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Advice - Serenity 6322


janazaz

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I really need some advice on the Serenity cruise September 10th, #6322. We've never been to Europe nor on the Serenity so I'd like someone's opinion about this particular itinerary.

 

I have until June 16th to book it at special pricing. We've sailed Symphony and Harmony so would you kindly compare these two ships to Serenity for me? We were in PH on Harmony and AA on Symphony, but I know we can't afford PH on this trip so we'll have to settle for AA. The AA rooms were really small, but might be worth it for the special cost of this sailing. It'll be our anniversary so it's a special trip as long as the ship and ports are worth it.

 

Thanks to all! Jan

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The AA's are exactly the same as A or B category cabins, only the location is different. It used to be that AA got the services of a butler, but they stopped that more than a year ago. For me, I would book a B or A, and save the money for other things.

 

I like the Serenity, but she is quite a bit different from her two sisters. The Palm Court, in my opinion, isn't nearly as nice as it was on Harmony. The Stardust Lounge isn't mid ship, but at the very aft of deck 6 and I really don't care for that location. I much prefer Silk Road to Jade Garden, as I think the food is better and I love the sushi bar. No obstructed cabins on Serenity as the lifeboats are recessed into the hull on deck 6. But I really like having large windows in the casino like there are on Symphony, which they don't have on Serenity because of the lifeboats. Many of my friends who have recently cruised Serenity have complained about the service not being nearly as crisp or attentive as it is on Symphony. I've been on Serenity twice, both during her first year in service and I did see a number of glitches in service, but I chalked that up to her newness, but it seems that these glitches are still there. Does this make the Serenity a bad choice? Not at all, but it will be a different experience for those who've only been on Symphony or Harmony.

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My two cents in comparing Harmony and Serenity (won't be on Symphony until later this year):

 

1. I second Darcie's comment about the PC - something about the layout and overall feel being different, but mostly I remember the Serenity's furniture was too firm. I could fall asleep easily in a corner in the Harmony PC.

 

2. Better arrangement for the specialty restaurants on Serenity - they are separated on different sides of the ship. I absolutely loved the sushi bar.

 

3. Connoisseur Club better on Harmony - I miss those big red chairs and the gigantic mirror.

 

4. Nicer bathrooms on Serenity in the regular cabins - the double sinks and marble countertops were great. First shower/tub I've had that didn't spray water on the floor. My only complaint is the phone is located poorly.

 

5. I really liked the unobstructed Promenade Deck on Serenity. This was the first time I tried the Walk on Water program, so I was able to have clear views all the way around.

 

6. I didn't notice a significant difference in service quality, but I think part of it is there were so many long-time crew members on Harmony. They were obviously very comfortable and proud of their ship. Coming back on a return visit and being remembered by specific crew members felt so special. I don't think there will be anyone on Serenity who will remember me when I sail her again next year.

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Larry and I are on 6322 also. We are in 9076. We selected it for the itinerary. We have done several Northern Europe and Mediterranean sailings on Crystal, but most of these ports will be new for us.

 

As Darcie wrote, the AA on Serenity is exactly the same as the A-E on the ship. The only difference is that it is on deck 10 rather than 7, 8, or 9. For the difference is price, I'd book a B or A stateroom and save the money for excursions (especially the landing beaches of Normandy!!). The bathrooms in the staterooms on Serenity are a bit wider than on Symphony and there is a bit more drawer storage space in the stateroom.

 

Public rooms: Palm Court is nicer than Symphony's but not as nice as Harmony's. They have the captain's parties there (no welcoming or farewell parties on this voyage). I like the Galaxy Lounge better because there are better sight lines and the back is raised. Starlight became Stardust and it is more of a supper club atmosphere and there is a disco, Pulse. Bistro has a better layout as does the Crystal Cove.

 

Dining room: a bit noisier than Symphony, I'm not sure why. We have found the service a bit spotty, but Leo has transferred to the Serenity and I'm hoping that will make a difference. I don't think Josef had an alternate maitre d' in the past.

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Jan, let me start by addressing your first question about the itinerary since you mentioned that you had not been to Europe before. Your itinerary looks great. You start in London which I think is great as it is easy to get to and there is so much to see. If possible, I would recommend that you consider flying in a few days before your cruise begins to not only to get over the jet lag but to see many of the wonderful sites that London has to offer. Be aware that London is considerably more pricey these days given the value of the US Dollar relative to the British Pound, but it is one of the most special cities in the world with so much to do and to see.

 

Your itinerary includes some very nice ports of call, some of which we have been to on other cruises and a few that we have not yet been to. And, it's a perfect time of the year to be visiting these locations.

 

It's nice that you have an overnight in Monte Carlo. We were on the Serenity last fall on a back to back cruise which included an overnight in Monte Carlo. While we had been there once before, we too were there this time in September and really enjoyed ourselves there. We were able to see so much there on our own without needing to book excursions through the ship or private tours.

 

Then when you disembark you have a couple of options. You could fly directly home or you could consider flying to Paris for a couple of days. Paris is another wonderful city to see and it is also easy to see Paris on your own without having to take private tours.

 

So, I do think you have selected a very nice itinerary and a perfect time of the year to go.

 

In terms of the Serenity, some like the Serenity the best, some like the Harmony the best and some like the Symphony the best. We enjoyed all three ships. Even if you like one over the other, what's not to like about the Serenity in terms of the overall cruise experience? Overall, it's a beautiful ship, with many nice features and I find it to be logically layed out. As Pam mentioned, I too like the location of the specialty restaurants and the other rooms on the same deck such as the Library. It is similar in many ways to the Harmony and the Symphony, but a bit larger. When the ship was designed they tried to combine the best features of both ships. In most ways, they succeeded but as other say there are some features that they prefered on the other two ships.

 

My take on this is that if you prefer some rooms on the Symphony over the Serenity, the Serenity is still a wonderful ship to sail on and if the itinerary is what you are interested in then I would let that be the deciding factor.

 

In terms of the category, I agree with Judith and Darcie and would recommend considering an A or B category over the AA.

 

And, if you can I would add on days before and after the cruise to see London and possibly Paris.

 

If you can only add days to one end of the trip, then I would do this on the London end so that in addition to seeing London you can get over the jet lag. That way you'll be well rested for your cruise.

 

Again, I think you've chosen a wonderful itinerary and a wonderful ship and of course a wonderful cruise line. But, you already know that Crystal is wonderful from already having cruised on the Crystal Harmony and Symphony.

 

Please let us know what you end up doing and if you do take this cruise it would be great if you can post your comments after the cruise.

 

Keith

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All, this is exactly the information I was hoping for from all of you who have been there and don't mind offering your vast cruise experience and individual opinions. We're really not so much concerned about the Serenity being quality as we are about the ports and traveling to unknown foreign places to us. Such as how do you get to the port from London since it appears to be about 75 miles..I'm guessing Crystal offers transfers at certain hotels?

 

Keith, we are definitely now going to tack on a few pre-cruise and post days but we weren't sure where to tack them on to get the most out of this trip. I'd love to see Paris and if we can do that, where to stay? Any recommendations on hotels or places we must see from anyone is so much appreciated. My husband is probably going to be most interested in the WWII areas and Spain while I can't wait to see the South of France and just beautiful beaches. Is just an overnight in Monte Carlo enough?

 

I'll probably have a million questions. We haven't booked yet so I'll find out how much cheaper A&B cabins are.

 

Thanks again...

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(1) If you stay at their pre-cruise hotel, you can buy the transfer to the ship if you are not part of the pre-cruise hotel stay. If you are part of their hotel stay, the transfer is included in your price already.

 

(2) If you use their air/sea program on the day of the cruise, they will transfer you free of charge from the airport to the ship.

 

(3) If you are just staying in London, they will pick you up at a central point that they use for a charge.

 

If you do any of the above, just have your travel agent notify Crystal. The cost of the transfer if you use their service will be on your stateroom bill at the end of the cruise. If the agent writes the TSU@crystalcruises.com, they will send a transfer form.

 

We are doing our own air reservations and will get to Gatwick at 11 a.m. and have made arrangements for a car and driver. As for the transfer from Monte Carlo to the Nice airport, we have bought Crystal's transfer.

 

The South of France is interesting. Nice, Eze, and St. Paul de Vence are towns near Monte Carlo. St. Paul de Vence is a walled town with lots of galleries and boutiques. One of Europe's most reknowned modern galleries, the Fondation Maight, is there. If you want to gamble at "the" casino in Monte Carlo, they have certain dress codes and rules. You will need to get your passport back at the front desk. This time I am hoping to take a tour of the Palace; we've missed it before. Nice and St. Tropez have fabulous beaches.

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Thanks, Judith, I really appreciate your comments. I usually book our own air also since I don't like being surprised where I'm being routed to/from to get to my destination. However, we're in AZ so it appears BA is my best direct NS carrier but as you can guess it's a long flight and arrival is around 1AM next day.

 

Now, getting from Nice to Paris for post cruise days then to LHR for departure will be the next dilemma. Are these airports time consuming and difficult to navigate or not? Should we plan extra time or are they just like the US where we allow 1 or 1-1/2 hrs?

 

And...where to stay in London or Paris? See, I told you I'd have a million questions and I've only dished out a handful in less than 24-hours! I'll get with my TA on Monday, but I like being prepared and having some of the research in my mind before making all of the final decisions.

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Jan, as Judith mentioned you can either stay at one of the Crystal Hotels and if you do the booking on your own for the Hotel you can then purchase transfers from the Hotel to the Ship or you could just book the Hotel through Crystal. I've done the Hotel program through Crystal twice in London and it's worked out well. By doing this it included transfers from the airport to the hotel, and then from the hotel to the criuse on the day of embarkation along with a nice tour on the way to the ship. So, I would recommend taking a look at that. While it is cheaper to book a hotel on your own the cost of transporation between the airport and the hotel and the hotel and the ship can be quite expensive, particularly in places like London so I would take a hard look at what Crystal has to offer. I would recommend spending two or three nights in London. On our tour that Crystal Provided we saw the Dover caves which were used in World War II. By the way in London there is a bunker area used by Winston Churchill during World War II. We enjoyed seeing that. There is so much else to do there from the British Museum, to Buckingham Palace, to Kensington Palace, to the Tower of London just to name a few sites.

 

In Paris, there are so many nice hotels to stay at. When we were in Paris we stayed at the Hotel Plaza Athenee and it was wonderful. There is also the Four Seasons and several others to choose from in that price range but there are many others in more moderate price ranges. You might want to go to a web site such as traveladvisor.com to and look up Paris Hotels and/or look on line or in books by Fodors and Frommers and also possibly consult with a TA.

 

There is so much to see in Paris as well such as the Louvre,the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc do Triomphe, just to name a few places. And then there is the food. Many great restaurants. And, it's just fun to stroll around the city.

 

If you want to see more of Monte Carlo and the surrounding areas you could spend another day there. But, if you spend the day there you can easily see many of the major areas that are there.

 

Please let us know if you have more questions.

 

Keith

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Thanks, Judith, I really appreciate your comments. I usually book our own air also since I don't like being surprised where I'm being routed to/from to get to my destination. However, we're in AZ so it appears BA is my best direct NS carrier but as you can guess it's a long flight and arrival is around 1AM next day.

 

Now, getting from Nice to Paris for post cruise days then to LHR for departure will be the next dilemma. Are these airports time consuming and difficult to navigate or not? Should we plan extra time or are they just like the US where we allow 1 or 1-1/2 hrs?

 

And...where to stay in London or Paris? See, I told you I'd have a million questions and I've only dished out a handful in less than 24-hours! I'll get with my TA on Monday, but I like being prepared and having some of the research in my mind before making all of the final decisions.

 

Jan, I don't like to worry so I would allow for extra time in these airports. I allow at least 2 hours sometimes 2 1/2 hours at the airports just to get through the ticket counters, security (sometime multiple lines for security, etc.) so give yourself time when you plan your flights.

 

Keith

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Wow...all of your suggestions and ideas so quickly just blow my mind! Those are great suggestions from you, Keith, and I think taking the Crystal hotel transfers would work best so we don't have to worry about the first part of the trip. If you think of more ideas, please tell me, tell me.

 

I feel like a high school kid on their first trip out of town as this is so new to us. We've taken at least 10 cruises and traveled to Australia, Costa Rica, Caribbean, Mexico & Hawaii, but Europe is a whole new ballgame so I appreciate all of your suggestions.

 

Tell me what you've done about air from Nice to Paris to LHR...would that be Air France? Just doing a quick search it would be over $700 each which seems high to me...but, what do I know?

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Jan, Delta is a partner with Air France. We are taking Delta to Europe and Air France from Nice to Paris to Miami -- using Delta ff miles. Because the ship gets into Monte Carlo the day before disembarkation, we can leave early that morning. All the details will be handled the day before embarkation.

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Judith, I'll be checking into all of the airlines for the best deal and I'll check into Delta too. Since AW merged with US Air, that's where our FF miles are but many of our miles are still unacounted for because they haven't merged those yet. I like the idea of a direct flight from PHX with BA and don't trust the cruise industry to book flights to my liking. Are you spending extra days in Paris?

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Jan, I took a quick look and think that Air France might be the best and actually the only option from Nice to Paris.

 

Think you'll need to look at the cost of say your home city to London and then Nice to Paris and then Paris to London and then back to the US (basically a round trip to London) plus the one way add ons of Nice to Paris and Paris to London vs. going from you home city to London, Nice to Paris and then Paris to your home city to see what makes the most sense in terms of pricing and optimal flights.

 

Hopefully, your TA can also help you with this.

 

Keith

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AF is the only "legacy" carrier on the route, but you can also fly on EasyJet for between 35 and 50 Euros, all in, from NCE to either CDG or Orly -- BUT you get only 20kg of free luggage. What you save on airfare you might repay in overweight charges.

 

You might want to try SNCF (the French railroad) - the TGV takes about 5 1/2 hours from Nice to Paris, without a change of trains. Their website isn't the most user friendly, but you can get some decent info there.

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