My husband and I (late 40s/early 50s) took this cruise with his brother's family which includes his wife and 2 daughters who are in their early 20s. This was our 17th cruise, but our first on a "premium" line. We were expecting an older crowd, similar to what we saw on HAL, but were pleasantly surprised that there was such a mix of passengers. I can understand that now as getting around the ports and doing most of the shore excursions would have been pretty challenging for most older folks. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, found the ship to be clean and the layout convenient, but with one or two minor exceptions, we did not find the food, service or entertainment/enrichment to be significantly better than what we have experienced on lines such as Celebrity and Princess. Yes, having drinks and gratuities included was great, but you certainly pay for that in the price of the cruise.
Embarkation in Barcelona went quickly as we arrived in the late afternoon - it was a Friday so More
traffic getting from the airport to the port was a nightmare - we used Crystal's transfer service and somehow between taking our bags from the van to our cabin, they misplaced 2 of them and it took hours for them to find the bags again. Our in-laws said they were greeted with champagne when they arrived earlier in the day, but we were not. Our cabin was on deck 10, and was pretty much the size of other cabins we have been in, but the bathroom was bigger including double sinks and a real tub/shower, which we appreciated. We had a whole day in Barcelona the next day and had hired a private tour guide that was recommended by someone we know. Barcelona is a great city with lots to see and do, and we'd definitely like to go back again.
Other ports/excursions included: Valencia - bike tour: nice ride through a very large park, spent some time in the old city and then rode around the City of Arts and Sciences which is very interesting; Palma de Mallorca - did the Valldemossa tour as it was recommended by a couple of friends, very quaint town; St Tropez - chose the winery and beach excursion and were expecting a picturesque estate and then onto a beach resort for relaxation and lunch (we're in France, right?) - it was actually a very small, rustic winery in a barn with a beach on the property and if you didn't bring a beach towel, you had nowhere to sit - fun and the food and wine were great, but not what we expected - maybe they need to rewrite the description of this one; Porto Venere - my favorite stop - we did the island trek and then walked around the town and went up to the fort and church - very beautiful; Genoa - the palaces tour did not disappoint; Florence - a long day but worth the bus ride.
The entertainment on board was typical of what you would experience on any cruise - production shows, magician, string quartet, piano players, bands scattered around the common areas each evening. We particularly enjoyed the dancing in the Palm Court throughout the evening, and the Avenue Saloon was a crowd favorite with lots of sing-alongs.
Overall we enjoyed this cruise, as we love cruising and it was our first time cruising in Europe, but I don't know if we would choose Crystal again. Less