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Review Of Crystal Serenity: Alaska Cruise – Vancouver to Seward – 10 Days Northwest Passage – Seward to New York City – 32 Days Excluding my first cruise at age 12, my wife and I have been cruising since 1992 and have taken well over 100 cruises. The sailing of the Northwest Passage ranks in our top couple of all-time cruises ever. It is by far the most unique cruise we have ever taken. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkation at Vancouver turned out better than expected in spite of two other ships being in port that day. We stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel that is at Canada Place where the cruise ship terminal is located. Disembarkation was in New York City. It might have been challenging with two other ships in port, but since we had a private transfer with Crystal Cruises we had people from Crystal Cruises accompanying us the entire time from the time we were escorted off the ship to the time we got into our private vehicle. The one area for improvement would be having the luggage for those with Crystal private transfers in one section rather than combining it with another group of luggage. This is something that one of the Crystal representatives said would be corrected on the next cruise that disembarks in New York City. The Itinerary/Shore Excursions The itinerary including places on the itinerary plus the unexpected visits and all that we saw while at sea was incredible. Words cannot adequately express how much we enjoyed the itinerary. Following the first ten-day voyage when we did have rain in some of the ports we were blessed with incredible weather for the entire Northwest Passage voyage. While we were unable to get off at one of three ports in Greenland because of ice that in itself was unique as we had never seen so much ice while at sea. The visits and unexpected visits in the Northwest Passage were incredible. We took the community visits in each location. Although we were on an Ocean Vessel all of our visits had the feel and look of being on an expedition vessel. We took zodiacs to and from the ship and they were very organized allowing us to get on and off the ship in an orderly and safe manner. They were time perfectly so that we would not overwhelm any of the villages that we visited. Each visit allowed for interaction with the Inuit people and provided places to visit at each village. We also thoroughly enjoyed the hike that we took in one of the Greenland ports along with other community visits such as in Nome, Alaska. There were certainly many other options for excursions including Kayaking, Helicopters, Hikes and Overland’s. There were many highlights from the ship including seeing the ice and ten different polar bears, icebergs, glaciers, and the views of other sea life. Enrichment Program Crystal contracted with an expedition team over eighteen months before the actual voyage and they could not have selected a better team. They had a wonderful expedition leader and many interesting lecturers who covered a range of items including photography, history, geology, and so many other topics. They were not only experts in the areas they covered but they also were very personable. The same was true of others from the team including those who piloted the helicopters and those who drove the zodiacs. Typically three lectures were given each day. In addition, a daily 5:00 PM briefing was given that included a recap about the days activities along with information regarding next day plans. On top of this, they also had some lecturers who covered areas not related to the Northwest Passage. Entertainment: The entertainment was far greater than we thought it would be. It included production shows that are performed on most Crystal Cruises, some special events, and included several land based entertainers many of whom have performed on Crystal ships for years. Crystal also brought on some local shows for us. Cuisine: The cuisine was excellent.. We were wondering if some items such as fruits and vegetables would not be available as the voyage progressed but that was not the case. Crystal made special arrangements and chartered an entire 737 plane to bring on board perishable items in Cambridge Bay and then received another shipment in Nuuk, Greenland. Other than running out of some berries a day or two before taking delivery of new items we never felt like anything was missing. Service and The Crew: The crew on board Crystal ships has become the number one reason we sail with Crystal. The crew was better than ever. Many members of the crew helped out in areas that they normally would not be involved with and that included all of the crew that were present to assist in the process of getting guests on and off the ship via the zodiacs. Unlike typical voyages where the crew has the opportunity to get off in ports, the vast majority of the crew did not get off the ship until we reached Boston when the cruise was almost over. Yet, they were very positive and enthusiastic and took joy in listening to the guests describe their experiences to them. The Little Touches That Collectively Make A Big Difference: A lot and I mean a lot of thought was put into the planning of this voyage. They seemed to think of everything. They had high-powered telescopes and binoculars in one of the public rooms along with a special camera and large monitors in the public room to allow for getting wonderful views of sea life, other animals and the scenery. Realizing that there would not be enough items for guests to purchase at the first village, Crystal purchased art work for each guest that not only provided a memento for each of us but also contributed to the local economy. Realizing that it was very cold on the first unexpected zodiac voyage special zodiacs was deployed with hot chocolate, which was distributed to those guests on the zodiacs. A video was made for the guests and each guest received a jacket and a hat that worked out perfectly for the cold weather. Other items were provided along the way including a map and patches. Binoculars were placed in each room whereas they normally are only provided in the penthouse rooms. Internet: The Internet was quite a bit better than we expected. We thought that there could be outages each day and even that we could have days of outages. Other than one day where a good portion of the day the Internet was out of service we had many days with very little outages. The one area for improvement would be that on some days the internet would be out very early in the morning and would come up about fifteen minutes after the IT people began their workday. While 7x24 coverage might not be possible if there is away for someone from the IT group to start the day earlier or to be on-call that would help. Advanced Communication: Communications were very good and the web site for this voyage included an excellent question and answer write-up, which had answers to most of our questions. We also appreciated that Crystal made arrangements with a company called Ship and Shore allowing us to order clothing accessories and rent boots for this voyage. We could have the items sent to us at home or to the ship and we chose the latter. Their web site also had terrific recommendations on what type of clothing to have and we followed it and because of this we were very prepared for the voyage. We received three letters at home. A couple of minor items that could be improved for next year’s voyage would be to let those guests who are in standard staterooms to know that binoculars were being places in each of their rooms and to provide one specific letter on how the unexpected visits would work. While there was communication on the unexpected visits we found that some guests didn’t understand it as well as we did possibly because the information was contained in a letter that also covered other items. Planning: The planning that went into this voyage was amazing. I don’t believe that any voyage has ever had as much planning that went into this voyage and it clearly showed. While undoubtedly there might be some items that were not anticipated or that could have been modified, very few if any were obvious. It seemed to us that no stone was left unturned in the planning that went into this voyage. Bottom Line: This was clearly an epic and historical voyage. No cruise ship the size of Crystal Serenity and with as many guests and crew had ever sailed the Northwest Passage. The standards and planning that went into this voyage should be the model that other cruise lines who might sail this itinerary in the future should be required to follow. We are so very glad that we were on this very special voyage and we can say without a doubt that this voyage was a cruise of a lifetime. Congratulations to Crystal Cruises for allowing us to see a part of the world where very few people have gone and to do it in a manner that mirrored being on an expedition ship while enjoying all of the luxurious amenities that we enjoy on each Crystal Cruise. Kudos to Team Crystal including Team Serenity and Team Los Angeles. You have our respect and admiration for all that you do. You are the best in our book.

An Amazing Cruise Of The Northwest Passage

Crystal Serenity Cruise Review by Keith1010

16 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2016
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse with Verandah
Review Of Crystal Serenity:

Alaska Cruise – Vancouver to Seward – 10 Days

Northwest Passage – Seward to New York City – 32 Days

Excluding my first cruise at age 12, my wife and I have been cruising since 1992 and have taken well over 100 cruises. The sailing of the Northwest Passage ranks in our top couple of all-time cruises ever. It is by far the most unique cruise we have ever taken.

Embarkation/Disembarkation:

Embarkation at Vancouver turned out better than expected in spite of two other ships being in port that day. We stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel that is at Canada Place where the cruise ship terminal is located.

Disembarkation was in New York City. It might have been challenging with two other ships in port, but since we had a private transfer with Crystal Cruises we had people from Crystal Cruises accompanying us the entire time from the time we were escorted off the ship to the time we got into our private vehicle. The one area for improvement would be having the luggage for those with Crystal private transfers in one section rather than combining it with another group of luggage. This is something that one of the Crystal representatives said would be corrected on the next cruise that disembarks in New York City.

The Itinerary/Shore Excursions

The itinerary including places on the itinerary plus the unexpected visits and all that we saw while at sea was incredible. Words cannot adequately express how much we enjoyed the itinerary. Following the first ten-day voyage when we did have rain in some of the ports we were blessed with incredible weather for the entire Northwest Passage voyage. While we were unable to get off at one of three ports in Greenland because of ice that in itself was unique as we had never seen so much ice while at sea.

The visits and unexpected visits in the Northwest Passage were incredible. We took the community visits in each location. Although we were on an Ocean Vessel all of our visits had the feel and look of being on an expedition vessel. We took zodiacs to and from the ship and they were very organized allowing us to get on and off the ship in an orderly and safe manner. They were time perfectly so that we would not overwhelm any of the villages that we visited. Each visit allowed for interaction with the Inuit people and provided places to visit at each village. We also thoroughly enjoyed the hike that we took in one of the Greenland ports along with other community visits such as in Nome, Alaska. There were certainly many other options for excursions including Kayaking, Helicopters, Hikes and Overland’s.

There were many highlights from the ship including seeing the ice and ten different polar bears, icebergs, glaciers, and the views of other sea life.

Enrichment Program

Crystal contracted with an expedition team over eighteen months before the actual voyage and they could not have selected a better team. They had a wonderful expedition leader and many interesting lecturers who covered a range of items including photography, history, geology, and so many other topics. They were not only experts in the areas they covered but they also were very personable. The same was true of others from the team including those who piloted the helicopters and those who drove the zodiacs. Typically three lectures were given each day. In addition, a daily 5:00 PM briefing was given that included a recap about the days activities along with information regarding next day plans.

On top of this, they also had some lecturers who covered areas not related to the Northwest Passage.

Entertainment:

The entertainment was far greater than we thought it would be. It included production shows that are performed on most Crystal Cruises, some special events, and included several land based entertainers many of whom have performed on Crystal ships for years. Crystal also brought on some local shows for us.

Cuisine:

The cuisine was excellent.. We were wondering if some items such as fruits and vegetables would not be available as the voyage progressed but that was not the case. Crystal made special arrangements and chartered an entire 737 plane to bring on board perishable items in Cambridge Bay and then received another shipment in Nuuk, Greenland. Other than running out of some berries a day or two before taking delivery of new items we never felt like anything was missing.

Service and The Crew:

The crew on board Crystal ships has become the number one reason we sail with Crystal. The crew was better than ever. Many members of the crew helped out in areas that they normally would not be involved with and that included all of the crew that were present to assist in the process of getting guests on and off the ship via the zodiacs. Unlike typical voyages where the crew has the opportunity to get off in ports, the vast majority of the crew did not get off the ship until we reached Boston when the cruise was almost over. Yet, they were very positive and enthusiastic and took joy in listening to the guests describe their experiences to them.

The Little Touches That Collectively Make A Big Difference:

A lot and I mean a lot of thought was put into the planning of this voyage. They seemed to think of everything. They had high-powered telescopes and binoculars in one of the public rooms along with a special camera and large monitors in the public room to allow for getting wonderful views of sea life, other animals and the scenery. Realizing that there would not be enough items for guests to purchase at the first village, Crystal purchased art work for each guest that not only provided a memento for each of us but also contributed to the local economy. Realizing that it was very cold on the first unexpected zodiac voyage special zodiacs was deployed with hot chocolate, which was distributed to those guests on the zodiacs. A video was made for the guests and each guest received a jacket and a hat that worked out perfectly for the cold weather. Other items were provided along the way including a map and patches. Binoculars were placed in each room whereas they normally are only provided in the penthouse rooms.

Internet:

The Internet was quite a bit better than we expected. We thought that there could be outages each day and even that we could have days of outages. Other than one day where a good portion of the day the Internet was out of service we had many days with very little outages.

The one area for improvement would be that on some days the internet would be out very early in the morning and would come up about fifteen minutes after the IT people began their workday. While 7x24 coverage might not be possible if there is away for someone from the IT group to start the day earlier or to be on-call that would help.

Advanced Communication:

Communications were very good and the web site for this voyage included an excellent question and answer write-up, which had answers to most of our questions. We also appreciated that Crystal made arrangements with a company called Ship and Shore allowing us to order clothing accessories and rent boots for this voyage. We could have the items sent to us at home or to the ship and we chose the latter. Their web site also had terrific recommendations on what type of clothing to have and we followed it and because of this we were very prepared for the voyage. We received three letters at home.

A couple of minor items that could be improved for next year’s voyage would be to let those guests who are in standard staterooms to know that binoculars were being places in each of their rooms and to provide one specific letter on how the unexpected visits would work. While there was communication on the unexpected visits we found that some guests didn’t understand it as well as we did possibly because the information was contained in a letter that also covered other items.

Planning:

The planning that went into this voyage was amazing. I don’t believe that any voyage has ever had as much planning that went into this voyage and it clearly showed. While undoubtedly there might be some items that were not anticipated or that could have been modified, very few if any were obvious. It seemed to us that no stone was left unturned in the planning that went into this voyage.

Bottom Line:

This was clearly an epic and historical voyage. No cruise ship the size of Crystal Serenity and with as many guests and crew had ever sailed the Northwest Passage. The standards and planning that went into this voyage should be the model that other cruise lines who might sail this itinerary in the future should be required to follow.

We are so very glad that we were on this very special voyage and we can say without a doubt that this voyage was a cruise of a lifetime. Congratulations to Crystal Cruises for allowing us to see a part of the world where very few people have gone and to do it in a manner that mirrored being on an expedition ship while enjoying all of the luxurious amenities that we enjoy on each Crystal Cruise.

Kudos to Team Crystal including Team Serenity and Team Los Angeles. You have our respect and admiration for all that you do. You are the best in our book.
Keith1010’s Full Rating Summary
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