It was like meeting a friend you haven’t seen in years and finding her radiant and rejuvenated. My husband Humberto and I experienced this during a 12-day Caribbean cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity, one of Crystal Cruises’ ocean vessels that received a redesign in late 2018. We had not sailed on her for four years and wondered what we would find. This ship is so beautiful and better than ever!
This extensive redesign, during a dry dock in fall 2018, refreshed the ship and enhanced the guest experience by expanding space and options.
Due to the redesign, the ship now has 36 new penthouses and two new penthouse suites that replaced verandah staterooms on penthouse deck 10. We booked one of the new Seabreeze Penthouses, and at 403 square feet, we found it spacious, stylish and comfortable — the perfect home at sea with a walk-in closet, spa-like bathroom and an expansive verandah. It was on this verandah that we loved to start our days with breakfast al fresco. Our butler, Richard, impeccably served fresh berries, flaky croissants, fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee.
The transformation from verandah cabins to penthouses and suites has reduced the ship’s capacity from 1,070 passengers to 980, but the number of crew remained the same. Translation: more space and more attentive service!
Another aspect of the redesign we loved was the introduction of open-seating dining. This allows guests more flexibility for evening activities and more intimate seating with many tables for two and four in Waterside, the main restaurant that replaced the Crystal Dining Room, serving classics and modern specialties. Arguably the best part of all, when it comes to the redesign, is the creation of new dining venues.
Top on our list of favorites is Churrascaria, a Brazilian-style barbeque evening venue in The Marketplace (previously the Lido Café, which still serves buffet-style breakfasts and lunches). Churrascaria welcomes patrons with the traditional Caipirinha cocktail (similar to a mojito), and offers tapas, ceviche, salads and grilled meats carved tableside by gauchos on sword-like skewers. We enjoyed it so much — particularly its black bean and sausage feijoada soup and grilled chicken and pork — that we visited three times during our voyage.
Another favorite of ours is Silk Kitchen & Bar, an Asian-inspired venue located in what was formerly Tastes. It features Chinese specialties served family-style, including delightful dim sum among the choices for dinner. Silk Kitchen & Bar features new fabrics, lighting and decorative illuminated columns.
These venues join the line’s ever-popular Prego, serving Northern Italian cuisine with a modern twist: divine Crystal mushroom soup, slow-roasted pumpkin ravioli and scrumptious tiramisu. There’s also Umi Uma & Sushi Bar, featuring the Japanese-Peruvian cuisine of celebrity Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. At Umi Uma, who can resist the Nobu-style lobster with truffle-yuzu sauce and a bento box of chocolate souffle cake with shiso syrup and sesame ice cream? Not us! All these wonderful restaurants confirm Humberto’s and my philosophy that one of the greatest luxuries in life is choice!
Other refurbished spaces include the ship’s lovely Palm Court which now features new finishes, carpeting, more tables for two, dramatic wingback chairs with footstools, sofas and coffee tables. The stage has been relocated in an “in-the-round” concept along with a modernized bar area. It was a pleasure to attend Crystal’s Mozart Tea (perhaps the best afternoon tea afloat in this beautiful room)! We secured two of the wingback chairs and felt like royalty in this elegant setting, where we enjoyed an extensive selection of teas by waiters clad in period costumes of velvet, brocade and lace inspired by Amadeus’ time. We delighted in sipping from delicate cups and tasted some of the many treats offered, including sandwiches, scones, petit fours, warm apple strudel and sinful chocolate tarts!
Another entertainment venue that received an extensive refurbishment is the Stardust Club, with new finishes, seating and tables, a new dance floor and dynamic lighting to support a more multi-purpose use of the area — from popular bridge tournaments to evening entertainment.
And the ship’s enrichment facilities have also been redesigned. The Computer University@Sea and its adjoining classroom, as well as the multi-purpose studio, have received new carpeting, seating and equipment along with 70-inch televisions to enhance the programs offered through the Crystal Creative Learning Institute and Crystal Visions Lecture Series.
It was a pleasure to visit several Caribbean idylls, including chic St. Barts, and lovely St. Lucia with Les Pitons: two majestic volcanic spires that rise green-clad from the sea. In St. Lucia, we also enjoyed the island’s La Soufriere “drive-in volcano” and the Castries Market, immersed in local color.
Other stops during our 12-day voyage included British-influenced Barbados and Antigua, the tropical paradises of Turks and Caicos and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. But as wondrous as those locations were, it was still a pleasure to be pampered 24/7 while traveling in the lap of luxury on our “floating island,” the Crystal Serenity!
The Crystal Serenity roams the world. Learn more about Crystal Cruises.