We really enjoyed the Crystal experience. We had decided to try a luxury cruise as a special treat and are glad we chose Crystal. The Barcelona to Lisbon itinerary was perfect for us and the ship is lovely and well kept. Our stateroom was compact, with a nice balcony and a very nice bathroom, with double sinks. The food in the main dining room was wonderful--so good, in fact, that we never even tried to dine in to any of the speciality restaurants. We like to dance and the Crystal Quartet was great. It is nice to find wooden dance floors as so many of the other lines have done away with them. Service was smooth--all the staff was courteous and helpful. We enjoyed the onboard enrichment lectures. Some other lines have turned those into sales opportunities, which really turns us off. We particularly enjoyed was not being subject to a constant barrage of sales pitches from shops and beverage services. We only took one shore excursion--from Malaga to the Alhambra. It was expensive, but worth the money as the guides were great and it included a very nice lunch. Overall, a wonderful cruise and we will be repeat customers for Crystal.
Cabin was small, but had all the necessities, along with several cold beverages (no extra charge). Closet space was good. Bathroom was very nice, including double sinks. Verandah was very pleasant. All was kept clean and comfortable.
We arrived in Barcelona 3 days ahead and had a lovely time. We took a Gaudi tour from the Barcelona Guide Bureau which leaves from the Placa Catalunya at 9:00. Very nice tour and reasonable priced. We also took a tour to Montserrat from Catalunya Bus Turistic, which leaves from the same area. Both tours were very enjoyable. We boarded the ship on a Tuesday and it remained in port on Wednesday, so we walked from the port to the Maritime Museum. It is a fantastic museum with great displays of original and reproduction boats. I highly recommend that and it is very easy to get to from the ship.
The ship had a free shuttle, which we took to the downtown area and we toured the lovely cathedral on our own. After a nice lunch in the downtown area, we got on the hop-on hop-off bus, which took us to Bellver Castle for a great view of the city.
Again, we took the shuttle into town and wandered around on our own. We particularly enjoyed the church of St. Nicolas, which has been beautifully restored. We had gotten a little bit tired of cathedrals bu then, but this church is well worth a visit. The artwork is over the top. We also enjoyed the silk exchange building.
We stayed in the downtown area and found it to be about the same as an open-air mall. I'm not in any hurry to go back there--cable cars and monkeys hold little appeal for me.
We left the ship in Lisbon and spent 3 days there at a charming B & B called Casa do Barao. We navigated pretty much on our own, with the help of a 3 day ticket from the Yellow Bus Co., which included several hop-on hop-off routes, a boat tour of the harbor and access to the city trolley system. Lisbon is all uphill, so those trolleys came in handy to get back to our hotel. I particularly recommend the coach museum in nearby Belem. Beautiful coaches and other transport going back to the early 1700s. Belem is an interesting suburb of Lisbon and is easy to get to by public trolley.