Disappointing Cruise: Crystal Serenity Cruise Review by TxnAquarian

Crystal Serenity 4
Member Since 2005
1,730 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Disappointing Cruise

Sail Date: December 2012
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
For Christmas 2012, I decided to return to Crystal after a 4-year break to try other lines. I had always said that nothing else at sea compares to Crystal. But this cruise was a disappointment. Too much smoking, no one to greet us on embarkation day, unmotivated staff. It really seems as if the once-great Crystal has fallen a few notches. This wasn't a bad cruise. The food was fabulous and we had a great time enjoying the sea day activities. But for the premium fares we paid, and based on prior experience with the line, we expected more.

I had read that the 10-year old Serenity had been updated. Yes, our Deck 9 Verandah Room was lovely. But everything else on the ship still seemed dated and boring, with enough wicker to fill grandma's summer home. We did love the storage space in our room and the double sinks in the bathroom. And the verandah was a good size to accommodate us, two chairs and a table. Our room stewardess was just so-so.

Everything we ate on the ship was More amazing. There wasn't one misstep in the 14 days we were onboard. Even the desserts, usually blah on most cruises, were fabulous. Food was always available whether through the main dining venues, the Bistro, or servers bringing around trays of hors d'oeuvres late at night. We really enjoyed both Prego and Silk Road for alternative dining and also enjoyed the big Christmas day buffet.

Service was where Crystal really messed up this time. Once we embarked, there were no stewards to greet us or welcome us onboard. Even on Celebrity, which is roughly half the price, employees are swarming you on embarkation day offering mimosas and directions. When we sailed on Crystal before, the dining room servers would always remember our names, drink preferences, etc. This time, they asked us every night what we wanted to drink, eventhough we ordered the same thing everyday. Dining room service was slow. And most of the crew didn't seem particularly happy to be there. It was hard to get attention from servers in the Lido, as they were busy cuddling up to all of the guests who cruise several times a year. Those of us who cruise occasionally, were left waiting for someone to come take an order for a soda. And on the first day of the cruise, as we were taking a tour of the ship, the Maitre'D blocked us from entering Prego to have a look, saying that we didn't have an appointment to speak with someone. We explained that we didn't need to speak with anyone has we had pre-booked a dining time - we just wanted to see what the room looked like. It was the most awkward cruise we had ever been on.

Also, Crystal really needs to step into the current trends, and eliminate smoking from their ships. Most of the Deck 6, the casino and the Crystal Cove were filled with smoke and we stayed away from those locations. The whole ship feels musty with old smoke.

Daily entertainment was fine, filled with the usual Bingo, trivia and enrichment programs. Dr. Ruth Westheimer was the guest speaker, and I heard great things about her 2 lectures. The shows in the Galaxy Theater were fine. We had seen a few of them before - especially the "Million Dollar Musicals" production that they refuse to retire (we first saw it in 1996). There was one show which completely stood out - "Rocket Man" was an Elton John tribute show with amazing singing and a great Elton John impersonator. It's not as cheesy as it sounds. It was one of the best shows I have seen on any cruise ship ever.

We sailed roundtrip out Miami to the Eastern Caribbean. The ports weren't anything remarkable, but it was nice to have a relaxing warm weather cruise. Our cruise had a maiden port call at Ponce, Puerto Rico. There was nothing there. The cruise even only offered one excursion to a museum. Based on feedback from other guests, I doubt Crystal will stop there again.

I would not completely write Crystal off after this. But it would be hard to win back my loyalty unless they offer a fabulous itinerary when I need to cruise. Less

Published 01/16/13

Cabin review: A9121

Port and Shore Excursions


We did a catamaran sail and snorkel excursion. It was a lovely day spent out on the boat, but the snorkeling left a lot to be desired. We made 2 snorkeling stops - one to see a coral reef and the other to see turtles. It was nice, but the water wasn't very clear and the scenery wasn't that interesting. The boat also made a stop at a beach for an hour. The crew was wonderful and it was fun just to be out in the sun.

We docked at the town of Pointe Pitre. It was a really grungy, scary town. We only wandered for 45 minutes or so before going back to the ship. The vendors were aggressive and it was very uncomfortable. Next time we go here, we will take an excursion.

I've never found Key West particularly interesting. But as far as cruise ship ports go, I really like it because everything is close to the pier. The main downtown area offers interesting shops and places to eat. Stick to Duval Street and the downtown area (to the left of where the ship docks). If you go the other way, it is a little scary and ghetto. We enjoyed the day here. It was really crowded, and we were the only ship in town. I can't imagine how congested it gets with more than one ship.
Read 1393 Key West Reviews

We actually stopped at the town of Ponce, Puerto Rico. It was a maiden call for Crystal. There was nothing to do there. The cruise only offered one excursion and even the shore excursion staff couldn't offer suggestions. The two options were to take a trolley to a promenade area or take a taxi to the town itself, where there is nothing more than a square. Ponce was the running joke with the crew for the rest of the cruise about horrible places to visit.
Read 2983 San Juan Reviews

The port town of Castries is scary. But we did a lovely tour to Soufriere, which included a hike and scenic views of the Grand Pitons. Very beautiful day.
Read 1137 St. Lucia Reviews

St. Maarten is you typical, overrun island port. I think the best bet is to head over to the French side to Marigot or find a quiet beach area. The port area is nice, clean and modern with plenty of shopping. We had a great day, as we went to Maho Beach to watch the planes land. They are so close, you get blown over. It was really fun. Our friends went to Marigot and really enjoyed it. I have been to St. Maarten several times and always find great spots to visit away from the crowds.

St. Thomas is beautiful. We docked at Havensight and walked into the town. It was a Sunday, and all the vendors were going to close at 2pm, so the town was packed with shoppers. There is not much to buy there, other than jewelery. We looked for a place to have lunch, but didn't see many appealing options. We ended up stopping at a place closer to the ship, in a little yacht club / shopping area. There wasn't much to do here, but it was scenic and modern.
Read 4003 St. Thomas Reviews

We were very unimpressed by Tortola. However, to be fair, our booked excursion to see The Baths at Virgin Gorda, had been cancelled due to high swells. So that left us on our own to wander around the uninspiring port town. I'd like to go back and do an excursion next time.
Read 1241 Tortola Reviews

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