Our experience aboard the Crystal Serenity was marvelous. Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. The staff was outstanding. We were skeptical that they could be as legitimately warm, friendly and unhesitatingly helpful as previous reviewers had described, but it was true. We wanted to take some of them home.
The Crystal orchestra was terrific -- and trumpeter Rafael worth taking the cruise to hear. The Broadway style productions were spectacular, some of the best we have seen anywhere. Some appealed a bit more than others to our tastes, but it would hard to fault anyone on professionalism. Special moments in some productions were quite moving. There was so much quality entertainment that it was difficult to take everything in.
I thought it interesting that the two lecturers on the Panama Canal disagreed as to whether the USA should have retained control.
The officers aboard were as charming as staff, and the captain was especially charming and helpful.
We have frequented many top restaurants, none superior to every option aboard Serenity. This was the first ever cruise to offer "open dining by reservation," and that helped schedule times that worked well for us. Our every request was honored and seating for two (our general preference) was always available. With only 569 fellow passengers and a crew of 630, we felt anointed.
In summary, this vessel is beautifully designed and maintained, it's staff well managed and lavishly helpful, and although it wasn't inexpensive it was worth every penny. Bravo.
PS: We would have favored a stop other than the Cayman Islands.
Huatulco, Mexico was delightful, and the dock an easy walk to everything. We would return here. We would have preferred at least one additional stop, preferably in Panama.
Our cabin was excellent and the bathroom, while not overly large, featured two sinks and a bathtub/shower that was very good. We never had to ask for new towels or anything else. I would have preferred a flat panel TV, which I understand will come with the upgrades in June 2011. There was a small amount of rust just below the balcony railing. The bed was very comfortable and the linens first rate. Our stewardess was paged when we phoned for her and in every case but one (when someone else was filling in during her break) our calls were returned within one minute. Room service was great, and always on time. The pressing service did a very good job. We always had ice in the ice bucket, and we appreciated that bottled water and soft drinks were included.
We docked among container ships and it was a distance to the taxis (which I thought were excessively expensive). Crystal provided a shuttle to the dock area exit. The old town area of the city was interesting and the museums well maintained.
This stop was convenient and the excursions well run. We went sailing, and when they found that we used to live on a sailboat, they put me at the helm. My only concern: we headed into the harbor in dense fog without GPS or radar. The fog cleared about 50 minutes later.