SERENITY From Sea To Sea, Part Five

This final post from Peter Knego’s recent transcanal cruise aboard Crystal Cruises’ deluxe CRYSTAL SERENITY covers the ship’s stateroom and suite categories and visits to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the Mexican Riviera.

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2016 unless otherwise noted.

Cabins and Suites

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Totally random Penthouse Deck (10) passageway carpet shot.

All of the CRYSTAL SERENITY’s staterooms and suites were redone over the past few years. New soft fittings with autumn-hued colors contrast nicely with the warm wood tones of the cabinetry.

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While we are covering the accommodation, it’s nice to note that every cabin/suite deck on the CRYSTAL SERENITY has a self-service laundry with complimentary use of soap, washers, dryers and irons.

Deluxe Staterooms With Large Picture Window

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Deck 7 Deluxe Stateroom With Large Picture Window.

The forward end of Promenade Deck (7) has a lineup of 70 of the ship’s most economical accommodation, 70 Deluxe Staterooms With Large Picture Windows, which measure 226-square feet.

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Deck 7 window.

The windows look out onto the ship’s beautiful promenade. And, yes, they have a mylar mirrored tinting that helps assure privacy.

Deluxe Staterooms With Verandah

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Deluxe Stateroom With Verandah.

In the first post, I fully covered the ship’s most abundant accommodation, the 356 Deluxe Staterooms with Verandah measuring 296-square-feet. During our seventeen night voyage, we occupied one of 70 specially equipped PURE Staterooms With Verandah.


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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse dressing area.

72 Penthouses measuring 403-square-feet are located on Penthouse Decks 11 and 10. A dressing area leading to the bathroom and walk-in closet is near the entryway.

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse bedroom.

There is a large bedroom combined with a living room on the outer edge of the Penthouses. All Penthouse categories have butler service and certain perks that are not available to those in Deluxe Stateroom categories. In Penthouses, those perks would include free unlimited Crystal e-mail and complimentary pressing service.

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse balcony.

Penthouse balconies are larger than those of Deluxe Balcony Staterooms but all balconies on the CRYSTAL SERENITY have a slightly obstructed view with their solid lower lip.

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse bathroom.

Penthouse bathrooms have a full Jacuzzi tub and a separate shower.

Penthouse Suites

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse Suite bedroom.

33 Penthouse Suites measure 538-square-feet and are laid out with a separate living room and dining space.

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse Suite bedroom to living room.

Additional perks in Penthouse Suites include free unlimited Crystal e-mail, two hours of free internet per cruise, one hour of free phone use per cruise and complimentary pressing service.

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse Suite bathroom.

Penthouse Suite bathrooms have a Jacuzzi tub, a separate shower and a bidet.

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Penthouse Suite balcony.

Penthouse suite balconies are even larger than Penthouse balconies.

Crystal Penthouses

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Crystal Penthouse entrance.

Four 1,345-square-foot Crystal Penthouses on Penthouse Deck (11) are among the most lavish suites afloat. Among their extra perks: unlimited Crystal e-mail, unlimited internet, 2 hours free phone usage, free laundry and dry cleaning, free pressing service and a private invite to the bridge.

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Crystal Penthouse bedroom.

Crystal Penthouse bedrooms have a separate bedroom with a reading nook and a huge walk-in closet.

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Crystal Penthouse master bathroom.

Crystal Penthouse master bathrooms are tiled in Italian marble and have a Jacuzzi tub that overlooks the sea.

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Crystal Penthouse dining nook.

Crystal Penthouses have a private dining nook with its own pantry/kitchenette.

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Crystal Penthouse living room.

The Crystal Penthouse living rooms have full length windows with an ocean view.

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Crystal Penhouse den.

There is also a “den” in the Crystal Penthouse with a huge flatscreen television that doubles as a private cinema. The sofa unfolds into an extra berth.

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Crystal Penthouse powder room.

There is also a powder room with a shower, in addition to the master bathroom.

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Crystal Penthouse balcony.

Of course, the Crystal Penthouses have a commodious balcony with cushioned loungers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

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Birds on mast.

It was so nice to enjoy a post card perfect day at sea. Out on deck, seabirds vied for supremacy of the fo’c’sle as the CRYSTAL SERENITY hugged the Pacific shores of Costa Rica.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

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CRYSTAL SERENITY tied up at 6:00 AM in Caldera, Costa Rica. Our full day Poas Volcano National Park tour mustered in the Stardust Lounge at 7:30 AM.

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Costa Rica blossoms.

Poas Volcano is several hours away from Caldera via coach. In the verdant mountains, we made a quick rest stop.

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Steel Church of Costa Rica.

We detoured briefly in the town of Grecia where there is a red church constructed of prefabricated metal sheets.

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Oxcart spectrum.
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Oxcart painting demo.

Oxcarts played a pivotal role in hauling Costa Rican crops and coffee from its central valleys to its ports, presumably the reason why our tour included a visit to a local oxcart factory. Although it is not necessarily what we booked the excursion for, the craftsmanship and design we witnessed was impressive.

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20 minute warning sign.

Just as we neared Poas Volcano National Park, which is at an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet, the fog rolled in, obscuring the view of its spectacular crater.

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Peering into the abyss.

Because of the toxic sulphur fumes, we could linger at the crater’s edge for a maximum of 20 minutes.

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Poas Crater “fog bow”.

For a brief moment, the sun’s rays teased us, forming a “fog bow” but never clearing enough for us to see the crater.

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Coffee plantation.
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Coffee beans.

We made a lunch stop on the coffee plantation-covered slopes of Poas, giving us a chance to enjoy the delicious local cuisine with a bottle of Costa Rican beer.

Friday, January 15, 2016

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY at San Juan del Sur.

Not only would this be our first visit to Nicaragua, it would also be a maiden call for the CRYSTAL SERENITY. I was pleasantly surprised by the pristine beauty surrounding us as we tendered ashore for our Granada Highlights With Lunch tour.

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San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

San Juan del Sur is a burgeoning surfer’s paradise with its long, sandy beach and friendly village.

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Crater Lake, Nicaragua.

After about two hours of driving on a northerly course, our first stop was overlooking Laguna de Apoyo, a lake that formed in the caldera of a collapsed volcano.

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Cathedral at Granada, Nicaragua.

The town of Granada was founded in 1524 and is considered the oldest European-settled city in North America. Now with a population of 124,000, it somehow avoided the tribulations of the Sandinista era. Its colonial architecture is among the best preserved in all of Nicaragua.

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Tortillas at Granada.
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Folklorico dancers at Granada.

We enjoyed lunch and a folkloric performance at a local restaurant.

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T-I-O of Granada.

Our stay was all-too-brief. Granada is well worth a second visit.

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Greetings from Nicaragua.

On the way back to the ship, we made a photo stop at a vista point near Lake Nicaragua. I was struck by how friendly the locals were and how they loved to have their photos taken.

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Twin Peaks at Lake Nicaragua.

Truly one of the most spectacular landscapes I have ever witnessed unfolded for us as we walked to the Lake’s edge.  Twin volcanic peaks — the nearly perfect symmetry of still active Concepcion and the more dome-shaped Maderas –form Ometepe Island near the western portion of the Lake.

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Crane versus Concepcion symmetry.

There have been on and off plans, the latest proposed by a wealthy Chinese businessman, to build a canal across Nicaragua that would bring large ships into the lake, threatening its unique biosphere, which includes a species of fresh water shark. Fortunately, those plans appear to have stalled.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

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Vintage DVDs.

Another glorious sea day to basically relax and do as we wished:   the usual round of eating, swimming, working out and attending some excellent lectures on world affairs, Mesoamerica and even the 2016 presidential election. A bonus was finding the Ernst Lubitsch-directed Carole Lombard masterpiece “To Be Or Not To Be” and one of my dad’s better known films, “The Sands Of Iwo Jima”, in the Library’s DVD collection. I never got to watch them but I was impressed, once again, with the variety and scope of Crystal’s entertainment offerings.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

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From CRYSTAL SERENITY to Huatulco.
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Layers of Huatulco from our balcony.

Relatively unexploited until recently, Huatulco is in a series of beautiful bays in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. We awoke to find CRYSTAL SERENITY towering over its small marina and 600 foot strand of beach.

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Playa Huatulco.

It was a short walk from the pier to the beach with its many restaurants and cafes.

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Huatulco Chapel.

We continued walking for another 30 or so minutes until we reached the small town of La Crucecita, which has a town square dominated by a church called Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadeloupe.

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Sunday services.

Apparently everyone in town was attending Sunday morning services.

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Take a picture with horse!

On the way back to the beach for some wifi access, we encountered the usual gamut of cafe barkers and some unique photo ops.

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Never trust promises of high speed wifi at a busy beach resort in Mexico. Nonetheless, it was fun to settle in for some fresh salsa and chips before returning to the ship.

Monday, January 18, 2016

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Captain Egil on the wing.

Another sea day. A late morning highlight was a chance to visit with Captain Egil Giske, who began his seagoing career with Wilhelmsen Line before transitioning to deluxe cruise ships in the early 1990s, including Sea Goddess, Windstar and Crystal.

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MV CRYSTAL SERENITY Bridge, facing starboard.

I even had a few minutes to explore the wheelhouse before heading off to enjoy yet another day of shipboard indulgence.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

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Mariposa Mexicana.

Unlike my last visit when it was absolutely sweltering, it was a gorgeous day in Puerto Vallarta,.  I decided to walk the three or so miles from the cruise terminal into the historic town center.

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Puerto Vallarta breakers.

The waves were a bit rough but the beach was spectacular.

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“The Millennia” by Mathis Lidice.
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Beached bronze: “The Roundabout of the Sea” by Alejandro Colunga.

I walked along the Malecon, marveling at some of its more unusual sculptures.

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Nuestra Señora de Guadeloupe.

My last stop before returning to the ship was the distinctive, crown-topped Nuestra Señora de Guadeloupe which, despite its antique styling, was completed in 1965.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

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Gala Atrium Brunch Buffet.

A pair of sea days to savor before the cruise’s end. At 11:30 AM, the chefs whipped the Crystal Cove and Atrium area into a frenzy with their Grand Gala Buffet.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

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Foggy balcony shot.

The night prior to arrival in Los Angeles, a mysterious fog enshrouded the ship.

Friday, January 22, 2016

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San Pedro sunrise.

What a rare treat it was to rise with the sun in my former home port as CRYSTAL SERENITY motored into the ever-changing landscape of Los Angeles harbor. After spinning around under the Vincent-Thomas Bridge, she tied up at Pier 92.  Home, at last.

End Of SERENITY From Sea To Sea

Special thanks: Paul Garcia, Janeth Tapia


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