Still pretty jet lagged and exhausted here, so I'll keep it short - please feel free to ask questions, I'll try to address them (to the best of my knowledge, which is, admittedly, rather limited).
Getting there - we flew in late at night on Aeroflot; we experienced no delays or other problems, but we later heard from people that for other airlines delays are a rule rather than an exception.
Our friend (and volunteer guide) arrived a day later by car via Port Kavkaz - Port Krim (the Kerch strait ferry). They didn't experience any delays, either - but they were lucky to have their ferry depart right before the service was suspended due to storm warning, which would've had them stranded for about 8 hours or so.
Keeping in touch: we had bought 3 SIM cards in Moscow, which also worked in Crimea. Our total bill (SIMs, calls, texts, unlimited data) over the course of three weeks was about 30 dollars.
Getting around: there are bus routes connecting all major towns, as well as local bus service. Taxis are everywhere, both official and unofficial. We ended up with a car (and designated driver) at our disposal - frankly, I would not drive in Crimea even if I had to - the local drivers seem to believe they can negotiate all those crazy hairpin turns with their eyes closed, and sometimes I thought that's exactly what they were doing...
Money: we were advised to bring cash; I tried my Chase card once, and it was rejected, no surprises there. Our friend used a Russian-issued card from a European bank, it worked without a problem - but overall there are not too many places that accept credit cards outside of bigger town.
Food: the food ranged from "meh, never again" at a fancier restaurant in Yalta to a fantastic simple meal at a hole-in-the-wall kind of place somewhere along the road from Simferopol to Bakhchisaray. Anything meat-based is typically delicious; anything vegetable-based is typically hopelessly drenched in mayonnaise. That said, local produce available at farmers' markets is absolutely fabulous - the tomatoes and peaches we bought there were probably the tastiest I've ever had.
Prices: generally similar to Moscow and Kazan
Beaches: I had been warned :-) And yes, public beaches in cities and towns are crowded, equipped with concrete boardwalks and piers and not always impeccably clean. But there are many "wild beaches" that are usually a bit harder to get to, but really worth the effort. A word of warning: the "wilder" the beach, the more "optional" clothes become; in some areas our cloth-clad family was a definite minority. In any case, with constant driving around and sightseeing this vacation turned out to be not quite a quiet beach vacation I had envisaged - we simply had little to no time for the beach.
Safety: We never felt unsafe (but, like I said, driving on those roads was a more or less constant source of adrenaline rush). Actually, there was one case when I felt a little ill at ease - when we got into a huge traffic jam, late at night, due to road closure and a fellow driver (a local) volunteered to show us the "back roads" around it. Well, suffice it to say our definitions of what constitutes a "road" must have been VERY different, and we were lucky to have an SUV, - I do believe anything less than a 4WD would not have made it out of there in single piece.
Places visited: Simferopol (Port of arrival and home base for 2 days, with excursion to Mramorny caves), Bakhchisaray (and surrounding cave town ruins), Sevastopol, Yalta, Sudak, Koktebel, Novy Svet. I have to say I didn't like Yalta much - but the surrounding areas are gorgeous. Simferopol is not much to write home about, but it is centrally located and a good base for day trips.
looks like I'm running out of characters. I'llbe back.