My wife and I checked in to stateroom 7069 on 13th July in Barcelona. There is a lot to say, so let me break it down into sections:
Stateroom: This was beautifully appointed for sure, but a few things annoyed me. I am a little over 6ft 3, and I found the bed a little short. The TV was in the far right hand corner above the vanity and quite difficult to look at from the bed area. The sofa was covered in very fancy cushions making it impossible to sit there unless you threw them all on the floor. For 226 sq feet, it felt smaller, because there was so much furniture and decoration everywhere, but very attractive. By the way, no chocolate on the pillow at night.
The bathroom had 2 sinks, was all marble and glass, with a decent sized bath for a cabin this size. The best bathroom I have ever had on a cruise ship.
Pool deck: Rearranged with a more contemporary country club feel, this was well organized and various seating options as well as plentiful beds for sunbathing. It was too hot for us, so we stayed in the shade. The saltwater pool and surrounding Jacuzzis were delightful.
Crystal Dining Room: Wonderful standard of food and presentation. Best steaks I have eaten anywhere, wonderful deserts. Some of the staff were undertrained by 6 star standards and did not know how to attend to people at this level with some embarrassing results. The head waiters were always buzzing around to make sure everything was taken care of. No deserts prepared tableside as we were expecting which was a little disappointing.
The 6.15 seating is much too early for dinner in the med in July, but we were with older relatives so we had no choice.
Bistro: Oh boy - this is where I easily put away a bonus 1000 calories a day on scones, smoked salmon, cheese and cappuccinos. How can you resist? One of the best places on the ship with superb service.
Lido/Tastes: Again, wonderful food, but the service stations are all the place, and if you want to get some butter to go with your roll and soup, good luck in finding it. I did not care very much for the layout. Tastes is where you are served in a wonderful atrium setting under an umbrella. The food was great and lovely window views.
Bars: The drinks flow as you like, but the lack of quality canapés was a shock. Sometimes there would just be one offering and if you did not like it, too bad, there was nothing else - why? was I still hungry! Also, the pianists seem to finish just as I sat down, and I never caught more than 15 minutes of their playing.
Gym and Spa: For a small ship this was fine. Dumbbells up to 60lbs and good resistance machines and nice treadmills. No lat pulldown machine for back, which I thought was strange. Small locker rooms with beautiful sauna and steam and great showers. I used this as my personal spa in the evening and this was one of the highlights for me. For a seven night cruise, the steam room was out of order for 2 of them.
Evening entertainment: This was very limited to only a 45 min performance here and there. Found myself wandering around at 9.30pm in search of something to do that was not the casino. The song and dance routines were not great and some of the song selections from the musicals were very obscure. They had cut the entertainment budget to pay for the drinks, and it showed.
Casino: Not like it used to be. Any Vegas or cruise ship casino, gone was the glamour, the cream leather and staff walking around with drinks and canapés. Also, I lost a bundle!
Palm Court: A very nice area for tea with the string quartet playing in the background. The Mozart tea was fabulous, the other tea times were pretty bland. For all the culinary awards they do not know how to make tea sandwiches. Plus they come round and offer you everything all at once, which is not how it is done.
Cinema: This is another highlight for me. What a wonderful room. I watched Noah with Russell Crowe and Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays. Really nice venue and not busy.
Summary: In a 1973 film called La Grande Bouffe, 4 friends decide to eat themselves to death. On day 5 of my cruise, at about 6.30pm I thought I was having a heart attack. I spent the whole evening with the most terrible indigestion and heartburn, which was gone by the time I fell asleep. I missed Wiener Schnitzel night, my favorite as well! There is an enormous amount of high quality cuisine and alcohol on this ship. Because we only had 7 days, I treated it like an endless buffet and my body reacted badly. After day 2, I couldn't drink anymore booze despite the wonderful wines they were offering with dinner. I couldn't even finish a pre-dinner cocktail. If you are going to put Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb, Roast Turkey etc on the menu, I am going to eat like the last supper. Unless you are extremely restrained on your consumption, this can be difficult to manage.
As my emphasis is more on training and spa and diet on these cruises, I am not sure the Crystal experience makes any sense for me, and I am sure my Doctor would agree. But if you are going to Grande Bouffe, what a way to do it!