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Crystal Serenity

Shandana A. Durrani
From the Print Edition:
Tyson vs. King, Jan/Feb 04

Serenity. It is a word that for some evokes images of tranquil waters and light summer breezes, and for others thoughts of savoring a fine cigar in a friendly environment or possibly tired muscles being loosened under the hands of a masseuse. Whatever comes to mind when you think of serenity, chances are a Crystal Serenity cruise can transform it from concept to reality.

Crystal Cruises launched the aptly named Serenity last summer and the ship quickly became another hit in its oceangoing family, which includes the Harmony and Symphony. Boasting room for 1,080 passengers, the 820-foot-long Serenity has nine guest decks with 548 opulent staterooms, including penthouses with verandas and penthouse suites. All rooms feature spacious sitting areas, large closets, bathrooms with showers and bathtubs, goose down pillows and data ports for laptops. Penthouses come equipped with personalized butler service, flat-screen televisions, Jacuzzi bathtubs and complimentary in-room bars. The Crystal Penthouses, the upper echelon of passenger rooms, have guest bathrooms, libraries, fitness rooms and Jacuzzis with an ocean view, and its occupants are guaranteed reservations at the ship's restaurants. Even with 1,000 people on board, the ship never feels crowded, probably because there is so much to experience.

Crystal has a history of pampering its passengers and the Serenity is no exception. Where else can you beep your butler to deliver caviar at a moment's notice? The attentive crew organizes guided shore excursions or can point you in the right direction if you'd rather venture on your own. While at sea, the staff arranges daily activities from fitness seminars to table-tennis tournaments to conversational language classes to Callaway golf clinics.

Guests can also enjoy the ship's many amenities such as a Caesars Palace casino, computer room, library, gym, spa, first-run movie theater and entertainment lounge. Passengers have the option of eating at the Crystal dining room or one of the other specialty restaurants, such as Prego or The Sushi Bar, which is under the tutelage of famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

A cruise ship might seem an odd place to find an indoor cigar sanctuary, but the Connoisseur Club (pictured) is for smokers' use, Fairly priced Cohiba Siglo IIs and Romeo y Julieta Churchill Tube No. 3s are up for grabs. The Serenity's Vintage Room hosts special wine dinners pairing wine and cuisine from the same regions.

During the summer, the Serenity docks in ports along the Mediterranean coast. (In the winter, after a transatlantic voyage, it travels warmer waters in the Americas.) Seven-day cruises start at $2,995 a person based on double occupancy and can be booked through your travel agent.

Visit www.crystalcruises.com.

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