Celestyal Crystal Review

4.5 / 5.0
241 reviews
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Editor Rating
4.5
Very Good
Overall
Gina Kramer
Contributor

Celestyal Crystal left the fleet as of September 2, 2023. Those booked on later sailings will be reaccommodated on the line's new ship, Celestyal Journey.

Celestyal Crystal is all about the destination. The ship doesn't try to woo passengers with a trendy design, Broadway entertainment or thrilling water slides. Instead, it invests all its energy into the places it visits -- spending longer time in port than most mainstream cruise lines and offering top-notch shore excursions.

With Celestyal Cruises being a Greek-based company, it's no surprise the ship primarily sails the Greek Islands. All cruises begin and end in Athens (Piraeus and Lavrion), and the majority of them include overnights in marquee islands Mykonos and Santorini (as opposed to other lines that spend only half the day); this gives passengers a chance to explore these iconic ports sans all the crowds from other cruise ships. The ship also calls in at smaller islands such as Milos and Patmos, which are largely unspoilt by mass tourism. Some itineraries also include two islands in a day and depending on the season, often include at least one stop in another country, such as Turkey (Istanbul where the ship overnights; and Kusadasi for Ephesus); or Egypt.

The cruise line's emphasis on the destination and its budget-friendly price tag make it an excellent value, even more so when you see its nearly all-inclusive. The fare includes select shore excursions, most alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and gratuities.

But to enjoy a cruise on Celestyal Crystal you'll need to be OK with sailing on a bare-bones ship. It's small by modern standards (with a capacity for 1,200 passengers as opposed to the 4,000-plus passengers you see on mega-ships), but it has a big-ship feel. You'll find many of the standard features you would on a big ship -- including two main dining rooms, a buffet, a spa and fitness center, a pool and hot tub, and a number of bars -- but it's all scaled down.

Despite the similarities to newer ships, a cruise on Celestyal Crystal still conjures up images of an earlier age of cruising. Features like wide corridors, polished mahogany decks and distinct decor in each cabin category are a nod to the ship's colorful past, which started off as a passenger ferry in 1980 -- it was converted into a cruise ship in 1986. Since then it's been destroyed by fire, partially sunk, renamed five times and owned by five different cruise lines. But it has also had some high-profile guests, including Sweden's royal couple, who stayed onboard during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and President George H. W. Bush, who stayed onboard in November 1995.

However, its time sailing for Celestyal ends in September 2023, when it will be replaced by a much bigger ship -- Celestyal Journey -- which is almost double the size and has one of the key things Crystal is missing -- balcony cabins.

Overall, lovingly worn Celestyal Crystal might not be the prettiest or most innovative ship on the high seas, but it offers arguably the best bang for your buck when it comes to cruising in Greece.

Pros

High-quality shore excursions pair well with port-intensive itineraries

Cons

Visibly worn ship that lacks dining variety and other modern amenities

Bottom Line

Excellent value, with an emphasis on the destination and Greek culture

About

Passengers: 1200
Crew: 406
Passenger to Crew: 2.96:1
Launched: 1980

Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

  • * Two main dining rooms and the buffet

  • Three excursions

  • Gratuities

  • Most drinks (see below for exceptions)

  • Main theater shows

  • Most daily activities, unless noted below

  • Use of the gym, but not most classes

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • * Automatic spa tips

  • Spa treatments

  • Premium beverages

  • Shore excursions (other than the three included)

  • Wi-Fi

  • Photos and artwork

Fellow Passengers

Passengers mainly hail from the U.S., Canada, and other parts of Europe, including Germany and Italy and a smattering from the UK. In the summer months, the ship sees a large number of passengers from North America -- particularly families with teenage kids and groups of young students. The average age onboard is between 40 and 65, depending on the season.

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Celestyal Crystal Cruiser Reviews

Another great cruise with the Celestyal Crystal!!

After our very positive experience with the Celestyal Crystal last year, my wife and I wanted to take another cruise with this ship (see review August 2022), now with other destinations, such as IstanbulRead More
ijsduiker

many10+ Cruises

Age 70s

Buyer beware!

While I knew the Crystal would be worn and minimal, I was surprised and disappointed with the lack of quality and tastelessness in the food. Shame on Celestyal! They could do much better.Read More
Hsp61

many10+ Cruises

Age 60s

BRILLIANT! RECOMMEND!

I am sorry to hear Crystal will no longer be cruising after end of this September but was really pleased to hear that all the Crystal team staff will be transferring to Journey which we have already bookedRead More
jenica1

many10+ Cruises

Age 70s

Truly excellent

We had sailed on the Celestyal Crystal before and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.Read More
Ann Wakeman

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 70s

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