What’s New Onboard the Recently Redesigned Crystal Serenity

With freshened décor in a trio of restaurants, several lounges and its Penthouse and Penthouse Suite staterooms, this now 980-passenger ship is ideal for upscale island hopping.

The Crystal Serenity has just set sail on a world cruise — but travelers who love shorter island itineraries will have plenty of options in 2019 and 2020.Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Following a 28-day dry dock in October 2018 — its most extensive since its 2003 debut — Crystal Serenity emerged with a sleek new polish to some of its top staterooms and several new dining options, which were first introduced on sister ship, Crystal Symphony, in 2017.

Now accommodating 980 passengers (down from 1,070), the mid-size luxury ship offers a 1 to .67 guest-to-staff ratio, mostly all-inclusive cruise fares (beverages, gratuities and free ship-wide Wi-Fi), and some of the best dining afloat, with even specialty restaurants incurring no extra charge, including the now 10-year partnership with Nobu Matsuhisa for his only sushi bar and fine-dining restaurant at sea.

The nightly live entertainment — in six venues — is also top-notch and guests with a thirst for knowledge will enjoy the ship's consistently informative guest lectures (a recent Coastal California and Mexico itinerary featured husband-and-wife astronaut veterans Robert "Hoot" Gibson and Rhea Seddon).

While Crystal Serenity has just embarked on an 84-day World Cruise (January 13 to April 7, 2019), six- to 21-night itineraries later in 2019 and 2020 (and another World Cruise in 2020) offer plenty of island time for cruisers who love sunshine. Here's what's new onboard Crystal Serenity and a sampling of where you can cruise in 2019-2020.

What’s New and Improved Onboard

Seabreeze Penthouses

A Seabreeze Penthouse is a new addition to the stateroom options.Courtesy Crystal Cruises

The Penthouse category of butler-serviced staterooms has always been popular, so Crystal added 36 slightly smaller Seabreeze Penthouses (measuring 350 square feet vs. 369) on Deck 10, for a total of 108 onboard.

The sleek redesign also included sophisticated décor in shades of blue, gray and beige, a reconfigured bathroom featuring one of the the best walk-in showers at sea (with an awesome and easy-to-use Hansgrohe showerhead), a walk-in closet, Dyson blow dryer and flat-panel HD TVs with on-demand films and entertainment.

Seabreeze Penthouse Suites

At 509 square feet, these two new staterooms, also on Deck 10, join 33 existing 493-square-foot Penthouse Suites and feature the same contemporary décor and amenities as the new Seabreeze Penthouses.

Waterside

Not only did the ship's main restaurant (formerly known as the Crystal Dining Room) undergo a physical transformation, but it also debuted an open-seating dining concept (with more tables for two and four people) that gives guests flexibility in their dinner times by doing away with traditional early and late seatings.

While its interior décor is now much more contemporary — featuring a combination of gray, gold, silver and blue with a striking tile wall mosaic and glamourous overhead lighting — the menu concept remains the same, offering a mix of modern and classic dishes (some of which change daily).

Umi Uma

A name change (from Silk Road & The Sushi Bar) and subtle design updates have made this Japanese-Peruvian specialty restaurant with menus by acclaimed Chef Nobu Matsuhisa even more of a culinary treat than before — and dining here is still included in the cruise fare. While the menu has been tweaked a bit, favorites such as lobster tempura and miso-glazed black cod remain.

Silk Kitchen & Bar

Silk Kitchen & Bar is a new casual eatery serving Chinese comfort food.Courtesy Crystal Cruises

If elegant Japanese dining isn't enough to satisfy your craving for Asian cuisine, the addition of this more casual eatery (in the space formerly known as Tastes) serving Chinese comfort food is a great complement.

It's open for both lunch (when specialties include wok dishes, dumplings and a delicious Chinese chicken salad) and dinner (when reservations are required and family-style plates include an appetizer of crispy duck salad and entrees such as lobster and scallops in black bean sauce and stir-fry black pepper beef). Be sure to leave room the terrific passion fruit dessert.

The Marketplace and Churrascaria

The former Lido Café now has a split personality: By day it's The Marketplace, a bright and vibrant buffet dining area serving breakfast and lunch. After dark, the rear section transforms into Brazilian steakhouse Churrascaria, where open-seating dinner begins with a signature Caipirinha cocktail and continues with a salad bar offering ceviche, salads and side dishes. Servers come by offering as much beef, pork, lamb, chicken and sausage (sliced tableside) as you desire. Don't say we didn't warn you that the cheese-puff rolls are addictive.

Palm Court

When Crystal Serenity guests want to enjoy traditional afternoon tea or cocktails and dancing before or after dinner, this lounge on deck 12 forward has always been the spot. And now it has a new look with an in-the-round design, a modernized bar and glamorous décor that includes a mix of chairs and cocktail tables as well as sofas, coffee tables and wingback chairs in elegant shades of gray, pale green and rose.

Stardust Supper Club

The Stardust Supper Club offers a four-course dinner with wine pairings and dancing.Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Adding to this lounge's versatility, Crystal introduced a new dining concept: a four-course supper club dinner experience with wine pairings available via reservation (book as soon as possible) on black-tie-optional evenings. The dinner includes paired wines and dancing to Rat Pack-inspired music by the ship's ensemble and string quartet.

Other Nighttime Venues

The Pulse night club and the Resorts World Casino at Sea were refurbished with new carpeting and furnishings and the Galaxy Lounge is debuting Crystal on Broadway, a new production show featuring music from Rent, West Side Story and Something Rotten!

Top Itineraries for Island Lovers in 2019 and 2020

7-Night Athens Roundtrip — April 27-May 4, 2019

Visiting Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes and Cyprus, this itinerary lets you get your fill of the Greek Islands before the summer crowds descend. Fares from $2,185 per person.

12-Night Fort Lauderdale Roundtrip — Nov. 24 to Dec. 6, 2019

Almost two weeks of post-Thanksgiving fun, sun and great food in the Caribbean await on this Wine & Food Festival itinerary, which visits Grand Turk, St. Barth, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Thomas. Fares from $2,775 per person.

105-Night World Cruise from Miami to Rome — January 6 to April 20, 2020

The Crystal Serenity visits Moorea on its 105-night world cruise.Courtesy Crystal Cruises

If a world cruise is on your bucket list, you'll enjoy onboard-inclusive luxury for more than three months on this itinerary that visits 18 islands and 22 countries, including French Polynesia (Nuka Hiva, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti), the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Tasmania, Indonesia (Bali and Komodo Island), Thailand (Phuket), Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Greece (Crete) and Sicily. Fares from $30,657 per person.

19-Night Athens to Rome — June 14 to July 3, 2020

Greek and Mediterranean islands along with the French and Italian Rivieras are showcased on this itinerary that visits Santorini, Sicily, Ibiza and Corsica as well as Sorrento, Portofino, St.-Tropez, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Florence. Fares from $7,124 per person.