The cruise: We sailed from Stockhom to London with stops in St Petersburg(3 days),Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Berlin. The theme was food and wine.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Very efficiently done. On board check in was a breeze and took only a few minutes.The staff appeared genuinely happy to see us and many greated us by name from previous cruises aboard the Symphony.Food and drinks were immediately available and our stateroom was ready and luggage delivered by about 3pm. Disembarkation in London was equally efficient. Having the customs people come on board speeds up the process considerably.
The ship: Beatifully appointed, always well maintained, easy to navigate, and a very manageable size.Although it can accomodate about 900 passengers, typically there are about 750 on board If you like mega resorts or mega liners or lots of activities for kids, this is not for you.
Stateroom: We stayed in one of the penthouse suites which had the added advantages of more space and butler service. Both are quite nice but staying in a regular stateroom with a veranda is hardly roughing it and costs almost 50% less. The stateroom was nicely furnished, had a walk in closet, and a bathroom with a double sink,separate shower and bathtub,and nice ammenities. Everything is always clean and in good working order. Noise from the outsice or from next door is virtually nonexistant.
Food: The main dining room provides an excellent selection of well prepared, tasty food with healthy choices for those with or without dietary restrictions. If you don't see what you want, just ask for it! Specialty restaurants, Prego(Italian)and Silk Road(Asian) are comparable to fine restaurants in SF or NYC. Complimentary wine selections are quite good and the wine steward is very accomodating if you don't find what you'd like. Breakfast and lunch is also available in a more casual atmosphere. The choises tend to be similar from day to day, particularly at breakfast, However, we had several theme lunches celebrating the cuisine of places we visited which were interesting and tasty. Additionally, there were several dinners high lighting local favorites, some prepared by the celebrity chefs on board.
Activities: Plenty to do including attending some excellent lectures by food and wine experts, celebrity chefs, and destination lecturers. We had only 3 sea days, so it was difficult to take advantage of everything. Evening entertainment ranges from piano lounge type to more elaborate performences by the fine Crystal Ensemble and excellent guest performers including musicians and comedians.
Service: This is where Crystal truly shines and rises above the other lines we have sailed. Everyone, including cabin staff, dining staff,bistro and lounge staff and pool attendants,go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and welcome at all times. Changing to an all inclusive program(gratuities included) has not resulted in any decline in Crystal's outstanding service.