Crystal's six star status showed its face from the moment we arrived in Valletta. A country with 365 days of sunshine decided to turn British and rain constantly upon embarkation. We were led into a quirky Maltese cave where Crystal golf umbrellas in plastic casings were handed to us for the duration of our cruise. Check-in aboard the Crystal-white, striking Serenity was combined with a glass of champagne, still bubbling as we followed butler tails to our Deluxe Balcony Stateroom; my mum and I were already impressed.
Deluxe Stateroom 8139 was very well laid out, and great use of mirrors made the room feel very bright and airy. Its traditional American décor of dark woods and tasteful furniture provided a luxurious feel and as we stepped out onto our balcony we couldn't believe its size, you could fit two sun loungers out there quite comfortably. Being two women we loved the plush bath towels, flannels and… hers and hers sinks.
We made full use of the Aveda toiletries, but the beds… Oh my, the beds! They were amazing, so cosy and comfortable, a real effort to get out of them. We took full advantage of the pillow menu too; some may deem this unnecessary, but who cares in the world of six stars? (Top tip - take more US plug adaptors than European).
Many cruise lines pride themselves on their food, yet Crystal Serenity, for me, has been the only ship so far where course after course was consistently delicious. Tastes was our favourite restaurant, offering unique plates of heavenly, global delights in a warm and romantic setting, brought to us by friendly and enthusiastic crew. Prego serves delectable Italian food at the highest standard, and Silk Road is a special experience where exquisitely presented sushi is served plentifully in a restaurant that makes the unusual seem usual. These pleasures accumulate in the modern Lido Café and elegant Main Dining Room, where professional and efficient waiting staff extend Crystal's six star experience at beautifully laid tables, demonstrating true attention to detail and attentive service. A phenomenal experience for both the palate and the individual.
A lot of people dislike sea days, however I adore such time to truly experience the ship and all she has to offer. Vodka tasting kick started our day as we folded origami and swung some very poor shots at the golf driving range and table tennis table. Gyms are pretty to look at but so are painted nails so you can guess what won there. Entertainment was fantastic, with West End quality shows providing goosebump moments from their incredible voices; even the pool deck band provided enjoyable and appropriate background music. Sadly we ran out of time to use the pool, Jacuzzis and paddle tennis, but if you twist my arm, I'm sure I'll return.
The itinerary of Palma de Mallorca, an overnight in Barcelona, day trips in Toulon and a dream-come-true arrival into Monte Carlo was a fitting accompaniment to a 'wow factor cruise'. (Top tip - make full use of the complimentary shuttles in port to avoid long walks to city/town centres). My mum's first ever cruise has left me with a very jealous dad and has resulted in both of us comparing everything to the outstanding service and tastes we experienced onboard. Roll on the Esprit and look out for Mozart - what a treat!
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