How do I love the Crystal Serenity? Let me count the ways.
By Charlie Huisking
As the Crystal Serenity pulled out of Antigua just before sunset on Tuesday, a recording of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World began playing on the Lido Deck. The song is played as the Serenity leaves every port, and the moment never fails to get me. The song crystallizes, if you’ll pardon the pun, the experience of seeing new places and meeting new people on an extraordinary ship.
Top team: Our waiters, Taner and Fehmi, serving the
Grand Buffet Brunch on a sea day.
Part of what makes Crystal so extraordinary is the company’s level of service. The hard-working crew members are attentive, enthusiastic and friendly, without being obsequious. They come from all over the world, and are eager to talk about their home countries. Our waiter, Taner, and his assistant, Fehmi, are from Turkey; and our butler, Simon, is from South Africa. In the bars, shops and restaurants, you’ll meet staff members from throughout Europe, South America, India and the Philippines.
The crew seems to enjoy Crystal as much as the passengers do, because the company has probably the lowest turnover rate in the industry. You encounter many of the same crew members year after year, and renewing those acquaintances becomes part of the fun.
On this final blog from this trip, I want to quickly mention some of my favorite spaces on board this ship. Last night, we returned for the second time to one of the Serenity’s two specialty restaurants, The Silk Road. It features the cuisine of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
The first time, I had the Nobu Box, a sampling of three entrees: grilled Wagyu beef, stir-fried lobster and Nobu-style black cod. Last night, I had the scrumptious cod alone. Our waiter also prepared some special appetizers and a selection of sushi. And while you don’t often associate Asian restaurants with great desserts, the chocolate soufflé cake with sesame ice cream was hands-down the best dessert on the ship.
Say cheese: That's me posing stiffly in the Bistro Café.
On these last two sea days, I’ll be sure to hang out in the Bistro, a sleek coffee bar that also serves great pastries, cheeses and other snacks. I also love the panoramic views from the Palm Court, the site of daily afternoon teas. And because the Crystal’s Broadway-style productions in the Galaxy Lounge are so good, I never get to spend enough time in the Avenue Saloon, a cozy piano bar where David Williams plays Gershwin, Porter and other standards.
I also like the Crystal Cove, a cocktail lounge in the two-story atrium. The people-watching is so good, it’s like sitting in the lobby in Grand Hotel.
I don’t want you to think I’ll just be eating and drinking, though. My hedonism also encompasses the hot-stone massage I’ll have at 4 p.m. And I will log a few miles on the promenade deck. The Serenity is one of the few traditional-style ships that still has a full promenade deck. A mile is 3.3 times around, and it’s never more pleasurable than early in the morning, when we’re approaching an island.
I could go on, but I have a team trivia championship to defend at noon.