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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us ... Read More
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us very well. We liked the way every time we sat down, whether it was in the central lounge on Deck 5 or the Forward lounge on Deck 12, there was someone approaching us to ask if there was anything they could get for us. It was called an "amenity" cruise, and it was indeed. We were treated extremely well from the time we arrived at the ship, throughout the cruise, and when we left to go home. The food was fabulous, the prosecco, chamboard cocktails and wine flowed freely, and there were light activity shore excursions that I could enjoy. Crystal is definitely now my favorite cruise line, and I hope we can take another cruise with this line soon. Having talked with others who have taken other cruise lines to the same locations, I find that the fact that Crystal allows you to take as many or as few shore excursions, but only pay for the ones you take, is an advantage. As my ability to walk decreases, I would take fewer shore excursions, but would enjoy every bit of the cruise as much or more than I did this time. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The ... Read More
We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The check in was seamless. Our butler and cabin attendants, Jose and Lydia, were the best!!!! You could not find anything lacking in their lovely demeanor and commitment to our well being. The first two days we were in Copenhagen. The weather was less than attractive, rainy and overcast, but the city's personality shown through. The Danes are a wonderful people, very conscious of the environment, very hygge, the perfect city to start the cruise. The second port in Germany was kind of a bust. The town was ‘eh’. It is a nice little seaside town in Northern Germany. We took a long walk into town along a boardwalk filled with German tourists. English was rather sketchy. I recommend getting off the main tourist area and walking into town. They have a lovely church square and a sweet little park that the local use. Day 4 was the day at Sea and Formal Night. The cruise seemed very casual. Less than half the men was saw adhered to Crystal Casual or the Semi Formal attire. We had dinner in the dining room which is where our problems started. My husband was the first to succumb to the norovirus the morning of day 5. I will not subject you to the details, but suffice it to say it was extremely unpleasant. The medical team admonished him for not washing his hands enough, and he was quarantined leaving me to go to a lower floor overnight. His poor health lasted two days missing Helsinki and one day in St. Petersburg. I succumbed the 2nd day in St. Petersburg missing St. Petersburg and Tallin. I did not expect to find the Norovirus in such a high end cruise. I don’t have an official count but the ship has seemed very quiet and the medical center was very busy both days we visited. An airborne food disease is not the ‘fault’ of guests. It is the responsibility of the ship to provide a clean and disenfected environment. The first evening aboard the ship I witness tissue on the ground on the 11 floor, trash left in a stairwell to the work out room and napkins in the elevator. Really! On a Crystal ship! We have sailed on 17 different cruise ships since 1991 and this is the first time we have encountered the Norovirus. As far as other aspects of Crystal, I have yet to find a barista on board at least at the Marketplace that can make a decent cappuccino. How can you call yourself a luxury cruise line when the coffee station cannot make cappuccinos and don’t use the proper size cup to get the ingredients correct. I don’t drink alcohol but I do love my mocha and cappuccinos. Sorry to say, I have not had a decent one since we left the d’Angleterre hotel in Copenhagen. Excursion desk. My question is this, how can I purchase my ticket to the Russian ballet 5 months in advance and be seated with the crew, when someone who bought their ticket for the excursion a couple of hours before the show had tickets in the second row. Also, did I mention we purchased penthouse suite? That just did not make sense to me☹️. Also, you need better excursions. The company that took us to Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg also took us to a place to purchase souvenirs. On another day a private guide we arranged to use to a souvenir shop and the items were 40-50% less. Beware! I thought the service staff was great. Crystal society rep was less than lack luster, I approached while my husband was in the room, he was getting up to join his friend at the Cruise Sale desk. I stopped him to tell him what was going on, he did not ask me sit just let me talk to him in an open lobby, and immediately joined his friend when I was finished talking. I don’t like to say never, but after having travelled on the Espirit, I will not ever take another voyage on Crystal Serenity. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable ... Read More
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable service, cuisine, facilities, entertainment- there cannot be a better cruise line than this. I am a customer service expert, so I have high standards and Crystal surpassed every expectation. Every single item of cuisine at every single meal or snack was exceptional. They even had a wonderful variety of sugar-free and gluten-free treats which were most welcome for those of us with dietary restrictions. The staff handled all that with ease and a smile. Every single staff member from the gangplank to the crew to the waiters to the stewardesses were delightful and the best you will ever experience. Really marvelous service. The entertainment was way beyond what I was expecting, and there were informative lectures and movies, and so much more. They even had the astronaut who rescued the Hubble Space Telescope giving talks. Very impressive. They imported a number of special guests performers, and the in-house artists were all world class too. The excursions, while expensive, and extra, were ll top notch and absolutely beautiful. The fjords are astonishing and spectacular. The ship has been nicely refurbished and is spacious, bursting with every possible amenity, planet of space. There is so much to do, or not do, that every taste will be satisfied. The spa and fitness center were excellent and spacious. The cabin was ample and the double sink in its bathroom was a nice touch. the bathroom was sizable, and I could even stand up n the show and in 99% of the ship even though I am 6'-8"/203cm tall. We loved having a verandah and could have sat out there all day and never left and been very happy (thanks to the free and wonderful room service). Of course, there was some internet spottiness above the Arctic Circle and in the fjords, but it's still miraculous to even have internet on the high seas. It turned out to be a minor inconvenience, but was better than our last Crystal cruise on the Symphony, but that was before their remodel and internet upgrade. I would HIGHLY recommend Crystal Cruises for any route, and I would very much recommend Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords as destination- really exceptional and awesomely beautiful. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our 24th cruise on Crystal and the first after the Serenity came out of dry dock. We took this cruise to relax as my husband was recuperating. The boarding process in Reykjavik was a little off as there was no cruise terminal ... Read More
This was our 24th cruise on Crystal and the first after the Serenity came out of dry dock. We took this cruise to relax as my husband was recuperating. The boarding process in Reykjavik was a little off as there was no cruise terminal but Crystal handled what they were given very well. Once onboard we received our cruise cards without any wait and enjoyed a champagne lunch at Waterside. The ship was immaculate and the service superb. The menus in the Waterside contained many new selections as well as traditional ones and we walked into the dining room each evening, received a table for 2, and never had to wait whether we dined at 6:30 or later at 8pm. The cabin stewardess went out oh her way to make sure we were comfortable. The lido personnel were as attentive as ever even ordering from the grill for us. The onboard activities were over the top, as this was a double theme cruise, mind,body, and Soul. And a wine theme. There were over 6 lectures per day on sea days and so many other events and parties that you had to choose, as you could not do them all Even though the ship was full, there was never a problem getting seats for meals, or at the shows. The entertainment was the best I have experiences so far. Ports were wonderful, even with cool and misty days, we enjoyed them all Disembarkation was flawless. We sat in the Galaxy lounge no more than 5 minutes till we were escorted to baggage claim and our motorcoach to the airport in Copenhagen. Truly a memorable cruise. We relaxed, had wonderful meals, saw magnificent scenery and experienced another wonderful cruise on Crystal Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service ... Read More
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service in the Marketplace and Waterside remains good. We were always seated promptly at the Waterside. The food overall in the Waterside and the specialty restaurants was uniformly good. The entertainment was excellent and there was a good variety of entertainers with a combo of performers brought onto the ship and the on ship entertainment staff. The enrichment lecturers (3) were uniformly good speakers with interesting well organized presentations. We were traveling as a family and there were other multigenerational families on board. There was a smattering of younger couples. The ports were good although I do wish there was 2 days in Lisbon rather than 1. The Crystal excursions had excellent local tour guides and were well organized. We were on deck 8 midship with a verandah. The cabin is adequate in size with plenty of closet and draw space with a well appointed bathroom. The upgraded TV and entertainment system is an improvement. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and will travel on Crystal again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The ... Read More
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The staff were friendly and efficient. Serenity has an all day coffee shop for snacks and pastries which was very popular. We were on the promenade deck so had a large window. I think that this was the least expensive level and I would want a balcony cabin should we sail this ship again. The cabin was compact, the bed comfortable and there was plenty of storage. Entertainment was good. We particularly enjoyed post dinner drinks in the Avenue Bar where we listened to a very talented pano player until late in the evening. The cruise itinerary was good and although tendering in Monte Carlo was extremely scary. We enjoyed the cruise very much and would sail with Crystal again. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very ... Read More
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very comfortable and attractive. Our only complaints were 2: the inclusion of Corsica where there was nothing to do or to see; and the cost of excursions, e.g. $599pp for a trip to the Blue Grotto.Fortunately, one can book tours privately at much lower cost, and Corsica allowed for a day of rest. The verandah room we booked (8042) was average size but extremely well designed with numerous well-sized drawers and all the hangers one could possibly need, a large TV, roomy bathroom with double sinks and large tubes of quality toiletries. There are 2 hair dryers, an umbrella and excellent binoculars in each room. The balcony had 2 large wing chairs with deep cusions and a small table with room to move around. Dining was generally very good to excellent, with Prego being the only disappointment (chewy veal). Poerions were more generous than what we have had on HAL and Celebrity. Entertainment was pretty good. We saw 3 shows: a Billy Joel tribute band, a Broadwy revue, and a local Flamenco group in Barcelona. Staff everywhere was courteous and always helpful. Embarkation and Debarkation both went very quickly and smoothly. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We were celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary and wanted a special experience so that is why we chose Crystal. We were not at all disappointed . The food was amazing the best we have ever had on a cruise ship . We also loved ... Read More
We were celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary and wanted a special experience so that is why we chose Crystal. We were not at all disappointed . The food was amazing the best we have ever had on a cruise ship . We also loved the buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch so much choice the best we have ever experienced at sea. Loved that it was all inclusive and gratuities included. We enjoyed sitting in the Atrium in the evening before our meal to enjoy a pre dinner drink and the canapés they brought round. Staff were really attentive and they all seemed so genuine , nothing was too much trouble . Evening entertainment was a tad disappointing but you cannot expect London/Westend products on a cruise ship of this size. We arranged our own excursions through a cruising excursions company as the trips on Crystal were so expensive ! We would defiantly recommend Crystal for service and food . Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, ... Read More
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, was varied and to a very high standard. Service was quicker than Seabourn and Barbara was a wonderful waitress. Service and dining in the speciality restaurants, Prego and Umi Uma, was absolutely first class. The decor is very old fashioned though. In the Italian Prego, that is almost forgivable as there is at least some soul to it. In Umi Uma the decor is dark, soulless and like a department store restaurant in the 1980s...it really could have done with something in the recent refit. Absolutely no problems with the wonderful cuisine and good quality included wines and spirits. We had a Penthouse Suite which, although only lightly refreshed on the recent refit, was very well appointed, with lots of space and well thought out. Our butler Richard was an absolute marvel...he deserves six stars for his positive can-do attitude and for serving meals in the cabin so well. Our stewardesses were completely wonderful and the cabin was kept pristine all through. The bathroom is good but old fashioned and the Etro toiletries are poor. Topped-up chocolates were unbelievably good. Enrichment was good. Entertainment was superb...better than Seabourn, with higher production values and a great theatre. The things that were missing were hard to put a finger on. Overall it was probably the ‘holiday’ feeling and warmth that you instantly get on Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd, the overall ship design and the ability to settle into that ship easily. Many of the staff and crew were excellent on Serenity, but many were also less than engaged and tired. The crew was invisible...however the entertainment director was fantastic. The ship doesn’t flow. It’s hard to find your way around. It feels old fashioned and it shows that the recent dry dock only refreshed certain areas. The fountain in the main atrium is a tacky shopping centre disgrace. The outside areas are poorly used: the back of the buffet area is too small and unshaded; there is no pool bar and no outside evening parties. Maybe it was just the time of year? Passengers from all over the world. Mainly US, China and Japan and many in groups. Ports were good, tendering OK but not as good as on Seabourn or Hapag Lloyd. Overall, maybe we are just used to a smaller ship? We’d still come back at the right price and itinerary though! Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid ... Read More
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid vessel...good bones, as is often said. We opted for a Penthouse with Verandah and were very pleased with its layout and features. I especially liked the back-to-back desk, one prepared to serve as a vanity. The lighting was very good in the suite and especially in the vanity area. The bathroom included two basins and a very comfortable shower enclosure. There was a jetted tub, which we did not use. I was pleased to see the many drawers, shelves and nooks to organize our belongings. However, the best feature of the suite was Rao, our wonderful butler, and the two housekeeping attendants. We are have had butler in Silversea (which provides butlers for any suite level) and they have been very good, but Rao was so pleasantly effective! The best of the lot. We were pleased with all dining venues, especially Waterside and Prego, except for The Marketplace. This venue acts as the breakfast and lunch buffet style cafeteria. The offerings were good, but not as good as in Colonnade and Trerraza (SB and SS respectively). We did not like it mainly for its layout. The table/chairs are set in a very narrow space, galley like, and most times the waiters' stations were almost besides us. We very much preferred Waterside. We had unusually cold weather and could not use the pool. However, we found the pool to be small, narrow and with less depth that those in SS and SB. Also, there is no food/bar service at the pool. Overall level of service was very good...except for one incident, reported and corrected. I rate the gym the best. I especially enjoyed the cardio-disco classes offered; they were a lot of fun and quite challenging. We never had any problems accessing the treadmills for our daily routines. Entertainment and daily activities offerings were so much better than in SS and SB!! The dance classes led by Beverly and Curtis were very popular, and all the participants enjoyed them very much. The shows were varied and included a comedian, as well as a magician from the well known Magic Castle in Los Angeles. In summary, we plan on booking Crystal in the future, especially longer trips, in order to enjoy all the daily offerings on sea days. However...if weather is very good, other pools may beckon us. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the Crystal and were finally able to get them to come with us only to find it was not as good as it used to be. The lunch buffet was so bad that we just gave up after a couple of days. We tried the dining room which turned out to be even worse The specialty restaurants were fabulous. The food, staff and atmosphere were exemplary. The ship did not appear to be as clean as it used to be. Our suite which had been refurbished seemed smaller due to the new configuration but the shower was incredibly worth the extra money.The toiletries were horrible, with artificial scent which I am highly allergic to. Entertainment was excellent. However, the casino rules were disgusting and no wonder it was always empty. Lastly - to have 6 ports on a 7 day cruise on the West Coast was a total loss. Aside from San Francisco and Cabo San Lucas (which was not on the itinerary) are the only 2 safe and exciting places to stop at. Most passengers complained they did not enjoy the quiet ocean experience when the ship is at sea. Crystal needs to recognize that plus the savings on Port Charges could benefit the pricing for passengers. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, ... Read More
Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, the weather was the worst on this voyage. Crystal was not at fault for the lousy weather. Luckily, the service and food on board were excellent as were all the personnel on board. Everyone had a "can do" attitude and could seem to do enough to please. So why the poor review? My wife and I caught the NOROVIRUS! Although I had it worse than my wife. How could two healthy individuals board a SHIP and become violently ill just 3 days in. We specifically chose Crystal due to its service that we have experienced firsthand (what I thought was 5 star all the way) and for the smaller passenger count (only 900 passengers). After feeling better on the last 2 days, I spoke to at least 20 different people who were sick or knew of others who got sick on this 7 day voyage. Couple this with a full Medical waiting room and nurses buzzing about patients who were in quarantine and it was not hard to see that we were on our way to an epidemic onboard. A quick search on the internet and we got to the CDC website (I had plenty of time in my stateroom as I was quarantined for 1 day and chose to stay in for feeling too ill to move about the day prior). We typed in norovirus on cruise ships and there was the history. I was shocked at how many cruises were listed in increasing numbers since 2000. I was also shocked to see that Crystal Cruises joined the ranks a few years ago. Sadly, most cruise lines are on this list, BUT THERE ARE A FEW THAT ARE NOT. It should be noted that so far, this cruise did not make the CDC list as a certain percentage must report being ill before the cruise line has to report it to the CDC. Nevertheless, at least 25 - 30 people (maybe more) had it and that was just who I was able to confirm! When we shared our dismay of this cruise with Crystal (most likely due to lax standards this ship had on cleaning surfaces, public restrooms, not to mention elevators and buffets), Crystal only offered us a $1000 voucher for a future cruise we would have to take in the next year. I don't know that I will ever sail again let alone in the next year! We asked them to not give us an expiration date on this voucher and they declined. We can see how seriously they are taking this growing problem. We did appreciate the fine dining and service but this event left such a sour taste in our mouth (literally) that unless there is a preventative medicine for norovirus, I doubt I will ever step foot on a cruise again, on any cruise line. It is hard to comment on the entertainment and activities or many of the ports as I only went to one show and one event the entire cruise. I didn't leave the ship in Ensenada, San Diego or Catalina. (Not by choice). Beyond my sickness issues, The Crystal Serenity was a disappointment, as was the recent renovation of the ship. The ship has no special rooms on board, they all look and feel the same. Low ceilings and no sense of grandeur. The renovation was like putting lipstick on a pig. They need to retire these vessels and design something entirely new and special. As for me going on a 13th cruise, I will wait until there is preventative medicine for getting any sort of stomach virus on board a cruise ship. Until then, land based vacations. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal ... Read More
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal again, as their prices were comparatively more affordable than in the 90's. I read some pretty negative comments on Cruise Critic and was dubious, but it turned out to be a fabulous cruise. The ship is beautiful and super-spacious and from the outside has beautiful lines reminiscent of the old ocean liners. There was never a wait anywhere (except getting on the tenders). The service was impeccable and the food and entertainment fabulous. I loved some of the special touches in the stateroom not found on other ships. I went as a single and never felt uncomfortable, ignored, or crowded out and though I didn't dance I appreciated the presence of the dance hosts. The entertainment was much better than on other ships despite being on a smaller one-story stage. There was never a problem finding a seat in the showroom, unlike other cruises where you had to show up an hour ahead to even get a seat. And the shows were a full 45 minutes and 3 production shows on this cruise versus 30 minutes on Princess and only one production show. I loved the ballroom dance quartet that performed in the Galaxy lounge twice on our cruise. Tea in the Palm Court was wonderful. The Brazilian BBQ at Churrascaria was unbelievably good as was the food and service in Uma Uni Japanese restaurant. I did not try Prego. It was really nice to not have to deal with paying for alcohol, soda, etc., tips and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi speed was excellent. I had a few nit-picky complaints about the stateroom design, embarkation in L.A. was awkward and confusing, and the tendering operation was not very efficient. An added bonus, since I am now cruising single, is they are single-friendly, with single supplements from 30% to 75% depending on the cruise and how early you book. I am switching my allegiance from Princess to Crystal now! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. ... Read More
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. Excursions were overpriced and terrible! Staff was nice but struggled serving a full ship. We often had to flag down our wine steward for refills. Long time Crystal cruisers commented that things have gone down hill with the new ownership. They needed a dedicated children’s section in the main dining room so other diners were not impacted by children crying, whining, etc. Lots of little things disappointed us given we are long time cruisers. They ran out of food items like tea bags to make decent ice tea. Hallway carpets are worn out and need repalcing. They say the cabins have 110 and 200 outlets but there was only one 110 outlet and it was by the vanity. If you wanted to plug in something by the bed nightstands you need to bring plug adapters. Save your money and go on other high-end cruise lines. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The ship is truly showing its age ,even after a major drydock. We stayed in a new seabreeze penthouse. Sofa was so hard that it felt as if we were on a park bench. No bed ruffle to hide our luggage. Ship is all cut up and just not ... Read More
The ship is truly showing its age ,even after a major drydock. We stayed in a new seabreeze penthouse. Sofa was so hard that it felt as if we were on a park bench. No bed ruffle to hide our luggage. Ship is all cut up and just not graceful. Not many public spaces. Mozart tea was served and i was brought tea without a cover and the cakes tasted as if they had freezer burn. Too many smoking areas on the ship. No introduction to the officer staff.or medical staff. The palm court is no longer a comfortable place to sit and watch the ocean. They chopped up the room with a huge bar and halving the size of the dance floor. The spa is showing its age.. so, so ,small. One more thing.. i was surprised by the lack of the handwashing reminders! Many times when i put my hands to get the hand cleaners at the restaurant I found they were empty or not working. The food was very good though. We travel alot and frankly the ship and Crystal just disappointed me. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , ... Read More
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , 2019 85 Day Los Angeles to Monte Carlo World Cruise April 7, 2019 11 Day Monte Carlo to Venice Cruise April 18, 2019 9 Day Venice to Athens Cruise April 26, 2019 7 Day Athens Round Trip Cruise Overall Summary During this voyage we celebrated our 100th Crystal Society milestone a few voyages before departing Serenity for Mozart. We have sailed Crystal since 2002. This was our ninth World Cruise. It was our second longest time on board Crystal. Overall, our experience was outstanding. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect all the time. Rather, as a whole we had a wonderful time and the positives significantly outweighed the few exceptions. We were fortunate to have excellent weather other than a few days in Hawaii with rain on the Holiday Cruise and just a few days at sea with choppy seas. Although we boarded on the fourth cruise after dry-dock you would think the changes including new dining venues and open seating were in place for years. The vast majority of the crew were on-board for the dry-dock and you could see on their faces and in their words their pride of what was accomplished in the dry dock. The ship looks better than ever. We had a wonderful experience. It was great to sail with guests some of whom we hadn’t sailed with for four or more years and to meet many new guests for the first time. We had so many nice times with the guests from Yoga for Anne Marie, from Indoor Cycling Class and Paddle Tennis for me, and from people we met over the course of the cruise including some special people from this board. We felt right at home when we sail with Crystal and that includes Symphony which we don’t sail often, Serenity which we do sail often and Mozart which we sailed this onetime. The crew across all three vessels is amazing IMHO which I will discuss later in the review. Below please find narrative and a rating of the categories I chose to include in this review. Ratings are tough because if this was my first cruise I might rate something differently and sometimes higher. As I mention below, we had an extraordinary time. This doesn’t mean that a few items could not benefit from changes and I note them. Also, while we loved the cuisine, this doesn’t mean that every item we had was perfect. Rather this means that overall we thought the cuisine was terrific. I can remember a handful of times where something was not to our liking but given we had hundreds and hundreds of different items that says a lot IMHO. As I always say the only opinion that matters is your very own, and that applies to all things in life. These days when someone asks me about an opinion about a cruise, hotel, restaurant, port, tour or an entirely different area such as automobiles, movies, books when I give my opinion I preface it like this. If it’s something I like I will say this works for us and the reason(s) why but quickly mention this is my opinion and it might not work for you. Conversely, if we don’t care for something we will say that and explain why but quickly say you might like it. Also, experiences can vary. For example, I have found that weather can impact an experience on or off the ship such as encountering bad storms at sea or torrential rain on land. I also think t other factors come into play such as those you are sharing the experience with and the overall length and overall guest occupancy on a voyage. Most of this is subjective. With that said here goes. Embarkation/Disembarkation - Excellent Embarkation was very smooth. The information provided ahead of time via PCPC and the ability to check in guests on board the ship facilitates an orderly embarkation. Disembarkation went well. We used the Crystal Car service and were guided off the ship by the concierge who turned us over to one of the local representatives. We were taken to the incorrect area for our vehicle but within a minute that was corrected when another representative came over and brought us over to the correct location. Cuisine/Beverages - Outstanding I thought that the cuisine was better than ever. Waterside benefited from open seating with it operating more of a restaurant and less of a banquet facility. This translated to better presentations, with warmer moist food served. Umi Uma (Japanese Specialty Restaurant) has a new and enhanced menu as Symphony had after her dry-dock. Prego continues to have food that we enjoy very much. On the World Cruise they modified the menu on each segment to replace some items with new items. We enjoyed the new Asian Restaurant Silk. Food is served family style. Over a few cruises we tried a variety of items and determined which ones worked best for us. We also learned after placing our order how to sequence the food to avoid too many items being served at once and getting cold. We ate at the new Brazilian Restaurant Churrascaria one time as we did on our Symphony cruise in 2018. We think it’s a great concept but for us it’s a dining venue that we will only go to occasionally. Since inclusive rolled out about six years ago this area has gone through its own evolution. This includes a greater diversity in wine and spirits offered. In addition Crystal under the direction of one of its former Bar Managers has developed special drink menus for Gin and Manhattan’s. Overall Ship – Excellent The ship looks great, and the enhancements made to the public areas during last years dry-dock are amazing. This includes the major enhancements made to Waterside, Palm Court , Stardust, Computer University along with new carpeting. Waterside not only has a new look, but it has enhanced the dining venue between allowing for the rollout of open dining and it becoming quieter with smaller tables and changes to reduce overall sound levels. Palm Court is beautiful and still serves many diverse functions. Stardust is better positioned to support groups and very special in the evening when on one or two selected evenings it transforms to a supper club. The Computer University is beautiful and has all new computers. It flows so much better as they opened up the entranceway. I would have given the overall ship an outstanding except for one area. I believe that some “detailing” work is needed on the standard rooms and suites . During this cruise we were in three different rooms so that gave us some additional perspective on this. Itinerary – Excellent Overall we enjoyed the itineraries and that started with the Holiday cruise of Hawaii. We appreciated the World Cruise going mainly from the East to the West so we turned the clocks back rather than forward. In most cases the schedule called for us to arrive to ports early morning which we prefer and stay until 6:00 PM or later. If I had one wish, it would be like this. One is not to arrive to any port after 9:00 AM and especially not 11:00 AM or later, especially if you are there for one day. Late morning arrival make eating lunch challenging while trying to enjoy the limited time you have in port. Second would be to minimize departures where you leave at 7:00 to 9:00 PM rather than 6:00 PM as I believe it changes the evening experience. While we don’t gamble or frequent the stores much, I just think with those venues open and the ship sailing it is different than when you are in port With this said I realize for departures they are trying to find the right balance and sometimes the driver are the tours and trying to give people more time in port. As to last morning arrivals I think most people would enjoy an early arrival and sometimes I believe a voyage would be enhanced with maybe one less port to allow enhanced time I the other ports. This is just my two cents. Apart from this we loved the vast majority of ports including some that we visited for the first time, some that we hadn’t visited since 2005, 2007 or 2008 and some that we have visited recently but enjoy seeing again and again. We had some surprise ports in terms of their sheer beauty as they were first time visits for us. Entertainment - Excellent The evening entertainment has been going through an evolution the past few years with greater diversity in the number and choices available at night. We very much enjoyed that there were regularly four different acts playing in the lounges in the evening and on many nights there were two different acts performed for the shows. The new times of the shows based on open dining work better for us. Enrichment - Excellent The World Cruise included some segments where Ocean Views was offered and the talent was so strong they had two panel discussions per cruise on at least two of the segments. Ocean Views is a panel discussion comprising three or four panelists. The format allows for a question to be asked, for the audience to respond by voting with a hand-held device, for the results to be shared, for the panelists to provide their respective thoughts/opinions on the question and for the audience to vote again with the results shared. They covered five or more topics each time. We thought these were some of the best Ocean Views we had seen with a strong moderator and strong panelists in place. Overall, we enjoyed the lectures and appreciated there was more emphasis than we had seen before of having speakers on board from countries outside of the USA. The item that I would like to see addressed is not having speakers lecture who continually give the same lectures as they have done in the past. The rest of the enrichment program was as strong as ever with many programs offered and on sea days 50+ enrichment activities offered. Fitness Center - Excellent Since we use the Fitness Center frequently, I wanted to touch on it for a moment. There was a good selection of classes offered and we both thought the two Fitness Directors were excellent. Besides taking group classes we had personal training we each had a different Fitness Instructor. Each one was prepared and because she wanted a copy, each evening the Fitness Instructor dropped off a copy of the training program that she took Anne Marie through during her personal training from earlier in the day. I continue to appreciate Crystal’s Fitness Center being open 7x24. Shore Excursions - Outstanding We do very few of the excursions because of a medical issue that Anne Marie has. We did do a couple of private ones arranged with Crystal and each one was outstanding and exceeded our expectations which is why I am rating this area outstanding. We found the Managers and their people very helpful when we asked them some questions even though we were not on one of the excursions offered. If not for my wife’s illness there were many excursions, we would have booked with Crystal. Ship-Board Account & Accounting- Outstanding I don't believe I have rated this area before. I wanted to mention how easy the bill is to read and appreciate the changes previously made. It was not long ago when the bill was difficult to read and more challenging when sailing on two or more voyages. All of the on-board credits were applied on-time including ones when the original Serenity itinerary post World Cruise was revised. We appreciate the ability to view the account on-line. Internet – Excellent The reality is the experience on any cruise across any cruise line and ship can vary based on so many factors including location of the ship, overall demand, equipment issue on the ship and with the satellite provider, weather, interference from military installations along with other factors. Given the time we were on board we thought the overall reliability and performance of the internet was the best we have experienced on any Ocean Vessel. There were very few outages. We could post daily here, on a blog, and on one other social media area and make phone and video calls through the internet and access websites and send and receive e-mail. Getting Off & On The Ship In Port – Excellent In general, we were in ports on-time or early most days. I think this is extraordinary given the diversity and distance of where we traveled and in the challenges of getting ships cleared in foreign ports. We missed a port because of high tides that impacted the ability to safely get up and down the steps at one of the tender landings. There were very few times with lines for the tenders. If I made one suggestion, it would be the placement of a couple of additional signs noting the location and deck for the gangway when in ports where a tender is not involved. Service – Outstanding +++ I saved the best for last. One of the reasons we sail Crystal is the crew. On our first Crystal Cruise within the first hour I knew something was special with Crystal when I needed help from the concierge on-board Harmony and for the first time in all of my cruising days I was treated as a person and not a number if you will. With each passing cruise we have found the service to be better each time. Sure part of that is familiarity with us but another part is with the increased emphasis in this area. Every cruise line has to differentiate itself from its competition. Some do it with newer ocean vessels or with an array of areas. Crystal certainly differentiates itself in various areas such as enrichment. However, there is something very special about the crew no matter if they have been there for years or on their first contract. It rarely happens but you can pick out someone on their first contract who likely will be around for one contract. We can’t say enough about the people who work on –board in all areas. They have dealt with the recent changes very well along with al of the other changes as Crystal has gone through a major evolution since we first sailed with them in 2002 including open dining, inclusive, and in many other areas including enrichment and entertainment. I wish I could mention each person and each department by name when I discuss how special the members of the vessel are and the departments that they represent. They do represent all departments including those we see day-in-and-day out along with those that are less familiar to guests. They are truly amazing. IMHO it takes a special person to work for Crystal. They have my respect and admiration for all they do. For those of you sailing Crystal for the first time I want to note that if you are on a short sailing such as ones of six/seven or even eight days with high guest occupancy the experience might not be like it will be on longer voyages as dining venues can get very busy and there is just not enough time for the crew to get to know you as they can and will on longer voyages. Land Based Departments The land-based departments were very helpful in putting this adventure together. This included the cooperation that our TA received from reservations. This booking was fairly complicated between all of the voyages and using a couple of Crystal Society Milestones including the one that involved the CP. Special thanks to on-board guest services for their assistance including getting the World Cruise voyages loaded for the visitor request authorization via PCPC and for communicating two special requests to purchasing and to Land Programs for organizing our private Crystal shore excursions. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed in many ways with Crystal ... the food, entertainment, lack of activities, the invisibility of officers, etc. Don’t know what the CD does to earn his keep. Saw the captain ... Read More
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed in many ways with Crystal ... the food, entertainment, lack of activities, the invisibility of officers, etc. Don’t know what the CD does to earn his keep. Saw the captain only once in 14 days. Long-time Crystal cruisers were not welcoming to newcomers. Food was hit and miss ... usually a miss. Not at all the gourmet cuisine I expected on Crystal. Entertainment was, at least in the Galaxy Lounge, far too loud and not geared toward us older folk. Trivia was held only four times in fourteen days! I’m used to Trivia four times a day! Not a friendly ship. Will not sail on Crystal again. Apart from the Christmas decirations, there was no ‘merry’ atmosphere and very little (if any) Christmas music ... not even piped. No carol singing or Christmas show. The two bartenders in Crystal Cove bar, Themyo snd Marja, were great. And, single malt scotches were available on the all-inclusive drinks menu. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food ... Read More
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food and service are as memorable and perfectly executed as we remembered them to be, and some events, such as the Vintage Room and the supper club very much exceeded expectations. The new all-inclusive service is very comfortable, and we never felt pressured to order upgrades to the very fine list of wines, spirits and beers on board, although we did treat ourselves to some outstanding labels under the guidance of our amazing sommelier, Tilmar Pfefferkorn! The service aboard ship is outstanding. Not only are your every needs met swiftly and with grace, but staff quickly gets to know your preferences and often seems to anticipate your next request. Special services are also outstanding. We had a member of our party that required medical attention due to a pre-existing condition, and the medical staff did an outstanding job of successfully dealing with the problem in a caring manner. We will definitely be returning to crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony for our next cruise experience! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We have sailed on Serenity several times before and love it: huge interior spaces for the number of passengers; outstanding service; delicious food; provocative speakers; exciting evening entertainment. But, the ship has shown its age ... Read More
We have sailed on Serenity several times before and love it: huge interior spaces for the number of passengers; outstanding service; delicious food; provocative speakers; exciting evening entertainment. But, the ship has shown its age and the formal, fixed seating dinners belong to a bygone age. Thus we were anxious to see the remodeled ship featuring new dining options. Smooth embarkation in Lisbon. The big changes, aside from decorative finishes throughout are revamping the formal dining room as Waterside--more like a suburban country club than a banquet hall--and creation of new deck 11 evening dining venues--one Asian and quite nice and the other a Brazilian style steak house that I find of limited appeal. Why? It really is not that much of a physical transformation for a part of the buffet area set aside for it but mostly because who wants that much food at night after being well fed all day. One of our preferences for Serenity over its very similar sister ship Symphony is the much larger Avenue Saloon where for years one was regaled by an outrageously bold piano player singer who had a devoted following. On this cruise his replacement was a bid disappointment. Serenity has a large physical fitness area and good classes there. We will sail both Crystal liners again particularly on the extended crossings. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s ... Read More
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries around 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. ROUTE: This type of cruise is for those who enjoy the boat ride itself. It started in Lisbon and ended in Fort Lauderdale. The only enroute stop was at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which placed us back in the U.S. It was Sunday, and the onboard border clearance was quick and painless -- took only five minutes from leaving our room to returning. OVERALL RATING (5 OUT OF 5): I rate this cruise as excellent (an overall “5” on a scale of 5). My score is based on the high quality of (1) live music in the small venues, (2) food offerings (truly perfect), and (3) service in the food and entertainment areas (still the most attentive service anywhere on land or sea). However, we’ve never found the Serenity to be perfect “ultra luxury” in every way. We keep coming back year after year because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where the predictable pleasures outweigh the problems of an aging ship. In fact, the cruise’s most memorable lecturer was a writer for the old “Cheers” television comedy (Cheri Steinkellner). She gave you the juicy backstory of that neighborhood bar where “the troubles are all the same” and “everyone knows your name.” If you’re looking for a low-key, relaxing, good old-fashioned voyage across the Atlantic, this is your ship. Luxury measured by what’s not there. No stateroom announcements. No pressure to buy anything or do anything. No gaming to get your keycard for just one more charge (Crystal’s price is all inclusive). For cruisers who’ve tired of harried herding on the mass-market lines, the absence of certain nuisances on Crystal may be worth an overall “5” in itself. ENTERTAINMENT: When it comes to entertainment, what get’s the perfect “5” from me is the live jazz and show tunes performed in the ship’s small venues (the “Great American Songbook” from the 1940s and 50s). Crystal calls this its “supper club” and “cabaret” entertainment. I found these talented performances every bit as enjoyable as a night clubbing in Seattle or New Orleans. But no cover charges, taxi fares, exorbitant parking, or pestering to buy another drink. Crystal’s musical offerings continued right up to the end, with five shows on the final night of the cruise. The last of these shows ended at 11 pm, just as luggage was due outside the staterooms. Pretty impressive for a cruise with less than 900 passengers. There are lots of amazing musicians out there who never do albums or arenas. Crystal finds them; some stay for a cruise, others stay for years. But if live music isn’t your niche, think of the Serenity as your floating senior center. One with lots of pampering (they even have a “valet service” that parks the scooters and wheelchairs to keep the halls clear after bedtime). And the ship’s veteran waiters are saints of the sea when it comes to their patience and respect toward the older crowd that frequents Crystal. Yup, you’ll find all the day-to-day activities that you’d expect in a well-appointed senior center: bingo, bridge, needlepoint, knitting, shuffleboard, slots, puzzles, trivia, liars club, name-that-tune, karaoke, parlor magic, tribute shows, afternoon tea, and dance hosts for the ladies. (About a fourth of the passengers on this cruise were involved in a bridge tournament.) Music and comedy shows are focused on the tastes and memories of the “extra generation” of seniors blessed with extended retirements. There was even the screening of a new film about finding late-life romance in a nursing home (yes, including sex). The filmmaker (Neil Leifer) was onboard and understandably pegged the Crystal crowd as a sympathetic test audience. But I’ll say it again: travel agents should use caution in sending children under age 50 on this ship. Though Crystal’s current president came over from Disney, absolutely none of the following “advancements” in onboard entertainment are found on this ship (thankfully): water slide; climbing wall; zipline; go-carts; carousel; laser tag; bungee trampoline; bumper cars; surfing simulator; trapeze training; skydiving wind tunnel. After all, this ship is called the Serenity -- a synonym for quiet peacefulness. There is, however, a golf net, a little swimming pool, and a “shopping mall” of three stores (including one that sells the Chico’s line). While there are no midnight buffets, there is 24-hour room service for those who can’t wait until the next meal at 6 am. Not surprisingly, the youngest on board are usually the employees. No teen gangs here. And nature seems to impose its own curfew, with the halls largely empty after midnight. DINING: We dined in all of the ship’s venues with the exception of its Italian restaurant (Prego). When it comes to dining, I give this cruise a perfect “5” simply because I found it perfect in every respect. Taste, variety, presentation, novelty, service, and overall enjoyability were all consistent with luxury cruising. It’s not just about the food, though. You get to leisurely visit with some of the world’s most interesting people. Table topics go far beyond the common senior focus on kids’ foibles, grandkids’ achievements, and perpetual medical procedures. While this is indeed God’s waiting room, people here aren’t in a hurry to keep their appointment with Him. In fact, the more they cruise, the less they rush to get to the next onboard activity. Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. We much appreciated Crystal’s new walk-in flexibility (open dining) for time, table location, and the number of diners joining us. With little fanfare, you can now bring along your onboard friends, old and new. Or dine in a quiet secluded corner and share secrets. Gone are those days when disappointed cruisers went up to a hearing room for an audience before the maitre d’. There you lined up and pled your case for the dining dispensation of a better table or feeding time. Never quite seemed consistent with Berlitz’s definition of luxury cruising as “the kind of stylish ships aboard which the word ‘no’ is virtually unheard.” STATEROOM: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). Though Crystal had just remodeled this ship’s “penthouse” class of rooms, the only change we found in the standard stateroom was a bigger TV screen. But we frankly don’t come here for the rooms. We keep returning to this ship because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where seasoned employees year after year provide the most attentive service anywhere. And an expected part of a comfortable old hotel (ship) is old rooms with problems that we just get fixed as they arise. This time it was slow drains, faucets without cold water, no clock, no shower curtain, and a stuck sliding door that kept us from using the veranda. All eventually fixed after a little intervention from an officer. Onboard television was limited to a few generic international channels. Those who live for American reality shows or Monday night football may need to schedule their cruise during the annual rerun doldrums. On the other hand, the Lido Deck’s sound system was unintelligible, and a channel on our television was a good alternative for hearing the captain’s daily announcement on weather conditions and routing adjustments. Travel agents should alert customers that, even on a cruise billed as ultra luxury, an aging ship’s staterooms may be in less than perfect condition. INTERNET ACCESS: You really don’t come here for the Internet. A few months before our trip, Cruise Critic published its article, “6 Cruise Lines With Great WiFi.” Crystal didn’t make the list. Those tethered to the rituals of social media may consider it more of a forced silent retreat than a vacation. Internet connectivity varied greatly throughout the cruise, with regular display of the dreaded message, “Internet access is currently not available” (even when approaching Florida). Passengers grabbed it while they could. And ocean crossings like this one obviously lack port stops where an Internet cafe could come to the rescue. For some primitive, less-connected retirees like ourselves, a vacation with sporadic Internet is no deal-breaker. And there’s something to be said for the attitude of a past Crystal president that cruisers should “turn off the Internet and just enjoy the moment.” (Virtuoso Life, May-June 2015, p. 99) However, travel agents should caution their customers that this ship may not be a good fit if they must stay in uninterrupted email contact with a business or relative back home. Nor should passengers count on Internet availability to make enroute arrangements for port stops or post-cruise travel. Or for online bill paying or holiday shopping at the last minute. SHIP’S MUSEUM: The lore of cruising traditionally has the rich & famous dining at the captain’s table. But Crystal has something just as good for the rest of us. Captain Vorland periodically opens up the ship’s museum and serves as its docent and resident storyteller -- sort of a Norwegian cross between Sully Sullenberger, Garrison Keillor, and your favorite humanities professor. This guy really has been everywhere, man (he even took a break as a Crystal vice president). The museum, in a restricted area, has a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect the Serenity’s visits to the world’s ports, both famous and obscure. While some of the plaques are simple pieces of wood, the more elaborate ones feature local art, crafts, and materials. Tell the cruise director or Crystal Society host if you’d like to be included when a group does this. Like the free kitchen tours, backstage tours, magic shows, and guided stargazing, Crystal doesn’t charge for this onboard activity. I’ve always been impressed by Captain Vorland’s daily explanation of the sea conditions and resulting navigation adjustments. Reminds me of the aviation saying that “a superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.” Or success is measured by all the potentially bad days that cruisers never know they have been spared. Captain Vorland may in fact be eligible for the honor of the Explorers Club, given his work in advancing passenger cruising through the Northwest Passage (like another Norwegian who pioneered polar air routes back in the 1950s). Crystal recorded the many lectures that experts gave during the Serenity’s treks through the Northwest Passage. I’ve watched around 40 of these videos, and the collection should be sent to the Vancouver Maritime Museum (rather than just forgotten, lost, or erased). FEDERAL INSPECTION SCORES: Federal agencies in both the United States and Canada conduct health inspections of cruise ships. The inspection scores are posted on the agencies’ public websites. See www.cdc.gov and www.canada.ca. For the U.S. inspections (CDC), cruisers can read the full reports online in all their technical detail (as well as Crystal’s side of the story). For the Canadian inspections, you’d need to email a request to see the report behind a score. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score (both countries) is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 means no significant deficiencies, not perfection. The Serenity’s most recent U.S. inspection occurred in December 2018 (about three weeks after the end of our cruise). Score was 95. The inspection report listed 43 violations around the ship, none of which would deter me from booking the ship again. (Gluttony at that Churrascaria dessert bar was a health risk for me, though.) A few months passed before CDC published the results of this inspection. Perhaps due to the famous shutdown of some federal agencies for about a month. The Serenity’s most recent Canadian inspection was in June 2017. Score was 99. However, even well-inspected luxury liners can face that noro nastiness (vomiting, diarrhea). There’s a limit to what cruise lines and governments can do to protect passengers from their own health habits. While we were crossing the ocean, Crystal’s other ship (the Symphony) had a norovirus outbreak on the Amazon. No secret, though. It was publicly reported on CDC’s home page, in Cruise Critic’s passenger chat room, and in USA Today. The Symphony’s doctor made daily reports to CDC, sought CDC’s assistance, and was able to contain the illness (less than 5 percent of the passengers reported symptoms). While passengers in a Cruise Critic chat room are not a statistical sampling, their online thread on the Symphony didn’t signal any cruise-spoiling panic. They made passing references to onboard norovirus in the midst of much more vigorous exchanges over the ethics of petting sloths and the merits of selling the Chico’s brand in the ship’s clothing store (true story). Per these stats and chats, it’s not inevitable that most people on board will get sick if there’s a norovirus outbreak (defined by CDC as 3% of passengers). A clinic that specializes in travel medicine can give you a thorough briefing on how to handle this contingency, including what remedies to take along. Here are two lists of doctors with this type of practice: (1) the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org) and (2) the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (www.astmh.org). Measles has made quite the comeback across the U.S., and is highly contagious. CDC presumes that travelers born in the U.S. before 1957 have childhood immunity. If you were born later and have had the shots, you may want to take along proof in case there’s a quarantine in your travels. (See www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html) EVOLVING AMBIENCE: Crystal’s customer core is retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. Crystal continues to preserve traditions from a prior era of travel. There are still formal nights (“black tie optional” and some tuxedos), daily afternoon tea, a dress code after 6 pm, and an ornate hideaway for smoking cigars. We continue to feel safe from onboard crime. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. But Crystal is not an isolation ward, and travel agents may need to prepare some customers to expect subtle changes in the ship’s atmosphere. For instance, the music. The Russian string quartet has been replaced by a solo performer with an electronic violin. Crystal has invested heavily in computerized neon costumes for performers to dance in the dark. The young jazz crooner that faithfully replicates the 1940s may wear his hair in a modern man bun. (But just be glad that yet another generation is striving to perpetuate the old favorites from before it was born.) The crew members who give you super service may sport a few tattoos. (We’re talking pretty young ladies here, not muscled male deckhands.) And you’ll see cruisers who whip out their smartphones whenever there’s a lull in table talk. (We’re talking seniors here, not millennials.) And you might even see a dog on board these days. Folks on this cruise reported dog sightings at the buffet line, ice cream bar, clothing store, Lido Deck dining, Japanese restaurant, and ledge around the hot tub. The tiny hound that I saw didn’t make a sound, didn’t bother anyone, and was even wearing a dress at one point. And the affection from crew members suggested that they might be missing their pets back home. Or perhaps their parents just raised them to be kind to animals (and seniors). Social media polarizes this sort of thing in a rhetoric of rights. But it’s not really a legal matter until a foreign ship (here the Serenity) departing from a foreign port (here Lisbon) finally reaches an American port (here the Virgin Islands). (49 CFR 39.5(b)) Until we reached the Virgin Islands, it was just a customer relations call as to which species Crystal wished to accommodate in the price of a ticket. Regardless of a dog’s purpose, the practical problems for “pet parents” make it unlikely that cruises will ever really go to the dogs (become truly “pet friendly”). There are issues like dog-sitting during port stops, local health regs, security screenings, and distinctive nasties from nature. Things like fleas with plague, cute little snakes, and big birds that really do eat small mammals. Nature is indifferent to the rhetoric of rights. In the event of a canine unthinkable, it can be a long wait until the next port stop with a veterinarian. And I have no idea whether Crystal’s onboard physician would agree to treat a suffering non-human. If you insist on bringing Fido or Fifi, a competitor’s megaship will be more likely than tiny Crystal to include a vacationing veterinarian among its passengers. Of course, you never know what travel entrepreneurs will develop for an unmet need. While we were docked in the Virgin Islands, the humane society was having a dog-washing fundraiser at the yacht marina. Proceeds of $10 a dog went to “fly homeless pets to stateside rescues and better lives.” Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent 3 nights in Barcelona before we left and had a blast. The embarkation was smooth and the staff was excellent throughout. Our room with a veranda was larger than our hotel room in Barcelona. The first morning in Valencia they would not let "independents" off the ship until those who had made Crystal excursion reservations were allowed to leave. So we could have walked to our tour but because they would not let us leave so we had to race for a cab with other "independents." That was the only morning where leaving the ship was a problem. What needs to be added is that the Crystal excursions were priced way over the top-2 to 3 times as much as privately booked tours. I guess if you can afford it and you value seeming security then you might pay for the Crystal excursions but I did not see any extras booking that way since they were the same tours. For the most part people who write reviews have something very negative to say. I want to laud the staff and crew for wonderful service at every level. That being said, it is still hard to justify the amount of money that was spent for the cruise. All of our table mates raved about the food throughout every meal-perhaps leading to impossible expectations. At the main Crystal dining room the food was very good for cruise food, but it wasn't nearly as fresh or flavorful as the food we ate in each port city. At the end of the day, it was cruise ship food. The exception would be the Silk Road restaurant. We had a wonderful meal there but the Prego restaurant was only so-so. The breakfast buffet was good and the sit down cafe Tastes had excellent breakfasts also. For a ship this size the entertainment was good. There were many activities for people that did not want to leave the ship at each port but the are definitely geared to an older clientele. This is not a cruise for young couples or children. The cruisers were mostly affluent, white Americans who liked the America-centric aspect of an international cruise. Why you would travel 7000 miles to have the same experiences that you get in the USA is baffling to me. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction ... Read More
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction of Leo, to me the master of all cruiseship Maitre D’s, could still greet me in name. Such is the hospitality level of Crystal cruises that many Crystal Society members return to the ship. The embarkation took no time, even the ship was practically full. Embarkation began at noon though in theory rooms are available from 3pm, but in a PH cabin mine was ready. There was a special luggage storage that takes care of hand luggages so that any guest can enjoy a leisurely lunch. Such is the hospitality with full attention to detail that makes what Crystal is, particular with direct comparison to the two cruises that I just had disembarked (I took 3 consecutive cruises in 30 days). This cruise, trade named Iberian Sojourn, a standard 7-day trip ending in Lisbon, has an ideal itinerary in that travel distance is short so that it is all port days and passengers have ample time in each port. The Spanish ports are, to me, more interesting than the Mediterranean ports in Italy that practically every cruiser has visited. In each port Crystal of course provides free shuttle so that one enjoys free and easy visits. Because of all-port, there was no formal night and the well-loved Mozart tea was not served. I have had many Crystal Cruises (my first was on Crystal Harmony, before Serenity was built), and as an old timers I can see good changes under new ownership of Genting Hong Kong. The ship was renovated only about 4 years ago, and on embarkation I learned that after this trip the ship will undergo dry docking for a whole month for another important renovation, probably the most important because the ship will re-emerge in November offering open sitting dining (Crystal Symphony had completed that process). Hitherto if Crystal was to be faulted as a luxury ship it was the two sitting system that requires one to eat either too early or too late. No more, and then my only regret is that, if I had this knowledge, I would have chosen to cruise after the renovation. A luxury cruise differs from a standard one mainly in space per passenger and crew to passenger ratio, and of course in service and food. Crystal offers best service second only to SeaDream (but the latter carries only 100 passengers with similar number of staff). Crew members here do not change ships, though there can be re-deployment as since the Genting takeover, Crystal has added two yachts and five river boats (not to mention even a luxury air operation). Great that virtually same staff members serve so that the important ‘recognition scenes’ are in place. But it is the delicate improvement of food standard that makes the ship remarkable, at a time when cutback is seen in the whole trade (including Silversea which serves packaged orange juice unless you ask for the fresh). I agree with the latest Berlitz guide as it now rates Crystal above competitors Silversea, Seabourn and Regent. The Crystal food is truly enjoyable, now that the restaurant offers two menus, one modern and one traditional, therefore many choices. On this visit I tend to conclude that the ‘modern’ menu has improved much, with artful presentation and good taste (it had been a bit ‘funny’ in the beginning as I tasted it on Symphony two years ago). There are three alternative dining choices in addition to the main restaurant, all offering good quality of food (rather than quantity in the number of available restaurants). All guests can dine twice in an alternative restaurant free (otherwise it is a mere cover charge of $35). Dining on Crystal Serenity is a real pleasure even for gourmets, and among the best at sea. Entertainment is never a strong area for Crystal. Ship size and mature passengers not really keen on shows do not justify lavish productions such as on sister company Dream Cruises, but the quality is good, and even more than on a big ship, there are always also alternative local shows in port in addition to the production show. Of these I watched one of the best acrobatic show at sea (or indeed on land) in the Balskat Duo which had performed with Circuit de Soleil. But I see the very same production shows that are old fashioned. The singers try to make more noises to lure the young, but I see few youngish passengers. The cruise director, Gary Hunter is a master of his trade, however. It is the most port intensive cruise that calls on a port very day, and all ports are interesting except for me, Gibraltar, which is however a convenient stop on route. The last night we stayed overnight in Lisbon. Valencia was the first port of call and the free shuttle takes passengers directly to the old town. It was a great visit, walking old streets and seeing various historic landmarks. Next port is Alicante and we arrived on a Spanish holiday that most shops are closed, but the town is beautiful and even with some initial rain it still makes a day of pleasant stroll. The weather was cool and pleasant. Malaga is next, and alas there was no sunshine on the Costa del Sol on our arrival. Some rains in the morning and I wonder if those who took excursion to Seville fared better. Malaga itself is interesting and it is gateway to many interesting points. As a frequent visitor to this region, I did not rush to any places, having seen them many times, and to me the ship is the destination Particularly the ship is Crystal, no matter rain or shine. Pouring rain in Gibraltar in the morning but it cleared up in the afternoon. I always think it is funny to see UK chain stores in town and here one dispenses the British pound. But Cadiz is interesting, as we had the full day I went out on my own in the afternoon my way while I have time to take an excursion in the morning. As if by bad luck it falls on another Spanish holiday, though many shops open for tourists. The morning excursion was good in that I visited sights slightly out of town that I had not seen out of my two previous visits. There was ample time to return to Cadiz proper for a stroll in its old streets in the afternoon. The trip ends in Lisbon and we stayed overnight here. It was good as there is much to see in Lisbon but a very strong wind arrived at dinner time so that the terminal was closed for the night. This is strange; though I am sure no one will opt to go ashore in such windy condition anyway. I took Crystal’s transfer to the airport early in the morning and the trip was perfectly organized, with many helpers that virtually take your luggage from ship to your check-in counter. This ends my very pleasant trip and I look forward to returning to Crystal Serenity when it operates the Open Sitting Dining. Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be ... Read More
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be all ports and no sea days other than a planned arrival to one port at Noon which still isn't a sea day. As a result we knew less enrichment, less time to get to know fellow guests not staying on and that with full cruises that specialty restaurant venues would be busy. We knew that we would have to move one time. This is a review of our sailing on board Crystal Serenity between September 23, 2018 and October 14, 2018. OVERVIEW ========= Three seven day cruises comprised this back-to-back sailing . We visited 19 Mediterranean ports-of-call with no sea days over twenty-one days. Overall, we had an outstanding time between the on-board experience and the ports of call we visited. Although Serenity was going into dry-dock the day we disembarked one would never get the sense of this. The crew was focused on the present cruise, providing an outstanding experience to the guests. Almost all food items were available and the end of the cruise ended on a high note. There was not attempt to push guests off the ship on disembarkation day. THE SHIP ======= Crystal Serenity is now fifteen years old, and the ship continues to be in excellent shape. It is well maintained. Yes, there are some areas that need a makeover and also some areas needing to be detailed. Areas that have gone through makeover since the inaugural voyage include all staterooms and suites, the lido deck, the shops, portions of the casino area , the children's area, the Crystal Cove lounge and a few other areas. The upcoming dry dock will bring several changes including open seating and the conversion of the Crystal dining room to Waterside, the change from Tastes to a Silk Asian restaurant, the makeover of the Palm Court and Stardust Lounges, the addition of a nighttime restaurant on the Lido Deck, the conversion of some staterooms to suites, new flat screen televisions in all rooms and a few unannounced enhancements. The makeover of Stardust which I mentioned will provide lots of new possibilities for that room. We continue to enjoy the layout of the ship, the wrap-around promenade deck and the space to passenger ratio. When we boarded Serenity in 2005, we realized this ship was a perfect size for us; not too large and not too small. It was on that cruise that we decided to book a World Cruise. Those areas that I think will benefit the most from the dry dock will be addressed; Palm Court and Stardust. I hope that the Crystal Cove can be updated in a future dry-dock. CUISINE ======= We thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. We dined at most of the venues with the exception of The Trident Grill and The Bistro. This is not to say that each and every item was perfect but if something was not to our liking this was an exception. Most items were very much to our liking. We enjoyed the selection of food items including its diversity. Something that is very important to us is the ease of being able to change something out whether that is how an item is cooked to ingredients in a salad. We enjoyed the wait staff in all dining venues. We have had the same Senior Waiter in the past including when our family was on board last year and on Northwest Passage. Our waiter was wonderful as well. We didn't know him from prior cruises but he was truly a gem. Our Head Waiter was wonderful. We dined at Silk Road one time and chose to eat the other two times in our room. There is no question on seven day cruises with high occupancy the specialty restaurants get very busy and IMHO work better on longer cruises with less people visiting them each evening. With that said, while very busy the waitstaff team was able to keep up with it by working as a "team". Often various dishes were served by several different waiters and this made things work. Many of the waiters have been working there since we first sailed in 2005 and have been there since 2003. Head Waiter Mario from Prego was filling in as Head Waiter on these voyages and demonstrated team work himself. We dined at Prego three times. Its busiest times were during the last part of our meals and later at night. The overall experience was wonderful and what we have come to expect from Prego; great food, cuisine, service and a wonderful dining experience. On two of the three visits I had the addition (they don't call them specials) and on the last visit the item I had for an entree didn't work for me. So I can say that twenty of twenty one dinner entrees were wonderful and one was not. That is a good statistic. We dined at Tastes two time for dinner. Both were very enjoyable. Between the two nights we tried most of the items and loved the majority of them. We keep breakfast simple. I chose not to have the birthday breakfast. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room two times. Actually if time permitted I would go each day because we love the service but with me playing paddle tennis we go to the Lido Cafe. That is the one meal that we don't linger like we do with other meals. The variety of food offered at the Lido Cafe was terrific. Since these were seven day cruises they didn't have any themed buffets. As this was a port intensive cruise and with touring many times it was not busy when we dined there other than the day that we arrived to port at Noon and it opened at 11:30 AM. We had the Vintage Room dinner and the food was terrific as was the wine and the overall experience. The difference between Symphony and Serenity is the location of the galley to each room so the food on Symphony arrives hotter than Serenity. BEVERAGES ========== We continue to enjoy the inclusive wine. It is diverse and we find it better than we have had on other cruise lines offering inclusive wine. Since inclusive rolled out a few years ago the number of spirit brands has greatly increased, as has the beer selection. As noted below Crystal has also rolled out a new drink menu. We had three different sommeliers during our sailing as they rotate each voyage. All three were very knowledgeable and two of the three I thought were excellent with one very good. The bar staff is superb. We primarily went to the Crystal Cove. One night we went to the Palm Court. One of the bartenders was a bar server in January of 2007 and when we were on Northwest Passage the year before. She hadn't seen us since then. She not only remembered our name but where we sat in the Avenue Saloon. Amazing. ENTERTAINMENT ============== The cruises featured individual artists as well as Crystal’s own team of entertainers who in our opinion are the best in the cruise industry. Since these were short cruises unlike longer cruises there were not as many shows offered at night. We didn't go to much of the evening entertainment for a couple of reasons. My only suggestion is that given the number of in-transit guests (250 continued from cruise one to cruise 2 and around 125 from cruise two to cruise three it would have been better to have varied the production shows a bit more from cruise to cruise to minimize repeat performances. There certainly are other shows that could have been performed. I understand the first show being repeated and one other one but would have avoided any other repeats. As has been the case the past couple of years we enjoyed having more than one musician in the Crystal Cove before dinner as was the case with Irina on Violin and Richard on the Piano. They are wonderful performers individually and as a duet they have amazing chemistry and just added to the overall experience when we had pre-dinner drinks. THE LOUNGES =========== We changed things up on this cruise often sitting at the bar and mainly in the Crystal Cove. In the past we rarely have sat at the bar and really enjoyed this. It provided an opportunity to speak with the various bartenders, to watch them perform their magic, to learn about all sorts of drinks, and it had the added benefit of allowing us to converse with lots of guests and many we have never sailed with. Recently Crystal rolled out a new special drink menu, which includes a focus on drinks made with gin served in Sangria Glasses. This is in vogue in some selected places on land. For me this was something new, and I enjoyed many of the drinks instead of having wine before dinner. I feel that I have a much better appreciation of differences in gin and an array of drinks. I would not have tried this if not for a few folks on this board sharing their experiences from recent cruises. THE CREW & SERVICE ================= The crew is amazing and reflects the culture we have seen since we first stepped onto our first Crystal Cruise in 2002 on the former Crystal Harmony. The crew is professional but also is very human and very welcoming and we adore them. It is that human side and feeling of family that I have not experienced on other lines. Yes, the more you sail with the crew the more you get to know them but I am reminded on that very first Crystal Cruise how in very short order I realized they were seeing us as people rather than just a number or just a suit. They truly have become our extended family. They work hard to make the experience theybest they can. We met some crew members for the very first time and in a matter of a day or two we felt the same chemistry with them as we have with so many other members of Team Serenity. INTERNET ======== This was our second cruise since full complimentary internet was rolled out. Overall we had a similar experience between this cruise and our one on Symphony in May. The overall Internet ranged from excellent to very good. Yes, there were a few times when the Internet slowed or when it was not available but this was the exception. and far better than a few years ago. With this said experiences can vary by person. Early on the first voyage a friend on-board from Cruise Critic said her Internet was poor while at that point in time ours was terrific. It could be that her room is located in an area of the ship where the connectivity is less strong as ours. Another factor can be where in the room one is using it and other factors include type of advice used and even the internet browser. I do post a lot of photos and when I post them on my blog I go with lower pixels and that allows for easy uploading of photos. Since we are not printing those photos uploading with lower pixels does not change the view of the photo on a blog on cruise critic, etc. We also experienced excellent quality when placing phone calls using a Wi-Fi connection on board the ship, using apps such as WhatsApp for phone calls, texting and even video calls. THE PORTS ========= This was a port intensive cruise as we visited 19 ports over 21 days. We enjoyed the vast majority of ports and the time spent in port. We were able to revisit ports and see many for the very first time. In short, these three cruise was a fantastic opportunity to experience a nice range of ports. We love the Mediterranean and prefer visiting this area in September/October or April/May. SHORE EXCURSIONS ================ We did one Crystal Tour, which we arranged through the Los Angeles Office, which was a tour of Florence. The tour exceeded our expectations. Our tour guide had a solid background in art so she could lead us through the artwork in the places we visited and explain what we were seeing in a way that was easy to understand. The driver was courteous and drove safely to and from and inside Florence. This is a tour we will remember for the rest of our lives. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION ============================ The process of getting on and off the ship was terrific. We would have to say this was one of or the most organized disembarkations we have ever experienced. We used a Crystal private transfer. We met the Concierge at the designated time, which is 15 minutes prior to the transfer time. The vehicle was already there. The concierge took us down to the port shuttle, which took guests between the ship and the building where the luggage was being held. When we entered the building the Chief Concierge greeted us, took us to the section where are luggage was located, and one of the many porters who were all in suits took our bags and put them on a trolley. After saying our goodbyes to the Chief Concierge a Crystal representative escorted us to the vehicle waiting for us. She went over the details with the driver. When we arrived to the airport another Crystal representative who escorted us inside and verified where we would go for check-in met us. CHANGE ======= In the eighteen plus years we have been sailing Crystal and close to thirty years of cruising we have seen a lot of change. Then again the same applies to all our life experiences. Change in today's environment is coming at a faster pace than ever before. Today most of us use smart phones. Those didn't exist back in the day nor did the ability to use your own personal computers when we first sailed. On our first Crystal cruise sodas and bottled water were not included. Many of the changes have been driven by three things; Innovation by Crystal Cruises. The competitive environment. Changes demanded by people of all cruise lines. Most of us are resistant to change. We are creatures of habit. I found that at work and with people we know and see it when we cruise. Yes there are a few items we miss from those earlier days of cruising but they have been driven mainly by the three areas I mentioned. At the same time we appreciate many of the changes. I remember when inclusive was rolling out the vast majority of Crystal Society Members who we know said this would be the end. Crew would leave. How would the bar staff know your names? The service would be poor. Etc., Etc., Etc. Like most new things there were some startup issues. Slow pouring of wine. Insufficient choices of wine, beer and spirits. In time, IMHO all of this was worked out and just like other luxury lines new guests would think this is the way it has always been. On of the things I like best about inclusive is that it has made the lounges so much more social and vibrant. I also like that if you invite someone to join you there is not the issue of who pays for the drink. I also like not signing for each drink. The change to open dining is the most current of the changes. Just like inclusive this will be tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked until Crystal gets it as good as they can. I am reminded that the ships were not built with open dining in mind or for that matter the new evening dining venues. The reality though is both ships have been evolving to open dining the past couple of years. On our recent cruises many people were showing up at hours that we not the time for main or late dining and the Maitre d' was being creative to get them seated. I believe that each of us has changes that we like, some that we are indifferent and some we don't care for. That's the way changes work, but some of them that one person doesn't like another one does and again some of these are driven by people. An example of that is evening dining attire. FINAL COMMENTS =============== We have another Crystal cruise on Serenity scheduled for late December and look forward to seeing the "changes" that are being implemented in the dry-dock. We have already experienced open dining on Symphony but even this on Serenity could look slightly different based on experience gained on Symphony such as the set up of the tables at the new Serenity Waterside. After sailing this ship so many times and with Crystal Cruises frequently these back-to- back cruises still exceeded our expectations. I can't tell you how much my wife and I enjoyed these cruises. When you arrive back to the ship from port each day they say welcome home. For us that is the way we think of Crystal. Until next time. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Israel has recently become a popular destination for cruise ships. Some ships stop 3 days in Haifa, some stop 1 day in Ashdod followed by 2 more days in Haifa. I and my wife have tried both ways, and I am now reporting on the ... Read More
Israel has recently become a popular destination for cruise ships. Some ships stop 3 days in Haifa, some stop 1 day in Ashdod followed by 2 more days in Haifa. I and my wife have tried both ways, and I am now reporting on the differences. In 2017, we were on the Oceania Marina that started in Athens and ended in Athens, with 3 days in Haifa. That was fairly good, but was tiring and we felt we did not see enough from the big 50-seater coaches. This year we went again, but on the Crystal Serenity, that started in Civitavecchia and ended in Civitavecchia. It first stopped in Ashdod for 1 night, followed by 2 more nights in Haifa. This time we used a private minibus, was more relaxed, and we saw much more. On the Oceania trip, we took group tours on a coach arranged by the ship. We visited Jerusalem on the first day, Masada on the second day, Nazareth and the Galilee on the third day. This was basically satisfactory, but the coach was a 50-seater, and could not go through the narrow old streets to get close to some historical sights. So, we had to view some sights from a distance or from the mountain top. Also, the trips from Haifa to Jerusalem and Masada were separate trips, and each took 4 hours each way, so that was somewhat tiring. On the Crystal trip, we fortunately were with a group of 10 friends. So, we pre-hired a Mini-bus, from the internet, with a professional English-speaking guide, and a qualified driver, for about US $100 per person, per day, which was much cheaper than the ship’s price. This turned out much better, as we were more relaxed, and able to get to many more sights than with the larger coach. This is how we did it. About 4 months before the cruise, we hired a local Israeli touring company from the internet, www.GuidedToursIsrael.com , which proved to be very satisfactory. In the morning and early afternoon of the first day, we visited Jerusalem. In the late afternoon, we visited the northern part of the Dead Sea. The only disadvantage was we had to walk down many steps to get to the water front. In Jerusalem, we saw many sights including: The Western Wall, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, The Temple Mount with the golden dome, The Dome of the Rock, The Golden Tomb, Tower of David Museum, Garden of Gethsethmane, Jaffa Gate, City of David, King David’s Tomb, and the narrow, cobbled shopping streets of old Jerusalem. On the second day, from Haifa, we visited northern Israel, including Nazareth and the Sea of Galillee. Nazareth is mostly a Muslim city. We were able to go inside the Basilica of the Annunciation, which is a must, and the St. Joseph’s catholic church. We also went to the baptismal site in the Jordan river. On the third day, we went to Tel Aviv, saw the center of the city, the many hotels, government buildings, and also the location where Yitzak Rabin was assassinated, as well as the beaches on the Mediterranean coast, including ancient Roman amphitheater. My advice is, if possible, try to visit Israel on a minibus with a small private group. Peter Fan. Read Less
Crystal Serenity Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 5.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 4.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 4.5 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 5.0 4.1

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