My review of our recent back-to-back on the Serenity Caribbean cruise.
Let me say we are not new to cruising and usually sail on Oceania (which is not a Luxury line).
We chose Crystal this time because the price was right and we wanted to try a different line but not a mainstream mega ship. We are not foodies nor big drinkers.
We normally get an Ocean view or balcony on Oceania so we did book an Ocean view on Crystal (C1). Some will not agree with my opinions but that is OK they are MY opinions
Some things we liked before even boarding was the fact that you can book Specialty restaurants right after you pay in full, even in the low cabin categories. You can also book excursions and some of the enrichment classes ahead of time if they interest you. Also, you can choose your bed preference and add credit card info for easier embarkation/disembarkation.
Promenade deck where you can walk around the ship
Coffee cafe with snacks all day
I like that they list the Officers, guest speakers and entertainment on the website ahead of time.
For those on the back-to-back in San Juan they offered a complimentary tour with lunch ..a nice touch
Embarkation day they have several venues open for lunch
They have a place where you can check your carry-ons so you do not have to carry them around until your cabin is ready
Terry robe and lighter weight cloth robe
Less public announcements
Door bell at the cabin with service required button/privacy
The brand of tea was very nice
DH having to wear a jacket for 1 black tie only night ..per segment (takes up space when trying to pack light)
Many smoking areas allocated for smokers. Even if 1 or 2 people in the area it is uncomfortable for non smokers to enjoy the area of the aft decks
Lectures geared to American Politics
Entertainment: Comedians. Magic shows and ventriloquists were not what I expected on a “Luxury” line
Not many choices for the included wines
No pillow chocolates or night light in the w/c or even an outlet to plug in your own nightlight
Not sure if Crystal has figured out open seating or just Crystal cruisers prefer to dine alone or with those they already know
People at meals seem to have cell phone or Ipads at the table texting whoever..very distracting to those around them .They should block internet signals in the main dining room and Specialties.
Coffee is hit or miss. The Bistro and Prego were the best places to get a cappuccino or good coffee
Embarkation day we usually eat before heading to the port. Regulars of Crystal said “oh go early and enjoy lunch in Waterside “. We decided to go and try it.
We got to the port about 12:20 pm were given a boarding group number and sent to a room full of people waiting to board. By about 1:15pm our number was called and we signed in then boarded the ship.
We checked our coats and carry on at the desk by reception then we were herded to the elevator to go to Marketplace for lunch. Only the regulars were taken to Waterside.
When our cabin was ready we found they had delivered our coats and bag to the room left them on the bed with the door open so anyone could enter. I had my laptop/camera/phone and other important stuff in the bag .. not good for Crystal. I would have preferred to pick up my bag and had hoped it was kept in a secure area until then.
Food is subjective but we found most meals were not quality ingredients. No fresh made pasta except one day they had Gnocchi.
Afternoon tea they bring a stand of already plated things ..a waste of food IMO. We asked to just order what we like ..NO. Clotted cream for scones in a prepackaged tub and not freshly made and a small jar of jam. Whipped creme for scones???
We never went back ..the Bistro have the same offerings and you can choose just the items you want.
In the dining room some of the choices on the menu were just bizarre.
eg: Appetizer =1 tiger shrimp cut in 3 pieces with some corn in garlic sauce sprinkled with popcorn ??
Meatloaf as an entree and cabbage rolls another entree? Cheap peasant food and not “luxury”.
Marketplace is a very bad layout with food stations staggered. The tables are on one side and sectioned off by screens which impeded the view of guests and wait staff. So many times coming from the table to go to the food station almost running into people or wait staff with trays of drinks/dishes etc.
Evening buffet /Brazilian is a farce. You get your hot or cold items then sit and wait for the skewers of meat to be brought to the table. If you want 2 pieces of meat ..NO. You have to wait for that item to come back around. Took us 45 mins to get 2 items .. we gave up and left. We found some things at the Bistro to fill our tummies
Prego was good and the offerings were similar to Oceania but some not as good.
Silk was interesting but sharing plates were very small. Yes you can order more no problem.
Trident Grill for lunch was good. The burgers are huge so we did not have more than one as it would spoiled us for dinner. We need not have worried as dinner was not that good most nights anyway.
Grilled cheese sandwiches were nice option to have on a day when you did not want too much to eat.
A couple of the production shows were very good and of course Lovena Fox was excellent. A classical pianist did 2 shows and both very good.
We did not attend the lectures as they were of no interest to us. I did watch a bit of one on the TV but it was so boring.
The pool area was a nightmare. People would be out very early and building their “nests” for the day.
The staff did not seem to do anything about the hogging problem until many complaints and then the hogs complained so the staff backed off.
Went to the aft decks but because it is for smokers it just stunk back there and always a couple of smokers on each deck. It seems a waste to have the 4 aft deck spaces dedicated to smokers.
The artwork when compared to Oceania is tacky and more like Walmart art. Not appealing to the eye at all.
The crew: Like all lines it is the front line staff who make the cruise good or bad and the staff were very good, pleasant & eager to please (most of them).
Overall the cruise was fine and we did get a discounted rate.
The old adage “you get what you pay for “ is true for this cruise experience.
We were not Crystalized!
Having people walk by on the Promenade deck takes some getting used to even though they cannot see in
Cabin was comfortable
Liked that the table was adjustable up/down to suit our needs