I was thrilled to find out I was going to sail the Mediterranean in a Penthouse Verandah onboard the Crystal Serenity only nine days before the ship’s departure.
We arrived in Athens prior to our cruise and took the hotel bus to the Plaka (the oldest part of Athens in the shadow of the Acropolis). This area features local restaurants, tourist shops and cafes, and is completely closed off from traffic. We stayed the night at the Marriot Ledra (a clean moderate hotel) which was a short distance from the main tourist area. The following morning we checked out of the hotel but left our luggage and spent more time at the Acropolis, and then took the subway back to the Plaka for lunch. We then picked up our luggage by taxi and made the short drive to the pier.
Upon our arrival, we were met by a Crystal representative who took our luggage and guided us to the check-in area. This process was very seamless with no security lines. From there we passed a duty free shop and so began our journey.
Onboard the Crystal Serenity
After we boarded the Serenity, we were escorted to our penthouse and immediately met with our suite attendant Irina and our butler Rao. They were both extremely attentive and catered to us and all of our requests throughout our cruise. Our suite was spacious with a lot of storage space, a walk-in closet, and a safe. The bathrooms were quite large with a separate shower/Jacuzzi tub. Service onboard the ship was impeccable from all the staff.
We enjoyed the many dining options on the Serenity including the main Crystal Dining room as well as the alternative gourmet restaurants, Prego and Silk Road which require advance reservations but no additional charges. Our preferred place was Silk Road which served up great sushi and the Wagyu beef simply melted in your mouth. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and delicious food. We also dined at Prego one night, which was also very nice but we felt more comfortable at Silk Road.
I was delighted to be given an opportunity from the jewelry shop on board the Serenity (Facets) to model some jewelry for one of the designers on board. How fun! I was wearing approximately $73,000.00 worth of jewelry (which if you’re wondering – I did have to sign for). Needless to say, all the beautiful jewelry was promptly returned back to the store. The only drawback during my time onboard was that the internet was very spotty, slow and expensive.
Mediterranean Ports of Call
On to the destinations! Our first port was Santorini and we took the mules up the streets and then headed to Thira for the day for great shopping and lunch. After a day at sea, we headed for Ashdod, Israel, and were able to explore this fine city for three days due to a change of itinerary deleting Egypt. We opted for shore excursions through Crystal to Masada and Dead Sea, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. Those few days were long and very intense as we dove into the history of the region, but well worth the guided tours and knowledgeable tour guides.
The next port of call was Bodrum, Turkey, and we selected a walking tour with a guide. It was a beautiful city, and we felt it was very similar to the Greek islands. Next, we arrived in Corfu, Greece, where we rented a car and drove ourselves all over the island. We found that a lot of the restaurants close for the season this late in the year.
We moved on to Dubrovnik, Croatia, where we also chose to explore the city on a guided walking tour. The city is still fairly new in its independence but beautiful and clean. English was well spoken here as all the students start learning a second language in elementary schools. Finally, Venice lived up to all is grandeur with majestic views, wonderful people, great food and of course the stunning gondolas.
We were blessed with wonderful weather throughout our cruise – mainly in the 80’s and 90’s and wonderful sunshine. I would definitely recommend sailing on the luxurious Crystal Serenity to these fine Mediterranean ports.