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Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Once and Future Queen of Luxury Cruising | Crystal Cruises Serenity | A Full Review of the Relaunched Cruise Ship

For enthusiasts of luxury cruising, the reemergence of Crystal Serenity onto the cruising scene is akin to the return of royalty. With a rich history as one of the most cherished luxury ships in the world, Crystal Serenity's absence from the waves was deeply felt after the unfortunate collapse of its parent company, Crystal Cruises, in early 2022. However, the story takes an exhilarating turn as this elegant vessel sails back, shining even brighter than before, under the banner of a new owner and an all-new incarnation.

A Glittering Rebirth

The saga of Crystal Serenity reads like a tale of reclamation and rejuvenation. Following its acquisition by a new entity that secured the rights to the esteemed Crystal brand, the ship underwent an astounding transformation in 2023. A substantial investment of millions of dollars breathed new life into the vessel, turning it into a sparkling gem that seems almost brand new. This revival, coming after an 18-month hiatus, positions Crystal Serenity to take its place once again as the ruler of luxury cruising.

A Symphony of Luxury

Crystal Serenity is the flagship of the reimagined Crystal cruise line, an endeavor that blends tradition with innovation. While the parent company underwent a transformation, the essence of Crystal Cruises lives on through Crystal Serenity. This resurgent ship stands as a testament to the unbroken spirit of luxury cruising, providing a familiar haven for enthusiasts of opulent travel experiences. The continuity is striking: many senior staff members and crew who once graced the decks of Crystal Cruises' vessels now continue their legacy on Crystal Serenity.

A Space for Luxury to Breathe

One of the most captivating aspects of Crystal Serenity's revival is the dedication to space and luxury. With the removal of smaller cabins and the addition of more spacious suites, the ship has redefined the concept of lavish accommodations. The intimate passenger count, now capped at 740 passengers, ensures an unparalleled passenger-to-space ratio that is virtually unheard of in the luxury cruise world. This fundamental design choice lays the groundwork for a voyage of true extravagance.

A Symphony of Crew Excellence

A hallmark of the Crystal experience has always been its exceptional crew members, and the resurgence of Crystal Serenity retains this cherished aspect. Over 80% of the crew, including butlers, room stewardesses, wait staff, and more, returned to offer the same exquisite and intuitive service that has made Crystal Cruises a legend. The familiar faces create an environment of warmth and familiarity, where returning passengers are greeted like old friends.

Sapphire Suites: A Game-Changer

At the heart of Crystal Serenity's revival are the resplendent Sapphire Verandah Suites. The transformation saw the removal of smaller cabins and their replacement with these sprawling suites, each measuring over 500 square feet. These spacious accommodations feature separate sitting rooms and bedrooms, walk-in closets, and expansive bathrooms. The attention to detail, from high-end furnishings to luxurious bedding, contributes to an experience that redefines luxury at sea.

Sapphire Suite Bathroom

If you are more budget conscious, there is still the classic Double Guest room with or without a veranda.


Strolling Down the Promenade

We love a Promenade deck to maintain our health as we travel! As if to pay homage to the grandeur of cruising's golden era, Crystal Serenity boasts a glorious promenade that wraps around the ship. Lined with elegantly refinished teak boards, this feature is a rarity in modern cruising. Its wide expanse on Deck 7 offers passengers an opportunity to relish morning walks or evening strolls while immersing themselves in the sea's salty embrace.

Reflections and Aspirations

While the reimagined Crystal Serenity shines like a beacon of luxury and sophistication, there are a few considerations to note. The absence of a casino, while a personal preference for some, has left a void for those who enjoy late-night entertainment. The ship's lounge area, which replaced the casino, is still finding its purpose and identity. Additionally, while the new Sapphire Verandah Suites boast remarkable amenities, some passengers have noted a desire for more storage space in these expansive quarters.


Crystal Serenity ensures that even younger cruisers have a space dedicated to their enjoyment. The ship offers two distinct areas tailored to children and teenagers, providing them with specialized fun in a safe and engaging environment.

WAVE'S (Children's Space): Wave's is designed to captivate the imagination of young adventurers. This area is a haven for children aged 3 to 12, offering a variety of age-appropriate activities and games. From arts and crafts to interactive games, children can engage in enriching experiences while making new friends. Supervised by a dedicated team of staff, Wave's is a secure place for kids to enjoy their cruise journey to the fullest.

FANTASIA (Teen's Space): For teenagers aged 13 to 17, Fantasia is a vibrant and dynamic space where they can hang out, socialize, and enjoy a range of activities tailored to their interests. From video games to music and dance events, teens have the freedom to create their own fun and make lasting memories with their peers. Fantasia offers a welcoming environment that allows teenagers to relax and have a blast during their cruise vacation.

These dedicated spaces for children and teenagers aboard Crystal Serenity ensure that every member of the family has an unforgettable experience. While the ship's overall ambiance is geared towards adults seeking luxury and refinement, Wave's and Fantasia provide young cruisers with their own slice of excitement and entertainment.

Scoops Ice Cream Bar

Setting Sail into the Future

Crystal Serenity's resurgence is a testament to the enduring allure of luxury cruising. It showcases the power of vision and dedication, with an homage to the past while sailing confidently into the future. This once and future queen of luxury cruising has reaffirmed its position as a standard-bearer for opulent sea travel, a realm where space, service, and sophistication converge to offer an experience that is nothing short of extraordinary. With Crystal Serenity once again gracing the waves, the world of luxury cruising shines ever brighter.

A Culinary Odyssey: Crystal Serenity's Restaurants and Bars

While Crystal Serenity may not boast an overwhelming number of eateries and bars, it excels in the realm of quality over quantity. The ship embraces a refined approach to dining and imbibing, aligning perfectly with its luxury ethos. From exquisite dining rooms to intimate lounges, the culinary experiences onboard Crystal Serenity are a symphony of taste, elegance, and sophistication.

Culinary Masterpieces

Crystal Serenity offers a culinary journey that unfolds in a few select venues, each designed to provide an unparalleled dining experience. The centerpiece is Waterside, the main dining room located on Deck 5. This elegant establishment serves modern international cuisine that's a true feast for the senses. Whether indulging in sautéed tiger prawns with creamed orzo or savoring broiled lemon sole in a dill-and-cockles chowder, every dish is a work of art. The ever-changing menu ensures a diverse and delectable dining experience, making Waterside a cornerstone of the ship's gastronomic offering.

Nobu: The Epitome of Culinary Excellence

A highlight of Crystal Serenity's culinary lineup is Umi Uma, the extraordinary Japanese-Peruvian restaurant conceptualized by the renowned chef Nobuyuki (Nobu) Matsuhisa. This dining venue has been a longstanding favorite among Crystal Serenity's passengers, and its return after the ship's overhaul is a culinary triumph. Diners can delight in the same signature dishes that have made Nobu a global sensation, including the iconic black cod marinated in Saikyo miso and the sumptuous Wagyu beef filet steak. With its impeccable fusion of flavors and exquisite presentation, Umi Uma remains an irresistible gem on the ship's dining scene.

Italian Elegance Reimagined

A new addition to Crystal Serenity's culinary landscape is Osteria d'Ovidio, an upscale Italian restaurant that has taken the place of the former Prego. This sophisticated eatery, showcasing Northern Italian cuisine, is a testament to the ship's dedication to elevating its dining options. With an all-new menu and a stylish ambiance, Osteria d'Ovidio offers dishes that delight the palate and elevate the Italian dining experience to new heights. The tortello di stracotto di manzo, a pasta dish filled with braised beef, fig vincotto, and gorgonzola cheese, is a standout that exemplifies the culinary artistry of the restaurant.

Casual Delights

For more relaxed dining moments, Crystal Serenity offers a variety of casual eateries. Marketplace, a buffet-style restaurant, provides an array of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Trident Grill serves up cooked-to-order burgers and sandwiches, while Tastes Kitchen & Bar offers both classic lunch dishes and globally inspired dinner options. The latter's concept of shared dishes encourages a convivial dining experience, making it a perfect choice for those seeking a laid-back yet elevated meal.

A Taste of Elegance

Crystal Serenity's bars and lounges exude the same refined ambiance found throughout the ship. With a selection of sophisticated venues, passengers can enjoy expertly crafted cocktails and an extensive wine list. These spaces serve as havens for relaxation, socializing, and indulgence, offering a taste of luxury that's equal parts ambiance and libation.

The Vintage Room: An Exclusive Culinary Soiree

For those seeking an intimate and exclusive dining experience, the Vintage Room beckons. This 14-seat dining room offers private dinners with carefully curated menus paired with exquisite wines. The option to indulge in a five or seven-course meal with wine pairings ensures a gastronomic journey like no other. Whether choosing a traditional experience or the occasional celebrity chef takeover, the Vintage Room promises an unforgettable evening of gourmet delights.

A Symphony of Gastronomy

Crystal Serenity's restaurants and bars compose a harmonious composition of culinary excellence, elegance, and refinement. From the regal dining rooms to the intimate lounges, each venue invites passengers to embark on a gastronomic voyage that's as sumptuous as it is unforgettable. The ship's commitment to quality, taste, and innovation solidifies its position as a true queen of luxury cruising, where every bite and sip is a celebration of opulence and indulgence.

Elevating the Onboard Experience: Bars, Lounges, and Entertainment on Crystal Serenity

When it comes to bars and lounges, Crystal Serenity offers a refined and sophisticated selection that caters to the desires of discerning travelers. While the ship may not have an overwhelming number of options, it excels in creating intimate and elegant spaces that invite socializing, relaxation, and enjoyment. Let's dive into the world of Crystal Serenity's bars, lounges, and entertainment venues.

Crystal Cove: Where Friendships Spark

At the heart of the ship, the Crystal Cove bar serves as the social epicenter, inviting passengers to gather for pre-dinner cocktails, engaging conversations, and memorable encounters. This two-deck-high atrium oasis provides a perfect setting to meet fellow travelers and create lasting connections. With live music throughout the day, Crystal Cove sets the tone for a convivial atmosphere that extends from late morning until the late hours.

Avenue Saloon: Elegance and Intimacy

For those seeking a more intimate ambiance, Avenue Saloon beckons with its cozy and sophisticated décor. Adorned with dark wood, leather-lined walls, and dim lighting, this venue exudes the aura of a classic speakeasy. Known as the ship's piano bar, Avenue Saloon is the place to savor fine whiskeys, particularly from its special Manhattan and Negroni menus. The bar's pianist adds a touch of elegance to the evenings, enhancing the intimate and inviting atmosphere.

Crystal Cove on Serenity

Connoisseur Club: A Haven for Cigar Aficionados

Adjacent to Avenue Saloon, the Connoisseur Club caters to cigar and pipe enthusiasts. With its rich, clubby ambiance characterized by dark wood paneling and plush leather furnishings, this hideaway provides an exclusive space for indulging in premium cigars and exquisite spirits. Sinatra's melodies fill the air as guests unwind and savor the moment. Notably, the Connoisseur Club is the only designated area on the ship where cigar and pipe smoking is allowed.

Palm Court & Sunset Bar: A View to Remember

For panoramic views and refreshing drinks, the Palm Court & Sunset Bar awaits on Deck 12. This elevated lounge offers a retreat overlooking the ship's bow, allowing guests to take in the breathtaking vistas of the open ocean. While bar service may have limited hours, the Palm Court is a haven for afternoon tea with a musical accompaniment, creating an ambiance of refined relaxation.

Entertainment Extravaganza: The Heart of the Night

Crystal Serenity comes alive at night with a variety of entertainment options that cater to diverse tastes. The Galaxy Pavilion, a theater on Deck 6, hosts impressive evening productions, from musical tributes to comedy performances. At the Stardust Club, passengers can enjoy a versatile entertainment lounge featuring dance floors and stages for cabaret and themed events. On select nights, the Stardust Club transforms into a reservations-only Supper Club, blending dining and dancing in one unforgettable experience.

A World of Luxury Exploration

Crystal Serenity offers more than just stunning bars and entertainment venues. The ship's top decks provide a luxurious retreat, with refined pool areas and lounging spaces reminiscent of upscale resorts. The Sapphire Verandah Suites offer opulent accommodations, and The Vintage Room offers a private dining experience like no other.

Whether sipping cocktails at Crystal Cove, enjoying live music at Avenue Saloon, or immersing yourself in the ship's entertainment offerings, Crystal Serenity ensures that your journey is filled with sophistication, luxury, and unforgettable experiences that redefine luxury cruising.

Exploring the World with Crystal Serenity: Itineraries and Pricing

From September 2023 to January 2024, Crystal Serenity embarks on captivating journeys through North America, gracing New England, Canada, and the Caribbean with its presence. However, the adventure doesn't stop there. The ship is set to embark on an incredible 141-day around-the-world cruise from Miami, spanning until June 2024. The summer of 2024 will see Crystal Serenity sailing to the awe-inspiring landscapes of Alaska from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seward, Alaska. As the seasons change, the ship returns to the East Coast of North America, offering yet another season of voyages to New England, Canada, and the Caribbean.

The itineraries for 2023 and 2024 cover a range of departure ports, including Quebec City, Quebec; New York; Miami; Bridgetown, Barbados; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Whether you're drawn to the vibrant hues of fall foliage or the allure of Caribbean beaches, Crystal Serenity offers a diverse selection of destinations to explore.

As of the time of this guide's publication, fares for Crystal Serenity sailings begin at $3,200 per person for the most affordable cabin on a six-night voyage from Vancouver to Los Angeles. For nine-night Caribbean cruises, prices start at $3,900 per person. It's important to note that these fares are based on double occupancy, which means they apply when two passengers share a room. Solo travelers may incur higher costs.

One of the standout aspects of Crystal's approach to pricing is that the cruise fare includes taxes, fees, and port charges. Unlike many other cruise lines that add these charges separately, Crystal Serenity's fares encompass them within the base price, ensuring transparency and simplicity in booking.

Planning to go on a cruise in the future? Check out our favorite cruise essentials that will make your cruising life easier! 

Essential Pre-Cruise Information

Before setting sail, there are some important details to keep in mind:

Required Documents: All passengers must possess valid government-issued citizenship documentation, such as a U.S. passport or a Permanent Resident Card. Visas may be required for certain countries.

Gratuities: Crystal includes gratuities for housekeeping staff, bar, and restaurant staff in its fares. No additional tipping is expected.

Wi-Fi: Crystal Serenity offers relatively fast Wi-Fi, included in the fare.

Carry-on Drinks: Crystal doesn't impose restrictions on the amount of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages you can bring on board for personal consumption, with certain country-specific exceptions.

Smoking Policy: Designated smoking areas are available on the ship for cigarette, cigar, and tobacco pipe smoking.

Laundry: Self-serve launderettes and laundry services are available on board.

Electrical Outlets: Cabins feature both U.S.-style 110V and European-style 220V outlets, along with USB ports.

Currency and Payments: The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. Crystal Serenity operates on a cashless system, with charges automatically posted to your onboard account.

Drinking Age: The minimum drinking age is generally 21, except for sailings in Europe where passengers as young as 18 can consume beer and wine.

Dress Code: Daytime dress code is "day casual," while evenings adhere to "evening resort" standards. Crystal's dress guidelines ensure a tasteful and elegant atmosphere.


Crystal Serenity is a testament to luxury cruising at its finest, offering unforgettable journeys to diverse destinations, an array of onboard amenities, and an experience that combines elegance with modern comfort. The ship's recent overhaul and relaunch under new ownership reaffirm its position as a leading luxury vessel on the seas.

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