After much anticipation, the newest ship in the Crystal Cruise Lines fleet, the Crystal Serenity, made her debut, under some interesting circumstances. While preparing the ship for her maiden voyage, the new propulsion system experienced some problems, causing a return to the French shipyard and a week of drydock. This caused delays in crew training, interior finishes and general deliveries of ship's stores. Consequently, Crystal contacted every passenger booked on the maiden voyage and offered them a choice: canceling their cruise and receiving a full refund, or remain on the cruise and still receiving a refund. Most, if not all passengers, chose to continue on with their plans to cruise.
The Serenity looks much like her older sisters with two important variations. There is one additional deck of Penthouses, and the lifeboats are recessed into the ship's hull on Deck 6, which removes the problem of obstructed view cabins. All cabins are outside, and all having verandahs, with the exceptions of the Category C cabins, which have a large picture window.
I sailed on the Grand Inaugural Voyage on July 7, 2003, in an AA Stateroom on Deck 10, and all I cansay is that it was a fantastic experience, even with the very few glitches that happened due to the delay. While there were some problems with crew training and the absence of things like tableware and certain beverages, this did in no way diminish what has become known as the "Crystal Experience".
It's obvious that Crystal spared no expense in making their public rooms the finest at sea. From the rich, darker woods to the luxurious fabrics and liberal use of color, the Serenity has a completely different visual feel from her sister ships. Instead of using light blond wood in the public areas, Crystal has chosen a deep butterscotch tone which provides a very soft and appealing feel to the rooms. While the Crystal Cove's waterfall, located on Deck 5, isn't as dramatic as on the Symphony, the use of stained glass in colors of deep purple, gold, green and white, provides a lovely backdrop for the waterfall and the bronze statue of a harpist. The Cove is large and well lit via natural light and provides a very welcoming ambiance embarking passengers. The Crystal Cove Lounge is virtually the same as on the other two ships and includes the signature "Crystal Piano". Also on Deck 5 is the Crystal Dining Room. While the dining room is somewhat larger than on the other ships, there seems to be more of an intimate feel to the room and it appears Crystal has solved the problem of too much noise in the room in the form of overhearing other tables' conversations. There is a magnificent mural on the ceiling in the center of the room in shades of pale blue and pink, to complement the carpet which is dark chocolate brown with tiny rosettes, also in pale pink and blue. White tablecloths and the signature Crystal dinnerware along with Christophle flatware makes a beautiful table setting.
The deck plans for Deck 6, the hub of most of Crystal's activities are quite a bit different from the other ships. While the location of the Galaxy Lounge and Caesar's Palace at Sea casino are the same, the location of the Hollywood Theater, and the Stardust Club took some getting used to. The theater is located midship behind the atrium and the Stardust is located at the very back of the deck. Both show lounges are beautifully decorated and rich jewel tones. The Galaxy is finished in tones of sapphire blue and dove gray, with love seats in blue velvet replacing the long banquettes found on the other two ships. There are also the rounded swivel chairs covered in dove gray and blue patterned fabric. And, in this Galaxy, there are no pillars obstructing the views of the stage. The Stardust is very warm and inviting in shades of red, blue and gold, but it just doesn't seem to have the small and intimate feeling previous Stardust Lounges. Also on Deck 6 are the Avenue Saloon, which was busy every night, the Connoisseur Club, which didn't seem very well utilized, and Pulse Disco, which was quite empty every evening. The Saloon's design, in my opinion, isn't the best due to the fact that the huge bar is located right inside the doorway, which, during busy times, makes it very difficult to get to the tables, which are located farther inside the room. But the acoustics in that room are fantastic for the nightly piano entertainment.
Deck 7 contains what I believe to be the most interesting and most dramatically different rooms on board. The computer room, which serves as not only classroom space for the wonderful computer instruction classes Crystal provides, but it's also the link to the outside world for many of the passengers. There are two rooms with numerous Dell computers equipped with flat screen monitors where passengers can send and receive e-mail and access the internet. The room is bright and cheery, decorated in tones of blue, red and yellow and the large windows provide lots of natural light. Next door to the computer room is the Bridge Room which is at least twice as large as similar rooms on the other ships. There are approximately 20 tables to accommodate bridge lessons, tournaments or informal play. The port side of Deck 7 contains Crystal's newest innovations, the Vintage Room where special Wine Tasters Dinners are held, and the Studio, where classes in piano, language, cooking and wine appreciation are held. The Vintage Room is elegant and beautiful decorated in red and gold. There is a long rectangular table that will seat a maximum of 14 lucky passengers who chose to participate in the fabulous dinner and wine tasting experience. One-half of The Studio is equipped with Yamaha electronic pianos, while the other half contains tables and chairs for instructional purposes. In the center of the room is a teaching area equipped with a cooking demonstration station and cameras recessed into the ceiling, which gives all participants a clear view of what the chef is preparing on two large TV monitors located on either side of the area. The classes in The Studio were exceptionally popular on the Inaugural voyage. The Library, containing DVD's, CD's and a wonderful selection of books is directly next door to the Studio. Also located on this deck are the two alternate restaurants, Prego and Silk Road. Prego is nothing like the other two Prego restaurants, giving up the pizza parlor feel for a more romantic and elegant setting. The bright blue, red and yellows are replaced by understated and elegant pastel shades. The room has the feeling of a more formal restaurant and not that of a bistro. Silk Road, the Asian alternate destination, is absolutely beautiful decorated in shades of pale blue, black and white and as the name inplies, the furniture has a modern Asian influence. Tables in both alternate restaurants are well spaced affording some dining privacy. Deck 7 is also the place to do your morning walks with the large wraparound Promenade, which was also a very popular place for those who wished to work off the inevitable weight gain.
Deck 12 is the daytime hub on the Serenity. On that deck you'll find the swimming pools, spas, the Lido Buffet, the ice cream parlor Scoops, the Trident Grill and Crystal's newest alternate food station, Tastes. All are casual dining alternatives to the formal dining room with Tastes also being open in the evening for those who wish to forgo the Crystal Dining Room for dinner on several evenings on each cruise. Deck 12 is also home to the Palm Court, one of the most beautiful lounges at sea. This room has a very tropical feel with wicker furniture, palm trees and fantastic sea views from every seat. This is a favorite after-dinner spot for dancing and relaxing.
On Deck 13 you find the Paddle Tennis Courts, the Crystal Salon and Spa and the Fitness Center. I have to say that these facilities are the best I've experienced at sea. The Salon is large and provides every amenity you can ask for while the spa is dramatically larger than her counterparts on the Symphony and Harmony. The salon/spa are wonderful places to unwind and relax with facials, massages and other treatments. The Fitness Center is one of best equipped facilities I've seen at sea. There are running machines, each equipped with individual television screens, free-weights, stair-step machines and an area for yoga, aerobics, Pilates and Tai Chi classes. There are also saunas and steam rooms.
All staterooms are beautifully decorated in richer, darker woodwork, well-designed and functional furniture and upscale Frette linens such as down comforters and pillows. The bathrooms feature double sinks, with Aveda bath products and are decorated in shades of beige and white, with a surprising amount of natural granite on the countertops and floor. The PH, PS and CP penthouse rooms feature separate whirlpool tubs and showers. Closets are adequate for hanging clothes, with very good drawer space and personal safes. There are refrigerators in all rooms that are now stocked with complimentary soft drinks and water, while the Penthouse rooms are fully stocked with requested bar items. The televisions are equipped with DVD players and have 24 hour CNN, CNBC, ESPN, and movies. The televisions in the CP, PS, and PH suites have large flat screen televisions.
Dining and Service
This is where Crystal outshines everyone. The food and service are consistently wonderful and continue to receive yearly awards. The word "no" is not in the Crystal dictionary and a passenger only need ask for something and it will be done. On my cruise, tablemates asked for specially prepared entrees or desserts, and they were prepared with absolutely no problem. Even with little training time, dining room service was flawless, food was prepared as ordered and no one missed a beat. The food in Prego and Silk Road was fantastic. The black cod and sushi platters of Silk Road were the best I've ever tasted. And don't forget to try the toasted sesame seed ice cream with chocolate mousse cake for dessert.
Tastes, the newest alternate dining destination, was quite popular not only for lunch but for those who wanted to avoid the formal dining room after a long day of touring. The menu for lunch consists of salads, soups, sandwiches and pizza. For dinner the atmosphere is a little less casual with the tables being set with linen tablecloths and napkins. Service for dinner at Tastes was quick and attentive, with a changing menu.
The Lido and Trident Grill are the same as on the other two ships. Very good food that includes burgers (veggie, salmon, chicken and beef), wraps, salads, and a pasta bar. The food is varied and plentiful in the Lido and the service is excellent.
The productions shows, with the exception of the new show, Curtain Call, weren't ready in time for our sailing, so Crystal brought in celebrity entertainers for the evening shows. Alan King, Marvin Hamlisch, and Dionne Warwick entertained in the evening along with various musical performers brought on for this cruise. The new production show, Curtain Call, was finally ready for our last evening. by far, it's the best show Crystal has produced to date. The cast performs scenes from a number of popular Broadway shows, including, but not limited to, Chicago, The Man of LaMancha and Evita. The costumes and staging are fabulous.
Despite the delays, this was a typical Crystal experience. Fantastic food and service, wonderful accommodations, and more entertainment and activities than there is time to experience. People often ask if Crystal is worth the money and all I can say is "Yes". While other lines might have larger rooms, go to the same destinations and have more flashy entertainment, they cannot possibly provide all the little touches that make Crystal special. A stewardess who remembers you prefer three pillows on your bed, a butler who knows you prefer Jack Daniels or diet Coke, waiters who have your favorite drink waiting at your table when you walk into a lounge, and the head waiter who remembers you love bananas foster for dessert and surprises you with that for dessert one evening. Those are the things that most other cruise lines cannot do for you. Couple that with a crew who are always smiling, officers who are accessible to the passengers, and a general ambiance that cannot be copied all make Crystal worth the cost. I guess the Crystal experience can be explained by this simple gesture: when we were disembarking in Southampton, the process of walking down the gangway was quite slow. The reason? Captain Maalen was standing at the end of the ramp, shaking hands with each passenger and thanking them for cruising Crystal. For me, it's summed up in the music that the Captain plays as we leave each port. The song, by Louis Armstrong, says "sailing along on the Serenity,....... With my Crystal family, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world".
Deutsch Fliegen Boot Gruppe Eine Teilung von Deutsche Lufthansbot Groupe
GRADING RUBRIC: (actual points achieved/possible number of points) Cuisine- 2,798/3,000 Service- 2,823/3,000 Accommodations- 1,634/2,000 Entertainment- 712/1,000 Ship- 892/1,000
TOTAL: (actual points achieved/possible number of points) M/S Crystal Serenity- 8,859/10,000
RATING: M/S Crystal Serenity- * * * * *
HOW THE GRADING WORKS: * * * * * * 9,000+ * * * * * 8,500-8,999 * * * * + 8,000-8,499 * * * * 7,500-7,999 * * * + 7,000-7,499 * * * 6,500-6,999 * * + 6,000-6,499 * * 5,500-5,999 * < 5,499
Cuisine: Crystal Dining Room- The cuisine that is served in the Crystal Dining Room is consistently far above the standards of that found on almost every cruise line. The menu is clearly laid out and the cuisine is presented in the light classical-French tradition. The ingredients used are of an extremely high-quality and the dishes are attractively presented, although not at all gourmet. One must be aware of the extremely high noise-levels in this restaurant. This complimented with the wait-staff constantly dropping plates and silverware creates little or no ambiance at all. The service from the European staff is verygood, although not always personal. Often, dishes do not come out the way one orders them. The wine list is, however, simply superb.
Prego and Silk Road- The two specialty restaurants onboard offer attractively-presented gourmet cuisine. Prego offers gourmet Italian dishes, although to some people, the food may be "deep"; most people are used to the "light" Italian side. Silk Road, the Japanese alternative dining selection on Serenity, is managed by famous Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, creator of the Nobu restaurants in London and New York. Silk Road features a wide variety of sushi, which are constantly being flown in to the ship to ensure freshness and quality. Overall, Silk Road offers extremely good value, as it is very easy to eat yourself into hundreds of dollars at the actual restaurants.
Weak points: Dining in the Crystal Dining Room is unfortunately, not a "six-star" event, as is touted in the company's brochures. Because of the rather small size of the dining room, and the extremely low ceilings, this creates, literally "surround-sound" loudness that is really quite deafening to the ears. Also, having to send in a filet mignon 3-4 times in order to receive "medium-rare" is really unacceptable on a ship of this class and price. At times, you get a sense that further organization with regards to the service is needed. Service at Prego can be over-the-top (such as the same waiter asking for water 3 times within a minute). At Silk Road, attentiveness is somewhat lacking at times. --------------------------------------------------- Service: Service on Serenity resembles that of a Four-Seasons, or Ritz-Carlton; attentive, yet at the same time, discrete if deemed necessary. The Filipino staff members truly make the cruise memorable; a genuine smile and feeling of constant happiness can always be seen from them. Without a doubt, the Filipino's are a great asset to this cruise line; they are not at all an "expense". Housekeeping is good at their job; although they sometimes do not clearly understand the connection between "keep" and "throw-away". Front desk is extremely helpful. Butler service is superb. One will not encounter any rude staff members onboard a ship of this prestige. The word "no" should not be in any of the crew, staff, and officers vocabulary. No matter what the request is, the staff onboard does it, in style. The service onboard Serenity is definitely one of the high-points of the ship.
Weak points: Not available --------------------------------------------------- Accommodations: The accommodations offered onboard Serenity range from the outdoor cabins (Crystal does not offer inside cabins on Serenity) to the opulent Crystal Penthouse. As an added treat, Penthouse-accommodation guests receive many complimentary liquors, as well as 24-hour butler service. Penthouse-category suites also include a Bang & Oluffsen stereo, and a 30-inch LCD Panasonic TV display. Fresh fruit is brought into the rooms daily, and "afternoon snacks" can be brought in upon request to the butler. The "Penthouse Stateroom" does not deserve this title. They are really just overpriced staterooms with some small added amenities that one finds in the other Penthouse grades of accommodation.
Weak points: Unfortunately, when a guest enters his or her room, they will likely find that their rooms are indeed smaller than anticipated. Thus, making it difficult to order room service as the line boasts. The bathrooms on the standard cabins are poorly-designed, which creates a rather uncomfortable, cramped experience. Older guests should note that the bathtub and shower are combined, making it difficult for anyone with a leg injury to step into the shower. This is unacceptable for a line of this standard. Another poorly-designed feature in all rooms is the fact that light can seep through the two-layers of blinds. With this in mind, how can this ship sail to Alaska (let alone another northern port-of-call) where light is seen 21 out of the 24 hours of the day? As a result, this leads a "bad night's sleep", especially after a long day of touring. --------------------------------------------------- Entertainment: The entertainment offered onboard Serenity really illustrates to us the type of crowd that Crystal Cruises markets towards. This can be clearly seen on certain nights, where you are often treated to traditional musical classics. To many, this brings back old, fond memories of their life. The production shows are quite simply poor. There are no "sets", and the shows are certainly not entertaining. Many passengers agree. The Galaxy Theatre is very small, but has excellent sight lines. In the evening, you are treated to live music throughout the vessel and in most public rooms. The Crystal Piano located in the Crystal Cove is truly a sight to see. There are also a variety of sophisticated guest entertainers from pianists to comedians. On sea days, there are a variety of guest lecturers that many find informative. Depending on your age and background, you may enjoy the entertainment to a different degree. This is reflected in the entertainment rating.
Weak points: The Galaxy Theatre has little ambiance, and is only one deck. Often, the same music plays again, and again in the buffet. For most, this is bothersome. Depending on your age and background, you may enjoy the entertainment to a different degree. This is reflected in the entertainment rating. On sea days and when the ship is in port, there are announcements in the morning around 9 A.M. Many people are trying to sleep at this hour, and it is very disturbing to them. --------------------------------------------------- Ship: Crystal Serenity is a handsome vessel with a nicely raked-bow. Many guests will be disappointed with the "apartment-block" look that she boasts from the exterior. The vessel as a whole is designed very well, with good passenger flow. The breakup of the decks is as follows:
Deck 4: Tender Embarkation Area.
Deck 5: Crystal Plaza, Crystal Cove and Crystal Dining Room. This area is magnificent with a solid glass grand piano in the center of it.
Deck 6: Caesars Palace at Sea Casino is located here. This classic casino is operated by Park-Place Entertainment. On this deck there is also the Avenue of the Stars "shopping gallery". This area is very small, and does not belong here. The selection in the shops is extremely disappointing. Across from the shops is "The Bistro", a very elegant area to get snacks throughout the day. The front of Deck 6 is the home to the Galaxy Theatre, the ships main show lounge. This theatre cannot compare to the theatres on newer, larger vessels in terms of technology and overall ambiance. Towards the aft of deck 6 is the Hollywood Theatre; a cinema. It is well designed, with raised seats so every seat is the best seat in the house. The photo-gallery runs along-side with the Hollywood Theatre. Behind this area is the Connoisseur Club and the Avenue Saloon. These are two of the finest public rooms at sea today in terms of décor and comfort. The aft of deck 6 boasts the "Stardust Lounge" and "Pulse". Both are evening lounges for dancing, and music. Stardust Lounge also serves as a secondary theatre. Pulse caters to a younger crowd of people.
Deck 7: Deck 7 contains the Library, Bridge Room, "Computer University at Sea", Prego, and Silk Road. Also on deck seven are some standard staterooms with no balconies. The Library is elegantly furnished with a wide selection of various reading materials. The Bridge Room serves it purpose well. Prego and Silk Road are both excellent.
Decks 8, 9: Standard staterooms with balconies.
Decks 10, 11: Penthouse staterooms and suites.
Deck 12: This deck is home to the Lido Café, Tastes, Trident Grill, two pools (one indoor and one outdoor), and Palm Court. The Lido Café, Tastes, and the Trident Grill can really be classified as one eatery. This area serves well-prepared food for all three meals. The selection is outstanding. The service is even better. Often, there are themed buffets for lunch which are quite creative. One pool is inside, and one is outside. Both are larger than the industry standard; and both are heated to perfection (about 86 degrees Fahrenheit). The outside one is salt-water, and the inside one is not. Palm Court is an elegant lounge where the Captains Welcome Party is held. It is also used for afternoon tea, art auctions, and a casually-elegant evening lounge. Fantasia, the children's play-room is also on this deck. It is small, and really pointless.
Deck 13: On deck 13 one finds the paddle tennis courts, and the Crystal Spa and Gymnasium. The Spa/Gymnasium is larger than the standard of what would be found on most vessels of this class and size. The paddle tennis courts are underused, but certainly do belong there as nothing else is there.
Overall, the Crystal Serenity is a beautiful vessel with some of the finest interiors found at sea today.
Weak points: The "Computer University at Sea" is PATHETIC!!! This center deserves to be boycotted for its OUTSTANTDINGLY HIGH prices. This is one of the main reasons that this ship is only 5-stars, not 6. The ship itself would have received a nearly perfect rating if not for this. If you search the internet on normal pages for 15 minutes, you will $60.00. This center needs to go. It needs to shape up or ship out! --------------------------------------------------- Overall Ending Impressions: We at the Deutsch Fliegen Boot Gruppe believe that Crystal Serenity is the finest large cruise ship in service today. We wish her many pleasant cruises ahead...
We had a fabulous cruise, our second on Crystal line. Crystal is quite simply a top notch line. We love good food and entertainment and wanted a larger stateroom than provided by many lines.
The Food The ingredients used for food on the Serenity are very high quality. Even the pasta was of high quality and very tasty. Beef is flown in from the U.S., and we enjoyed lobster several times during the cruise -- in the main dining room, at a buffet, and at the Silk Road speciality restaurant. Our headwaiter gave us opportunities to make special requests. Want crepe suzette? You have it. I heard that one couple ordered caviar from room service for breakfast every morning. Some of our friends ordered chocolate souffles for their last evening in the dining room.
Both Prego and Silk Road restaurants are lovely and provide a bit of variety on the cruise. The Silk Road was especially fine. Both restaurants are free but a $6 tip per person is suggested.
The Entertainment The entertainment is also top-notch. The musical production numbers are a visual and auditory delight. Highly skilled dancers and fine voicesare backed up by a live orchestra. I heard that each show costs $1 million to put into production, and each cruise has about five shows. For variety, a comedian, a dance team and a fantastic classical pianist also entertained. Music is available all over the ship in bars, at teatime, at cocktail parties, etc.
We had excellent and erudite lecturers onboard, and we took advantage of language, computer and piano classes. There is something to entertain every interest.
The Cabins The staterooms are large and lovely and have more than ample storage. We requested juices in our fridge in addition to the free soda and water. Bathrooms have two sinks in the granite vanity and a shower in the tub. Aveda soaps and lotions are provided.
It is hard to find fault with the Crystal experience. It is a happy ship with a crew that falls over itself to please each guest. It is organized, clean, and not crowded. One reviewer talked about noise in the dining room. We did not experience that, and we never had trouble hearing conversation there. We found our stateroom very quiet also.
It costs a bit more to sail with Crystal, but the experience is first-rate.
My wife and I have just completed the cruise with Serenity. This was our first cruise with Crystal, having been on 15 cruises with most of the other lines. My advise to first cruisers is not to take a Crystal cruise first. You will never be happy with any other cruise line. It is like driving a BMW and then having to drive a Ford.
The Serenity is not a glittsey ship-no 7 floor centrums, no fancy waterfalls-just mostly like the older ships. However, the comparison ends here.
We were met at the bottom of the gangway, take-own baggage taken from us, and we were escorted toour room We were then escorted to our room. The maid offered to unpack for us (refused). One of the outstanding features of the ship is the service. How often have you been met at the end of a food line by someone who takes your tray and then finds a table for you? I never did find an emplyoee who did not smile. Requests for directions were followed by showing you and not telling you. This was a happy ship. It is hard tobe disgruntled when everyone is smiling.
The cabin was somewhat smaller than I expected. We stayed on the 9th floor. There was more drawer space than even my wife could fill up. The bathroom had a tub with shower and two sinks. Our maid was new and a little slow. However, she saved my life by having my tux shoes fixed when the sole came off. As one reviewer mentioned, the curtains let in too much light. When was the last time you could order a hot breakfast in your room? We could with Crystal.
To say that the food was outstanding is making an understatement. It was truly goumet equal to any of the gourmet restaurants where we regulary eat. We did not notice the noise in the dining room. The special restaurants, Silk Road and Prado were also outstanding. The cost is only a suggested tip of $6/person. (Remember the $20/person on RCL?) Reservations can to hard to get if you insist on eating late. We eat at 6:30 and had no problems. In fact we "pigged" out on the suhii.
The Grand Buffet held in the centrum will always be the best we have been to. Imagine a large table of lobster and other tables of shrimp, meats, deserts! The ice cream, soft drinks, bottled water, and set ups where always free. Crystal also lets you bring your own alchol aboard.
We are not entertainment people. However, the ones that we attened were quite good. I prefer blackjack and my wife likes the "slots".
The side trips were very well organized. The buses and guides were good and spoke english that we could understand. We stopped at Bari, Italy. This was a worthless stop and should be eliminated. Bottled water,free, was always available on the buses.
Disembarcation was very well controlled. Cruise employees were availabe at both ends to help us.
I can't see us taking any other cruise line in the future