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2 Crete (Heraklion) to Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Just returned from a week on the Celestyal Line’s Crystal “Idyllic Aegean” cruise to the Greek Isles out of Athens. Here’s the bottom line on the entire cruise experience - with apologies to those negative reviewers from another ... Read More
Just returned from a week on the Celestyal Line’s Crystal “Idyllic Aegean” cruise to the Greek Isles out of Athens. Here’s the bottom line on the entire cruise experience - with apologies to those negative reviewers from another orbit who’ve expressed reservations. Firstly, the really spectacular: - The multilingual cruise director, Danny, an energetic John Oliver clone, was an absolute delight and livened up the entire week; - Formal dinners are served and presented with gastronomic flourish, and most offer a truly memorable food experience - with a distinct European flair and great service. If your vision of good cuisine is everyday American comfort food, then maybe consider a different vacation option. The executive sous chef also offers a poolside specialty breakfast (omelet station) and lunch each day (pasta; gyros; fajitas; BBQ); - The nightly shows in the main theatre, performed by a resident troupe, were simply amazing with fabulous choreography, music, stage production, sound/lighting, and at times audience participation; we didn’t miss a single night; - It’s a visit to another world: the 910 passengers onboard represented 34 countries, the 403 crew members 31 countries, all of which provided a chance each day to talk to someone from a different culture (all announcements were in five languages) - an invaluable life event; - Generally, each interaction with a staff person was courteous and efficient. The mundane: - Yes, it’s an older ship that has been tenderly maintained. While it’s not the Ritz Carlton, accommodations are comfortable, clean, and well-serviced (thank you Jose and Ramesh). Does it look a little tired in spots? Sure, it’s a Euro-centric vacation vehicle and, thankfully, not a Disney wannabe. Consider what you really want when cruising the Greek Isles; - Rooms are clean and fresh, with comfortable bedding. We splurged on a balcony junior suite (only about 10% of all cabins have balconies) and it was well worth the extra cost; - Despite other comments here, the check-in, boarding, and disembarkation process was well-managed and flawless; ignore those comments from behind the curtain: - Crews are constantly sprucing up the ship to a sparkling white outside, and the interior reminds one of a favorite living room chair: comfortable and familiar, but not flashy or exotic; - Unlike American cruises, there is no automatic add-on gratuity cost for the week (which the crew probably never receives). We handed out cash directly to an appreciative staff. The negatives: - no assigned seating at dinner, but there are three available restaurants plus two buffets; (we covertly tipped one maitre’d the first night and were treated exceptionally the other six); - the gym and casino are tiny by today’s standards, but we didn’t care in the least (we took a week off exercise); - bottled water was not part of the beverage package; - no free Wi-Fi. but we were able to use cellular at each destination from the ship; - some of the free shore excursions were just mediocre and overcrowded. Consider upgrading to the other paid options at each port. Overall, a wonderful, adult experience. For couples or groups, not kids or teens, and a chance to interact with people from around the world. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was my first Costa cruise. I’ve cruised on nearly all the other cruise lines including MSC, another European cruise line. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised and very much enjoyed the cruise. The ship was in ... Read More
This was my first Costa cruise. I’ve cruised on nearly all the other cruise lines including MSC, another European cruise line. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised and very much enjoyed the cruise. The ship was in good condition, our oceanview room was fairly typical of other cruise lines, the main dining food was very good and the breakfast and lunch buffet was OK. The premium pay restaurant, Club Medusa, was excellent. The entertainment was in line with most US cruise lines. Keep in mind the Med cruises are very much different than the Caribbean cruises, so daytime entertainment is tamer. If you want to party, skip the cruise and head to Ibiza or Mykonos. The ship had several pools, hot tubs, Spa, excellent gym, shops, etc. I think there are some differences between Costa and MSC, who mainly market to the Europeans, and the US cruise lines sailing in the Med. First, nearly all the passengers were from Europe so all announcements are made in six languages. The ship had roughly 2300 passengers and we met only two other Americans. Second, the only dinner option is the main dining area. No dinner buffet, so if you have the early seating and get back to the ship after 7pm, late night pizza or paid room service are the only options. Third, the shore excursion options may be limited since they will only offer an English speaking tour if there are enough English speaking people taking the tour. This didn’t affect us since we normally don’t take the cruise line shore excursions, but beware if you do. Embarkation was very fast since we boarded off peak time in Heraklion, Crete. The port is right in downtown Heraklion. You may need to take a free short shuttle bus ride from the terminal building to the ship. You drop your luggage off at the terminal building before getting on the shuttle bus. There is an emergency drill your first night. Since Alanya, Turkey was not on the port of call listing, I am including in the ship review. Alanya, Turkey: This was the sleeper port of the cruise. I wasn’t expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. Great beaches, stunning mountain scenery, magical coastal views, a hilltop castle, Roman and Greek ruins, white water rafting, waterfalls and a quaint waterside area with cafes, shops and a scenic harbor. You can even ski if there in the winter. Definitely take a boat tour (one to five hours). The best beach is Cleopatra, a 20 minute walk from the ship or a few minute taxi ride. If interested in archeology, visit Side and some of the area ruins via private taxi or shore excursion. Disembarkation: Very organized and no issues. They will actually allow you to stay on board until 6pm if you have a late flight, but you need to vacate your cabin by 8am.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013

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