Planned makeover of the Lido area
When you don't have a new ship to debut, how does a cruise line stay in the news? Give a vessel a makeover. Even a mini-one. Unlike mainstream and premium lines that regularly debut new vessels, luxury line like Crystal Cruises must up their game and score momentum via other means. Particularly Crystal, because unlike its primary competitors (other luxe lines like Silversea and Regent), they have but two ships - Serenity and Symphony. So Crystal recently unveiled plans for a $17-million redesign of 1070-passenger Crystal Serenity, to debut November 2013.
It makes sense to refocus on Serenity; 922-passenger Crystal Symphony must be maxed out on upgrades. The latter has been thoroughly redesigned to reflect contemporary tastes and trends. Its personality has evolved from generic luxury ship to floating boutique hotel, with handcrafted and one-of-a-kind elements more common to ultra-posh estates. I'd jump this ship just to parade through the rooms (public and cabins) for decorating ideas. The design is that exciting.
So how will the redesign impact Crystal Serenity, and more importantly, its devotees? Some changes will impact just a few. The four top suites, Crystal Penthouses (dream accommodations for all guests), are going ultra-contemporary. The butler-serviced, 1,345-square-foot residences will be gutted and the spaces completely reconfigured.
The dining area will move closer to the floor-to-ceiling windows and private outdoor deck (now that makes sense), while the former dining room will become a den/library/media room with a queen-size sleeper sofa and closet. The guest powder room gets a shower, now making this two-bath accommodation work better for families or couples traveling together.
If it's two couples, I sure hope the one getting the den and redone powdered bath do not split the cost evenly. That's because the master bedroom will be state-of-the-art wow.
The transformation includes plush new bedding and curtains, two entrances and a new seating area. In other words, just about everything is different. The master bath will be awash in marble, mosaics, a walk-in glass shower and two waterproof TVs (so deliciously indulgent); one embedded in the mirror and the other by a large window-side Jacuzzi tub.
Crystal Penthouses will also gain a 3-D TV, surround-sound audio system, iPod docking stations and more outlets for those spending all this money on CPs and refusing to unplug. (Or maybe they can't unplug; they have to pay for a CP cruise.)
GIVING LIDO SOME LOVE
For those of us who will only visit Crystal Penthouses when they open to all guests for tours, don't fret. The spacious Lido Deck is getting a modern redo, too.
Think Santa Barbara, California "American Riviera" vibe. Natural stones, wrought iron and blue in multiple hues will set the tone. The indoor pool will be history. Tastes café is receiving a new open kitchen and new menu, yet to be determined. (Stay tuned.)
The ice cream bar is moving to the Trident Grill. Makes sense. If you're lunching on burgers and hot dogs, ice cream is a logical following.
What will take the pool's space? More sofa seating and a cocktail bar. More lounging space al fresco - to munch, read, sip or simply soak up the sea and sky.
Plan also on four "living walls." There is one onboard Crystal Symphony (an industry first); it's such a hit that the concept is traveling to Serenity. What are "living walls?" They're vertical gardens, using a diverse selection of plants. Living walls are actually bio-filters, enhancing air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and other airborne contaminants and transforming them into oxygen. They're pretty to look at, too.
Lido café, the casual indoor-outdoor restaurant gets tweaking, too. Those longtime buffet counters, more typical to mainstream and premium ships, will disappear. (No sorrow here.) The new Lido will be broken down into "islands," individual stations, making long lines history. And a new fresh bakery kitchen will be added; sounds like that will be my new fave. More tables for two will debut, too; that's another plus.
Just a little sparkle headed to Palm Court - a new cherry wood dance floor. This room is a guest favorite for afternoon tea, dance lessons, cocktail parties (with dancing) or just to curl up on a cozy couch mid-afternoon and read.
DRY DOCK DOINGS
Since there's but 13 days to do all this work during dry dock, Crystal Serenity will be anything but, well, serene. Imagine a 500-plus contractor and crew and several hundred Crystal crew working round-the-clock to pull off both the sexy redesigns and the back-of-house work.
The first voyage to debut the changes is a 12-day, November 27, 2013 Lisbon-to-Barcelona cruise through the Canary Islands. Then Serenity will sail the transatlantic to the Americas and do a Christmas/New Year voyage in the Caribbean.
Okay, so there won't be any marching bands and certainly no Duchess of Cambridge to herald the Serenity's new do. But since this cruise line has won more "World's Best" awards than any competitor, it's just going to have to settle for a quieter reveal and no doubt, a few more plaques for the trophy shelf. ( crystalcruises.com)