Having read a recent review of the same cruise, Stockholm to Dover, I felt the need to provide another perspective. We also were sailing with Crystal for the second time. However, we had a far more positive cruise than our fellow traveler with 2 children.
Embarkation was a breeze as always. We presented documents and had our pictures taken and were onboard within a matter of minutes. We were greeted by a male crew member who took our hand luggage and accompanied us as we went straight to get reservations at Prego and Silk Road. Having accomplished that task, we went to our stateroom on Deck 9, found it roomy and pleasant, and unpacked. My husband is a large man, and we find the A staterooms very pleasant and sufficiently spacious. The bathrooms, especially the shower in the tub, are generous, and the 2 sink granite vanity was lovely. The fridge was stocked with bottled water and soft drinks. A couple of days into the cruise, we requested cranberry juice and orange juice. Small pitchers of juices were thereafter supplied in our fridge. We found the storage space very generous. We did not find the closet to be a problem with respect to location. It is large and well supplied with a variety of hangers. I enjoyed the deep drawers at one end of the closet. The Frette robes were luxurious.
Days at sea were a delight. There were so many activities that we had difficulty choosing. We attended lectures by Marc Ginsburg, former Ambassador, on the MidEast as well as Wall Street lectures and another on Baltic Amber. Some lectures were recorded and repeated on ship television at later times for those of us who could not attend. I do agree with the other reviewer that the lectures on skin diseases seemed out of place on this cruise. Cultural presentations would have been preferable. My husband and I enjoyed language, keyboard, and computer classes. We both felt that the computer classes could have been more challenging. They were a bit "basic" for our competency, and we aren't terribly proficient.
Sea days feature speciality buffets on the Lido Deck at lunch. Themed buffets were Asian and American. Sea day evenings tend to be formal and the dining room pulls out all the stops with lobster, etc. Crystal guests on this cruise observed the formal night with a mix of tuxes and suits for men and everything from a few obviously designer gowns to simple black dresses with a dressy jacket for women.
We found the excursions to be a mixed bag on this cruise. Some were excellent and had fantastic guides and featured stops for pastry or included champagne. The coaches were all very nice. However, our Edinburgh tour was a bit of a disappointment because the coach driver had obviously filled the bus with cigarette smoke before he picked us up, and due to the Fringe Festival, we were unable to park at Hoolyrood Palace. Therefore we missed an important stop on the tour, and no one had anticipated this problem or had a good solution for it. While I found the Excursion staff gracious, I did feel that requests for general information about ports was inadequate.
We loved the nightly entertainment. Was it dated? Perhaps a bit. Was it professional and thoroughly entertaining. You bet. Crystal excels in providing a top notch show with fantastic singers and dancers and unbelievable costumes. We left each show in awe. It's better than Broadway. We also enjoyed the comedian and professional classical pianist.
Food is one reason we chose Crystal, and it didn't disappoint. From the Silk Road to Prego to the dining room, we had lovely dinner after lovely dinner. We didn't find the dining room noisy at all. It must depend on one's table location. Our waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful, professional, funny, and warm. We had fabulous service. I must admit that one evening during open seating, we had another waiter who was efficient but cold. Our Head Waiter stopped by our table each evening to check on our day and our food. He repeatedly asked if we had special requests, and I requested lemon meringue pie. The next evening, the entire pie was presented to us. We shared it with a family at a nearby table, and another evening they shared the Dover Sole they had specially requested. It was sublime. One other thought, the burgers at the Trident Grill are maybe the best anywhere in the world. The service at that venue and all over Lido Deck was incredible.
Crystal tends to attract an older crowd. In general they are fiercely loyal to Crystal, and it isn't unusual to meet people who have sailed many times with Crystal. We made friends with one twentysomething who had accompanied his parents many times on Crystal. He loves it and swears he wouldn't want to sail with another cruise line. He worked out in the weight room, loved those "outdated" shows, and enjoyed chatting with passengers. I met people with children in tow, and they told me their children loved the ship's program for children.
We had a wonderful time and are already planning another cruise on the Serenity next spring. If you want a well managed trip with fabulous service and gourmet food, Crystal is your answer.