We were initially struck by the size of the ship (which holds 980 passengers) and the space throughout. Our Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah, whilst slightly smaller than some of the standard verandah accommodation on ships of a similar quality, was well equipped with everything we needed. If you prefer more space, the Penthouse options on decks 10 and 11 are the ones for you.
On our first evening, cocktails in the Palm Court at sailaway time was a great start to our Crystal experience. A quartet played, with Ambassador Hosts on hand as willing dance partners. This was followed by dinner in Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse offering a choice of succulent meats and fish seared to specification, and caipirinha cocktails. Afterwards we headed to the elegant Galaxy Lounge for an excellent Billy Joel tribute, and finally a visit to the Pulse nightclub.
The next day found us at the port of Marseille, braving the slightly wet weather to visit the Old Port with its thriving harbour of fishing boats, pleasure yachts and tourist boats, lined with street cafés, bars and restaurants. Le Panier (The Basket) is the oldest quarter of Marseille, with its mishmash of lanes hiding artisan shops, workshops and terraced houses.
Back on board for lunch, we found Silk which serves authentic Asian cuisine, beneath the glass roof of the magrodome. This beautiful venue, with elegant furniture, lush beds of plants and living walls, is flooded with light from above, and it's a perfect venue to enjoy the subtle flavours of the Asian-inspired dishes. In the evenings, it comes into its own as a romantic venue, or a great location to enjoy family-style dining with friends.
We loved the many evening options available, with a visit to Crystal Cove for pre-dinner cocktails, music and people watching, followed by the Stardust Club to see the comedian. We continued the evening with a sumptuous dinner in Prego, serving authentic Northern Italian dishes with their Crystal classic must-have, the mushroom soup served in a bread tureen.
The next day in Barcelona, we headed off up the tree-lined pedestrian street Las Ramblas to Plaça de Catalunya, wondering at the Gothic architecture and lively ambience. There are many places to visit in this city, with numerous tour options - hop on, hop off buses, Gaudí's amazing masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia cathedral (nearly finished now!), Park Güell, various museums and galleries, great shops and markets, and so much more.
That evening we enjoyed dinner in Nobu Matsuhisa's Umi Uma, with its Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine and sushi bar. We know some people are a little wary of this restaurant, and the Japanese reputation for serving raw fish, but there is so much more to the menu here; beautifully presented and prepared dishes with subtle flavours and exciting new options. Being able to try dishes outside your comfort zone makes for a really interesting dining experience.
The final night's entertainment was in the Galaxy Lounge where the Sweet Soul Music show took place. This spacious show lounge is a perfect place to enjoy Crystal's lavish production shows, with comfortable seating and excellent sight lines.
It was truly 'our pleasure' to experience the Crystal difference.