Crystal Cruises’ Serenity

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Those who choose even minimum category staterooms will find Egyptian cotton sheets, down pillows and a duvet, as well as bathrobes and slippers. Plus generous stowage, Internet access, TV with DVD player, complimentary bottled water and soft drinks, and complimentary laundry facilities.

If they opt for Penthouse accommodations that come with butler service, they’ll also be treated to a walk-in closet, separate shower and jacuzzi, a bar stocked with complimentary wines and choice of liquor, and evening appetizers—which they might wish to enjoy on their inviting verandah.

Activities around the ship take in the Crystal Spa & Salon—the only seagoing spa designed according to Feng Shui principles—and the Creative Learning Institute with its roster ranging from Yamaha keyboard lessons to language immersion classes and wellness seminars. A technology center christened Computer University @ Sea gives a choice of four fee-based plans for 24-hour e-mail and Internet access, as well as complimentary classes in digital video editing, web page design, and other handy skills.

For fun in the sun, passengers can splash in two swimming pools, play paddle tennis, power walk on the Promenade Deck, and polish their swing with golf instruction from PGA pros. Indoors, the casino and chic boutiques beckon, and there’s a well-stocked library plus a movie theater with popcorn.

From Venice to mystical Istanbul (oh, the Grand Bazaar shopping), shore excursions are plentiful, alluring, and smoothly managed. Think Greece visits to Ancient Olympia when the ship docks at Katakolon, and storied Mycenae at Navplion.

At the showplace seaside town of Yalta, a favorite Ukraine retreat for the likes of Chekhov and Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, cruisers can explore Lavadia Palace, built in 1911 as a summer residence for Czar Nicholas II and his family. In 1945, it became the venue for the history-making meeting of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin when the restructuring of post-war Europe was planned. The Black Sea cruise also dropped anchor at Odessa and Sevastopol, Ukraine, and Nesebur, Bulgaria.

Clients in search of extra excitement should take a look at Crystal’s Signature Collection of singular adventures. A Mig fighter jet flight over Moscow, anyone?

More newsmakers for 2011: for Crystal Symphony, a return to Alaska for the first time since 2005, and to West Africa for the first time since 2001; for Crystal Serenity, all Baltic and Mediterranean cruises, with added North Cape and Black Sea itineraries.

Set for spring are two spanking new 7-day getaways between Los Angeles and Vancouver with Crystal Symphony. Northbound and southbound Pacific Escape and Coastal Exploration sailings will linger at Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Seattle, Astoria, and Victoria, British Columbia. Departing on April 10 and 17, the new voyages offer promotional 2-for-1 fares starting at $2,695 pp and include $500 pp shipboard spending credits.