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goofymd

My honest Serenity review (long)

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I just returned from an Athens to Rome cruise on the Crystal Serenity. While I tend to use these sites for research, I seldom add to the forum after my trips. So this time I vowed to return something to the forum. I hope some fine it valuable. What follows is a totally honest review of my cruise.

 

I had a wonderful time. The ship is gorgeous. She is a good size with lots to explore. We boarded early (around 1pm) and not only were allowed to board but also was fed lunch. Wonderful. Our stateroom was also nice. I was worried about the size (it was a B stateroom with verandah) but this didn’t bother me at all. The bed, sheets and comforter were top notch and very cozy. The shower was unbelievable – (my wife commented on how this ship could have this good of a shower, while our 5 start GH villa Serbitini in Bellagio had a few trickles of water they called a shower.). They took great care of us on shore excursions. Once we decided at the last minute to rent a private boat to tour Sicily, we ask the concierge who arranged everything and meet up on the pier to introduce us to our tour guide. The had a lot of nightlife activities and shows. Their Gym was well equipped and a pleasure to work out in, which we did every day.

 

Now, we had a lot of problems. None by itself would be memorable, but coupled together and on a line, which prides itself on service left us disappointed.

 

- Boarding- there were many signs and people standing around, but nobody was directing us. We got lost a few times during this procedure.

 

- Our key card didn’t work in our stateroom, when mentioned to our steward, instead of her saying I’ll take care of it, she said we’d have to go to the front desk later on. (Some are smaller issues then others)

 

- The first night we ate at Silk Road. The waiter was incredibly nice but because of a language barrier we had a hard time ordering and didn’t get want we wanted.

 

- We ate in the morning in the lido because we slept too late for the other places. While they always carried my wife’s trays, only sometimes did they grab mine. While I could care less about carrying my trey, what did drive my crazy is I could never get more coffee. I either had to ask or mostly, get in myself. And the machine was out ¼ of the time. The food was not that good either. I started eating every pasty in site but by day three I realized they weren’t worth the calories. (might have been a good thing)

 

- Once we showed up a little late, but were in line with a trey in our hands only to have them grab it from our hands-“ we are closed” they shouted. “But the food is still out, can’t I have what’s there?”- NO! We were told to go to the trident grill- but we don’t eat meat so no food for us.

 

- Twice we ordered room service- the first time the lady came into our room ranting and raving about how busy she was, she’d never be able to deliver all of the orders. She threw the food on our table and ran out the door. My wife and I looked at each other in amazement. I believe most places actually serve the food; some even bring a tablecloth and set the table. In addition the waffles were ice cold and there was no syrup for the waffle or sugar for the coffee. We tried once again for a late afternoon snack, this time she was not as hurried, but still left the food in a stack in the covers, with no table setting. So we figured this is how crystal serves room service.

 

- Service in the main dining room was better, but the waters were NEVER refilled unless asked. The coffee order was wrong more then it was right- so much so that it became the running joke with the ast. Waiter.

 

o We has a great table- all 8 of us got along so well we even all ate at Prego together. I usually would order the first bottle of wine to share then the others would follow as we finished each one. Because I’m into wine, we would only order one to start with incase the others didn’t like my taste. I had a problem with the speed of the wine service. We would typically order another bottle- (third or fourth one) during our appetizer so we had wine for the main course. Most night we got it in time for dessert.

 

-one evening we wanted to gamble at the tables which was impossible to get to after the late seating, so we went in to the casino prior to dinner. We asked the pit boss if they were open. “No, we need to eat too, ya know” she barked back. We’re not open yet; we open at eight would have sufficed.

 

- My wife made her spa appointment prior to boarding. When she went to get her nails done she heard a 10-minute tirade by the manicurist about how there is only one registered manicurist on board and everyone is upset because they can’t get their nails done. How crystal won’t hire more because they sit there on port days with no customers. Very unprofessional.

 

- At the pool, I watched them move chairs around, get towels, set up some people, but when my wife and I wanted a chair in the shade, I had to move it and get my own towel off other chairs. I also was never asked if I wanted a drink.

 

- One hot day we went for tea. While walking by the pool I saw people sipping on lemonade. At tea, I asked for some lemonade. The waiter said they don’t have any at his bar. Could you get some I asked. After a few moments of thought he reluctantly said he could but “It will take a while” -he should have said I’ll get it initially and without hesitation.

 

 

 

As I said before, all my complains are small. But if your going to be a top luxury line, the small things are what count. I could care less they know my name (although it is nice), what I really want is service.

 

I do have one theory- I wonder if the tipping policy backfires on some of us. I don’t think the service people can be great to everyone, so I think they pick some people early on to go out of there way for in hopes of getting big tips from them. Rather then average tips from everybody.

 

While I still had a great time, and I may take another crystal cruise in the future, But I think I’ll try Silversea or Seaborne first.

 

 

Mark

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Small problems that add up to a disappointing vacation are important. I hope that you wrote all of this on your questionaire. They do read them both on the ship and in Los Angeles. If you didn't, please make a copy of your comments -- good and bad -- and send them to Mr. Thomas Mazloum, the senior vice president of Crystal for hotel services. He would be very interested in your comments. He reads this board and sometimes comments back to us, but to make sure he sees it, email him.

 

Lastly, that isn't how you should have been served room service. Your problem was the stewardess -- she was out of line.

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Great review, know nothing is perfect,but making me think twice about Harmony to China.

 

Judith from Boca Raton,always praising crystal to the skies,maybe one has to blend the different reactions and hope for the best!

 

My next cruise is Xmas to Antarctica on the Amsterdam, such a stimulating itinerary will give me less time to find faults, underpaid crew dont enjoy serving others so much these days, want to be cruising themselves,:) who can blame them!

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Yes, I do praise Crystal's ships and crew, but we have enjoyed every cruise we have taken on them. Outside of one stewardess who did a poor job (she informed us and everyone else the first day that if we wanted personal service like room service, we should have taken a penthouse with a butler)and the changing facilities in the Serenity gym, we have never had a complaint. And yes, I wrote both up on our questionaire. I would be lying if I found fault. Maybe I'm just easy to please; I don't know. Everyone has a choice to make for a vacation; we choose Crystal.

Judith

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Think That I Will Go By The Number Of Positive Points Made By Judith And Risk The Harmony!!!

 

I Am Actually Also Easily Pleased And Joking Apart,sure That It Will Be A Great Experience.

 

By The Way Judith, Though I Am Based On The Costa Del Sol,used To Have A Vacation Place In Williams Island,n Miami Beach.

Decided To Sell As I Grew Tired Of Constantly Visiting Fl, Theres Too Much Too See Out There By Way Of Cruise Ships! Hasta Luego.

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Having recently completed my first Crystal cruise, I can't express enough how terrific it was. My husband and I had a great experience coupled with exceptional service. In the Lido, the servers would never let either on of us carry or get anything on our own! In the dining room, our water glasses were always filled and we always had our wine promptly (we were at a table for 8 and not everyone ordered the same wines). I didn't have any experience with room service so I can't comment on that. However, I'm sure from time to time not everything can go so smoothly. We were very fortunate that our first experience was such a memorable experience.

 

Nancy

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I just completed my eighth Crystal cruise (my wife's ninth), and I've been very pleased with the level of service. This doesn't mean that we have never experienced problems on the ships (Harmony and Symphony), but I've always been impressed by how quickly problems are addressed by the staff.

 

For example, we had a minor problem with the safe in our cabin at the start of our most recent cruise. I reported it to the front desk, and a crew member was there literally within five minutes. He quickly determined that the problem was weak batteries, and had them replaced within minutes. You can't ask for better service than that.

 

And last year my wife travelled solo on a long cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Buenos Aries. She is something of a technophobe, but it was necessary for her to keep in contact by email to keep up with her business. The computer center staff on Symphony went out of their way to help her.

 

Of course there have been things that we thought could be improved. We've put our thoughts and suggestions on the quality assurance forms, and we've been pleased to see that Crystal has made changes over the years in response to the comments it receives.

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It's funny, but we have put constructively critical comments on the forms at the end, when there have been a few imperections. But the overall experience has consistently been so wonderful that I can't for the life of me tell you what the complaints were!

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Am I wrong to expect these type of things not to occur on a crystal cruise? It seem's like I might have had an unusual experience. Of the 8 people at our table, 4 had wonderful service, us and one other couple had similar experiences. I also want to add that in no way to I want to bash Crystal on this forum in any way. I was just curious.

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You are not bashing Crystal by any stretch of the imagination. Your complaints are valid ones, that is why I suggested you send them on to the person responsible for the hotel functions. Unless they know about them, the people at Crystal can't fix the problems. The people at crystal have the following email: firstinitiallastname@crystalcruises.com

 

On our first Serenity cruise, we had a terrible stewardess -- the first and only time that happened -- but our wait staff people have never been less than extra efficient. Perhaps you should have spoken to the maitre d' or your head waiter about the water and the wine. They should have taken the proper steps to make sure you were happy. We prefer to eat our meals in the dining room, except for the poolside buffets and the grand gala buffet. When we sleep too late for breakfast, we go to the Bistro (it opens at 9). When we are late for lunch (on Serenity) we go to Tastes (it stays open until 3). They have some great salads.

 

On our first Serenity cruise, we had a key card problem. The key card would not open the door. The door was open when we first boarded the ship; this was the next time I tried to get in. I went to the front desk. It was something wrong with the computer (?) they said. They sent someone to work on the card reader and fixed it. Then I managed to lose my key card and very embarrassed, went to the front desk again. I later found the card in the bathroom but there was no way I was going to tell anyone.

 

We have had no similar experiences with the other things that happened, so I can't comment on them.

 

I hope that if you do try Crystal again, you will have a better experience.

Judith

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Hi,

 

I have cruised on the CRYSTAL HARMONY three times (1999, 2001, and 2002) and had wonderful experiences. Fortunately, everyone I have encountered on the ship has been extremely polite and friendly. I sailed solo in lower category staterooms and enjoyed excellent service. I agree that you should notify Crystal about the problems that you experienced during your cruise. These problems should be corrected. Hopefully, any future Crystal cruise that you may take will be better.

 

Chuck

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On our recent cruise on Symphony I noticed that the Trident Grill was serving a late risers breakfast until 11:30 AM. For me sleeping in late means getting up at 7:30 AM instead of my normal 6:00 AM, so I hadn't paid much attention to either the Bistro or Trident Grill late breakfast items. But on this particular cruise I happened by the Grill at about 11:15 AM and noticed that they were preparing a fairly wide variety of hot breakfast items (omelettes, and other egg dishes, etc.). They were serving late breakfast until 11:30 AM. Then they closed for 15 minutes to get ready for the regular Trident Grill service.

 

I think you would have found something on the breakfast menu at Trident that would have worked.

 

Some of the other service related problems that you mentioned, seem unusual for Crystal. I'm wondering if they might reflect the newness of the Serenity operation.

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We were fortunate our first Crystal cruise (last month) was a very positive one. Thankfully, we never ran into any of the problems you encountered. The only similarity to your experience was with our waitress & wine steward. Our waitress was very quick to take our orders and we often found ourselves well into appetizer courses before the wine steward had even paid a visit to the table. This meant we wound up with way too much wine when dinner was over and it was time for dessert! But we quickly fixed the problem by telling our waitress we didn't want to place our orders until the wine steward had stopped by. Took a couple of days to work out the kinks, but after that it was smoooooth sailing (pun intended!) in the dining room.

 

Did you ever give the Bistro a try when you were too late for breakfast in the lido? We alternated between the Bistro and Lido for breakfast and loved both!

 

Glad to hear you'll give Crystal another chance. Based on our own experience, and the many others here on the boards, I think yours was the exception, not the rule.

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This Serenity is bothering me. I sailed my first Crystal Cruise on it last August, and it was just OK. I experienced similar problems as the original poster. However, I recently sailed on Symphony, and it was flawless. The best ship I have ever been on. What is going on with Serenity? I thought that maybe I would give it another try.... I guess not.

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There were some problems on our August cruise but mainly because it was only Serenity's third cruise. By our November cruise, everything was "Crystal". We did not book Serenity this year only Symphony (it just worked out that way) but we will be on it for at least two cruises next year.

 

NIC, MRF, and Nanci, you were all on Serenity? Any comments?

 

Darcie, you were on Serenity for the World Cruise. Any comments?

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We will be on the Serenity in January. We have a PHS. Really looking forward to our cruise. Enjoyed the PH last year on the Serenity. I truly believe if you are unhappy with any part of your cruise and report it, the problem will be corrected.

Just a note to let you all know about Crystal Service! On our last cruise my husband did not try his tuxedo on before we left home. 1st formal night, he discovered he did not have his tuxedo jacket.Mix up at home town cleaner. Happened to tell our butler of the unforunate situation and within the hour the problem was solved. Crystal and our Butler provided the perfect tuxedo.

nic

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I too was on the July 6 sailing from Athens to Rome and I had a fabulous A+ experience! I had no complaints from my trip, but on previous cruises (on other lines) there was a problem at the beginning, which by the end was corrected and it really ended up not being an issue at all... In a 1 week sailing there is less time for them to rectify possible problems and make your experience as wonderful as a Crystal experience usually is. A 7 day cruise is not a perfect indicator of the Crystal cruising experience in my opinion; and I'm sure if you take a 12 day cruise you'll find most of the kinks are worked out a lot sooner.

 

Goofy don't you get jealous watching the Olympic coverage of Greece and wish you were back? I know I do!

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We have cruised Crystal 5 times and will be on the Symphony in Oct out of Montreal. We have sailed on the Harmony and Symphony but not as of yet on the Serenity. Our cruises on Crystal have been A+ everytime. Aside from the usual small negatives ( two dinner seatings, soda's and bottled water extra charges, until recently) everything has been outstanding. However, there is one point that Goofymd did point out that did strike a bell.

On Radisson, room service for breakfast always sets the table with napkins and silverware. On Crystal the stewardess only brings in the tray, puts it down and leaves. Has anyone had an experience on Crystal ( not inluding the butler suites) where room service for breakfast prepares the table with the napkins, silverware, condiments and water, puts the food in front of each place-setting and takes the tray? If not, then this is an area that Crystal can learn from Radisson!

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Though I've never experienced a room service steward behaving so badly, I think I would respond quickly. Especially on Crystal, I would expect more professional service. Perhaps she was needy in some way and her supervisor or colleagues hadn't realized it. Or perhaps she needed to be corrected. Either way, just as I tip for extra service, I complain right away when I see very poor service. I don't wait until the end. I do try to speak to the actual person first, but in my experience, one doesn't have the same person delivering room service every time. That's why I tip each time they deliver instead of waiting until the end of the cruise as is usual for cabin and wait staff.

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We were on the Serenity with several of the others and had no problems.We feel Crystal is the best line we have been on. Going on the Symphony New England cruise Oct. 12

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I had a similar experience as the original poster of this thread, goofymd, on the Harmony in Feb 2004. I was very underwhelmed on all fronts. I also had a stewardess (cabin A, veranda) who seemed overwhelmed, exhausted, and did not provide adequate service. room service was terrible, from the time it took for delivery, to the quality of the food, to the service (or lack thereof). yes, the plates were left in a pile for me to assemble, often as not something was forgotten. numerous other things happened that added up to alot of crystal employees who don't understand what good standards of service are. the cabin was blah, small, broken plastic deck chair on veranda. closet cramped, crummy old wire hangers left on the clothing rod. trouble with AC controls in the cabin, crew taking too long to fix. unhelpful staff on ship. spa a disorganized group, pushing spa products to buy. food mediocre to good. captain making innane announcements over the PA system, shades of the Love Boat. lines everywhere. I wouldn't consider trying again - will try Seabourn & Residensea. have enjoyed Windstar in the past, Crystal was not on a par with the class of Windstar even. :confused:

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We will be sailing Serenity in January and after reading these

posts & others on LCT, we would be filled with dread if we

had not already experienced several very good Crystal cruises.

We've also sailed SS [too small & entertainment ltd for us] and

very much enjoyed this fall's cruise on RSSC. Why all of these

competitive arguements about which line is best. The 'best' is the

one you prefer!

What I've enjoyed about Crystal seems wildly absent in the above notes/experiences;

 

-a quiet ship with few announcements

-no nickel diming...e.g. sailaways party drinks are gratis

-several festive occassions during a cruise

-interesting on deck lunch buffets w. negligible lines

-multiple sources for everything....e.g. late risers and

healthy start breakfasts until almost noon & bistro fare

w. speciality coffees all day

-service of pre dinner hors, both hot and cold

-lots of entertainment/music venues

-polite & helpful staff

Yes, on all cruises, there are always some discontented

or less than spectacular crew members [That stewardess should

have been reported while on board!] ....there are always

things you would prefer to be done another way.

I don't think that any line can be 'perfect'..but I'm

not expecting them to be.

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After reading this thread, I am wondering if some of you are traveling on the same cruiseline as myself! I was on the late January-early February cruiseon Harmony---probably the same cruise that Maunakea Lady was on, and the only unpleasantness I experienced was a pair of dinner companions, group escorts from Maui, who could do nothing but complain, and were so boorish that my friend and I avoided eating at our assigned table for much of the cruise. I experienced nothing but good service, nice facilities, marvelous food, and, with the exception of the aforementioned couple, some of the nicest fellow passengers it has ever been my pleasure to cruise with. I will be on Harmony again on March 2-15 and eagerly anticipate another gracious and relaxing cruise.

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spouse and self have made numerous cruises on the Symphony and thought we'd do two back to back cruises this July. We were struck and somewhat troubled by some very stark difference in the service and quality in certain areas b ewteen the two ships. We had come to expect the same standards as the Symphony and were truthfully speaking somewhat disappointed by what we experienced on the Serenity. To begin with, they lost our luggage on boarding--minutes before sailing they coulodn't track the missing bag although it had made it into the Crystal loading shed. Turns out it was delivered to the wrong cabin even though the lable clearly specified.

 

Second surprise: unanswered phone calls for reserving private lessons <won't spcify what>. onnly a direct complaint to the director in charge produced a response--unheard of on the Symphony. Also turns out that certain cabins

voice mail answering were not/could not be activated to take messages so you had to call the front desk to get your message trhough it the person wasn't in his/her cabin. this was never fixed over the time we were on the two cruises. Another annoyance: the computer lab was pretty lackadaisical about calling if we got emails. most times i had to go to the lab myself to check whether i had mail.

 

service on the lido was also far below what we had come to expect from our cruises on the Symphony: we witnessed people--older, kids, handicapped--struggling with trays while no one bothered to help--long lines at the omelette/pasta bars, clowning around and chattering among the waiters--all rather unprofessional. incidentally, the friends we were crusing with also noted that the waiters on the Serenity were very much more intrusive than we had ever experienced on the Symphony: butted in at will on guests' conversations, removed dishes before we'd finish eating, and at one instance virtually hustled us out of the dining room before we were ready.

 

on of the worse things on this cruise also was all the construction work that went on--it looked as if the ship already needs a lot of repairs and retro-fitting, but from the guests view point it amounted to a lot of hammering, drilling and falling over workmen in the passages ways which didn't make for much peace or quiet. speaking of noise, those toilets! the flushing makes so much noise that everytime anyone flushes the whole ship knows about it! on tyhe first night we couldn't figure out what the sporadic booming noses were till we finally figured it was the toilets!

 

regarding food: the dining room was fine and so was Prego, but we and our traveling companions found Silk Road boring after while. The Symphony's Jade is more interesting and they have a gem of a chef who is able to produce a very wide variety of pan-Asian menus. We happen to be somewhat enlightened as to Asian food so we know excellence when we see it in this area. The Serenity's Asian buffet by the way was not good and surprising for a ship of this calibre!

 

last but not least, for all their talk about being concerned about passenger safety some of us were surprised by the rather cavelier attitude by the excursion director when we reported an incident at one of the excursion sites. three of us were roughed up, one slightly injured, at a port by another travel group for what thery thought to be our cutting a line for tickets <we already had our tickets and were being led ahead by our guide.> when we reported this to the excursion directed merely shrugged and said <oh it happens sometimes> o.k.!!

 

at any rate, we are wondering whether to give the Serenity another shot, or just stick to the Symphony.

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