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Dressed in our finery, my husband and I devoured buttery lobster tails, complemented with what seemed to be bottomless glasses of white wine. Noticing our distinct enjoyment, our server insisted on bringing us “another round of lobster.” We were docked in Sorrento, Italy, onboard Crystal Serenity for a weeklong voyage along the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, and this was certainly proving to be a vacation that wildly surpassed our expectations.
The cuisine and service were impeccable throughout the cruise, whether we were sampling sushi at chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Silk Road or enjoying an old-fashioned cocktail and a Cuban cigar in the Connoisseur Club. All of the onboard facilities, from the fitness center to the casino, lived up to their fabulous reputations but, in an unyielding quest to impress, Crystal Cruises has plans to further enhance Serenity’s onboard experience.
Come November, Serenity will undergo a $17-million redesign of the ship’s Crystal Penthouses and Lido Deck, including upgrades to Trident Grill, Tastes restaurant and the Lido Cafe. The incorporation of wrought iron, natural stones and additional greenery, including four “living walls,” will create a distinctly different atmosphere, inspired by the sophistication and natural beauty of Santa Barbara, Calif. Guests can expect a major reconfiguration, with the removal of the indoor pool and the ice cream bar in order to make way for more sofa seating, an open kitchen and a cocktail bar. However, those in search of their daily dose of sugar need not fret — the ice cream bar will find a new home at the Trident Grill.
The ship’s four butler-serviced suites will be gutted and completely reconfigured. The dining area will move closer to the deck so that guests can better appreciate the view, and the former dining room will hold a media room outfitted with a 3-D television, a surround sound audio system, a queen-size sleeper sofa and a closet. With a new shower added to the guest powder room, the space can function as a second bedroom, which is ideal for families and couples traveling together.
Once Serenity’s upgrades are completed, Crystal will have spent $52 million on her Extreme Makeover in the past two years and nearly $120 million on the Extreme Makeover of its fleet in recent years.
“Our luxury customers appreciate fine design,” said Jack Anderson, senior vice president of marketing and sales. “Styles change and technology changes, which enable us to make different choices. Even the most classic settings and experiences benefit from careful, creative refinements.”
Serenity’s first voyage after her drydock will be a 12-day Lisbon-Barcelona cruise through the Canary Islands, but her most anticipated voyage will take place in 2015 when Serenity embarks on her first full circumnavigation of the globe. Sailing roundtrip from Miami, the 108-day Silver Celebration World Cruise will take guests to the shores of French Polynesia, the wilds of Madagascar and to one of the biggest parties in the world, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The sailing marks Crystal’s 20th World Cruise as well as its 25th year of cruising, and sales have been phenomenal for the brand — at press time, the line reported more than 700 booked cruisers for the full circumnavigation.
“The itinerary is fantastic, and the early release of our world cruises has been a benefit as world cruisers plan far in advance,” said Anderson. “As you know, [TravelAge West readers] voted Crystal as the line with the highest passenger satisfaction. If you were going to cruise for 100 days, wouldn’t you want to go on the ship voted the best?”
Crystal Serenity will be completing her first full circumnavigation of the globe in 2015. Here she is off the coast of Santorini, one of the most popular Greek Islands. // © 2013 Crystal Cruises
Visitors can swim along ancient ruins in Sorrento, Italy, which is one of several stops on Crystal’s Mediteranean itineraries. // © 2013 Skye Mayring
Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are famous for their cuisine. // © 2013 Skye Mayring
Capri’s Blue Grotto is bustling with tourists during the summer months. // © 2013 Skye Mayring
Cruisers will see plenty of iconic sites on a free day in Rome. // © 2013 Skye Mayring
The Monte Carlo Casino // © 2013 Skye Mayring
Serenity docked in front of Mykonos // © 2013 Crystal Cruises
Mykonos’ windmills were originally constructed by the Venitians in the 16th century. // © 2013 Skye Mayring