As RALPH GRIZZLE disembarks Silver Shadow in Hong Kong, WALLACE IMMEN boards Crystal Serenity in Venice. Stay tuned to his reports on Avid Cruiser for the next couple of weeks. Meantime, Ralph joins Silver Explorer in the Caribbean next week, so look for dual voyage reports on two very different luxury cruises.
By WALLACE IMMEN
Arriving to board Crystal Serenity in Venice, not only was a welcoming line of officers and crew ready to take my carry-on luggage and show me to my suite, but a string quartet had aptly chosen something by Vivaldi — Venice’s “Red Priest” — to get me in the mood for a stress-free cruise.
I can see I’m going to be impressed on my 12-night cruise in the Mediterranean. I’d wondered how different Crystal Cruises’ largest ship would be after its recent $25-million renovation and it’s clearly the same classic ship with a brighter, contemporary look that I find even more welcoming and comfortable than its previous award winning style.
Some of the upgrades I can see immediately are in the public areas. There are luscious new carpets and the boutiques, pool deck and casino sport completely new looks. My wife and I arrived to a waiting penthouse suite— even if one of the smaller penthouse accommodation on the ship is certainly ample enough to settle in for a round the world voyage. Few ships have such a well thought-out array of storage spaces and there have been additions since we last saw this ship last. Lisa immediately commandeered a wall of drawers. And a few shelves. And the dressing table with lighted makeup mirror: yes, of course. I set my toothbrush and razor on the glass shelf in the dual-sinked and Jacuzzied bath.
Things that I immediately like are:
- Optimized storage. In addition to a full walk-in closet there is a wall of drawers and cupboards.
- Work spaces that work. A mid-cabin marble topped island is divided in the center by a mirrored panel in the middle creating a vanity table on one side and a desk on the other.
- Sumptuous fabrics. The upholstery is rich brocades, boldly patterned carpet cushions the floor and a tufted wall frames the bed. It’s a very residential feel, albeit in a very good home.
- Multiple options. The stack of greetings from staff and information about what’s coming show that we’re not going to be short of possibilities while on board. I discover that legendary chef Andre Soltner, whose legendary Lutece restaurant in New York required reservations months in advance, will be doing cooking demonstrations on board and creating a menu for a gala dinner on board. Another celebrity on board is Wink Martindale, who has hosted more than a dozen different television games shows over his career and will talk about their lighter moments in a series of enrichment lectures. There are language classes from Berlitz, computer courses from the Computer University @t Sea and complimentary wellness courses and fitness classes in the spa.
There’s a lot to see, but first things first, because I want to maximize our time in Venice. We’ve got tickets to the opera and we want to ramble some of the more un-touristed back lanes of the jewel box of a city. We’ll be back on board soon for a cruise to Dubrovnik, Sicily, Florence, Rome and Monte Carlo with some relaxing days at sea as well.