MJ -- Just got off the Harmony after 2 weeks in South America. Once again, it was a wonderful experience. We LOVE Crystal.
Crystal's buffets are works of art. We, too, enjoy lunch in the dining room, but you have to go visit the buffets just to see the show! The food is always good, but I find it's not quite as good all around as the dining room's, which is supurb.
We had 3 formal nights on a 13-day cruise. I thought the formals were not as glitzy or grand as they were on our last cruise, about a year and a half ago. Almost all the men are in tuxes, but women come in anything from smart cocktail dresses to backless sequined gowns.
Is your velvet gown warm-looking -- long sleeved and high necked?? -- personally, all the people we've ever met on Crystal don't have time to judge other people's clothes, so I'd say be comfortable and wear what you like!
There isn't time to do everything; there are great activities aboard. You'll have to pick and choose every day and decide what you want to do. Such a hardship!!
Again, Crystal is our favorite line -- our first Radisson cruise was just canceled, so I can't compare yet -- but there are small downsides.
The Harmony is not a new ship, and it is showing small signs of wear. There are 3 or so clothing stores, but no sundry store where you can purchase odds and ends. There's one corner in one store that has some travel items.
The service is more than excellent. We had two parties in our room and our stewardess got everything ready for us, brought the food we ordered, (caviar, shrimp, lobster and crab for the champagne party) and then cleaned up when we went to dinner. All for the price of just the champagne!! Your butler will certainly do the same.
Feel free to order ANYTHING from the kitchen. If you give them 24-hours notice, they will prepare anything you like, especially dishes from the Crystal cookbook, on sale in the stores. I had caviar every night.
The wine sommeliers are all very knowledgeable. We especially like Ales, Ronald and Caroline. Crystal has a wine for just about any taste; from very reasonable to wish-I-could-afford-that.
Enjoy your trip -- pat