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Fresh from a $25 million facelift that gave its staterooms a glamorous dash of retro-meets-modern panache, eight-year-old Crystal Serenity embarked on a series of cruises through the Baltic Sea. Onboard for the most recent 11-day “Jewels of the Baltic” segment, I sampled the award-winning hospitality, service, and cuisine for which Crystal (www.crystalcruises.com) is renowned – all while visiting a half dozen fascinating and historically romantic cities, from Stockholm to St. Petersburg to Copenhagen (shown above at left).
Crystal’s cruise product is luxurious from aft to stern (and, accordingly, Serenity fares start at about $675 per person per day), but the line’s attention to quality is evident in everything from the chic new stateroom decor to the delicious and ambitious menus in the seven dining outlets. At 68,870 gross tons and 1,070 passengers, Crystal Serenity (shown at right) is larger than most of its luxury competitors (many of whose ships accommodate 300 to 700 passengers) and it strikes a nice balance between a small and large-ship experience. The crew’s top-notch service gives Serenity a feeling of intimacy while its size gives it recreation options (two pools, two Jacuzzis, paddle tennis courts, and a walking and jogging track that encircles the Promenade Deck) that smaller ships lack.
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