Length: 105 ft
One of the nicest luxury ships in the world - fantastic service and cuisine. Great day and nighttime activities.Best For People Who Want
Remarkably attentive, personable service in huge penthouse suites that come with their own butlers on a full-size luxury cruise ship; upbeat entertainment and a European style casino at night; lots of educational and other self-improvement options; Mozart with their afternoon tea; single women who enjoy the company of suave gentlemen dance hosts.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Port-a-day itineraries; 24-hour casual dress; having lots of kids around.Onboard Experience
The focus on the ship is "the little things;" as in the details that make life just a little bit (or in some cases, a lot) more exquisite. The largest ultra-luxury vessel afloat, Serenity is 38% bigger than fleet mate Symphony, but carries only 15 percent more guests. The result is that there is simply no crowding, ever. Passengers savor more time at sea for lectures, educational programs, wine and food festivals. At night, there's lot of exceptional entertainment.
The extensive shipboard activity list comprises bingo, bridge, fashion shows, casino gaming lessons, and art auctions, but most passengers seem preoccupied with their Crystal Cruise Creative Learning Institute classes, on everything from wellness to business technology. Indeed, the spacious Creative Learning Institute may well be Crystal Serenity's principal advantage over Crystal Symphony. Several classrooms are located along an elegant wide corridor; one, dedicated to piano instruction, features Yamaha keyboards atop every table. The ship's Visions program provides expert speakers on topics as varied as current affairs and astronomy, wine and antiques.
Crystal no longer charges separately for alcoholic beverages - it now has a policy in line with other luxury cruise lines. It stocks its staterooms with complimentary bottles of water and wine, plus spirits you can select from a menu before setting sail. Soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty coffees are all also free, and the penthouse suites come with butler service.
Shorts are forbidden anywhere on the ship after 6 p.m. Passengers get very dressed up for the lavish Broadway-style shows -- and live performances by recording artists you've actually heard of. There are two piano bars. Suave gentleman hosts (and ship's officers on occasion) invite single women passengers to cut the rug with them to the accompaniment of the ship's own dance orchestra.Decor
Understated elegance is the rule aboard Serenity. You'll drink wine from Riedel leaded crystal glasses, and sip tea from Wedgwood bone china. The dining tables are covered by Frette linen, and the handsome deck furniture is by Brown Jordan Mission Teak. The staterooms' wood accents and furniture tend to be dark, tastefully offsetting colorful curtains, wall coverings, upholstery, and bedcovers.
One enters Serenity via the literally dazzling Crystal Plaza atrium, with its multiple levels of glass and chrome stairs and waterfall. Strangely, this lobby belies the absence of glitz elsewhere on the ship, which though elegant in what details are present, is surprisingly utilitarian.
Enjoy dancing and cabaret in the Stardust Club, cocktails and pianists in the Avenue Saloon, and cigars in the intimate, refined Connoisseur Club. Or savor breathtaking ocean views through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the tropical paradise Palm Court, where, at night, you can dance or attend classical recitals. The 10,410-square-foot Galaxy Lounge is Serenity's principal entertainment venue. It's worth noting that both the Galaxy Lounge and the ship's other main entertainment venue, Stardust Club, offer exemplary sight lines and comfortable theater- and table-style seating.
Twenty-four-hour Internet and email access are on offer in the Computer University@Sea and instruction lab, which also provide private workspaces and cubicles big enough to accommodate a single student and tutor. The Studio, unique to Serenity, offers an array of creative and informative hands-on instruction. There's a library with over 2000 books, videos, DVDs, and books-on-tape, and an art gallery in which purchasable artwork is displayed. The three shops on the 3692-square-foot Avenue of the Stars offer jewelry, clothing, and the inevitable specialty items at premium prices.
The Vintage Room, exclusive to Serenity, is a boardroom with its own wine cellar. Enjoy all manner of board and card games in the Bridge Lounge.Cuisine
The excellent main dining room offers a palate-delighting array of classic European menus, along with regional specialties of the various ports at which you'll call. Two superb alternative restaurants, Nobu (Japanese) and Prego (Italian, as if we needed to tell you!) both require reservations. They're open from 6:30 until 10. There's no extra charge to dine in either of them.
The main dining room has changed from set dining times to open seating and dining anytime.
All of the food onboard is excellent - from room service to the alternative restaurants. They now also feature unlimited wine, beer and spirits onboard throughout the cruise and during meals.Restaurants
Enjoy wonderful views of the sea from the elegant 500-seat Crystal Dining Room. If the sun has set, revel in its murals and stained glass ceilings and murals. Ample aisles separate tables of a wide range of sizes. Assigned seating is the rule for main and late dinner; sit where you please for your full-service breakfast and lunch.
Renowned master chef Nobuyuki (Nobu) Matsuhisa oversees Nobu, which includes a sushi bar, while Prego, with its Roman décor and northern Italian menu, is a labor of love by the equally noted restaurateur Piero Selvaggio. Getting reservations in these two alternative dining venues can seem difficult for those unaware that they're nearly empty on formal dining nights, and that tables are often available for those who don't get too hungry for dinner at eight, and can actually wait until nine, or even later.
Want alternatives to those two alternatives? Enjoy casual evening dining and themed luncheon buffets at the indoor/outdoor poolside area. The Bistro, a coffee and wine bar with attractive wicker-like chairs, Guy Buffet-designed china, and a perfect light-fare buffet, is a pleasant place to make new friends. The country-club style Lido Café serves breakfast and lunch. The Trident Bar & Grill offers casual poolside lunches all afternoon. Scoops Ice Cream Bar dispenses complimentary frozen sweets and fresh-from-the-oven cookies for those who left their diets ashore, while the food counter Tastes, open for late breakfast and late lunch, offers such unusual options as peanut butter and jelly French toast.
Feeling peckish between lunch and dinner? Enjoy afternoon tea in the Palm Court. There's also 24-hour complimentary room service, with menu selections from the main dining room, in the cabins.Service
The mostly European hotel and dining room staves take palpable pride in their very high level of professionalism. They're tirelessly solicitous, but you never feel for even a moment that their commitment to your pleasure is anything other than genuine.Tipping
Gratuities are now included in the cruise fare (since 2012)Entertainment
Watch recently released blockbusters and higher-brow fare in the Hollywood Theatre, which tends to run out of popcorn, so arrive early! At 4123 square feet, Caesar's Palace at Sea is the biggest casinos on any luxury ship. There are nightly dancing venues, a disco, and a karaoke lounge, though the more genteel may opt for classical recitals. There are also lavish Broadway style production extravaganzas.
Daytime activities are many and constant. I have been on luxury ships where the only daytrime options were one lecture or doing nothing. Not so on Crystal; you can take music or foreign language lessons, or computer lessons, each repeateded throughout the day. Every cruise may feature as many as 10 different expert lecturers on a variety of topics.
There is an extensive DVD library with no charge to borrow as many movies as you want.Cabins
Serenity offers twice as many penthouse cabins as other Crystal ships. Moreover, 85 percent of Serenity's cabins have balconies, as opposed to Symphony's 65 percent. There are nine guest decks, with 548 staterooms on five of them, including four Crystal Penthouses with 1345-square foot verandahs. Thirty-two Penthouse Suites with 536-square foot verandahs, 64 Penthouses with 403-square foot verandahs, 82 (269-square-foot) Penthouse staterooms with verandahs, 286 (269-square-foot) Outside Deluxe Staterooms, and 80(225-square-foot) Outside Deluxe Staterooms.
The Penthouse Staterooms, exclusive to Serenity, include a remarkable array of amenities, such as butler service, binoculars, slippers, Riedel glassware, personalized stationery, baggage tags for priority delivery, welcome champagne and an in-room bar that's fully stocked before embarkation, flat screen TV, walk-in closet, and full Jacuzzi bathtubs. The four largest penthouse suites also have guest bedrooms, butlers' pantries, libraries, private workout rooms, cordless phones, and surround sound.
The cabins have roomy sitting areas, big closets with shoe racks, safes, both showers and bathtubs, double sinks, and telephones in the bathroom, which has it own raft of amenities, including magnifying makeup mirrors, and bathrobes. TV remote control offers a choice between 14 channels. There's a data port for laptop computers (access to the Internet is charged separately). The telephone system offers private voicemail and automated wakeup calls. Twin beds may be converted to queen-sized.Fitness/Spa
The 8,234 sq. ft. Crystal Spa, laid out according to feng shui principles, features cardiovascular exercise equipment, a weight room, an aerobics studio, treatment rooms, and two Wimbledon Courts for paddle tennis. The luxurious changing rooms offer lotions, shampoos, hair dryers, and bottles of water. You can enjoy marvelous views through picture windows while relaxing in the steam room. The Seahorse outdoor lap pool is flanked on both sides by outdoor Jacuzzis. The indoor/outdoor Neptune Pool can be covered by a retractable roof in inclement weather. There's a full wraparound teak promenade deck for walking and jogging on Deck 7, with no deck chairs to get in your way, and no lifeboats to compromise the view. The sports deck offers golf driving range, shuffleboard court and table tennis.Children's Facilities
During the summer and school holidays, Crystal provides staff to coordinate activities for kids from three to 17. There's always a video arcade designed for the exclusive pleasure of older teenagers. Babysitters may be hired by the hour. Cribs are provided without charge.Attire
By day, resort wear prevails. For evening, any one of three dress codes may be enforced. Formal dictates evening gowns for the ladies and tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits and ties for their gentlemen escorts. Informal allows evening or cocktail dresses or pantsuits for ladies and sport coats and slacks for gentlemen, with or without neckties. Casual calls for dresses and pantsuits for the ladies, sport shirts and slacks for gentlemen, who needn't worry about neckties and jackets.
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
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".