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 to be 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