CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Crystal Cruises Crystal Serenity by Adam Francis Western Mediterranean August 2, 2003

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 very good, 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...

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