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16 Athens (Piraeus) Celestyal Cruises Celestyal Crystal Cruise Reviews

IMHO the Celestyal Cruise Lines get a bad rap by travel agents. I was told that the the experience was not "upscale" and discouraged to consider. I'm sure glad we booked a 7-day cruise in an outside cabin. I understand the ... Read More
IMHO the Celestyal Cruise Lines get a bad rap by travel agents. I was told that the the experience was not "upscale" and discouraged to consider. I'm sure glad we booked a 7-day cruise in an outside cabin. I understand the reservations of some TA's and some reviewers. The ship does not have all the bell and whistles of the newer mega liners. If you're expecting this type of cruise experience then the Celestyal Crystal isn't for you. Missing are the atriums, chandeliers, rock climbing walls, boardwalks and bright neon colors. But also missing are the long lines and the intimidation of learning a larger ship. What you do get on the Crystal is a smaller ship (900 or so passengers - depending on the fill of the cabins), a ship that has been lovingly maintained - no warn carpets or furniture, polished brass and wood and no rust! Something that I can't say for the other cruise lines we've been on. Think retro boutique hotel versus a large convention or resort hotel. Our cabin on Deck 5 with an outside large window was of adequate size for two people. The bedding was comfortable, bathroom had a glass shower door, and we had two drawers that were not used. Our roll aboard luggage easily fit under the bed. Steward service was twice a day with the customary animal shaped towels left at evening turndown. Despite having gratuities included, the staff was wonderful and accommodating. Service was top-notch. Breakfasts were buffet except for an omelette/waffle/pancake station. Lunch was a la carte, buffet or daily specials on deck; crepes, fajitas, wok etc. Overall the food was above average and sometimes bordered on the outstanding! All nicely presented, with varying menus each day. Dinner was accompanied by attentive wine stewards who continually refilled wine glasses. One memorable meal in the dining room was a North Atlantic Salmon that was flaky, firm, yet moist and served with asparagus over a bed of risotto noir, black colored with octopus ink. Vegetarian, gluten free and Greek selections were also available. Service in the bars was outstanding. The drinks were weak, the wine was not! Greek red, white or rose was served in the bars and dining room. The wine was not stellar, but palatable. Premium wines were available for purchase. Weaker drinks allowed us to indulge in one or two cocktails before dinner, ample wine with dinner and enjoy an after dinner cocktail or two during and after the shows without being hungover the next morning! There was some creative work arounds needed to satisfy arbitrary serving rules with the included drinks. For example I could not order a Rusty Nail cocktail but could order Drambuie and Scotch separately. An Americano Negroni became Gin and Campari. After the first few times the servers knew exactly what we wanted and the arbitrary rules seemed to vanish! The Entertainment consisted of a fresh production every evening. Sometimes accompanied by live music and other times canned. The theatre is set up like a night club rather than theater style adding to the ambiance. The cast was young, enthusiastic, athletic and talented. Shows ranged from singing and dancing to more cirque style acrobatics. The theater had the latest LED stage lights and sound systems. A special treat was a visit by a local troupe of dancers while in Crete with native musicians and traditionally costumed dancers. RCCL take note - no Vegas retread magicians, comedians or piano players! The included excursions were excellent, well organized with minimal lines. In the ports getting on or off the boat was either by tenders or on the dock. Santorini was a hasslewith 4 mega cruise ships plus the two Celestyal Ships. All the passengers in the narrow alleys made for a mass of humanity and long lines of over an hour waiting for the tramwayin the sun. Excursions would be a challenge for those who are mobility impaired. Most of the passenger demographics were aged 50+ with many early yet still mobile retirees. Wear comfortable shoes and be careful on the stone paths! Passengers were delightfully diverse and mostly from Europe, Australia and North America. There was a minimum of motorized wheel chairs and a refreshing lack of demanding and often obnoxious elite-status passengers, often found on the larger cruise lines. Embarkation was a breeze at 20 minutes. Passengers vacated cabins at 8:30 AM at the end of the cruise but left the ship at 10 AM. Food and drink service was available in the restaurants and bars. Taxis to an from the port were readily available. All in all the Celestyal Crystal met or exceeded our expectations and matched if not exceeded the level of service we've received from the major cruise lines. It was a wonderfully relaxing and efficient way to see the Greek Islands without having to pack and unpack and deal with the cattle herding of passengers onto the Greek ferries. We slept while being transported to the various islands. Can't get much better than that! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We traveled on the Crystal ship on Celestyal in September, 2019, to the Greek Islands of Mykonos, Milos, Santorini, and Crete, and to Kusadasi, Turkey. It was exactly what we were looking for – comfortable transportation to the islands. ... Read More
We traveled on the Crystal ship on Celestyal in September, 2019, to the Greek Islands of Mykonos, Milos, Santorini, and Crete, and to Kusadasi, Turkey. It was exactly what we were looking for – comfortable transportation to the islands. There were 915 passengers and 450 crew members. The ship is well-maintained, clean, and efficient. This is not a luxury cruise ship, but it is sufficient, very pleasant, and relatively inexpensive. Our room was nice and clean, and well-furnished, with an ample picture window. The room was cleaned or refreshed at least twice a day. Room staff was very friendly and helpful. The food selection for breakfast and lunch on the buffet was attractive, fresh, and tasty. There was plenty of seating available, indoors or outdoors, to enjoy your meal. Staff cleaned up dishes and tables very quickly. Dinner in the restaurants was lovely. Five-course meal selections were offered each night. The food presentation was excellent, and the food quality was very good. The wait staff was attentive and service was excellent. Entertainment in the main theater was similar each night, but thoroughly enjoyable. There was pre-dinner entertainment nightly in the lounge area, a pianist and violinist, and the music was delightful. I highly recommend cruising with Celestyal. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Since we live in Athens, and our last cruises were abreoad, we though it would be a great idea to combinbe cruising from our home port (no need for flights and hotels) and our summer vacations which we traditionally have in Greece. ... Read More
Since we live in Athens, and our last cruises were abreoad, we though it would be a great idea to combinbe cruising from our home port (no need for flights and hotels) and our summer vacations which we traditionally have in Greece. Emkarkation was quick taking into account the old cruise terminal of Piraeus port (about 40 minutes from baggage drop off until on board) and we were amazed that the cabins were ready and the luggage showed up 15 minutes later. So no walking around dragging carry ons. Crystal is an aged but very well aged and maintained cruise ship. it's better to thing of it as a mega-yacht rather than a small cruise ship. The itinerary is destination oriented meaning you get 24 hrs in Mykonos 10 hours in Milos, 48 hrs in Santorini, 12 in Heraclion Crete, and half a day in Kusadasi Turkey. The swimming pool is small, but it was not used most of the time so we actually had more personal space in the small pool rather than on the large pools in other cruise ships. So it was our ritual after coming back on board to have a quick shower and have a couple of drinks while dipping in the pool. Great! There was also a hot tub in the aft bar at deck 5 which we used once. All drinks are included (excluding premium spirits and wines, which are available at a nominal surcharge), and the included driks include wine by the glass (which is bottled wine of a respected Greek winery), draft greek beer (Mythos) and the most popular "middle shelf" spitits like Beefeater Gin, Stoli vodka, Cutty Sark scotch etc. The details on the brands included are availabel on Celestyal's website. Onviously they had some more generic/obscure brands available, so it is a good idea never to order a "gin & tonic" but rather a "Befeater & Tonic". This applies to any bar on land of course... The food in the buffet was nice, nothing spectacular, but the cooking stations i.e. custom omelletes for breakfast, and various other events during the cruise like a barbeque on deck, or wok cooking were great. What really surprised us was the quality and presentation of the food offered in the MDR's. There are 2 MDR's, with no set dining times or tables. You just show up and are seated according to preferred language, or can be seated alone depending on availability. One small area for improvement is that the dishes on offer might be too internnational and could use more greek cuisine (even though we enjoyed the curry offered one night, it doesn't really match with haveing a view of Santorini out of the window). However this is a matter of preference, and being Greek I did expect the Greek cuisine offerings to go a bit further than greek galad, tzatziki and moussaka...It's like goin to italy and being offered only pizza and pasta... Anyhow the food was great, and not one time did we leave the MDR disappointed. The service was absolutely fantastic, from all aspects. Entertainment was hit and miss (but this was expected since there were over 35 nationalities on board) so it was the usual variete shows with singing, dancing and some acrobatics. They were ueually about 50 minutes long, we did not attend all nights. Again however why spend your evening watching a show when you can relax with unlimited drinks on deck, enjoying the moonlight over the summer Aegean Sea? So in summary, do not book if you expect Oasis Class onboard experience and facilities, you will be disappointed, it is not a resort at sea. It is a small ship, with all the basic amenities and services of larger ships, but the whole point is the destination intensice itinerary with a lot of port time. So the ship is the place to eat, drink, relax and enjoy the view preparing for the next destination. The cruise fare includes 3 shore excursions, in Santorini, Heraclion Crete and Kusadasi. In Santorini it is the trip to Oia, the most famous village in Santorini, the one with the sunset. However it is in the morning so if you want to see the sunset, you have to take the 45 minute bus or taxi from Fira to Oia. Personally I don't hink it's worth it due to the amount of people. Better to watch from one of the villages that are closer like Imerovgli, or Fira (on top of the cliff from where the tenders drop you off, and you have to take the cable car - 6eur each way to go up/down Fira) which are less crowded. We watched both sunsets from the ship, and there were many places onboard where especially on the top decks where you were alone. In Heraclion it is the guided visit to anciant Knossos, and the Heraclion Archaeological museum (tickets are included). then you can either get back on the bus and back on the ship around 14:00 or stay as long as you like and take a 5 min / 5 Eur taxi back to the ship from the centre of Heraclion. In Kusadasi the excursion to ancient Ephesus is included. We opted to stay in Kusadasi and shop in the bazaar area (3 min walk from the ship), which is an experiance of it's own especially if you like haggling, and streed food. Always aim for a price 30% from the original one quoted. Note that the duty free in Turkey at the port has great prices on liquor and tobacco! In Mykonos and Milos we just renter a car (had arranged in advance) and went to various beaches, in Mukonos we also went out after dinner. Driving in Milos is just fine, and the ship tenders drop you off at the new port so it's a few minutes walk until the car rental offices (local ones, but with online booking available). We drove all around the island haveing spent 45Eur on car rental and 10Eur on fuel. Again, book in advance, don't expect to get of the ship and find available cars for rent especially during July and August. I do not reccomend driving in Mykonos, especially in July and August. Anyway most of the beaches have been unfortunately converted into high end and high cost "Beach Clubs" (focused on catering to very very wealthy people and their entourage of beautiful young ladies) so most times the beach cannot be even accessed. Not to mention the cost of (starting from 80 eur per set of sunbeds). The only free beach that is still accessible by bus is Kalafati beach. So my reccomendation for Mykonos is etiher: 1. Get the local bus or ship shore excursion to Kalafati beach 2. Get an excusrion to Delos island with very interesting ancient ruins 3. If you like partying (on the cheap), spend the morning walking in the old town of Mykonos. Buy a bottle of liquor (or more smaller ones) from a small super market, throw it in the bag or even better transfer it to half lt plastic water bottles. Then arouns 13:00 take the bus either to Tropicala Club or Super Paradise (about 20 mins). No entrance fee, beers at 6 eur, drinks at 8 eur. Get a nice spot at the bar, get a cold drink and swim in the sea. The afternoon parties start at 16:00 and go on until midnight more or less. No chance of getting a nice spot at the bar aftyer 16:00. As the pary goes on take advantage of your secret stash of booze!!!! Do not go out for lunch/dinner in Mykonos, and if you do ALWAYS check the menu and prices before. It is so expensive that it could ruin your holidays. If you must eat something at shore, and have not eaten enough already onboard have a (mediocre but acceptable) souvlaki at 4-5 eur. If you must eat out do it in Milos, it is much cheaper and better quality (after researching of course). Dinner is Santorini duing the sunset is a bucket list item (especially for someone that has flown all the way to Greece), but do your research and reservations in advance. It is expensive, but manageable (30-40 Eur per person compared to hundredes per person in Mykonos). We always ate at the ship... So back to Mykonos. Get back on the ship for dinner around 21:00, go out and stroll around int he old town. No need to actually go into a bar if you don't want to, its all about walking around the old streets, see and be seen. there are a lot of small shops that have cold beers, wine etc to cater to your every need. No need to rush to get back on the ship, since the ship arrvives at Milos at 13:00 on ther next day, so no getting up early. Obviously if you have th $$$ to spare the sky is the limit on high end clubbing in Mykonos! There are free shuttle buses from the Mykonos new port to the old town every 30 minutes until 00:00 and then every 1hr until 06:00 am. Ship leave at 07:00. We used the laundry service onboard, cheaper than on mainstream cruise lines. Note to Greek cruisers that might have an Aegean Airlines Miles card: you can redeem miles towards the cruise fare! We would definately go again, and next time probably try one of their 3-4 night cruises with the other -much larger- ship Olympia. The specific 7 night cruise is the most cost effective and comfortable way to get a good basic taste of these islands, decide which one you like before comitting on a dedicated vacation on one of them. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
In our decision to cruise on the Crystal, we focused on the opportunities to learn as we travel. This cruise ship and its destinations and excursions fit our plan perfectly! The fine dining, drinks, interesting fellow passengers and ... Read More
In our decision to cruise on the Crystal, we focused on the opportunities to learn as we travel. This cruise ship and its destinations and excursions fit our plan perfectly! The fine dining, drinks, interesting fellow passengers and friendly crew were added benefits we loved (but had not prioritized What a pleasant surprise!) Another priority for us was to have a fairly small ship. The amenities were many -- but not at all overdone or overcrowded. The schedule provided all the aspects of a cruise you'd expect, though: three dining locations; on board entertainment; etc. Each and every member of the crew was seemingly devoted to our enjoyable journey. What a great group! Particular highlights were excursions to Delos (from the Mykonos port), Milos (What a gem--The excursion to swim under volcanic tunnels was amazing!), Knossos in Crete, and Ephesus. Can you imagine walking the same paved path as Mark Antony, Cleopatra, and the Apostles Paul and John?? Of course, Mykonos and Santorini were gorgeous! Our family extends our deepest appreciation to the crew and management of the Crystal. We made so many family memories--and would love to do this all over again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Having cruised once before on a bigger ship, my wife and I did not know what to really expect from Celestyal. Yes full board was part of the package, but how were they going to be different. That easy, instantly we made great friends ... Read More
Having cruised once before on a bigger ship, my wife and I did not know what to really expect from Celestyal. Yes full board was part of the package, but how were they going to be different. That easy, instantly we made great friends with the crew. Celestyal want their staff to socialize with their guests so you would often see staff sitting having a quick chat with passengers. What surprised us was that we were greeted by name. Staff were excellent and everyone greeted you with a smile Crystal was awesome, catering for all our needs. the one positive was disembarking. Very quick and efficient and queues moved very efficiently. The entertainment was great and varied to cater for all types of passenger. Another positive we noticed was that were docked longer than other cruise liners so you could really experience the islands without the pressure of getting back to the ship in time and not seeing enough. We opted for a Junior Suite so we had our own balcony. This was great to be able to sit on our own deck and stair into ocean especially during sun rises. I would seriously recommend Celestyal Cruises to young and old alike. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We are Americans in our 50s. We travel a lot, but this was our first ever cruise. I really liked our 7-day cruise of the Aegean. The itinerary was great, we liked the ship, and the people working onboard were great. Our cruise director ... Read More
We are Americans in our 50s. We travel a lot, but this was our first ever cruise. I really liked our 7-day cruise of the Aegean. The itinerary was great, we liked the ship, and the people working onboard were great. Our cruise director Danny was excellent. I am giving my review to tell readers what I would have found useful to know, and to also provide constructive feedback to Celestyal since I see they sometimes read this site. ITINERARY: First I want to say that the itinerary is extremely well thought out, especially the departure times from each island. You hear about cruisers having to rush back to their ship for concern they might miss the sailing. Not so with the Crystal. Our departure time from Mykonos was not until 7am the next morning, so people could stay out partying all night if they wanted. Departure times from Milos and Santorini were at midnight, so you could spend as much time sightseeing as you wanted, watch the sunset, have dinner in a restaurant on shore, and not be at all concerned about getting back to the ship on time. GETTING ON AND OFF THE SHIP: I had heard from people cruising larger ships that getting off the boat can be tedious. I’d also heard that if you don’t buy one of the ship’s excursions, it will be a problem getting off quickly. Not so with the Crystal. At four of the six ports we visited – Athens, Mykonos, Crete and Kusadasi – the boat pulls up to the dock and you simply walk off a gangplank. No issues getting off the ship when you want. At Santorini and Milos you have to use tenders (small boats that take you to and from shore). On the first day at Santorini was the included excursion for everyone, so you just went with your assigned group, took the next tender, and then got on the bus for your tour. On the second day at Santorini, you just got on a tender whenever you wanted. They were every half hour. And since the boat didn’t leave until midnight, there was absolutely zero worry about getting back in time. We had all the time we wanted in Santorini. On Milos we did NOT purchase an excursion, so had to get a tender ticket and wait for the booked excursions to leave first. In the end, we waited maybe half an hour to have our ticket number called to take the tender. And since the Crystal did not leave Milos until midnight, we had all the time we wanted on Milos. Absolutely no concern about rushing back. CABIN: I initially booked an interior cabin as I didn’t think I would care much about whether I had a view. However I later paid to upgrade to an exterior cabin in order to get a more space. (The website lists the square meters for every type of cabin.) However I was very glad I had changed to a windowed cabin, as I discovered I was prone to a touch of motion sickness the first few days. Looking out a window at the horizon is especially helpful with motion sickness, so I was glad I paid the extra money to have one. Also I really did appreciate the extra space. Our cabin stewardess Victoria was really sweet, constantly cleaning our room, and always greeting us so cheerfully when we got up in the morning and when we returned from excursions in the afternoon. She also made us adorable towel animals in the evening. I think I am pretty sensitive to smells but only noticed diesel fumes when outside on the lower decks. I did not notice any diesel smell inside our midship cabin on deck 4. There was sometimes a faint sewer odor coming out of the floor drain in our bathroom, but fortunately our bedroom did not have it. The shower worked perfectly. I loved the scent of the shower gel. I also want to warn: the deck 5 “exterior” cabins have a walkway running right outside their windows! I noticed this because I walked by them when I was exploring the ship. I am glad I did not have one of those cabins. You have a window but someone can walk by it at any time. I don’t think people walk there often, but in the end you have to be careful about keeping your curtains closed while getting dressed. As far as I could tell, for the rest of the exterior cabins on the ship, the window is truly on the outside of the ship. That was definitely the case for exterior cabins on deck 4. WHAT TO BRING: there were only 2 available plugs in our cabin, one for a Europlug and one for an American style plug. Whatever your nationality, I highly recommend you bring the appropriate adapters so you can make use of BOTH plugs. (If you are an American, bring a Europlug adapter. If you are European, bring an American plug adapter. If you are English, bring one of each type of adapter.) And if you have more than 2 things to plug in, bring a compact outlet multiplier as well. If you have compact binoculars bring them as well, it’s nice to be able to look at the islands you sail to and by. Bring miniature padlocks to lock your suitcases when you embark and disembark. Unlike airlines, you are allowed to lock your checked suitcases. My recommendation is to check pretty much everything. I embarked carrying just my purse and disembarked with just a small backpack containing my nightclothes and cosmetic kit. You CAN bring your roll-aboard to breakfast on the last day, but do yourself a favor and don’t. Just lock it and let the ship deal with it. Retrieving the luggage on disembarkation was well organized. WHAT NOT TO BRING: a lot of clothes and fancy clothes. The cabin doesn’t have much storage space in the closet for clothing. I had to store half my wardrobe in my suitcase stored under my bed. And I brought too many clothes because I mistakenly thought people had to dress up for dinner. You CAN dress nicer for dinner in the sit-down restaurant, but a lot of people did not. There was a rule against shorts, but any kind of pants are fine, even jeans. The “Captain’s cocktail party” was merely a presentation in the theater. Not really a “party” at all. I’m not sure of how to arrange things so that an entire ship could actually have a real cocktail party to meet and mingle with the crew... But what they DID have you really do not need to go to, much less dress up for. I brought a long dress to wear to that event, but it turned out I REALLY did not need it. And I’m really REALLY glad I didn’t insist my boyfriend bring a jacket, as he never would have used it. In the end, we found this ships's attire as casual as all travel generally is these days, so you can leave your nice clothes at home if you prefer to travel lighter. FOOD: After our first experience in the sit-down restaurant Amalthea on the 2nd day, I insisted on eating there every time. The food there was presented beautifully. I didn’t think everything turned out perfectly in taste, but there was plenty to eat with four courses offered at both lunch and dinner. And if you didn’t like what you had chosen, you could ask the waiter to bring you something different. In the end I was really pleased with the food and dining experience in Amalthea. By contrast, the buffet restaurants were not to my taste. Too hectic and the food presentation was a little too close to cafeteria-style for what I expected from a cruise. Our sailing was about 75% full, but only one of the two sit-down restaurants was open. That led to lines at dinner, although the line moved quickly. I don’t think we ever waited longer than 20 minutes. I don’t mind waiting, but I would prefer not to stand in line to do it. I would suggest Celestyal come up with a “take-a-number” scheme like at the deli, so we could at least sit and relax with a drink while waiting. Also, surprisingly, the buffet restaurant gave us LESS chance to socialize with other passengers. People are naturally reluctant to take their own initiative to join strangers already sitting at a table in the buffet restaurant. But in the sit-down restaurant you can ask the Maitre-D’ to seat you with other passengers speaking the same language. Instant introduction. I enjoyed talking with everyone we sat with. The largest number of passengers we met were from the UK. I also want to say that the Crystal varies the lunch times day to day so as to accommodate people who might be returning early or late from an excursion. Well thought out. DRINKS: The “all-inclusive” cocktail menu was really quite impressive. Lots of cocktails, lots of after dinner liqueurs, etc. We especially appreciated the chance to try SIX different Greek liqueurs for free. We liked some of them enough to buy them at the duty free shop at the Athens airport when we flew home. We also really liked a couple of the cocktails made with the Greek spirits. I will admit the “included” Greek wines were not great, but they were drinkable. If you are a very serious wine drinker, that might be a reason to use the “premium” menu. Or you can simply order a free cocktail with your dinner. We never once ordered off the premium menu and didn’t feel at all deprived. DAYTIME SHIPBOARD ACTIVITIES: we only had time to go to one, the Greek cooking demonstration conducted by the assistant cruise director Tereza. It was very, very well done. Tereza could host her own TV cooking show, she has so much personality and love of explaining Greek food. If you see this class on the daily sheet, DO NOT MISS IT! Speaking of Greek food, this is one of my suggestions to Celestyal: offer more Greek dishes on the menu! In my opinion, they should try to offer one Greek option for every course. Greek food is wonderful and people visiting Greece should be given more opportunity to try it. WIFI: there was a long explanation in the information sheet in our room about why satellite wifi is so expensive at sea. OK understood, but how about offering free wifi while in port? I think passengers would really appreciate that. Also, how about having free access to an on-board website just for the Celestyal Crystal, listing the daily schedule, excursions, lunch and dinner menus, drink menus etc. I know from my friends that some other cruise lines do this. I ended up taking cell phone shots of the daily sheet and menus so I could refer to them. It would have been nicer to call this information up via an App. The ship could also use an App to manage the line at the sit-down restaurant(s). Go on to an App to say you want to eat now, number in your party, preferred table language. Then get a pop-up message when your table is ready. And if there were proofs of the professional photos available on a website, people might buy more of them. Other amenities: The casino was very small, just video games. Luckily I don’t care about gambling. Also the swimming pool was incredibly small; I never saw anyone swim in it. Luckily I didn’t care about that either. If those are things you care about, you might not be as happy with this ship. Finally, the excursions: we paid for one which was good, and then went on the three that were included for everyone. Unfortunately when you have a ship full of people all doing the same excursion at once – even a small ship that is only 75% full – it is going to be a bit crowded. The Crete excursion to Knossos and the Heraklion museum was disappointing to us. Our guide clearly tried to do her best with the limited amount of time and the over-crowding, but we were disappointed in not getting to see as much as we would have liked. We later talked to fellow passengers who had toured Knossos and the museum on their own and really wished we had done it that way too. The included excursion to Ephesus concluded by taking us to a rug “factory” out in the country and they managed to find enough such rug places to take EVERY bus to a separate one! That part was really well done. I thought I would find the rug factory tacky, but the one we were taken to was really enjoyable. Our tour of the rug factory concluded with a relaxing light lunch outside in the shade, with just the 25 or so people on our bus. That was really delightful, and my hat is off to the excursion organizer for coming up with this way to make that part of the excursion uncrowded. My sincere recommendation to Celestyal is to come up with ways to make the rest of the included excursions less crowded as well. For example, in Crete: take one third of the the buses to Knossos first, take one-third to the museum first, and take one-third to the walking tour of Heraklion first. Then swap around. Overall I thought the cruise was well done and would recommend it to other people. The itinerary is really good, and the ship is in my opinion very well run. The employees are hard-working and friendly. The food and drink were very enjoyable. I offer my complaints as constructive feedback to what could be made even better, or what my fellow cruisers might wish to know before booking and sailing. ------ Port reviews: Mykonos: we paid for the excursion for the island of Delos which we enjoyed. Afterwards we used the cruise-provided free shuttle buses to go between the port and Mykonos Town where we wandered around on our own. It was easy to see the town attractions on foot by ourselves. The ship does not sail until 7am the next morning so you can partake of as much nightlife as you want. MILOS: we rented a car at the port for the day and then drove around seeing what we wanted to see. It was very easy to arrange and much cheaper than an excursion. We heard from fellow passengers that if you are an American, some of the rental car companies will insist on an International Driver’s Permit. (These permits can be obtained in a few minutes at any AAA office in America. You don’t even need to be a member. Plan ahead and get a permit before you leave.) Europeans don’t need the international permit to drive in Greece. I don’t know about the rules for drivers from other continents. Driving in Greece is easy with a map app on your phone. Road signs are in English as well as in Greek. Google maps even has free parking lots listed. Sarakiniko beach on Milos is not to be missed! It was spectacular and one of my highlights of the cruise. If you go on your own you can spend as much time as you want there. Wear water shoes or hiking sandals you can get wet. SANTORINI: the included excursion to Megalochori, Oia and Fira was crowded. Everyone commented on how if Oia is this crowded in May, can’t imagine how it would be in July and August. On the second day in Santorini we hiked on our own along the crater rim from Fira to Oia. This was beautiful, but is only for people who are physically fit. It could take 5+ hours depending on how many pictures you stop to take. A lot of hiking up and down, sometimes in loose gravel. Good hiking shoes are a must! Carry a water bottle, wear a hat and use good sunscreen. We stopped along the way for lunch in the lovely and uncrowded town of Imerovigli in between Fira and Oia. We talked to fellow passengers who rented a car to visit beaches and wineries on Santorini. As long as you don’t want to park in Fira and Oia (both VERY crowded) car rental is a convenient way to visit Santorini at your own pace. Again, Americans were asked to show an International Driver’s Permit in order to rent. CRETE: we went on the included excursion to Knossos Palace and the Archaeological Museum. We thought this excursion was too crowded and were disappointed in the limited time at each place. If I were to do it again, I’d pay out of my pocket to do it on my own. I read it’s easy to get to Knossos by taxi or bus, and the museum is easily walked to from ship. After the excursion we did our own walking tour of Heraklion. If you look at the bottom of “authentic Greek” gifts sold in shops in Santorini and Mykonos, you’ll see most of them were made in Crete. So we decided to do our major shopping in Crete, especially for olive oil. The stores are easily walked to from the port. KUSADASI: we did the included excursion to Ephesus and the rug factory. Ephesus was magnificent and our guide was really good. Although all the buses arrived at Ephesus at the same time, the guides were able to keep the groups spread out at the site well enough that we could enjoy it. The rug factory tour was surprisingly enjoyable. They took each bus to a SEPARATE factory, so it was completely uncrowded and relaxing. The rug place even provided us a light lunch of Turkish food. Our guide emphasized that no one should feel pressured to buy a rug, and no one in our group ended up buying. The Crystal also offered a late lunch timed for people returning from the excursion, but we had enough to eat at the rug factory that we just got some dessert on board. This was the best of the included excursions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
There was nothing to fault on this holiday. Very well organised indeed. Holiday comprised of flights from London Heathrow to Athens return, 1 night in Athens hotel, then 7-night cruise including 24 hours in Mykonos, 48 hours in ... Read More
There was nothing to fault on this holiday. Very well organised indeed. Holiday comprised of flights from London Heathrow to Athens return, 1 night in Athens hotel, then 7-night cruise including 24 hours in Mykonos, 48 hours in Santorini, a day in Milos, another in Herculaneum, Crete and concluding with a half day visit to Ephesus, Turkey. A really good itinerary on this cruise if you like the best of the Greek Islands. The flights, transfers and hotel accommodation were all fine (Stewart Travel, Glasgow). The cruise was exceptional. Mostly because of the crew. Small comfortable ship (800 passengers). Extremely friendly and attentive staff (nothing was too much trouble for them). This was probably the best cruise we have been on to date. We were given cards when we arrived which entitled us to free drinks (alcoholic and soft) which covered all but the luxury brands of drink (18-year-old whisky etc.). It was fine for us only requiring beer, baileys, wine and coffee. We did have a lobster dinner one night and paid extra for that, but it was well worth it! The food was excellent. Ranging from the ‘Al A Carte’ restaurants to the buffets and bars. There was a wide range of dishes and choices to suite everyone. We didn’t have one meal we were not impressed with. The staff are very attentive, we didn’t wait long to be served ever. The entertainment on the ship was constant culminating with the two shows every night. The shows were excellent and varied, the dancers and acrobats extremely talented. The ship photographers were also very helpful, and their work was memorable. The easy pace of the island visits meant you had plenty of time to explore each destination properly. We were lucky with the weather and had clear blue skies and 23-25c most of the week. I cannot stress the friendliness and helpfulness of the Captain and his crew enough! They were all charming, went to great lengths to ensure the passengers were always happy and content. The safety and efficiency of the way the ship was run was impressive for me as an ex-seaman. Everything was properly done (we felt safe at all times). We had a magical holiday and would recommend this company, ship and staff unreservedly, everything was perfectly organised. We would cruise again with Celestyal without hesitation. They are an outstanding company (extremely impressed). Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Hi All, My trip Aug 27th from Athens on the Crystal 7 Day Idyllic Aegean Cruise was beyond what I expected. With only 476 cabins this makes for a nice intimate group with no line ups. The extra pluses like all inclusive drinks, free ... Read More
Hi All, My trip Aug 27th from Athens on the Crystal 7 Day Idyllic Aegean Cruise was beyond what I expected. With only 476 cabins this makes for a nice intimate group with no line ups. The extra pluses like all inclusive drinks, free tours and no tipping quickly made this my top favorite cruise of all time. The guests themselves were 40-75 age group comprised mostly of Canadians and Europeans. No language barrier at all as the staff for the most part are fluent in 5 languages. Very few children which does not exclude families but there is not a huge children's program and the sheer amount of walking and exploring would be difficult for kids or seniors with mobilty issues. Having said that the ship herself does accommodate physically challenged passengers. The food was superb with a la carte and buffet style options. We had a pre reserved table every night and we loved getting to know the staff. The food was international style with a North American flair and every meal was different and presented in the most elegant way. They do offer upgraded menu items like Lobster and select wines but we didn't feel the need to upgrade. I can not say enough about the hard working and friendly staff. By day 2 they knew us by name and we were always greeted in a friendly way. The cabins were spotlessly cleaned and had all the special touches you would find on any other larger cruise ship. Towel service, turn down service, cute towel animals and chocolate on the pillows. Our cabin was a large picture window which was lovely arriving in each port. I would have upgraded to balcony except there were none to book last minute. The best thing about this cruise is that it actually overnights in many of the Greek ports which give guests a chance to experience day and nightlife without having to rush to get back on ship. It was great to be able to explore these destinations on our own. The tours were amazing and very informative, especially Turkey which was a wonderful surprise as we were slightly nervous about going there. At no time did we ever feel any port or locals were dangerous. Of course there were lots of vendors selling their wares and for the most part they were ready to bargain and the clothing, jewelry and trinkets were truly authentic. I would not travel in August again just due to the thousands and thousands of tourists in each port every day plus the heat which was in excess of 38C every day. I would highly recommend this cruise to any of our valued customers and do recommend a few pre/post nights to unwind before the cruise. I will be telling anyone who is willing to listen how fantastic this experience was. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
My daughter and I booked this cruise due to its varied itinerary which did not include any sea days and included two over night stays in Mykonos and Santorini rather than as a "cruise experience". This enabled us to independently ... Read More
My daughter and I booked this cruise due to its varied itinerary which did not include any sea days and included two over night stays in Mykonos and Santorini rather than as a "cruise experience". This enabled us to independently book a hotel for the night in Santorini. Having previously cruised with P and O and Royal Caribbean we did not want to spend too much time on the ship as we personally found that these larger ships are too rigid in their organisation for our needs. However The Celestyal Crystal in our opinion and experience as a smaller ship was the total opposite. Embarkation and disembarkation even when by tender ran smoothly with no queuing and minimum formality. Our inside cabin was clean, functional and had the most wonderful stewards who serviced the cabin at least three times daily. The dining choices...buffet and two formal restaurants were run by well trained and attentive staff. The food choices were good although at times the food served did not always match the description on the menu. The house wine was excellent. However the spirits and alcoholic cocktails although well presented appeared to be lacking in alcohol.The entertainment was excellent including twice nightly live shows, a live band ( a rarity these days on cruises ) and live music and dancing in the lounges. There was also a disco and karaoke bar which we did not visit due to lack of time on our part. The ports of call were excellent and the time spent in each port enabled us to visit historical sites, great beaches and local tavernas independently alongside three excursions which were included in the price of the cruise. We were unable to dock in Milos due to adverse weather conditions and the captain re arranged for us to visit Syros instead. As we arrived at a slightly later time in Syros the evening shows and restaurant times were rescheduled to start/finish at a later time. This is a fantastic example of how the customers were always put first on this cruise. There was a consistent happy, friendly, family atmosphere among the international passengers and crew. This was enabled by the excellent staff led by the cruise director Danny and his team. This cruise was all inclusive with three included shore excursions, a drinks package and all tips and gratuities. All the staff appeared happy in their roles and it was great to see crew members being given time off to explore various ports of call. We will definitely return and strongly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
first timers, good staff and attentive service on this smaller ship. Food was not Michelin but was more than satisfactory in all restaurants. One downer though- in the A la carte rest'nt the dress code has been allowed to slip- not ... Read More
first timers, good staff and attentive service on this smaller ship. Food was not Michelin but was more than satisfactory in all restaurants. One downer though- in the A la carte rest'nt the dress code has been allowed to slip- not saying it should be black tie etc, but sitting down next to persons in flip flops and shorts who have just come back on board from the shore visits is not great fun! if unable to dock, they do need a few more activities during the 'sea time'. would have liked a little 'tour' of the ship for example, just to show the hidden workings and to keep us out of trouble on the aft deck with the Mojitos! Being a smaller ship, we were on some of the smaller islands and away from the larger crowds from other ships. But- friendly, money's worth, and excellent, clean cabins and public areas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
While preparing to write my impressions of my cruises ( my 123th , I am a professional in the cruise market and I have accompanied groups with almost all the cruise companies over a period of 40 years ) here is the first word that came to ... Read More
While preparing to write my impressions of my cruises ( my 123th , I am a professional in the cruise market and I have accompanied groups with almost all the cruise companies over a period of 40 years ) here is the first word that came to mind: kindness! From the moment I boarded I found, as usual (I do this cruise every year) so much courtesy, everywhere! All crew , from the exquisite lady Guest Relation Manager to the very efficient cabin waiters , our table waiter Ali and the restaurant Manager Mr. Alex (a word for describe him: simply outstanding ! ) , just to name a few , all, really all of them , were ready to answer to all my needs with a smile , always offering an impeccable service. The ship : well, Crystal is my favorite Celestyal ship: It looks like a huge yacht, the optimum size to enter small ports but large enough to offer the services of a large ship but scaled down which means personalized service and more spaces Individual. The décor, a bit ' retro ' but bright and airy is the best you could possibly want to sail in the Aegean Sea. My cabin, the 7205 Junior suite, is not really a junior suite: it is actually comparable to a spacious balcony cabin of a today standard cruise ship. I have to open here a small parenthesis of "little disappointment" because a review, to be fair to be credible, must be fair, in good things ( and really MOST are very good ) but also in... not so good . The world’s cruise companies, when they have a less valid hardware (as in this case, a junior suite that is not) compensate with better service as ordinary and here is where Celestyal is wrong: this cabin is part of the “suite” price category (the other two main groups being the outside and inside cabins ) But, while costing just little less than other suites JS doesn’t enjoy any perk at all. Nothing at all. Everything in contrast to the other categories of suites that have excellent benefits ( well done Celestyal for these ! ) . Not even free breakfast service in cabin , and this is really simply unacceptable . Now, tell me, is out there a single company in the world not offering this service in Js ? The answer is: NO or , better YES : Celestyal. The price is certainly not cheap , suitesa are expensive and Celestyal should realize that this is correct at all. The Junior Suites customer thinks that they have booked a "Cinderella" suite. Having said that... everything else has been of my total satisfaction: the catering is much improved compared to past years , it was already good, but this year it was definitely better. Also noteworthy is the excellent presentation (and abundance) of the dishes. The presentation of the buffets has also considerably improved. The bar service is pretty well organized taking into account that on Celestyal there is the all inclusive formula which guests obviously take advantage of and the work of the bars for employees is hard . Well done. What else to say? The style : I mean, the Celestyal cruise style is a little...how to say, retro ? Perhaps, but retro ' in the best meaning of this world : lot of class and this makes it an almost unique product in the International cruise panorama. Hope they don't change because that makes them absolutely different. And, now, the best of the best: the evening shows ! The cabaret offered here is ( light years ) better than the insipid mega shows offered on the big ships, here there’s "pathos" and the result is that I enjoy myself crazy and try not to lose a single one. On premium ships, an example for all Holland America Line : I much prefer reading a book in my cabin than attending their shows . This says all ! The cruise director: Well, one of the best I've ever experienced ( and enjoyed so much ) and between other 122 cruises to compare with , I believe It says a lot. The itinerary is really nice, with the overnights in Mykonos and Santorini that allow you to enjoy all the excitement of these islands that become particularly alive and charming in the evenings (while almost all other cruise ships depart ). The ship had to cancel the call of Milos due to marine weather conditions and we made instead a call at Syros’s capital Ermoupoli , an elegant city that I particularly love and that I recommend to visit. Then Kusadasi , Turkey: apart from the amazing ruins of Ephesus, shopping here is absolutely not to be missed. What have I forgotten? Ah, the beautiful Crete: I have been there at least a dozen times and always I found something new to see, this time I visited a typical farm on the hills that produces oil, raki (the typical Cretan brandy) and typical wines and we were offered excellent local delicacies produced by the farm. Ah, I forgot! Early evening , while the ship was still anchored to Heraklion , came aboard a troupe of local dancers who offered us a show of typical cretan dances: again, a “bravo” to Celestyal . Such shows were once frequent on cruise ships but today they are almost gone. And now, just a little advice to enjoy the Celestyal hospitality at its best : try to "swim against the tide" while aboard . For example,If the mass of passengers likes to dine late in the evening, and this is the case here, try to dine sooner : you’ll enjoy a better restaurant service ! More quiet and relaxed . As soon as the ship arrives, don't rush to the ship’s exit : instead , wait a while and leave queues and stress to others. I do so and for me the cruise is nothing othen than relax as I like it. And when the cruise is over ? Nostalgia of course so the best… treatment ( ehehe  ) is booking immediately another cruise with Celestyal for 2019, so I can dream of a Celestyal cruise for a whole year ! I sincerely believe that with Celestyal you can’t go wrong: if every year I repeat this trip in the Aegean there’s a reason ( hope they will soon introduce new itineraries , for example alternate routes in order to allow passengers to make longer back to back cruises . ) . Of course Greek islands are full of charm but Celestyal Cruises will take you there in an absolutely special way , different from all other cruise companies in the world : the “Greek way” with its special food, its music and its wonderful people which means, simply, a totally different , and far superior experience ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Very good food, clean cabins, great night shows and divers entertainment program. Really best value for money I've paid. Great for families with/without friends. I strongly recommend for everybody: you can enjoy the dense daily ... Read More
Very good food, clean cabins, great night shows and divers entertainment program. Really best value for money I've paid. Great for families with/without friends. I strongly recommend for everybody: you can enjoy the dense daily program or you just can relax in sun bath. I've have chosen 7 nights in Greek island with spectacular views; the atmosphere on the ship was like in (a big) family. The services was really good, the crew was very nice and we have really pleased with the overall atmosphere. Very nice live bands with Greek traditional music or from international . Danny, the cruise director, was a man of pleasant surprises every night with really good shows, that cover professional dance, good music, acrobatics, ballet and so on. The entertainment team was really good and interactive with peoples. Finally I spend very nice time on Celestial Crystal and I will back next year for a new experience. Thank you! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We went the whole family (2 adult children) on a 7 day cruise to the Greek islands. Excellent ship, renewed, great food, good cabins, Staff is very kind. Well prepared itinerary. What I liked the most is the human scale of the ship (1000 ... Read More
We went the whole family (2 adult children) on a 7 day cruise to the Greek islands. Excellent ship, renewed, great food, good cabins, Staff is very kind. Well prepared itinerary. What I liked the most is the human scale of the ship (1000 passengers), so that you have plenty of space and time to enjoy, no hurries, not being pushed by the herd of passengers coming behind you. Compared with the Costa and MSC ships (5000 passengers) where you just feel another number, and were you may not find a place for breakfast or lunch during rush hours (specially if you go to the buffet, instead of the restaurants), the atmosphere is much more relaxed on the Celestyal ships, And the staff is 10 times friendlier, not completely stressed like in other ships. Just make a simple calculation: in a 5000 passengers ship you have 1000 crew: on crew member every 5 passengers. On the Celestyal ships, you have 1000 passengers and 450 crew members: one crew member every 2 passengers, A huge difference!!. 100 percent recommend Celestyal Cruises. When we wanted to change an excursion from Efeso for another one in Samos (the same day), no problem, no extra charge. Good cruise company!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We selected this cruise after seeing a UK TV show with Jane Mcdonald on board this very ship. It is a relatively small ship 1200 passengers. We loved it, having cruised with Carnival (12 times) MSC (1) and PO (1), we consider ourselves ... Read More
We selected this cruise after seeing a UK TV show with Jane Mcdonald on board this very ship. It is a relatively small ship 1200 passengers. We loved it, having cruised with Carnival (12 times) MSC (1) and PO (1), we consider ourselves experienced cruisers and therefore a bit critical. No worries this is the most delightful ship I have ever sailed on, her crew of 26 different nationalities were a delight, nothing was too much trouble to make our holiday perfect. The food was great the entertainment out of this world . There were 36 different nationalities of passengers onboard all harmonised with each other making it one of the friendliness cruises we have been on. Our cabin was a Junior suite with a balcony, which was excellent. The Crystal and her crew have real style and we will return! We hope to cruise again with her in 2019. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We wanted to sail the Aegean and visit Istanbul and Ephesus, and this was the perfect cruise. We sailed from Lavrion, which is about a half-hour from Athens Airport. It's far-less crowded than Piraeus, and our embarkation was fast, ... Read More
We wanted to sail the Aegean and visit Istanbul and Ephesus, and this was the perfect cruise. We sailed from Lavrion, which is about a half-hour from Athens Airport. It's far-less crowded than Piraeus, and our embarkation was fast, easy and stress-free. The Crystal is a lovely ship, spotless, with plenty of great open spaces. Our cabin was on the 7th deck, so we had a view! It was small but comfortable and cozy, and the housekeeping staff checked in and put everything in order twice a day - they were absolutely lovely. We enjoyed the food immensely - it was delicious. The buffets were endless and offered plenty of healthy options, and we loved the restaurant, the Amalthia, particularly after a hot active day - it was elegant without being stuffy, and the staff was wonderful, particularly as we usually had an exhausted five-and-a-half year-old with us. As for this particular five-and-a-half year-old, the activities were great (paper flowers, fruit carving), as was the music, both Greek and Latin - he was constantly dancing. The service was impeccable - we felt like royalty, and everyone was fantastic, and genuine, with our son. We did and saw so much, and it was organized and safe. Our stops included Istanbul, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Chios, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete (Agios Nikolaos and Heraklion), Symi (incredible!) and Mykonos. The highlights? Oia in Santorini, Knossos, Old Rhodes, Mykonos Town, Symi and the villages of Mesta and Pyrgi in Chios, hidden spots that astonished everyone on our excursion. Back on board, the gym and sauna were great. Would we go again? Absolutely! Opa. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I took a 3 night cruise to the Greek islands and Turkey on the Celestyal Olympia. It was such a fantastic cruise! The cruise is very port heavy but the time on the ship was fabulous. The crew was amazing and so friendly and helpful. I ... Read More
I took a 3 night cruise to the Greek islands and Turkey on the Celestyal Olympia. It was such a fantastic cruise! The cruise is very port heavy but the time on the ship was fabulous. The crew was amazing and so friendly and helpful. I spent most of my time by the pool and in the sunbathing deck. It got pretty crowded but it was still enjoyable. They had music and dance lessons by the pool and the buffet was great offering hamburgers, gyros, sandwiches and desserts. The Aegean restaurant had wonderful dinners and the staff was superb! The entertainment at night in the lounge was great and a perfect way to end the evening. Everything ran smoothly and the staff was very efficient at the ports getting everyone on and off the ship. I would love to cruise with Celestyal again and I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking to enjoy the Greek islands! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Celestyal Crystal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.6
Dining 4.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.2
Family 2.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.8
Service 4.5 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates N/A N/A

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