By Don George
I was fortunate to be on Crystal Serenity’s recent Lisbon-Barcelona cruise when the ship debuted its $17 million redesign. That redesign’s stunning transformations included the Crystal Penthouses, Prego restaurant, Palm Court dance floor, and most of the Lido Deck, including the Trident Grill and Scoops ice cream bar, Tastes restaurant and bar, and the Lido Café.
For me, the Lido Café became a favored symbol of the redesign’s success. Utilizing food islands (rather than long buffet counters) and an open kitchen, including a bakery, the reconceived café is an open, airy, welcoming space where the bountiful array of buffet offerings — made-to-order pastas and salads, a variety of soups, carved meats, fresh catches of the day, and a selection of sumptuous desserts — is temptingly showcased. On one sunny day at sea, I assembled a simple feast of Thai chicken coconut soup, grilled shrimp, and a mixed greens salad and found a table outside on the Lido Café deck. I took out my journal and tried to capture the scene, the panorama of sun and sky and sea. Convivial conversation enlivened the air, and peals of laughter dipped and soared like the seabirds following us.
The cruise line’s design gurus can explain all the sophisticated details that compose the Lido Deck’s elegant redesign – the custom-made ceramics and gold leaf-speckled mosaic tiles from Italy, the geometric fret-cut screens to add a sense of intimacy, the timber-framed Morgan furniture from the UK, the denim blue and ochre fabrics and pale blue glass tiled-walls, the LED lighting.
All I knew in that lovely Lido moment, soaking up the sunlight, refreshed by a slight breeze, savoring shrimp and soup and salad, was a feeling of utter contentment. I took pen to page and wrote, “Right now there is no other place in the world I would rather be.”