Our Trade Sales Support Executive, Megan, embarked on the ‘Iberian Influences’ cruise from Barcelona to Valencia accompanied by Natalie Read, Regional Sales Manager (South). Read all about what they got up to.
Day 1: Barcelona
I was very excited to be joining Crystal Serenity in Barcelona as this was my first time sailing on this ship after her extensive refurb in 2018, so after my short flight I had arrived in Barcelona. Before arriving, I had pre-booked the Crystal transfer to take me from the airport to the ship, so on arrival I was excited to see how this would work. I made my way through security and at the luggage carousel there were a number of Crystal Staff ready to greet guests and help them with their luggage. It seems I was the only guest on my flight, so as soon as my luggage arrived, I was whisked out of the airport and to my driver and straight to the port. I felt very VIP having someone wheel my case for me to my private car, it really gave that start of a holiday feeling!
Once at the port, I left my luggage at check in to be taken to my room later that day. The ship did check in inside the terminal building which I hadn’t experienced before with Crystal, but it was very efficient and as a previous traveller they had a previous picture of me they could use for security and I was off on my way to finally get onboard.
Having done check in in the terminal I did have a fleeting moment of sadness that I wasn’t checking in with my obligatory start of the holiday glass of champagne, but I shouldn’t have worried, on embarking the ship the champagne was there and waiting! Our rooms weren’t ready for another few hours so after an early start we made our way to Waterside to enjoy some lunch. I had a gorgeous Turkey Parmigianino that came on a bed of spaghetti and of course a few more glasses of bubbles, it would have been rude not to!
We then dispersed, some going into Barcelona to explore Las Ramblas, that was only a short walk from where we were berthed, others enjoying the November sun by the pool deck with a few cocktail or two I suspect. For me I headed to the room to unpack and have a little lie down after the early start and the Crystal bed was as comfy and inviting as I remembered! Before I knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner and tonight we were dining in Churrascaria, newly added as part of the refurb I was very excited to try the food here. First, we met our group in Palm Court for a welcome cocktail, I was impressed that while not on the menu the bar staff were able to make me my favourite Crystal Cocktail, a Summer Spirit and just one sip brought back all those lovely memories of my first Crystal Cruise a few years ago!
We were a group of 10 dining together tonight and as Churrascaria is open seating dining we wondered if we would be able to sit together, however we needn’t have worried, in true Crystal style we were seated on 2 tables right next to each other and so began our first night onboard with Caipirinha’s flowing! The waiters bought out gaucho’s of perfectly cooked meat, ranging from steak, parmesan crusted chicken, sausages, prawns and more, we each had our own little tongs to select the bits meats carved at the table that we wanted. There was a great selection of sides but the meat was the main show here and what a treat it was. I just about had enough room to try the signature cinnamon pineapple that also came to the table on a skewer and was a lovely ending to a really lovely first meal.
All very full we decided we need to dance off some of our dinner, so we made our way to Stardust where some of the group joined the dance hosts and took a twirl around the dance floor, I have to say the hosts do a great job of making even those of us with 2 left feet look somewhat graceful! After practicing our cha-cha-cha we then headed to pulse for a good boogie! Early starts and too much food soon caught up with us though and it was time to retreat to the comfort of our beds!
Day 2: Barcelona
We were still in Barcelona today and so a lot of our fellow guests were up and out on tours exploring already. We opted for the late-riser’s breakfast in Trident grill where I enjoyed an omelette and toasted bagel before we headed off on our own exploration. Today we choose to take the hop-on hop-off bus to see some of the sights, the bus stop was a very short walk from the ship and we were soon on our way climbing the surrounding mountains and getting great panoramic views of the city below. What we didn’t realise is that we had got on the wrong route for the sights we wanted to see and so our little sightseeing trip had taken a bit of a detour to the outskirts of the city. We eventually made it back in the city and got off the bus taking a scenic to walk to visit La Sagrada Familia. We hopped back on the bus before heading back to the port, our tour had taken longer than we first had planned so it was back to Trident Grill for a late lunch where I enjoyed a chicken Caesar wrap and onion rings. We enjoyed a little bit of time by the pool enjoying the sunshine before we headed off to get ready for sailaway.
We were due to depart Barcelona at 6pm this evening and so we all popped to our rooms and put our swimming gear on so we could sit in the hot tub and enjoy our first sail away in style! The champagne flowed and now on the move I felt like our cruise had begun. It was soon time to dry off and get ready for dinner, tonight we were dining in Silk, another new addition since the refurb and I was very excited.
Silk is a more casual dining option that you can pre-book before you travel alongside the speciality dining reservations. We were a table of 4 tonight and I would definitely recommend having a small group to dine here as it really is Chinese inspired tapas with lots of small sharing plates to try. The setting is gorgeous up on the top deck it has an alfresco feel with fairy lights in the trees. Our waiter obviously got the measure of us as we arrived as he told us he would bring a selection of all the starters so all we had to choose was our main courses. The starter was a sumptuous mix of dim sum, prawn balls and duck salad, all that were presented beautifully and tasted even better. The main courses included sweet ‘n’ sour pork, tenderloin beef stir fry and Chilean seabass, each as tasty as the next, this may be one of my new favourite dining options as it’s so relaxed and the food was all cooked to perfection, the meat tender and full of flavour!
Having overindulged again we headed to Stardust to meet up with the rest of the group who had dined in various other restaurants tonight, it was great to share stories of our dining experiences but it was soon time to put our dancing shoes on again and warm up our vocal chords as tonight was Karaoke night in Pulse! Everyone was in high spirits and we ended the night with a beautiful rendition of Robbie Williams, Angels before our beds were calling yet again! Overnight we would head to Mallorca, a new port for me, so I wanted to be fresh for a day exploring.
Day 3: Mallorca
We were up early this morning for a sales presentation with our group and was pleasantly surprised to find the ship had set up a coffee and pastry station in the room, a lovely little touch as our meeting was over breakfast.
Once our presentation finished, we headed off the ship and to the complimentary shuttle bus that Crystal put on to take guests into the centre of Palma. It was only a short bus ride and we were dropped off right outside the Cathedral-Basilica de Santa Maria. We had a wander around the old town, after ample time pottering around, we found our way back to the coaches and back to the ship in time for lunch in Marketplace, there is always such a brilliant selection of foods on offer here and todays lasagne and garlic bread went down a treat. After lunch I headed for a siesta in preparation of dinner in Umi Uma tonight!
Umi Uma is one of our speciality restaurants, offering guest Chef Nobu’s Japanese Peruvian cuisine. Guests receive at least one complimentary evening dining in each of our speciality dining and so a reservation is required. This is one of my favourite dining options onboard and so the anticipation had been building all day for this meal! After a few drinks in Crystal Cove listening to the violinist with a cocktail in hand, we made our way to the restaurant. The menu options have changed slightly here, and in fact around the ship there are a lot more vegetarian and vegan options, and although some of my favourite items were seemingly missing there was still a great selection here.
We started our meal with a selection of sushi and sashimi, as well as some shrimp & vegetable tempura, Miso aubergine and octopus. My favourite main course here used to be the Nobu bento box which had small portions of the wagyu beef steak, blackened cod and rock shrimp, they still serve all these items on the menu just no longer in this box and so I opted for the steak for my main course, having enjoyed some of the shrimp with my starter. The steak now comes with 3 sauces with varying levels of heat which was really tasty and I was not disappointed. I was pleased to see the trio of crème brûlée was still on the menu and so dessert was a no brainer!
This evening we headed to Valencia where we are departing the ship, so I head back to the room to pack my bags ready for the morning.
Day 4: Valencia
We were up early as we had to be out of our stateroom ready for the next group to arrive, so we headed to Marketplace for breakfast, I enjoyed the selection here and especially the freshly squeezed juice and smoothies.
Valencia was another new port for me so after breakfast we headed into the town. Again, it was a little distance from the port to the town and so Crystal had put a coach shuttle bus on, however we were meeting people in Valencia and so took a short taxi ride to the old town. We saw the old bull ring and enjoyed strolling around the churches and squares taking in the architecture.
After a nice wander I made my way back to the ship and met up with Nat D, Becca and Juan who had just boarded the ship ready to sail through to Lisbon. The ship was in port until midnight and since my flight wasn’t until the evening, I stayed onboard to make the most of the facilities. One thing I really wanted to do before I got off was afternoon tea, Palm Court had a huge transformation in the refurb and now looks so elegant, so I was looking forward to enjoying this and the new way they serve it. I was feeling under the weather so enjoyed a hot honey and lemon alongside my scones and sandwiches and before long it was time to leave my home for the last 3 nights and travel home.
Its always a real treat to sail onboard Crystal and the new dining options have really enhanced what was already a fantastic offering. The crew were really attentive, friendly and went the extra mile to look after me and the group I was travelling with to ensure our few days onboard were memorable.
Are you feeling inspired to book a cruise around the Mediterranean with Crystal Cruises?
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