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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the nicest luxury ships in the world - fantastic service and cuisine. Great day and nighttime activities.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Port-a-day itineraries; 24-hour casual dress; having lots of kids around.
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.
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.
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.
Gratuities are now included in the cruise fare (since 2012)
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.