We had a great cruise on the Serenity from Miami to Los Angeles. This was the first leg of the 2020 World Cruise.
Food and wine are an important part of cruising for us. We found the food to be very good to excellent with only a couple exceptions. The included wines were certainly up to the task.
The service was great throughout the ship. We received particularly good service from Phil on deck 12 and Alexandra and Cameron in Crystal Cove. George the sommelier in Waterside also gave us good service after a slow start.
The enrichment presentations were top notch. Ian Maclachlan and Dick Morgan both gave excellent presentation on the ports and the Panama Canal. Tim Grey was a great technology presenter and also helped my wife with some specific technology questions related to setting up a blog. Bob Ray gave some interesting behind the scenes presentations on The Beatles and The Beach Boys. And Astronaut Scott Kelly was a great bonus speaker. There were a couple presenters that didn’t really appeal to us but given the number of options, we just skipped them.
The entertainment was excellent as well. I truly enjoyed Icons in Concert but that music is right in my wheelhouse. Any show ending with Queen is great in my book! Lou Gazzara, Vox Fortura and Rob Proulx, James Fox and his Billy Joel show, and comic John Joseph all put on great shows.
We also found that Crystal Cove was our favorite spot for a pre-dinner drink. It was active and we enjoyed the music there more than the Avenue Saloon. especially the violinist, Irina Guskova.
Or cabin was 8131, deck 8 aft. It was small compared to others we’ve had on Silversea that are comparable category. There was plenty of drawer space but closet space was tight. The balcony was fine and while it was labeled as slightly limited view, we wouldn’t have noticed if they hadn’t told us. The room temperature was fine and resumed well when we lowered the temperature at night for sleeping. The bed was quite comfortable. The sofa and table were cramped and not really usable. The shower was fine with good temperature and pressure. There was a problem with vibration in the room. The TV vibrated some and we would have to wedge something next to it soften the sound. The closet vibration was harder to solve; the doors would vibrate and the hangers would as well. It wasn’t real loud but a constant low-level presence. We noticed the vibration in Waterside as well, three decks down. We would not book this cabin again due to the vibration. Our stateroom attendant was generally efficient but we saw her infrequently.
The muster drill was not well-organized. We checked in and the crew member checked us off the list. Then after all passengers were seated, the called our stateroom number, and we said we were present, and they only called our number once. We thought we were all set, but then we got a note from the captain that they showed we missed the muster and should watch the safety video or we were there, we could ignore his note. Very odd that we checked in twice but they still didn’t have us there. I guess that’s better than marking us present when we absent, but still very odd.
More on the food. We ate in all the restaurants at our least once.
Waterside: I really liked the pancakes at breakfast. Lunch was good, especially the salmon Caesar salad and the service was good but a couple times a little too leisurely. For dinner, it was not our favorite spot but certainly quite good. The entrees were not always A+, for instance the beef Wellington on the second BTO night was only OK. Jacques at the front desk at Waterside knew our name after one night. That made us feel very welcome. A couple times we were seated in the very back of Waterside though which we didn’t really enjoy. After that I asked not be seated that far back. I realize they need to balance the workload but twice was enough.
Churascuria: We ate dinner there once and enjoyed it. However, the way a Brazilian steakhouse works is that you basically have everything on the menu so there was no real reason to go back unless you really loved it. If we were on longer, we might have gone back but once it 15 days was good for us.
Supper Club: This was offered only on Black Tie Optional nights. We went on the first night and had the lobster entree. We are from Maine, so we know our lobster and we thought it was a great meal. There is one seating at 6:30 which was a little early for us and you will sit at a table for four. The entertainment during dinner was very good. We didn’t go a second time (you need a reservation) because of the one seating and the tables for four but we are glad we went for one dinner there.
Prego: We ate here twice for dinner. Both times the service was very good. My wife ordered a special with pasta and vongole (small clams) that was watery. My carpaccio, mushroom soups in a bread bowl and lasagne were excellent and I was offered (and accepted) limoncello with dessert both times. The second time I repeated the carpaccio and soup they were so good! My wife repeated the mushroom soup as well.
Umi Uma: We are not sushi fans but enjoyed this very much as well. We ate there twice. The lobster and rock shrimp tempura were excellent. My wife’s black cod the second night was not up to par. We did not care for the Nobu Chardonnay but there were plenty of other great included options.
Silk: We ate twice here for dinner and enjoyed it both times. Thanks to other Cruise Critic members who posted about the pacing and not to order everything at once. We ordered in a two or three installments; the items are very shareable. Service was great again. We also had lunch there a couple times. I really enjoyed the Chinois chicken salad.
Terrace Grill: Our go-to embarkation lunch is a burger and a margarita—to us, that marks a separation from non-vacation to vacation! The Terrace Grill did not disappoint on either front. We went back a couple times for a low key lunch, or an ice cream. Nothing fancy but hit the spot.
Marketplace: We really enjoyed this location for breakfast and lunch. There was a great variety for both meals. At breakfast , my wife was glad to get blueberries for her oatmeal by asking. The pastries and donuts were not a strong point, but the scrambled eggs and bacon were very good.
Bistro: Good to-go coffee and some snacks/pastries in the morning till afternoon.
Champagne Lunch: This was an extra fee event. We enjoyed the education about champagne as well as the food. The servings were on the small side and we had a second lunch afterwards, but the event was great. Tilmar the head sommelier did a very nice job.
Tea service: We went to this several times. There is a lot of food with the tea service, given that it’s an afternoon meal tea service, and it was good to very good. The Mozart Tea was quite good with a buffet set up and Viennese coffee as an option.
Some people have commented on the Asian focus on the food. We noticed it, for instance two of the restaurants focus on Asian cuisine and the Marketplace often had Asian selections as well. However, there are a number of other options every day that are all very good to excellent.
Wines: We found the included wines to be very good to excellent. If there was a wine not to our liking, the sommeliers were happy to provide another option. We never had a problem finding a wine we liked. The wine service was quite good except one night in Waterside we were poured a grunerveltliner and told it was a Riesling. We discussed this with the sommelier who took note. We also asked the same sommelier about Rhône wines and he promised to come back but never did. We discussed that lapse with another sommelier after which time the first sommelier was much more attentive.
Cocktails: We mostly had wine but I thought the Crystal Martini with a twist was very good. My wife had the drink of the day a few times and enjoyed them. We really liked the vibe in Crystal Cove.
We took Crystal excursions in Panama City and Huatulco. We got off in Cabo on our own and the ship couldn’t tender in Nicaragua. Of course, the Panama Canal itself was the star attraction and Crystal did a fabulous job of arranging for narration during the transit and presentations before the transit. The excursion in Panama City probably tried to cover too much but it was very thorough. The Hualtuco excursion was a very nice exposure to rural Mexico.
The other passengers were a well-traveled group. Average age was probably around 65-70. Here’s an anecdote. Early on we met a nice gentleman who told me he was retired after 30+ years in the Coast Guard. His traveling companion told my wife he was a retired Admiral! He was too modest to reveal that. A couple days later we struck up a conversation with another gentleman from Maine who said he’d been in the Coast Guard. After more conversation, we learned that the Mainer had served with the Admiral we met the other night! Then they were able to meet and have dinner! I think this exemplifies the wonderful nature of the other passengers.
One definite negative was the quality of the internet. I realize we’re on a ship but I also realize it’s 2020. Passengers depend on internet access. At times it was dismal. My wife finally got her work done but uploading photos for Cruise Critic was painful.
Overall though, this was an excellent cruise! Both the service and the food and wine were very good to excellent. For us, those are the keys to a great cruise and Crystal succeeded!
Small compared to other cruise lines, with some vibration from the engine. Listed as a slightly limited view, but the view was VERY slightly limited.