Yesterday (as of writing this blog post), I was lucky enough to be invited to a tour of the Crystal Serenity while she was docked in Holyhead in north Wales. It was a great day, and I wanted to share the experience with you, so you get an idea of what to expect if you book a cruise on-board.
We were welcomed into the Palm Court, which is a casual place where you can enjoy a drink during the day with a book, or simply watch the ocean from the high location on Deck 12. It’s also where the famed high tea is served in the afternoon with white-glove service, a delightful experience if you want delicious sandwiches and cakes brought to you as you unwind.
From here we saw the pool area on the same deck with extremely comfortable loungers and chairs, all of which already have a towel there. This was just one example of the little touches throughout the ship that make everything more simple and enjoyable – such as the extra toiletries provided in the sauna and spa facilities, or the bottle of water and hand towel that are waiting for you on the gym machines, so you don’t need to bring your own.
We then went through the casual dining areas, including the Trident grill and the Lido restaurant. It was just approaching midday so we caught the start of lunchtime, and the spread of foods available was impressive and the smells were incredible. It was tough walking past the array of desserts but we had more to see.
We took a look at the spa before taking in the various stateroom categories. It was interesting to see just how beautiful all of the rooms are, even the most basic options with just a window. But if you can manage it, upgrading to one of the penthouses is definitely worthwhile, as the added space really makes the room feel so much more luxurious.
During the tour we really got an appreciation for those small things that really make the ship stand out. Every single crew member we passed, without exception, welcomed us on board and wished us a good day. At every elevator, there’s a small column topped with white sands, shaped into the Crystal Cruises logo. It’s the kind of thing that might not sound important, but it makes a delightful impression.
After seeing the speciality restaurants, the lounges and all the other public areas, all of which were impressive, we sat down to a delicious four-course lunch. I was blown away by the food and just how good it was considering it was a busy lunchtime, and the wines were among the best I’ve tasted. I’m no wine expert but I’ve tried decent bottles before, but this was something else.
It was tough leaving the ship, but it left such an impression that I’m now looking at making my own booking on-board. It can’t come soon enough.
By Ian Lewis