Fans of Crystal Cruises have had to bide their time when it comes to ocean cruising while the company has rolled out some river cruise ships and set to work on producing a ship for the expedition segment in 2020.
A new ocean ship, the first in the Diamond class, is on the horizon but isn't scheduled to arrive until 2022.
Until then, loyalists will have to be content with refurbishments such as the one recently completed on the Crystal Serenity. The 15-year-old ship has been refreshed and given some new features.
A tour of the ship while it was docked at Port Everglades in November showed that it is still a competitive entry in the luxury segment, with some aspects perhaps even better than when it was designed in the 1990s.
The most notable change has been to cut down the number of staterooms, while at the same time enlarging the suites, so that the Serenity now carries 980 guests, down 9% from 1,070 passengers at double occupancy.
That in turn, has allowed Crystal for the first time to have a dining space that can accommodate all the ship's passengers in one seating. The Waterside restaurant is a handsome modern remake of what had been the Crystal Dining Room. Spaces have been subdivided with sets of large, neutral-colored wood panels that give the appearance of having been woven together.
There are more tables for two and four than previously. A new chandelier is a key focal point in the Waterside.
A remodeled stateroom on the ship, which now carries fewer passengers. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Other dining changes have been made, as well. On the top deck, the casual Tastes restaurant has given way to Silk Kitchen and Bar, which serves Chinese-inspired cuisine. The adjacent Trident Grill has been left alone.
What had been Silk Road is now Umi Uma ("seahorse" in Japanese) and a churrascaria steak restaurant that will open in the evenings in the Lido Marketplace, which will continue to function as a buffet for breakfast and lunch.
Crystal will also for the first time offer dining in the Stardust Lounge, which will become the Stardust Supper Club in the evening, with a package of drinks, dinner, a showband, singer and dancers. During the dessert course, guests will be able to join the ship's performers on the dance floor.
Another dance area, the Palm Court, has been remade to cut down the size of the dance area to a large circle. With the free space, Crystal created a built-in buffet area for serving tea and snacks. The floor in that area is tile rather than wood. A circular stage area that mirrors the circular dance floor is also new.
Wood flooring has been redone and upgraded in several spaces around the Serenity, notably in the Connoisseur Club and the Avenue Saloon. And carpets throughout the ship are newly done in a mix of blues and grays that give the appearance of marble stone in carpet form.
Several areas have been opened up. The Pulse disco has lost a set of railings that separated the dance floor from the seating areas, and the University at Sea computer studio has fewer stations, giving it a more spacious feel.
In an adjacent area, a small studio for dance lessons has been carved out of an enclave that previously held an office.
The casino on the Serenity, once red as red could be, has been made over in white, giving it a cleaner, brighter and, well, more serene appearance. And the Bistro cafe space got new flooring and new chairs, freshening its look.