Arriving to board Crystal Serenity in Venice, not only was a welcoming line of officers and crew ready to take my carry-on luggage and show me to my suite, but a string quartet had aptly chosen something by Vivaldi — Venice’s “Red Priest” — to get me in the mood for a stress-free cruise.
I can see I’m going to be impressed on my 12-night cruise in the Mediterranean. I’d wondered how different Crystal Cruises’ largest ship would be after its recent $25-million renovation and it’s clearly the same classic ship with a brighter, contemporary look that I find even more welcoming and comfortable than its previous award winning style.
Some of the upgrades I can see immediately are in the public areas. There are luscious new carpets and the boutiques, pool deck and casino sport completely new looks. My wife and I arrived to a waiting penthouse suite— even if one of the smaller penthouse accommodation on the ship is certainly ample enough to settle in for a round the world voyage. Few ships have such a well thought-out array of storage spaces and there have been additions since we last saw this ship last. Lisa immediately commandeered a wall of drawers. And a few shelves. And the dressing table with lighted makeup mirror: yes, of course. I set my toothbrush and razor on the glass shelf in the dual-sinked and Jacuzzied bath.
Things that I immediately like are:
- Optimized storage. In addition to a full walk-in closet there is a wall of drawers and cupboards.
- Work spaces that work. A mid-cabin marble topped island is divided in the center by a mirrored panel in the middle creating a vanity table on one side and a desk on the other.
- Sumptuous fabrics. The upholstery is rich brocades, boldly patterned carpet cushions the floor and a tufted wall frames the bed. It’s a very residential feel, albeit in a very good home.
- Multiple options. The stack of greetings from staff and information about what’s coming show that we’re not going to be short of possibilities while on board. I discover that legendary chef Andre Soltner, whose legendary Lutece restaurant in New York required reservations months in advance, will be doing cooking demonstrations on board and creating a menu for a gala dinner on board. Another celebrity on board is Wink Martindale, who has hosted more than a dozen different television games shows over his career and will talk about their lighter moments in a series of enrichment lectures. There are language classes from Berlitz, computer courses from the Computer University @t Sea and complimentary wellness courses and fitness classes in the spa.
There’s a lot to see, but first things first, because I want to maximize our time in Venice. We’ve got tickets to the opera and we want to ramble some of the more un-touristed back lanes of the jewel box of a city. We’ll be back on board soon for a cruise to Dubrovnik, Sicily, Florence, Rome and Monte Carlo with some relaxing days at sea as well.