Award-winning Crystal Cruises is rapidly growing. With new classes of cruising and ships being built, the April 2016 debut of Crystal Luxury Air and the launch of Crystal AirCruises in 2017, Crystal is evolving into a complete luxury brand.

At the core of Crystal’s success are ultra-luxury, phenomenal staff, and unique itineraries and experiences. Having had a chance to sail on Crystal Serenity recently, I see why Crystal Cruises has won countless awards. Crystal is a terrific fit for groups looking for all-inclusive luxury experience.

Diverse Casual Dining Options

Lido Cafe

Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

After emerging from a $17-million redesign in 2013, Crystal Serenity’s indoor and outdoor casual dining places were dramatically transformed. Newly added were Trident Grille, Scoops ice cream bar, Tastes bar and Tastes restaurant. Also, the existing Lido Cafe was demolished and then extended forward to add new space. The result? The Lido Cafe has modern food islands, a live open kitchen that includes a bakery and more tables for two guests.

Located on the starboard side, Tastes restaurant is open during the day for a “Late Risers Breakfast” and then has a full lunch menu that features different specialties. After 6 p.m., Tastes transforms into a beautiful, casual eatery. The dramatic evening lighting showcases the plants, decorative screens and trees. Tastes’ globally inspired menu was created in association with Sapphire Restaurants in Laguna Beach, California, and acclaimed Chef Azmin Ghahreman, whose cuisine offers accents from around the world. Tunisian Crab Warka, California Street Tacos and Alsatian Tarte are just a few of the dishes on the dinner menu that includes a dozen other small plates designed to be shared.

The Trident Grille and Scoops ice cream bar areas have sofa and armchair groups, where guests can not only enjoy their dishes but also relax and enjoy conversations.

What’s so striking about these areas are the angled “living walls” of plants. Wicker tan sofas with an array of blues and tangerine, plus tables that have Crystal white granite table tops, set a resort tone. The live olive trees and a fresh herb garden for Crystal chefs to use are part of the ambience. Guests can enjoy the expansive ocean views. The planters, sculpture and angled living wall plants subtly divide the various seating groups and different dining concepts. The Lido Cafe areas are light and airy, with a retractable glass roof.

The Bistro, located on Tiffany Deck, has freshly baked pastries, a go-to coffee bar and late riser’s continental breakfast, with other options from 11:30 am to 11 p.m. Its midship location makes it ideal to enjoy a snack.

Other Dining Options

Crystal Serenity Crystal Dining Room

Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Throughout the cruise, guests can enjoy Crystal Dining Room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Crystal Dining Room has set dining times – Main Seating and Late Seating, where guests have assigned tables.

Other dining options are available on Crystal Serenity. Prego features Italian cuisine, while Silk Road features Asian cuisine by Nobu Matsuhisa. The Sushi Bar also offers cuisine by Nobu Matsuhisa. Reservations for Silk Road, Prego and The Sushi Bar can be made in advance. Depending on the length of the cruise, guest can dine at these specialty restaurants at no cost up to a certain number of times. After that, a small charge is added to the guest’s onboard account.

Entertainment – Varied Experiences including Creative Learning Institute

Crystal Serenity Galaxy

Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Evening entertainment in the showrooms and lounges varies each night. Specialized production shows and musicals are offered during the cruise. Other entertainment includes comedians, illusionists, musicians and bands.

Crystal Cruises also offers the Creative Learning Institute, in which guests can sign up for courses in categories that include arts and entertainment, business and technology, and lifestyle and wellness. While I was sailing on Crystal Serenity, these hands-on classes included “University of Southern California Digital Filmmaking Class Made Fun: iMovie for the iPad,”   the “Odyssey Art at Sea Program,” and “Berlitz Foreign Language Instruction – French.”  Others included bridge classes and dance instruction along with courses offered by Computer University@Sea.

Crystal Experience Begins and Succeeds with the Staff

While interacting with staff members onboard, it was easy to see they thoroughly enjoyed their roles. They loved what they did and it showed. Many mentioned they were encouraged to advance their careers onboard. One dining staff member said it best: “A happy staff creates a happy customer/guest onboard.” They went above and beyond, and it was all genuine. When I was talking with fellow guests, I learned that many have only sailed on Crystal Cruises.

It was also amazing how many staff members have been working for Crystal Cruises for many years. Executive Chef Franz Weiss, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, joined Crystal Cruises in 1993 as a chef de partie. The head waiter who handled my table in the Crystal Dining Room has worked for the line for 18 years.

Computer University@Sea

In an era where some cruise lines are phasing out computers for guests to use onboard, with guests having to rely on their own mobile devices, Crystal Cruises is an exception. Crystal Cruises has had its Computer University@Sea since 1997.

Open 24 hours a day and manned by an extremely professional staff, it features state-of-the-art computers and offers complimentary courses throughout the cruise. The curriculum varies from basic computer skills to advanced digital photo finishing. Guests can also bring their own devices (laptops and more) and get them configured to use for in-stateroom Internet access.

More About Crystal’s Expansion – What’s New and Next?

Crystal’s rapid growth includes the expansion of Crystal River Cruises with four new luxury river yachts launching in 2017 and 2018 to sail on the rivers and waterways of Europe. In 2016 Crystal Luxury Air began, providing private charters as well as transporting guests to their Crystal destinations. The company is building the first polar class mega-yacht, Crystal Endeavor, which will launch in 2018. Crystal’s first luxury super yacht, Crystal Esprit, was inaugurated and entered service in December 2015. Crystal is also building three large ships And Crystal AirCruises will debut later in 2017.

Having evolved into a true luxury brand, Crystal Cruises excels in offering diverse choices and experiences for guests. If your group members want an “All-Exclusive” luxury experience, Crystal might be a great consideration.

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