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My mother, who is in her 80s, asked me to join her on this cruise. The itinerary and level of service created outstanding memories, as we might not have this opportunity again. I had been on the Crystal Symphony before, but never the Crystal Serenity. The Crystal Serenity is a beautiful ship, and is extremely well maintained. We left out of New York, which is a mixed blessing. While the sail out is inspiring, getting to the pier, even on a Saturday (as offered by this itinerary, is daunting. It took me over an hour from Newark airport and took my mother over 1.5 hours from LGA to reach the cruise port. Still, the scheduled late departure (11 pm) allowed me to fly in from the west coast on the day of the cruise, rather than the day before. That schedule also eased the stress, as there was never a doubt that I could reach the ship before the scheduled boarding time. Crystal made embarkation very easy. There was a small line at the x-ray machine, but no other lines whatsoever. It was nice to check in on the ship itself. Staff was welcoming, and the cabin attendant did a great job of explaining the features of the cabin. As I had the cabin to myself, there was plenty of storage in my oceanview cabin. It might have been a bit tight for two people. Upon boarding, it became very apparent that there was a large group on board. I have always believed that cruise lines should warn the other passengers about large groups on their cruise, as such groups inevitably take over the ship, making areas inaccessible and making advertised features of the ship not available. It turned out there were actually two bridge groups books, totaling some 350 of the 900 passengers. The first evidence of the large group was that the groups had taken absolutely every main (early) dining opportunity, including the specialty restaurants. I have some health issues that require me to retire relatively early each evening, so late dining is not an option. My mother an I were waitlisted for main dining (despite booking 15 months ahead) and although we had informed Crystal of my health issue, the maître d' was unable to clear the waitlist upon boarding. He recommended that we come to the dining room at main seating and he would try to squeeze us in somewhere. He was in fact quite gracious when we arrive at main seating the first night and did give us a table. The second night he seated us at a table for 8 where two of the passengers were dining elsewhere. We had calculated that we could reserve space elsewhere, but we did not clear the waitlist anywhere. As Crystal does not open the buffet in the evening (families should be warned of this), the only options were to be squeezed in to a different table each night or to order from the extremely limited room service menu. Had this issue remained where it was on night 2, you would be reading a one or two star review. However, and kudos the Crystal for this, on the wifi logon site (and kudos to Crystal for providing an hour per day of free wifi), there is a feedback button, and I used it to express my concerns. Ten minutes after I sent my concern in, a waitlist cleared at Silk Road and we were seated there at 6 pm. The next night, a waitlist cleared at Prego for 7 pm. We were then seated at Captain's table the following night and, voila, the waitlist cleared at Tastes on the following night. I have never seen a cruise line work so hard to address a concern. Having a system to report a concern to the corporate office while still onboard is commendable. Responding immediately and so thoroughly is incredible! The group of passengers onboard was older (averaged mid to late 70s), and composed mainly of retired professionals and executives. There were just two children on board, both infants. Many of the passengers apparently do not understand the meaning of "casual" as the dressed in suits and ties and even formal wear on some nights. I guess that they were disappointed that there were no formal nights on the cruise, but I received many condescending looks when dressed appropriately (Tommy Bahama button down shirt, dark Dockers and loafers). If cruise lines can refuse to seat shorts after 6 pm, they should also refuse to seat ties and gowns. The food in the main dining room was very good, and the service was excellent. While the service was excellent in Silk Road and Prego, the food was disappointing. It was not as good as the main dining room, and I never like to get sushi that is not cold. At Tastes, the food was very good but the service was not up to the standard set on the rest of the ship. The entertainment was likewise variable. The singers and dancers were talented, and the Broadway tribute was a great show. The comedian was pretty good, but the other production show and the first and last night shows were just average. The house band was exceptional. I had concerns about the cabin that was assigned on a guarantee. It was an Oceanview cabin that was guaranteed to be mid ship. Technically it was (last room before the forward elevators), and I had been concerned that it might be noisy, as the doors to the promenade deck were adjacent to my room. It was not noisy at all, and in fact the only noise issue on the entire trip was on the final night with porters loading baggage. I would book this room again, as it was close to everything. The voyage was definitely rocky in parts, but I had very little movement in this cabin. Crystal always handles its shore excursions well, providing escorts and water to enhance the excursion. Our excursion in Bar Harbor was very good, even though the fog blocked many of the usually outstanding views. Still, the guide was great. The Baie-Comeau walking excursion was not as good, as the stuck us on a non-air conditioned, very tightly spaced school bus at the end to go back to the ship, and sat us there for 25 minutes. apparently, that bus also served as the shuttle from town to the ship, and as it was to be the last one, it waited for returning passengers. The advertised excursion described itself as including transportation to and from the start of the walking tour. If the plan was to rely on shuttles, it should have stated that. While the ship was completely booked, it never felt crowded. Unlike other lines, there was no need to arrive early for shows, although this may be due to the presence of large groups. With regard to those groups, other than the main dining issue, I did not feel the lack of facilities during their presence. Crystal handled the groups well. I had signed up for a number of computer classes, but almost none were given due to a lack of sea days. The lecturers were, as always, outstanding. My mother is an avid dancer and says that the four dance hosts on this cruise were the best she has ever experienced.

Responsiveness of Corpoate Offices Averted Signficant Disappointment

Crystal Serenity Cruise Review by dsweet

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2016
  • Destination: Canada & New England
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Stateroom with Picture Window
My mother, who is in her 80s, asked me to join her on this cruise. The itinerary and level of service created outstanding memories, as we might not have this opportunity again.

I had been on the Crystal Symphony before, but never the Crystal Serenity. The Crystal Serenity is a beautiful ship, and is extremely well maintained. We left out of New York, which is a mixed blessing. While the sail out is inspiring, getting to the pier, even on a Saturday (as offered by this itinerary, is daunting. It took me over an hour from Newark airport and took my mother over 1.5 hours from LGA to reach the cruise port. Still, the scheduled late departure (11 pm) allowed me to fly in from the west coast on the day of the cruise, rather than the day before. That schedule also eased the stress, as there was never a doubt that I could reach the ship before the scheduled boarding time.

Crystal made embarkation very easy. There was a small line at the x-ray machine, but no other lines whatsoever. It was nice to check in on the ship itself. Staff was welcoming, and the cabin attendant did a great job of explaining the features of the cabin. As I had the cabin to myself, there was plenty of storage in my oceanview cabin. It might have been a bit tight for two people.

Upon boarding, it became very apparent that there was a large group on board. I have always believed that cruise lines should warn the other passengers about large groups on their cruise, as such groups inevitably take over the ship, making areas inaccessible and making advertised features of the ship not available. It turned out there were actually two bridge groups books, totaling some 350 of the 900 passengers.

The first evidence of the large group was that the groups had taken absolutely every main (early) dining opportunity, including the specialty restaurants. I have some health issues that require me to retire relatively early each evening, so late dining is not an option. My mother an I were waitlisted for main dining (despite booking 15 months ahead) and although we had informed Crystal of my health issue, the maître d' was unable to clear the waitlist upon boarding. He recommended that we come to the dining room at main seating and he would try to squeeze us in somewhere.

He was in fact quite gracious when we arrive at main seating the first night and did give us a table. The second night he seated us at a table for 8 where two of the passengers were dining elsewhere. We had calculated that we could reserve space elsewhere, but we did not clear the waitlist anywhere. As Crystal does not open the buffet in the evening (families should be warned of this), the only options were to be squeezed in to a different table each night or to order from the extremely limited room service menu. Had this issue remained where it was on night 2, you would be reading a one or two star review.

However, and kudos the Crystal for this, on the wifi logon site (and kudos to Crystal for providing an hour per day of free wifi), there is a feedback button, and I used it to express my concerns. Ten minutes after I sent my concern in, a waitlist cleared at Silk Road and we were seated there at 6 pm. The next night, a waitlist cleared at Prego for 7 pm. We were then seated at Captain's table the following night and, voila, the waitlist cleared at Tastes on the following night. I have never seen a cruise line work so hard to address a concern. Having a system to report a concern to the corporate office while still onboard is commendable. Responding immediately and so thoroughly is incredible!

The group of passengers onboard was older (averaged mid to late 70s), and composed mainly of retired professionals and executives. There were just two children on board, both infants. Many of the passengers apparently do not understand the meaning of "casual" as the dressed in suits and ties and even formal wear on some nights. I guess that they were disappointed that there were no formal nights on the cruise, but I received many condescending looks when dressed appropriately (Tommy Bahama button down shirt, dark Dockers and loafers). If cruise lines can refuse to seat shorts after 6 pm, they should also refuse to seat ties and gowns.

The food in the main dining room was very good, and the service was excellent. While the service was excellent in Silk Road and Prego, the food was disappointing. It was not as good as the main dining room, and I never like to get sushi that is not cold. At Tastes, the food was very good but the service was not up to the standard set on the rest of the ship.

The entertainment was likewise variable. The singers and dancers were talented, and the Broadway tribute was a great show. The comedian was pretty good, but the other production show and the first and last night shows were just average. The house band was exceptional.

I had concerns about the cabin that was assigned on a guarantee. It was an Oceanview cabin that was guaranteed to be mid ship. Technically it was (last room before the forward elevators), and I had been concerned that it might be noisy, as the doors to the promenade deck were adjacent to my room. It was not noisy at all, and in fact the only noise issue on the entire trip was on the final night with porters loading baggage. I would book this room again, as it was close to everything. The voyage was definitely rocky in parts, but I had very little movement in this cabin.

Crystal always handles its shore excursions well, providing escorts and water to enhance the excursion. Our excursion in Bar Harbor was very good, even though the fog blocked many of the usually outstanding views. Still, the guide was great.

The Baie-Comeau walking excursion was not as good, as the stuck us on a non-air conditioned, very tightly spaced school bus at the end to go back to the ship, and sat us there for 25 minutes. apparently, that bus also served as the shuttle from town to the ship, and as it was to be the last one, it waited for returning passengers. The advertised excursion described itself as including transportation to and from the start of the walking tour. If the plan was to rely on shuttles, it should have stated that.

While the ship was completely booked, it never felt crowded. Unlike other lines, there was no need to arrive early for shows, although this may be due to the presence of large groups. With regard to those groups, other than the main dining issue, I did not feel the lack of facilities during their presence. Crystal handled the groups well.

I had signed up for a number of computer classes, but almost none were given due to a lack of sea days. The lecturers were, as always, outstanding. My mother is an avid dancer and says that the four dance hosts on this cruise were the best she has ever experienced.
dsweet’s Full Rating Summary
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