When considering any cruise line, here Crystal Cruises, as an alternative to your present favorite…or simply the one(s) you have tried, there is much to consider. What is the ship like? What are the qualities of the amenities, venues and tours? How is the cuisine? What about service? And, of course, does the style of the cruise work with yours…or what you think yours is.
day spent sailing from Lisbon, Portugal to the island of Madeira. This gave me an opportunity to begin my
careful look at the Crystal Serenity, how Crystal delivers its product and to
observe who it is exactly that sails on Crystal.
comfortable) with our suite balcony door open just enough to allow the sea air
and sounds to compliment the very gentle rocking of the ship, it was time to
check out the service and the ship.
served on our balcony – which has very comfortable all-weather wicker furniture
with thick cushions – with actually very good coffee (as opposed to the
disappointing coffee elsewhere on the ship) and excellent freshly squeezed
orange juice. The pastries were not
memorable…not that I needed to eat them!
On subsequent breakfasts the poached and fried eggs were excellent and
the granola and oatmeal top notch. The
buckwheat blueberry pancakes were quite good as was the smoked salmon (though
curiously served with onion and capers, but without tomato.)
|Crystal Serenity has beautiful and comfortable veranda furnishings|
making your in-suite breakfast even more enjoyable
My first truly critical impression: You would never know the actual age of the
Crystal Serenity, as the ship is immaculately maintained, though its interior
style is more akin to the finer old school New York hotels and its exterior
that of the grand Palm Beach hotel al fresco areas. What made this more remarkable to me was the
fact that I rarely saw staff cleaning, polishing or vacuuming in public areas
during the day or evenings. Crystal must
make a serious effort to perform these tasks when guests are asleep.
full schedule ranging from lectures by Richard Roth, a long time CNN reporter,
and a former US brigadier general. They
were especially interesting in light of the Paris attacks that took place just
as this cruise started. Other enrichment
options range from how to make movies with your iPad to bridge instruction,
dance lessons, knitting classes and more.
|It would be great if this pool on the bow of the Crystal Serenity|
was available to guests.
Crystal Cruises reserves this for its crew, but they say the almost never use it.
(Maybe I’m being a bit selfish!)
two golf driving nets and a putting green (with lessons if you would like
them), ping pong tables as well as a nice size pool and a true promenade to run
or walk around the entirety of the ship. And that is just on the ship!
|Crystal Serenity’s Deck 6 Aft has a putting green,|
two golf driving cages and two ping pong tables.
included some ports worth talking about.
And while these were not the most exciting ports, if you looked there
were some interesting and fun things to do…and Crystal had a number of
excursions in each that catered to a range from extremely active (scuba diving,
serious bike riding and long runs) to those most sedentary could enjoy. Crystal again excels in making sure guests
know what they are signing up for two ways:
The descriptions (written and on the television) are very clear about
activity levels and why (number of steps, length of walks, limited sitting
areas, etc.) and with an excellent lecturer on the upcoming ports.
weakness: Crystal’s shuttles into and
from town. They are spread out over 30
minute periods, regardless of demand, so if you don’t time yourself well, you
will be sitting on a bus for a long time (or, alternatively, frustratingly
wasting time doing something else as you wait.)
Fifteen to 20 minute shuttles would be far more appropriate. (In Monaco there was no shuttle so if you had
any mobility issues you were relegated to a tour or ordering a taxi as the ship
may dock at the harbor, but it is a good distance and steeply uphill to the
areas you want to visit.)
|Funchal, Madeira, Portugal|
that would be open was still closed. So
we took a stroll after finding out the local market was also closed, and took a
gondola ride to the top of one of the hills surrounding the city of
|A Hazy View of the harbor in Funchal, Maderia, Portugal|
for the ride down…by toboggan! Is
sliding down the steep road in a wicker basket with rails with only two guys
guiding it with ropes…and their feet…touristic.
Yes, but ya gotta do it!
|Ancient wicker toboggans waiting to slide you down|
the steep roads of Funchal!
|One of the benefits of cruising in November is that there|
were almost no lines, so the toboggoneers were waiting for us
rather than us waiting for them.
because there was a tour…and we made in just in time. Crystal did offer a few wine tours (this is a Food & Wine Cruise), but they were more of a hint of what I wanted. As I will discuss in another article, onboard the Crystal Serenity Food & Wine events were truly WOW experiences.
wine tasting and not the one euro stuff offered to the tours, the fun began. Trust me on this: Most Madeira wine is good for little more than
cooking (if that), but the good stuff is really good stuff!
|Not all Madeira wine is heated and shaken; a process that assists|
in preserving this usually not so delicious fortified wine
|This is the Good Stuff|
|And this is the Really Good Stuff!|
with a view of the ship. It was, of
course, local fare with limpets (similar to clams with only one shell),
before enjoying what I believe is the best alternative restaurant at sea: Nobu’s Silk Road.
|Trust me: Order the Black Cod with Miso!|
either to be served in your suite at no additional charge.
|Crystal Serenity’s Penthouse affords you the ability to|
dine on Nobu in your suite!
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