The West

Serenity holds its own
Serenity holds its own

Aptly named luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity slipped into Fremantle to much less fanfare than recent royal visitor Queen Mary 2 - but with refined elegance at every turn, she definitely wasn't trailing in the wake of the giant Cunard vessel.

Nine-year-old Serenity, built at a cost of $327 million, was visiting Fremantle as part of a 94-day round-trip world cruise from Los Angeles and those on board were treated to the high life at sea on a ship fresh from a 2011 makeover that had spruced up its cabins.

The ship is at the luxury end of the cruising market. From cigars and champagne to bathrobes and bed sheets, only the best adorns the Crystal Serenity which, despite having been fashioned by a united nations of designers, has an air of understatement.

Public areas are marble- floored or richly carpeted. There's wood panelling and lavish furnishings. And, with a capacity of just 1070 passengers, the ship offers a more intimate brand of cruising and rarely feels crowded.

Not only are there two crew members for every three passengers, guests on Crystal Serenity also enjoy a high space ratio of 64.4 (gross tonnes per passenger). Typically, a medium-sized cruise ship plying Australian waters is at the 30-40 mark.

Even those in the smallest-of- cabins class, the outside deluxe stateroom ($48,905 for the world cruise) still had 21sqm of space as well as luxurious accoutrements including queen or twin-sized featherbeds with Egyptian cotton sheets and down pillows, an ensuite with shower, bath tub and double sink, 24-hour room service and a big sitting area.

But those who spent a cool $233,000 per person on one of the four Crystal Penthouses were able to live it up in a 125sqm mini-palace with a bigger veranda and sitting area, butler service, a jacuzzi and separate shower, a walk-in robe and personalised stationery.

And they seem to be popular. A Crystal Cruises spokesman said he had never been in a Crystal Penthouse because they were always occupied.

But no one cruises to sit in a cabin, no matter how opulent, and Serenity has some top-class features to keep passengers more than satisfied.

They are unlikely to go hungry, with nine eateries including the Silk Road and the Sushi Bar, both of which have a menu selected by Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu fame. The other specialty restaurant is Prego, an Italian fine dining option, and all three are included in the fare.

From May, tips, champagne, wine and spirits will also be incorporated into one all-inclusive price. Other eating options include the Vintage Room, which hosts wine-paired dinners, the Crystal Dining Room, which offers an international selection, and Scoops Ice Cream Bar which serves cold sweets, cookies and ice-cream.

Passengers who have over-indulged in the bars and restaurants can get back in shape in the ship's Seahorse lap pool or in the indoor/outdoor Neptune pool, at yoga or indoor cycling classes in the gym, or on the 490m teak wraparound Promenade deck.

The sports deck has a golf driving range and putting green. And, yes, there's a shuffleboard.

There's also a dry sauna and steam room and the Crystal Spa and Salon to work away any aches or strains or to smarten up for the formal nights.

Crystal Serenity rings to the sound of music most evenings; most apt given her launching "godmother" is Dame Julie Andrews.

In a host of lounges and bars passengers can choose from a rotating set of performers - everything from a full orchestra and a six-piece dance band to soloists, ventriloquists, comedians, a capella singers, a magician and even a xylosynth. There's a movie theatre and the plush Galaxy Lounge, all blue velvet, lampshades, and plenty of room to stretch, hosts Broadway-style shows. Some cruises have specialist themes such as golf, art, wine, fitness, history or music and are specially tailored with guest speakers conducting lectures and workshops.

There are hands-on workshops ranging from Nordic walking and memoir writing to Spanish classes - a handy skill for passengers thinking of joining any of the Mediterranean cruises Crystal Serenity will embark on this European summer.

Details: Travel agents and

The West Australian

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