Northwest Passage of a Lifetime

Crystal Serenity Cruise Review to Canada, New England, New York

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 13
Helpful Votes: 230

Overall rating:

3.7 out of 5
Crystal Serenity

32 Night Northwest Passage (Anchorage To New York)

Sail date: August 15, 2017

Ship: Crystal Serenity

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 8125

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 4 years ago

Review summary

This was a rare chance to visit the Arctic before it is drasticly changed by global warming. Signs of change are already visible, and it's unclear what lies ahead for the wildlife and Inuit communities who depend on it. I would have been happy to have gone had the experience been much more mundane. As it was, our first cruise on Crystal (out of 50+) jumped this line to a tie for second place in our personal ratings.


2 out of 5
Reasonably efficient, but without much consideration for guests with handicaps.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
The food was outstanding, on a par with Cunard ni the main dining room. The buffet was superior, especially the service, but some food items were left out too long. The Japanese restaurant was excellent, including the sushi bar, but the Italian was unremarkable, and we chose not to return. We also had the help of a most excellent somallier, who recommended a number of new and unusual pairings, and was always spot on.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
This cruise, charting new waters as it did, was replete with topical lectures from recognized experts. By this I mean, even I recognized their names. As many as five a day were on offer, almost too many, but only a few I would have skipped.


2 out of 5
Not the worst I've seen and heard at sea, but the on-board talent was unimpressive. They should have spent more on talent and less on costumes. Small groups and soloists were competent, but only rarely worth stopping for. Outside entertainers were quite good, especially the comics. This cruise brought on board a number of Inuit performances, which I grant may be an acquired taste.

Children's Programs

There were no children permitted on this voyage.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Service was uniformly friendly and helpful, with a good number remembering not just our faces but our names. Clearly they've been working on this point, and it shows.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
The ship had a few oddities about it, but the only ones that seriously troubled us was the lack of space in the main lounge (too many cocktail tables where none were needed), and the secondary lounge had half the seats facing away from the stage (not bad for a disco, but inappropriate for a lecture or film).

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Reasonably comfortable, with one pinch point where we both tripped over the trash basket. Duvet without a sheet isn't our preference, though there were several extra blankets. Massive amounts of storage in drawers and even the bath, we found the hanger space in the closet the limiting factor, but that was partly because of parkas and heavy coats for the Arctic. Cleanliness was excellent.

Ship tip

Explore early in the cruise. There are many nooks that are not well described in the literature provided.

Ports of call

Seward (Anchorage), Alaska

4 out of 5
We began with three days here. The Sea Life Aquarium is very good.

Kodiak, Alaska

2 out of 5
No excursion, just lunch.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska

1 out of 5
Our excursion was to two tiny museums. Neither the museums nor ship staff regulated the occupancy, and both were so crowded as a result that we had to leave without being able to see even half the exhibits. A distinct opportunity for improvement.

Nome, Alaska

2 out of 5
No excursion, just lunch.

Victoria, British Columbia

4 out of 5
Tendering by Zodiac to a "wet landing" was helped by the ship providing waterproof boots. It's a tiny community that doesn't see strangers often, so I think the locals were as curious about us as we were abotu them.

Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island, Nunavut Did not visit port

Pond Inlet, Nunavut Did not visit port

Ilulissat, Greenland

5 out of 5
Our excursion took a small boat into a field of (grounded) icebergs of impressive size. Spotting a mother and calf humpback feeding from almost too close was a big plus.

Sisimiut, Greenland

3 out of 5
Walked to a museum and lunch.

Nuuk, Greenland

4 out of 5
This city really does feel more European than American. From the brightly colored houses to the types of businesses (and the general affluence), it seemed half a world away from our previous ports.

Bar Harbor, Maine

4 out of 5
Lobster Feast and driving tour of Acadia National Park. Might have been nicer, but a major traffic accident made getting about slow and difficult. No fault of the tour operator.

Boston, Massachusetts

4 out of 5
Met friends and visited the JFK museum. An outstanding exhibit! Despite being old enough to remember his presidency, I learned a lot about the context of his time and details of events I thought I knew. Highly recommended.

Newport, Rhode Island

3 out of 5
Walked to lunch at a local pub. Feels like typical suburban America with all the same shops.

New York, New York

3 out of 5
Circle Line Harbor Tour; one must go, I suppose. Better than expected. The ship also organized a Broadwy play, with a visit with some of the cast afterwards. "The Play that Goes Wrong", very funny. However, NYC traffic being what it is, it took us an hour to get to the harbor tour and back, and one of the buses never made it to the theater after the show, and we all piled into the bus that did, leaving ship staff to find a cab back. Hard to love a town when such a high percentage of your time is spend just getting places.


1 out of 5
Two ships were at the same dock, and there were neither signs nor staff to direct us to the area where our ship's luggage was. Lost a good half hour looking for our bags in the wrong place. I strongly recommend you take advantage of a porter; they speed you through customs and make sure you get a cap directly. Next time I might just take the ship's shuttle to the airport instead.
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