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Onboard Serenity - Never Again


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Wondering how there are eight hours of time change on a five day cruise that stays in the Pacific time zone?

 

;)

 

Our voyage was right after the World Cruise ended including the last world cruise segment which was a 23 day segment and involved I believe moving the clock forward around 8 times.

 

Ours 5 days and no change of the time.

 

My concerns prior to boarding Serenity was challenges ending the World Cruise which included a final segment of moving the clock several times, (I believer around 8 time on that cruise not ours), that our cruise was only five days in length, a fairly full cruise and coming right before the dry dock.

 

I thought that the cruise was great and none of my concerns came to fruition. I would sail on another cruise prior to dry dock without hesitation but in the end we choose our cruises based on the itinerary.

 

Keith

Edited by Keith1010
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In the end a vacation with Crystal is a off the shelf trip designed to cater to the majority. They really try to make it special but there is a limit to what can be done. If you are looking for a customized trip as others have described renting a yacht is in order.

 

I generally agree with you. However, I think the point that "others" was making related to the Crystal claims that it was "ALL EXCLUSIVE." "Off the shelf" "designed to cater to the majority" is not very exclusive. The fundamental issue for "others" and me is the distance between promise and reality. I think you have reasonably captured reality. However, Crystal's current promises are hyperbolic. As I have said before, my mantra while managing was "Under promise. Over deliver."

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Please help me out here...Why do people apologize for Crystal? Of course Crystal makes mistakes as any other line. But over the years I realize that a small number of posters would never tarnish the Crystal name and always defend its perfection. I live in the real world some of you live in a fantasy world. Oh well.

 

Miles, I reread all of the posts and don't see anyone apologizing for Crystal Cruises.

 

Rather I see a couple of people including myself saying they are sorry that the poster had a disappointing experience.

 

Maybe it's me but that's the way I respond to the experiences of others whether on land, at sea or even on Cruise Critic. Anne Marie is the same way. That includes on any of the cruise line boards where I don't particularly care for the cruise line but I am sorry when I hear that a cruise didn't work out for someone.

 

I never like to see others disappointed on their vacations. I am not sure what that has to do with a fantasy world.

 

One thing I have learned over the years though is when people ask for recommendations such as hotels or restaurants or even cruise lines is to tell them what we think but to quickly followup by saying we might like it but that is us and we can't guarantee what you will think. Same actually goes if someone asks about a hotel or restaurant or cruise line we didn't care for.

 

The other thing I have learned is nothing is perfect in life. Yes, sometimes it is what each of us makes of it that will determine our experience which is why you can take 25 people and some will have different experiences than others. Sometimes its the luck of the draw at restaurants on land or at sea based on the wait staff you have or at a hotel or on a ship based on housekeeping assign to your room.

 

Sometimes things to go wrong. Take a favorite restaurant on land. Once in awhile things go wrong but if it was our first time dining at that restaurant it might be our last.

 

But, maybe its me but if someone is disappointed in a product that I like (again nothing is perfect) I am sorry that was their experience.

 

Keith

Edited by Keith1010
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When one person reported a tad of disarray in both the MDR and Tastes, on the cruise before the drydock, I thought perhaps the crew was "short" (as in the military term) and rather itchy to be off to wherever they were going (presumably, home).

 

It never dawned on me that they had just finished an easterly sailing, with eight time changes. The crew gets little enough sleep as it is. When they have to lose an hour to a time change, it's way harder for them than it is for us, the cruisers. And you know how WE complain about it! We, who can go to bed whenever we darn please, and wake up whenever we darn please. The crew certainly doesn't enjoy that luxury. I think that was an excellent point by Keith.

 

And perhaps the crew on this current six-day cruise includes a larger group of new hires? or just newly returned to the ship. That might explain some of the disarray in the MDR now.

 

The word disarray may be too extreme, but it sounds close to what a few cruisers have described.

 

Looking forward to more reports.

 

And btw, I'm guessing that the cruise that started with 6 pm embarkation was already priced to reflect the shortened bit in the beginning. No?

Edited by May B
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Our voyage was right after the World Cruise ended including the last world cruise segment which was a 23 day segment and involved I believe moving the clock forward around 8 times.

 

Ours 5 days and no change of the time.

Thanks. Now that makes sense - didn't quite get it the first time around. Must mean I need more coffee.

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Back to MDR service, I have sailed Silversea twice, Regent once, Paul Gauguin once and Crystal once since 2010 (and will be on Symphony in July).

 

On all of those cruises, I always felt like the MDR staff always looked busy, but it was "fake hustle". It seems each person has one task and that is all they can do. I only drink champagne at dinner (just my preference), and feel like 20 people stare at my empty glass before one person finally fills it.

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And btw, I'm guessing that the cruise that started with 6 pm embarkation was already priced to reflect the shortened bit in the beginning. No?

 

Interesting point, so I decided to check.

 

I have a fare list for fares expiring 2/29

 

6309 (the six day post dry dock with late embarkation) had a per diem slightly higher than the five day with the same stops) and had higher port charges. So there was apparently no allowance for the shortened bit at the beginning. The itinerary was nearly identical except for the overnight in YVR.

 

6308 -- A1 for 5 days. Fare=2365 Per diem $473

6309 -- A1 for 6 days (though late embarkation) Fare= 2845 Per diem $474

 

So, unless I am missing something here, they charged a per diem "premium" to enjoy the late embarkation.

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Three difficult days to start with, to be sure

 

Embarkation.

 

Those who had Crystal transfers booked were taken to the Fairmont Hotel for tge day where a nice sandwich buffet was served, a free shore excursion tour of Vancouver was available, also a shuttle to a shopping area. ( Those arriving independently could not partake. ) None of this had been made known to TA's of the transfer passengers. we knew boarding was scheduled to start at six and that was all.

 

Sometime after six, they began walking people over in groups of about 50 or so. The last people did not get on board until well after 8. Dinner plans were all disrupted. Luggage delivery for many wasn't until after 10 pm. It wasn't a brilliant start.

 

As someone in this thread noted we later got $100 apology on board credit.

 

Next day in Vancouver

 

Muster drill at 8 pm.so again, many people's dinner plans disrupted.

 

Next day in Seattle

 

All had to clear US Customs and Immigration to get a zero count before any of the passengers who didn't have plans to go ashore could re-board. Long delay as one couple had to be located to get them off the ship. Everyone waiting impatiently in a chilly terminal. Apparently the tardy passengers didn't speak much English and didn't know what was going on. A morning wasted.

 

Many passengers angry and upset, blaming Crystal in the erroneous belief that they could have let us back on sooner if they had wanted to.

 

So the first three days were challenging.

 

If these had been my first three on Crystal, I might have wanted to disembark in Astoria, but I had confidence things would improve and I think they have. Still, the head office should have looked at how those first days were likely to go and anticipated better the challenges to take greater care in mitigating them, either by adjusting the length of the cruise by not boarding the ship at six pm but waiting instead for the next day to be embarkation day. Also by communicating much more clearly the what and why of Seattle immigration procedures.

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I do want to comment one item.

 

All TA's were notified that their clients could sign up for the transfers in Vancouver that would have allowed them to go over to the Fairmont. So it was an option for everyone. If someone's TA didn't tell them about that option that is an issue to be taken up with the TA. I have already heard from a TA that confirmed that my understanding is correct.

 

I am tempted to respond to another post about dining, but I will leave that alone. Very mean spirited IMHO but that's life on CC. Not worth the time to respond.

 

Keith

Edited by Keith1010
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Still, the head office should have looked at how those first days were likely to go and anticipated better the challenges to take greater care in mitigating them, either by adjusting the length of the cruise by not boarding the ship at six pm but waiting instead for the next day to be embarkation day.

 

This was my thought as well. However, I guesstimate that deferring the embarkation until the following day -- definitely the right and customer-friendly thing to do, from my perspective -- would have cost Crystal upwards of $250,000 of gross income. I make that conservative estimate by taking the per diem cost for a mere non-balcony C1 ($354) and estimating that there were 750 passengers. I am again using fares that expired on 2/29. I got the fare brochure on board in February.

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All had to clear US Customs and Immigration to get a zero count before any of the passengers who didn't have plans to go ashore could re-board. Long delay as one couple had to be located to get them off the ship. Everyone waiting impatiently in a chilly terminal. Apparently the tardy passengers didn't speak much English and didn't know what was going on. A morning wasted.

 

Many passengers angry and upset, blaming Crystal in the erroneous belief that they could have let us back on sooner if they had wanted to.

 

I do believe that they could have begun to hunt down the missing couple between 10:30 and 10:45 AM. This is one case I believe the hotel manager was missing in action.

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I do want to comment one item.

 

All TA's were notified that their clients could sign up for the transfers in Vancouver that would have allowed them to go over to the Fairmont. So it was an option for everyone.

 

Keith

 

If this is the case, it is curious that it did not come up in the long thread "Hospitality Venue Misstep" with 79 posts. At least a couple of those posts were from CCers on that cruise.

 

Also, what does it mean "sign up for the transfers in Vancouver"? Transfers from YVR? From other hotels? What if one had arrived a day or more earlier and had to check out of hotels at 11 am or noon? Was it open to them? To what extent was it really "an option for everyone"? Or was it an option for people who a) flew in that day and b) were willing to pay for the transfer from YVR?

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Had this been a 5 day cruise without the overnight in Vancouver, U.S. Immigration formalities could have been handled at Canada Place as is customary for cruises where the first port of call is in the U.S. This would have eliminated the Seattle immigration situation entirely.

 

On the other hand, Crystal was probably smart at the outset to schedule the overnight in Vancouver as a safety net in the event there were any delays in dry dock. Earlier this year a NCL ship in San Francisco was delayed in dry dock resulting in the post-dry dock cruise departing one day late. NCL had a nightmare on their hands scrambling to put up 2,000 passengers in hotels for one night, refunding one days' prorated cruise fare, meal reimbursements and giving passengers 50% off a future cruise as a compensation package.

 

Granted, these short cruises are a great opportunity for potential Crystal passengers to try out the product. But between their port intensity combined with late embarkation and post-dry dock concerns/issues they don't necessarily get to experience the total Crystal package as so many of us have.

Edited by BEAV
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If this is the case, it is curious that it did not come up in the long thread "Hospitality Venue Misstep" with 79 posts. At least a couple of those posts were from CCers on that cruise.

 

Also, what does it mean "sign up for the transfers in Vancouver"? Transfers from YVR? From other hotels? What if one had arrived a day or more earlier and had to check out of hotels at 11 am or noon? Was it open to them? To what extent was it really "an option for everyone"? Or was it an option for people who a) flew in that day and b) were willing to pay for the transfer from YVR?

 

It is the case. I have heard it now from multiple people.

 

I am not saying whether or not others should do it. Just saying it was available and if the TA did not share it with their client the TA could have and anyone could have signed up about it.

 

It was an option for everyone. If you were there for a month you could take advantage of it.

 

 

Keith

Edited by Keith1010
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On the other hand, Crystal was probably smart at the outset to schedule the overnight in Vancouver as a safety net in the event there were any delays in dry dock.

 

I'm not sure that I see how helpful this "safety net" was for passengers. If allowance had to be made for possible delays in dry dock, they could have simply allowed the ship to sit empty at the dock that first evening -- or cruising slowly on the ocean until the ship docked the following morning. If they were concerned about timely exit from dry dock and really wanted/needed a safety net, it hardly seems very guest-friendly to make guests bear the risks and have the late embarkation with entirely predictable related issues.

 

Details matter.

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It is the case. I have heard it now from multiple people.

 

I am not saying whether or not others should do it. Just saying it was available and if the TA did not share it with their client the TA could have and anyone could have signed up about it.

 

It was an option for everyone. If you were there for a month you could take advantage of it.

 

 

Keith

 

What you say could well be the case. But it flies in the face of post # 5 in that earlier thread re Hospitality Venue Misstep:

 

"When my TA questioned the contact at Crystal closely regarding plans for passengers who are already in Vancouver the answer was (and I paraphrase) - They can drop their bags beginning at 10:00 am and return to board at 6:00 pm. Not exactly the customer-centric response I would expect from an enterprise like Crystal."

 

This TA apparently not only did not know about the option but was told by Crystal that no such option existed.

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What you say could well be the case. But it flies in the face of post # 5 in that earlier thread re Hospitality Venue Misstep:

 

"When my TA questioned the contact at Crystal closely regarding plans for passengers who are already in Vancouver the answer was (and I paraphrase) - They can drop their bags beginning at 10:00 am and return to board at 6:00 pm. Not exactly the customer-centric response I would expect from an enterprise like Crystal."

 

This TA apparently not only did not know about the option but was told by Crystal that no such option existed.

 

Just stating the facts. :D

 

You are obviously a very experienced cruiser. :)

 

So I am sure you know that there are outstanding and excellent TA's and some weak ones.

 

If all TA's were outstanding, would there be so many questions by people on Cruise Critic who if they had a solid TA could not only answer it for the poster but more importantly take resolve it for them.

 

Keith

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I'm not sure that I see how helpful this "safety net" was for passengers. If allowance had to be made for possible delays in dry dock, they could have simply allowed the ship to sit empty at the dock that first evening -- or cruising slowly on the ocean until the ship docked the following morning. If they were concerned about timely exit from dry dock and really wanted/needed a safety net, it hardly seems very guest-friendly to make guests bear the risks and have the late embarkation with entirely predictable related issues.

 

Details matter.

 

I agree, such a "safety net" wouldn't have been in the passenger's favor, but I was speaking as a company IF the ship had been delayed by a day, Crystal wouldn't have had to alter an already-short itinerary by eliminating an en-route port of call. The NCL cruise I was referring to was 11 nights and they were able to absorb the 24 hour delay without compromising port stops. It would have been more difficult for Crystal to do likewise on the current sailing.

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To say a bit more, my TA booked the transfer from the airport to the Fairmont, tgere was nothing in any of Crystal's communication about the free shore excursion and free shopping shuttle. That part was never mentioned.

 

A man I sat with at lunch had booked basically the same city tour for the next day and there it was being offered for free when it was too late to cancel the paid one. He was a bit perturbed by it all.

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I'm not sure that I see how helpful this "safety net" was for passengers. If allowance had to be made for possible delays in dry dock, they could have simply allowed the ship to sit empty at the dock that first evening -- or cruising slowly on the ocean until the ship docked the following morning. If they were concerned about timely exit from dry dock and really wanted/needed a safety net, it hardly seems very guest-friendly to make guests bear the risks and have the late embarkation with entirely predictable related issues.

 

Details matter.

 

In fairness though, Crystal DID provide hospitality for all full-service passengers -- those passengers in their care that selected transfers, tours, hospitality, air, hotel, etc.. The passengers who were not accommodated historically wouldn't have been -- they were independent travelers -- a self-service option. An independant traveler, by definition, is responsible to show up at the designated location at the designated time.

 

IMHO, as someone who purchases the services when I need it and saves money when I don't, I think it's important that Crystal respect those two service delivery models and not just give away the hospitality option. The reality is its not free and it's actually very expensive -- the alternative was that Crystal build the cost of the hospitality into the independant travelers fares.

 

I'm happy to ding them for the ship not being ready on time, but if someone's agent doesn't understand what an independant traveler means or set up those expectations incorrectly, that's not on Crystal.

 

Vince

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I hesitated to post anything negative for fear of it being challenged and i really feel no need to waste my time defending my position. I would like to start with saying the food has been outstanding. That's about it.

 

I am a Crystal regular and I can say this is the worst service I have ever experienced. There seem to be less of the wonderful Filipino deck staff. One person working the Grill. One person working the ice cream. Huge queues for both. Please dont tell me that is normal. It's not and was not in all my previous cruises. I have only seen two staff members from my previous cruises on Serenity. Very rare to receive a good morning or a hello in Lido. Very rare to hear "have a nice day" when leaving lido after lunch.

 

MDR has been very poor also, wine steward (ess) invisible, one offer of bread and then not again. Slow between courses. Wine steward in Prego didn't know what what region in Italy the wine was from, I had to ask to see the bottle. Waited for ever in Silk Road to be asked if I wanted dessert and coffee. Finally just left. Maitre'd at his podium did t even say good ight as I walked by. Whilst he may have been doing something very important a "good evening" would still be expected.

 

Stewardess had to be asked repeatedly to refill certain items that I told her on the first day I would please like to have

 

Across the Pond, which I have seen before was like High School Musical

 

Restrooms need to be cleaned and checked more frequently.

 

Surly bartender(ess) at Palm Court. Many many more Eastern European staff then I have seen and they don't seem too happy. They could be. They just don't seem it

 

There's more but I will stop now.

 

I am willing to overlook these issues and many more as this has not been SOP for Crystal. In speaking with many of the first timers they are not impressed, at all. There is a lot more negatives I experienced but the other posters summed it up without going into more of my personal negative experiences

 

Re OBC. IT would have been nice if this decision was made the first or even second day after the worst embarkation I ever experienced. As it was, the spa was completely booked up and people were scrambling to use the OBC. I popped in for my previously booked appt. and there was a long queue of people trying to book anything to use the OBC but everything was booked already as it was the next to last day. The shops were the most crowded I ever saw as again people were scrambling to use OBC. There was one day left for a shorex, but, it was after the booking deadline so OBC could not be used for that.

 

On a lighter note, everybody who signed up and voted for The Worlds Best Cruise Ship (or other categories) for the latest CN Travler (or Travel & Leisure can't remember now) survey received free, unlimited internet for this cruise. As the blurb in the Reflections on the first day said, you dont have to vote for Crystal, but they would appreciate it. In any case many people got the free, unlimited internet.

 

I have told a lot of people I had drinks with and dined with that this cruise is not typical of Crystal. If it were, I would t sail with them. I do hope it is an anomaly.

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As the original Hospitality Misstep poster, I can tell you that my TA (the president of a 50+ year old family owned agency) was told point blank that the hospitality was for transfer passengers only. We went to drop off our bags and were informed of the suite at the Fairmount. My thought is that this was a change from the original Crystal plans. Unfortunately, this seemed to foreshadow some of the communication (and other) problems encountered on this cruise. A few more observations:

 

  • The suggestion of bringing the surly service to the attention to the matre'd. I concur, except we encountered the same issue with one of the front of house managers - a short, gruff, older, European man that exhibited the same behavior. I would describe him as "the little general". On one occasion he was totally ignoring us in line to speak with other passengers at length. After a while, the restaurant manager saw this and came to redress the situation and get us seated. I am not sure how this is tolerated. In fact, the only time service was really attentive was when we purchased a bottle of dessert wine. Funny how this attitude has been 180 degrees different in Silk Road and Prego.
  • Prego was outstanding - food and service.
  • There was a Magic Castle at Sea magician performing a series of intimate shows (20-30 per performance) and we were fortunate enough to get tickets for the 1:30 show today in the Pulse Disco. These were up-close sleight-of-hand illusions and he was superb. Unfortunately, the ship's staff was unable to get the spotlight he was supposed to have working so he performed somewhat in the dark. How is that snafu even possible? Just another gaff on the last day of this disappointing sailing.
  • By the way, we were notified of the $100.00 pp credit (to make up for not giving us a true Crystal experience) the night we sailed from Seattle - with only 2 days to go. Sorry to sound bitter, but this should have been presented to passengers the day after the embarkation issues. Even some small immediate gesture like a small box of chocolates, etc. with a note of apology for the inconvenience waiting in the stateroom would have gone a long way toward making the passengers feel welcome and appreciated.

I worked the last 7 years of my career as a Customer Relations Manager for a luxury brand. I understand effective customer service and this cruise is a textbook example of what not to do.

Edited by Mike2131
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Sorry, but I forgot one last observation.

 

The shameless begging for votes for Crystal in the 2016 Conde Nast Gold List poll has been really annoying in light of the issues on this cruise. They have gone so far as to offer free internet for the cruise if you vote. On at least 2 of the ship's TV channels they have shown how to fill out the ballot and Edie R. has been leading the charge to vote, vote, vote.

 

Please earn the support before you put on a telethon to solicit it. I voted as requested (but with my honest feelings) and did not claim the free internet offered.

Edited by Mike2131
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From BEAV: "Granted, these short cruises are a great opportunity for potential Crystal passengers to try out the product. But between their port intensity combined with late embarkation and post-dry dock concerns/issues they don't necessarily get to experience the total Crystal package as so many of us have."

 

Yes and no. If embarkation day and disembarkation day together make up one-quarter to one-third of your vacation, it will be hard (but still possible) to overcome that with just a few days in between. Having to re-pack just four or five days after arriving doesn't really allow some passengers to get into the same relaxed state that a longer cruise would. With fewer sea days on most short cruises, Crystal doesn't give itself enough opportunity to demonstrate many of its strong points. If there are trans-continental flights involved at both ends of a short cruise, again the ratio of hassle-to-pleasure is tipped in the wrong direction.

 

Although I've read many times (including on CC) that a short cruise is a great way to sample a new cruiseline, I would argue that it's the worst way.

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