Orange County, CA
Crystal Serenity ship review: Modern, stylish & luxurious
Think of Crystal Serenity as a floating Four Seasons Resort. Discerning travelers longing for comfort, enrichment, high-touch service and contemporary surroundings will find all of that and more on this gorgeous high-end ship, the largest ultra-luxury vessel at sea.
Since emerging from its recent $17 million "extreme makeover" by Crystal Cruises, the 1,070-passenger ship has a modern, stylish, understated and elegant look. Crystal Serenity has one of the highest space-to-passenger ratios at sea, which means that you'll receive attentive service as you roam on its 13 decks without ever feeling crowded.
We love the Serenity's expansive itineraries, too: Choose from cruises to the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Asia and South Pacific. Voyages last anywhere from seven days to several months.
Who will like sailing on Crystal Serenity
Love style, comfort, gracious service and space to wander? Passengers seeking an all-inclusive luxury cruise experience need look no further than Crystal Serenity. This ship experience is a great choice for well-traveled individuals who value quality. No expense has been spared when it comes to the luxury touches discerning travelers are looking for. From the galley, the best ingredients that can be sourced are used in the restaurants; the wine list is appealing to aficionados; top shelf liquors are used for house pours; the staterooms are appointed with 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, down pillows, plush duvets, Aveda bath products and English mohair lap blankets; and throughout the ship, you will see contemporary interiors that rival the best hotels on land.
Where Crystal Serenity sails
Destinations: Crystal Serenity sails to ports of call around the world. You can book a round the world cruise that lasts about 100 days, starting and ending in San Francisco, and visit Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Canada and many countries in between. Or, as most passengers will do, choose a cruise of a shorter duration to focus on one region of the world.
Dining on Crystal Serenity
Crystal Cruises has perfected the art of innovative, delicious dining at sea. Passengers can choose to dine in the Crystal Dining Room, at an alternative restaurant or in their stateroom or suite.
Crystal Dining Room
The menu offers an extensive selection of regionally inspired cuisine prepared in the classical French tradition. The array of tantalizing options includes “lighter fare” low-sodium, low-cholesterol and low-carb selections, plus vegetarian offerings.
New: The Crystal Dining Room offers open seating for breakfast and lunch; with their Perfect Choice Dining options for dinner. Passengers can select from Classic Main (beginning at 6:15 pm), or Classic Late (beginning at 8:30 pm). In addition, guests may choose their Dining by Reservation option (available between 6:15 pm and 9:15 pm). Keep in mind that the actual times can vary by itinerary, so once onboard double check.
Open only for dinner, Prego offers Italian pasta, meat and fish entrees served a la carte or through a tasting menu. Its signature dishes include Scaloppine Di Vitello Servite Con Capelli D’angelo and Linguine Con Aragosta E Zucchini. The mushroom soup is a crowd favorite.
Silk Road & The Sushi Bar
Passengers who love sushi and creative twists on Asian cuisine will flock to the stylish Silk Road and its fabulous, diminutive sushi bar, located at the restaurant's entrance. The kitchen, set up by world-renowned master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, features Nobu-trained chefs preparing classically styled Japanese foods with distinct Peruvian and European influences. Highlights include salmon tartar, Tiradito Nobu-style and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu Sauce, Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye with Wasabi Pepper Sauce, and the signature dessert, which is a Bento Box filled with Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Shiso Syrup and Sesame Ice Cream.
The Vintage Room
Foodies who want an intimate experience will like the Vintage Room with its wine- and champagne-themed dinners in a wine cellar setting. Expect to wine and dine while tasting and discussing some of the best wines on the ship. Ask the head sommelier to make reservations.
Other choices include Tastes, a casual eatery near the Neptune Pool that's a good casual dinner option with a new global-inspired evening menu (it's closed on formal evenings though); The Bistro, an evening café for small bites, tapas, desserts and snacks, and the poolside Trident Grill and Lido Cafe.
Book ahead for an alternative restaurant
All guests can enjoy one complimentary meal at Prego and Silk Road and The Sushi Bar at least once during their cruise. Because these venues are so popular, make sure to inquire in advance with your Cruiseable travel professional or outside travel agent or make it a priority to secure a reservation as soon as you board the ship.
All-inclusive pricing — goodbye, surcharges!
Now that Crystal Cruises has adopted an all-inclusive cruise fare, that means guests no longer pay extra for wine, cocktails, soda, bottled water or specialty coffees. It also means gratuities are included in the cruise fare, which should help you plan your budget. Note that you'll still pay extra if you choose to dine more than once at one of the specialty restaurants.
Renewed, refreshed: Little touches that matter
The Serenity's makeover included a full remodel of its Crystal Penthouses, the coveted top accommodations on board. And you have to love the little touches throughout, from the Wedgwood bone china teacups to the Riedel leaded crystal wine glasses to the Frette linens adorning the dining tables.
Crystal offers a wide range of entertainment options from large-scale productions featuring shows from Broadway and Britain's West End, as well as performances from singers, dancers and musicians playing classical and contemporary music. In addition, there are celebrity speakers and headline magicians from Crystal's Magic Castle at Sea.
Some 85 percent of all staterooms come with balconies, compared to 65 percent of the rooms on sister ship Crystal Symphony. All rooms come with seating areas, 100% Egyptian cotton linens, flat-screen satellite TV, minibar, bathroom with bathtub and double sink and wi-fi access — for a fee (drat!). Guests staying in a penthouse room have access to extras like Jacuzzis, nightly hors' d'oeuvres and personal butler service.
Crystal Serenity's entry-level cabin is called a deluxe stateroom with large picture window, measuring 226 square feet. The deluxe stateroom with veranda is 269 square feet and its penthouses range from 403 to 1,345 square feet. Penthouse guests get private Jacuzzis, nightly hors d'oeuvre and personal butler service.
Crystal Serenity attracts a friendly, sophisticated, uppercrust crowd with a majority age 50 and older. Depending on the itinerary, the passenger mix is often 85 percent North American (many from California) and 15 percent other nationalities. The crew and staff speaks English.
- Computer [email protected]
- Digital Filmmaking with iMovie
- Creative Learning Institute
- Tai Chi
- Wellness lectures
- Wine tastings
- Art classes
- Crystal Visions seminars
- ACBL Bridge lessons and supervised games
- Extreme Thrill Seekers program
With so much to do, there is no reason for anyone to be bored on Crystal Serenity.
Crystal Cruises has done a lot of evolving to emerge on the cruise scene with a fresh new taste and feel. Most notable is the move towards a more casual shipboard environment. Put it this way, although you can still wear your long formal gowns, it is no longer required. And with the new Dining by Reservation program in place, you have the flexibility to choose with whom you wish to dine as well as your dinner time (within the applicable dining hours).
Carrie Finley-Bajak sailed on Crystal Serenity on a press/blogger trip as a guest of Crystal Cruises. See Cruiseable's Ethics & Disclosure policy.
Have you cruised on Crystal Serenity? What was the highlight? I'd love to hear about your experience.
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Interested in a cruise on this ship?
Top highlights on this ship
- $52 million of "extreme makeover" improvements
- Chic and contemporary public areas
- Lido Cafe has new "California Riviera" vibe
- 70 PURE hypoallergenic deluxe veranda staterooms
- Look for extra space, quality, service and choices that goes above and beyond
- One of the highest space per guest ratios at sea
- Up to seven evening dining options
- Feng Shui-inspired Crystal Spa & Salon
- Gracious European-trained waiters anticipate your every desire
- 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, down pillows, plush duvets and featherbeds (upon request)
- Complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks, bottled water
Top dining options on board
Editor & community ratings
“Few cruise ship restaurants affiliated with celebrated chefs come close to Silk Road and The Sushi Bar. Most superstar chefs with restaurants worldwide can’t micro-manage each venue’s quality. But Japanese-born Nobu, who shot to fame with his Asian cuisine with Peruvian and European influences, makes it work.”