SOUTHAMPTON, England When Julie Andrews stepped onto the platform,
for the christening of Crystal Cruises’ newest ship, the sun broke
through the clouds that had been hanging over the port harbor all
It was a Mary Poppins moment to be sure.
But despite the famous godmother, it was the Crystal Serenity
that had center stage.
“It’s a grand ship that is sure to set a new standard,” Crystal
President Gregg L. Michel told the audience of about 400. “It has
more space, more choices, more dining options, more
The 68,000-ton Serenity has a 1:7 guest-to-crew ratio among the
highest in the industry and better than its sister ships, the
Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony.
Also, 85 percent of the Serenity’s 548 staterooms have
Michel also noted that the christening, held July 3 at the
historic Southampton docks, was the first such event since he
Earlier in the week, some invited guests had wondered aloud
whether the ceremony would actually be held as scheduled.
Construction problems delayed finishing work and interrupted
staff training to the point that Michel, saying that the Serenity
might not deliver the proper Crystal experience, announced that the
July 7 maiden voyage would be free or guests could receive a full
refund without penalty.
At the christening, a Crystal spokesman said fewer than 10 of
the 1,080 guests had decided not to sail.
The crew members who led group tours after the celebration lunch
said workmen were still on board, but the ship looked nothing like
a construction zone.
On the tour itinerary was the Connoisseur Club a refuge for
cigar smokers furnished with tufted leather sofas and dark wood
walls; Pulse, a late-night disco with seriously techno seating;
Caesars Palace at Sea; a 4,000-square-foot casino with table games
and more than 90 slot machines; and the Galaxy Lounge, a 500-seat
showroom that was to open with the long-running off-Broadway show
The technologically sophisticated staterooms are fitted with
computer dataports, TV/DVD players and telephone service. The large
verandas outside the penthouse suites two-room cabins with
generously sized bathrooms drew particular admiration as did the
After its grand maiden voyage, the Serenity is scheduled to move
to the Mediterranean for a series of summer voyages.