Crystal Serenity back to back cruises
November is one of my favourite times to cruise The Caribbean, I decided to book a back to back cruise from Fort Lauderdale on Crystal Serenity, I have enjoyed sailing with them on previous cruises. The first seven nights was a Holiday cruise over Thanksgiving. Boarding was smooth, Crystal start boarding at midday. Room cards are issued once onboard by ship personal who are seated outside the Main dining room. I decided to have my lunch in the dining room which was a relaxed and enjoyable affair. Champagne or other requested drinks were freely poured by the wine waiters, Crystal ships are all inclusive so all drinks, gratuities and from late 2017 all time internet is included. There were some 75 children were onboard for the holiday cruise but I must say that the cruise councillors kept them busy and they were no trouble at all. The second nine night cruise was also into The Caribbean, only one child was onboard and the age demographic did change to an older cliental. Crystal Serenity still has two sittings for Dinner, I was on late sitting at 8:30, the dining room was not busy and service was always professional, relaxed and not rushed, the early sitting was full with the doors opening at 6:00pm. In November 2018 after a ship refurbishment open dining will commence. Food in the main dining room was always well presented and of good quality. The menu is split into Classic selection and Modern Cuisine, the latter being a little more adventurous, choice from both sides of the menu is encouraged so you can mix and match. There is also a separate vegetarian menu on request from the head waiter. Special items can be ordered on request if you ask 24 hours before and the kitchens have the ingredients onboard. Speciality restaurants onboard are Prego specialising in an Italian based menu and Silk Road a Nobu Japanese fusion restaurant. Both are excellent and popular, on a seven day cruise two visits to the specialities are included, the fee for extra visits is $30, on a fourteen day cruise four visits are complimentary. There is also a venue for evening meals on the Lido deck called Tastes, reservations are needed, the food is Tapas style with small dishes best shared amongst a group of diners. Lunchtime buffets are sometimes themed, Oriental, Mexican and American are among these buffets. There was also a Jazz Brunch with the band playing and a special buffet outside the dining room with many choices of beautifully displayed items. Crystal cruises are known for their enrichment programs, daytime programs include, Bridge lessons, Computer lessons, art classes, knitting instruction and various other classes. These cruises had a Mind and Body theme, there were Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chee instructors onboard. All classes are without charge. There was also a magician doing close up magic for small groups of around 25 guests. There were also daytime talks by lecturers in political topics and ports of call as well as talks on the Mind and Body Theme. These are relayed into rooms and also available to view as recordings so one can catch up. Evening entertainment was generally very good with good shows from the onboard singers and dancers and on other evenings comedians and singers performed. There was also an extremely talented Organist who kept his mighty instrument onboard as hit was too big to transport, he comes onboard to perform several times each year. There was often a pre dinner show and a later one so there was no lack of entertainment. Also one of the bars had a great pianist singer who played every night and often took requests. There was also a nightly disco with occasional karaoke sessions. The all time included internet worked very well, speed was very acceptable, I found I could watch you tube videos and stream music, service can change according to the ships location. Crystal manage to keep many of their staff and it is always nice to board as a repeat guest to have many staff greet you with welcome home. It was nice to see some staff members having been promoted to more senior positions. The ship despite not being one of the newest at sea has had several expensive refits over the years and as mentioned is due for another in October, she is kept in immaculate condition. Staff and Officers are friendly yet very professional. Crystal is a first class product it is a shame that we will have to wait until around 2022 for a new Ocean Cruise Ship. By present standard of new builds the staterooms are a little small but they are comfortable and well appointed with adequate storage space for most.
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