After our youngest child graduated from college, we decided to splurge on a Crystal cruise in the Western Mediterranean. We had sailed on the crystal the Crystal Harmony several years ago and recalled the experience fondly. Also, the itinerary called for stops in Majorca, Cadiz, and Lisbon, ports we were interested in visiting.
We booked many months ahead and secured a good rate with an internet agency,including substantial shipboard credit.
Embarcation in Barcelona was a breeze. We didn't have to wait at all. We checked in and went to lunch in the dining room, and were greeted with a flute of Champagne. As this was the first all-inclusive cruise we had been on, we realized that we would need to be moderate in eating and drinking, which was tough to do since the food was extremely good and the booze was always available. (We were amazed when, after returning home we found that one of us stayed the same weight and the other actually lost weight.)
Our cabin was just a we expected. We had a limited view, but since we were on the starboard side, it really didn't make much difference. The cabin was very efficiently laid out. Our only complaints were that the mattress was too hard for our liking, but we never raised this as an issue since we didn't think anything could be done. Also the bathroom counter was only about 9 inches wide. Cabin service was outstanding. We would joke about trying to pack our stewardess, Jovanka, in our luggage when we left. It was very nice not to have worry about tipping, though would would have happily done so. The free self service laundry was greatly appreciated.
The food everywhere was outstanding. We ate in the dining room every night, except for one night in Prego and two in Silk Road. The food in silk road was perhaps a cut above Prego, but only if you enjoy sushi and sashimi, which we do. We were seated at a table for six, but the other two couples were occasionally absent. When we asked to be reseated, we were directed to the Captain's table. A few diners complained that some of the desserts, like Bananas Forster, were not prepared table side, but they tasted fine to us. In the spirit of moderation, we tried to limit ourselves to wine at dinner. We found the complimentary wines to be quite good Service in the dining room was outstanding.
We found our fellow travelers to be quite good companions. Although we are in our early sixties and comfortable financially, we got the sense that we were below the median in age and wealth, although nothing, of course, was a ever mentioned directly regarding the latter.
The shore excursions we took we quite good. In particular we enjoyed the hike (nearly four miles) on Majorca and the Royal Equestrian School show in Jerez (Cadiz was the port. The later included a sherry tasting at a Bodega where the place bottles on the tables and allowed you to pour what you wanted.
The entertainment was good, though one of us is not a big fan of Broadway show tunes, which seems to be a staple everywhere in the cruise industry. The Pianist/Comedian was good, as was the violinist when he played a classical piece the last night.
Overall, the cruise experience was excellent. The ship is lovely and the number if passengers is less than most cruise ships these days. Service was uniformly good. However, the price point of Crystal Cruises is quite high. Is it good value for the money? This is a closer call, but in the end I would say so.