Western Caribbean Stories and Tips

Dining choices on the Crystal Serenity

Crystal Serenity Cruise Ship Photo, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Serenity continues the tradition of assigned tables at two seatings. Their surveys show that guests are comfortable knowing that they'll interact with the same people each night and establish a comfortable feeling with their waiters. This may be a result of the older age group represented on this ship and the fact that many guests are traveling solo. But there are other venues to vary the experience for those desiring more choice.

The CRYSTAL DINING ROOM is elegantly appointed with tables for two along the windows and larger tables centrally placed. The menu is ever-changing to provide variety for the long voyages on it's itinerary. Service is friendly and efficient with at least four choices at each course. Main courses are available in appetizer portions for indecisive diners or those with smaller appetites. Presentation and preparation are top notch; meats cooked perfectly to order and comfort foods featured, such as meatloaf, roast tom turkey, spaghetti and meatballs, along with the international, more gourmet meals.
The sommeliers are helpful with their recommendations and will re-cork any unfinished bottles for consumption at your next meal. You may even purchase wine in port, bring it aboard and enjoy it at dinner—for a $15 corkage fee, of course—further enhancing your experience of the country visited.

Prego, their Italian restaurant, is small and also elegantly decorated, reminding you of an upscale New York restaurant with heavy gold drapes, Italian murals, and even a fountain. Tables for two are set very close together along the windows. Yes, you will end up sooner or later interacting with your dining neighbors. If you have a later reservation you may be given the choice of dining at a larger table as a twosome; this does give you more privacy. What I found appealing on the Serenity is that there is no service charge for any of the gourmet restaurants. You may dine at them as often as you can ensure a reservation and it won't be monotonous because they have daily specials in addition to their regular menu. Their mushroom soup served in a bread bowl is not to be missed. We ordered it each night and also bought the cookbook in the gift shop in order to attempt to replicate it upon our return home. An "amuse bouche" is presented soon after you are seated. One night it was rare tuna on a seared scallop over a few greens. The textures and flavors are incredible. The staff is exceptional and if you are wavering in choosing between two or three of the appetizers, the waiter will accommodate you with a tapas-like portion in order for you to experience all of them.

Silk Road is Crystal's Asian restaurant overseen by Nobu. What a treat!! The decor is sleek, the menu incredible, and you will recognize all of Nobu's signature dishes. The sushi bar, as you enter, always has two Nobu chefs from one of the restaurants in attendance. Toko, from New York, was on board during our cruise. This area has a few tables for guests without a reservation, it is first come seating. A full menu is also available here but I found that most chose to order many small dishes; sort of a tasting along with their sake, wine, or tea.

Th main Silk Road dining area is more formal but not stiff, and requires reservations. There is an exuberance of energy felt here. My mouth waters as I recall some of our favorite dishes: Rock Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Mayo, Miso-Glazed Black Cod, Soft Shell Crab Roll, Lobster with Wasabi Pepper Sauce. Nobu uses the freshest of products and has perfected the fusion of herbs, spices, oils, and textures. And to end a perfect meal, Valrhona Cocolate Souffle with Green Tea Ice Cream. Mmmmmm.
This is a not-to be-missed experience. A restaurant visit to Nobu in any city would approach $250/couple.

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