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The only line we ever encounter on Crystal Serenity during our 7-day cruise is the one leading to the huge Asian Lunch Buffet that is set up around the glass-roofed Neptune Pool one sunny afternoon. In a true departure from traditional shipboard buffet food, Crystal Cruises has dared to go beyond the sweet & sour pork and stir-fried rice. Instead, expect Purple Squid Salad, Satah in three varieties, Orange Chicken, shrimp crackers and sashimi, washed down with an original Japanese beer.

You might be fooled into the idea that luxury cruising is stuffy, boring perhaps. Not so on Crystal Serenity. Once the sun has climbed over the horizon and starts warming the open decks, the first sunbathers appear on the expansive Pool Deck with its adequately sized pool and two popular Jacuzzis. One of the advantages of Crystal Serenity's huge passenger space ratio is that here is enough space in the sun for everyone. The lounge chairs are padded, waiters roam the decks (remember, all soft drinks are included in the cruise fare!) and at times the pool scene is shaken up by the sounds of Music Vision, the ship's talented band.

Still life with chair & crystal blue sea

Perhaps you first want a proper work out in the ship's well-equipped fitness center. Each day, there are many sports activities scheduled. Paddle tennis in Wimbledon Court, the ship's full-sized tennis field. Body Sculpt Classes. Pilates, Yoga, Water Volleyball. Detox seminars. Golf lessons in any one of the golf nets on deck 6 aft. All free or charge. 

Not quite free of charge are the offerings in the superbly equipped Crystal Spa, located aft on deck 13. Crystal has won prizes for this spa, which is completely designed according to Feng Shui principles and where treatments range from the traditional to the wildly exotic (and expensive). Make appointments early in the cruise, as the Crystal Spa is very popular.  

Looking down to the Promenade Deck

So, what better way to recuperate from a neck & shoulder massage than having a little lunch? Again, choices are endless. First, there is the Crystal Dining Room, for sit-down a la carte luncheons in one open sitting.  If you like to munch away on a sandwich, head for The Bistro. Or order a burgers, some fries and dogs (the hot variety) from The Trident Grill. It's open all day.

The traditional buffet lunch (and breakfast) can be found in the Lido Café on deck 12 aft. Here, you can help yourself from the extensive buffets. Seating is either indoors or outdoors on the pretty alfresco deck. Waiters will take your drink orders (even though all soft drinks are complimentary, no "fountain drinks" are served) and the mood is sunny. A great place to enjoy a meal.

But Crystal Serenity's best dining innovation is Tastes, an alfresco dining area adjacent to the Neptune Pool that remained covered by the retractable glass dome throughout our cruise. Shaded by large umbrellas, Tastes serves up delicious Late Risers Breakfast specials (try the peanut butter French toast!), followed by a light luncheon from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Service is friendly and efficient. Though the menu is limited and doesn't change during the cruise, the incomparable Shrimp Caesar Salad that is served for lunch here keeps guests coming back day after day. It's superb! And to close it all off, don't forget Scoops Ice Cream Bar is open daily from 11 to 6...

Early morning view of the Seahorse Pool

Poolside tunes with Music Vision

Crystal Spa relaxation room
Pool Deck

Pool Deck lounge chairs awaiting the first sunseekers

Crystal Spa reception
Delicious Asian Lunch Buffet, Neptune Pool
Asian Lunch Buffet set up around the Neptune Pool
Lido Café

Lido Café

Lido Café with self service buffet line

Tastes, alfresco dining around the Neptune Pool

Tastes
The famous Shrimp Caesar Salad

 

All photos and text: © 2004 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

First published on January 2, 2005

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