(7:10 p.m. EST) -- Less than two weeks before it arrives in the U.S., Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity has emerged from its most extensive refurbishment ever -- boasting new dining options and accommodations, redesigned entertainment venues, a new production show and a slew of technological upgrades.
The luxury cruise ship -- whose passenger capacity dropped from 1,070 to 980 with the addition of 36 new penthouses and two new penthouse suites -- follows in the footsteps of its sister ship, Crystal Symphony, which received a similar makeover in fall 2017. (Read our first impressions of Crystal Symphony post-refurb.)
"The scope of this redesign is truly remarkable. Our ocean ships remain at the heart of our brand and our commitment to their continued excellence and success is unwavering," said Crystal's president and CEO, Tom Wolber. "The changes aboard Crystal Serenityare a beautiful reaffirmation of Crystal's timeless style and luxury, which continues to evolve with the preferences of luxury travelers but will always be rooted in the cornerstones of genuine, personalized service, abundant space, superb quality and numerous choices."
Crystal Serenity will depart from Lisbon on November 10, en route to Fort Lauderdale, where it will sail a repositioning cruise to its next homeport of Los Angeles. From December to mid-January, it will offer Mexican Riviera cruises roundtrip from Los Angeles, before embarking on an 85-night world cruise from Los Angeles to Monte Carlo.
Below is a breakdown of what's new:
Waterside: Formerly the Crystal Dining Room, this main restaurant now offers open-seating breakfast, lunch and dinner in a new, contemporary yet cozy setting, with more tables for two and four. Daily changing menus continue to serve international classic and modern cuisine.
The Marketplace and Churrascaria: The daytime and evening sections of the Lido Cafe have been transformed into the Marketplace and Churrascaria, where buffet-style breakfast and lunch hours are served during the day, and an open-seating, Brazilian-style barbeque takes the stage at night. Here, diners are welcomed with a Caipirinha cocktail and can enjoy a selection of tapas and ceviche, salads and soups, vegetables, and traditionally served carved meat and seafood skewers.
Silk Kitchen & Bar: This Asian-inspired venue, located in what was the Tastes section of the Trident Grill, serves Chinese comfort foods in an al fresco setting. Silk is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; reservations are required for dinner.
Umi Uma: Silk Road & the Sushi Bar has been rebranded into Umi Uma, which specializes in Japanese-Peruvian dishes developed by Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Dinner reservations are required.
Stardust Supper Club: Revealed just before Crystal Serenity entered dry dock, this new dining experience conjures up images of the Rat Pack era and is available on the first and last "Black Tie Optional" nights. The four-course dinner pairs with live performances from Crystal's ensemble and string quartet.
Prego: A Crystal favorite, this restaurant continues to offer Italian specialties in a classic, elegant atmosphere.
Palm Court: Crystal Serenity's popular hangout spot, Palm Court, has been reimagined with a new stage and modernized bar. It also boasts more tables for two and intimate seating nooks, new finishes, lighting, furniture and carpeting. It continues to serve afternoon tea and refreshments during the day.
Stardust Club: The Stardust Club has been updated with a new dance floor as well as new bar finishes, decor and seating arrangements -- opening up the space and making it more versatile for large gatherings, ranging from bridge tournaments to live entertainment.
Galaxy Lounge: A new production show called "Crystal on Broadway, The Show" brings songs from hit musicals like "Rent," "Something Rotten!" and "West Side Story" to the Galaxy Lounge. The show, developed in partnership with Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollum, will debut on the December 7 sailing.
Pulse and the Resorts World Casino also received new carpet and furnishings.
Seabreeze Penthouses: A total of 36 new Seabreeze Penthouses and two new Seabreeze Penthouse Suites have replaced the area on Deck 10 once home to the Deluxe Staterooms with Verandah cabins. Amenities are the same as what you'd find in other penthouses onboard: butler service, walk-in closets, spa-like bathrooms, perks like in-room specialty dining and unlimited reservations at specialty restaurants, and ample square footage (367 square feet and 491 square feet, respectively, including the balcony).
Design features include contemporary decor with gemstone-colored velvets, natural materials and brushed brass touches with marble details. Penthouses also feature shared entries recessed from the hallway, for added convenience when connecting cabins.
All accommodations received new HD flat-screen TVs enabled with an interactive daily planner.
In addition to the new cabin TVs, passengers can enjoy enhanced Wi-Fi coverage as well as Crystal Connect, an online portal featuring daily planners and other onboard resources. Crystal Connect can be accessed via passengers' smartphones, computers or tablets.
The Computer University@Sea also received new computer equipment, 70-inch TVs, carpeting and seating. Meanwhile, the Studio enrichment room has been divided into a classroom and dance studio for private lessons.
--By Gina Kramer, Editor