5(b)) Until we reached the Virgin Islands, it was just a customer relations call as to which species Crystal wished to accommodate in the price of a ticket. Regardless of a dog’s purpose, the practical problems for “pet parents” make it unlikely that cruises will ever really go to the dogs (become truly “pet friendly”). There are issues like dog-sitting during port stops, local health regs, security screenings, and distinctive nasties from nature. Things like fleas with plague, cute little snakes, and big birds that really do eat small mammals. Nature is indifferent to the rhetoric of rights. In the event of a canine unthinkable, it can be a long wait until the next port stop with a veterinarian. And I have no idea whether Crystal’s onboard physician would agree to treat a suffering non-human. If you insist on bringing Fido or Fifi, a competitor’s megaship will be more likely than tiny Crystal to include a vacationing veterinarian among its passengers. Of course, you never know what travel entrepreneurs will develop for an unmet need. While we were docked in the Virgin Islands, the humane society was having a dog-washing fundraiser at the yacht marina. Proceeds of $10 a dog went to “fly homeless pets to stateside rescues and better lives.” Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
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
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date September 2018
Israel has recently become a popular destination for cruise ships. Some ships stop 3 days in Haifa, some stop 1 day in Ashdod followed by 2 more days in Haifa. I and my wife have tried both ways, and I am now reporting on the ... Read More
Israel has recently become a popular destination for cruise ships. Some ships stop 3 days in Haifa, some stop 1 day in Ashdod followed by 2 more days in Haifa. I and my wife have tried both ways, and I am now reporting on the differences. In 2017, we were on the Oceania Marina that started in Athens and ended in Athens, with 3 days in Haifa. That was fairly good, but was tiring and we felt we did not see enough from the big 50-seater coaches. This year we went again, but on the Crystal Serenity, that started in Civitavecchia and ended in Civitavecchia. It first stopped in Ashdod for 1 night, followed by 2 more nights in Haifa. This time we used a private minibus, was more relaxed, and we saw much more. On the Oceania trip, we took group tours on a coach arranged by the ship. We visited Jerusalem on the first day, Masada on the second day, Nazareth and the Galilee on the third day. This was basically satisfactory, but the coach was a 50-seater, and could not go through the narrow old streets to get close to some historical sights. So, we had to view some sights from a distance or from the mountain top. Also, the trips from Haifa to Jerusalem and Masada were separate trips, and each took 4 hours each way, so that was somewhat tiring. On the Crystal trip, we fortunately were with a group of 10 friends. So, we pre-hired a Mini-bus, from the internet, with a professional English-speaking guide, and a qualified driver, for about US $100 per person, per day, which was much cheaper than the ship’s price. This turned out much better, as we were more relaxed, and able to get to many more sights than with the larger coach. This is how we did it. About 4 months before the cruise, we hired a local Israeli touring company from the internet, www.GuidedToursIsrael.com , which proved to be very satisfactory. In the morning and early afternoon of the first day, we visited Jerusalem. In the late afternoon, we visited the northern part of the Dead Sea. The only disadvantage was we had to walk down many steps to get to the water front. In Jerusalem, we saw many sights including: The Western Wall, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, The Temple Mount with the golden dome, The Dome of the Rock, The Golden Tomb, Tower of David Museum, Garden of Gethsethmane, Jaffa Gate, City of David, King David’s Tomb, and the narrow, cobbled shopping streets of old Jerusalem. On the second day, from Haifa, we visited northern Israel, including Nazareth and the Sea of Galillee. Nazareth is mostly a Muslim city. We were able to go inside the Basilica of the Annunciation, which is a must, and the St. Joseph’s catholic church. We also went to the baptismal site in the Jordan river. On the third day, we went to Tel Aviv, saw the center of the city, the many hotels, government buildings, and also the location where Yitzak Rabin was assassinated, as well as the beaches on the Mediterranean coast, including ancient Roman amphitheater. My advice is, if possible, try to visit Israel on a minibus with a small private group. Peter Fan. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018

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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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