Dining onboard Celestyal Crystal is kept simple, with only four venues to choose from: two main dining rooms, a buffet and a small specialty restaurant. The two main dining rooms -- Olympus and Amalthia -- are basically the same in terms of style and menus; the difference is Amalthia is the only one open during breakfast and lunch hours. They also operate on a flexible seating basis versus assigning passengers to specific times; dinner hours are 6:30 to 10 p.m. daily. Still, dining times are subject to fluctuate depending on port calls, so you should always check your daily program to be sure. Both main dining rooms offer an optional, a la carte menu with items such as steak and lobster tail for an additional fee. We found the portion sizes in both to be perfect -- not too overwhelming -- allowing us to finish everything from our starters down to the last bite of dessert. The quality, too, for the most part was superb.
Olympus (Deck 5): Of the two main dining rooms, this one is smaller and has a more intimate feel, almost as if it could be a large specialty restaurant. It has three table sizes -- for four, six and eight -- and two table shapes -- circular and oblong, but with plenty of window seats. It also offers convenient access to the Thalassa Bar, an alfresco bar tucked away on the back of Deck 5, perfect for pre- and post-dinner drinks.
Dinner consists of three courses of regional specialties, plus a Bleu zone cuisine’s special by Chef Diane Kochilas, which is usually a well-known Greek vegan dish. The remainder of the menu is a Mediterranean cuisine with a twist of Greek gastronomy. Starters might include a cold fish selection, prawn cocktail or perhaps a terrine and always have a vegan or vegetarian selection. Soups usually include some kind of vegetable (vegan or vegetarian), consommé or a lobster bisque (the chicken and lemongrass was our favorite), and a salad is usually a simple green salad.
Mains always include a vegetarian dish like a risotto; a fish dish (often a local one); and a meat dishes, be that chicken, beef, veal, lamb or pork. On one night there will be a Greek Celebration Dinner, where the whole menu consists of Greek dishes. Special dietary needs, including gluten-free and halal vegan options, can be accommodated with advanced notice. A separate kids menu, with items like burgers and fries, and pizza, also is available.
Specialty items available for an added fee can be found on a separate "Chef's Gourmet Suggestions" menu, in both dining rooms. It includes dishes such as beef tenderloin, grilled lobster (whole or tail), surf and turf, American wagyu beef and Irish Angus Tomahawk. Prices range from $25.95 for the tenderloin to $95.95 for the Tomahawk 1.2kg.
Desserts usually feature a variety of homemade cakes, (gluten free and sugar free upon requested), ice cream or gelato, vegan sorbet and fruit with Greek yogurt. There are no theme nights.
There is a surprisingly good selection of wines onboard, including some robust North American reds, fine French wines and a handful of Greek wines. Note that all beverages by the glass (bar the premium label spirits) are included in your cruise fare. If you are looking to get a bottle, you'll have to pay a supplement ranging from $11 to $35 per bottle, which is still a good value. Premium liqueurs such as Chivas Regal, Johnny Walker Black, Glenfiddich and Jack Daniel's, as well energy drinks and smoothies, cost an extra $10 per person. A sommelier also is onboard to assist with pairing recommendations at dinner.
Amalthia (Deck 8): Situated just below the two buffet restaurants, Amalthia is the "main" MDR and feels somewhat grander, with lots more seating and table sizes (for four, six, eight and 10 people), including tucked-away round-the-corner tables that you can request just for two people (though they are for four). This is where the captain sits for Gala nights.
The breakfast spread is similar to what you'd find in the buffet, with hot dishes like hash browns, bacon, sausage and eggs, as well as yogurt, cereal and juice. You can also order omelets and eggs to your liking from the menu, at no extra charge.
Lunch is a three-course affair consisting of a starter, main and dessert, and the food ranges from standout to subpar. Starters might include a salad, soups or shrimp cocktail. Mains could include a vegetarian, vegan, fish or meat dish and dishes and a blue zone cuisine special by chef Diane Kochilas, which varies by day. Desserts might include homemade cakes, sorbet, ice cream and fruit, as well as a cheese and a vegan board.
The dinner menu is exactly the same as in Olympus.
Leda & Aura (Deck 9): These two buffet restaurants are the same, but are located in spaces opposite each other. Note that lines build up quick at busy times and when people are either getting ready for or returning from shore excursions, so it's wise to try and visit slightly off hours if you can swing it.
Food is available throughout most of the day (there are brief lulls of an hour or so after breakfast and after lunch), starting with a decent breakfast with a large choice of food including cold meats and salads, cereals, oatmeal, freshly made pastries, bacon, sausages, eggs (scrambled or sunny side up), Greek yogurt and fruit, and fresh-grilled tomatoes. There's also a self-serve juice, tea and coffee station (the coffee machine allows you to make cappuccino and espresso, but you also can order specialty coffees for a fee).
At lunch, there is always a good selection of build-your-own salads, cold meats, a carving station and a choice of hot meat, fish and vegetables. You'll also notice a few Greek options.
Dinner is almost always held in the Leda area of the buffet, and features a cycle of theme dinner buffet such as Pan Asian, Middle East, Seafood, French, and Tex Mex.
Seating can be found inside the buffet (both the Leda and Aura sides), though most people tend to head out to the adjacent pool deck, where there is a plethora of seating -- both in the sun and shade -- and also to the aft of the ship, where you'll find more seats -- but no shade.
Chef's Corner (Deck 9): Though not an official venue, this pop-up station next to the pool, is where passengers can get made-to-order eggs (including omelets) and other breakfast items like French toast and pancakes. At lunchtime you'll also find a daily rotation of, burger, make our own sandwich, French crepe, Asian wok, tacos, paninis. Once a cruise towards the end there is also a BBQ in the evening here, which is great fun -- mountains of food, music and a lovely atmosphere.
Afternoon Tea (Deck 9): Afternoon tea is served 4 to 5 p.m., in the buffet, but don't expect white-gloved waiter service. This is more of a help-yourself affair, with a buffet selection of calorific cakes and biscuits, as well as container-dispensed tea and coffee.
Specialty Restaurant (Deck 8); 60 euros per person: This intimate venue (just 12 covers) outside Amalthia, is the showcase for two dining experiences -- the Greek Table Experience and the Mediterranean Experience. The former comes from the Diane Kochilas, the host, creator and co-producer of My Greek Table, which airs on PBS in the US and Australia, now in its fourth series. The six-course tasting menu features many local ingredients and dishes from the islands Celestyal visits and is paired with local wines.
The meal starts with various homemade dips including syros maintanosalata (made with pesto, capers and herbs), roasted tomato kopanisti and smoked eggplant caviar; the first course includes octopus carpaccio,in a lovely ouzo vinaigrette dressing followed by Aegean fisherman's soup, which is light and tasty. Other dishes include lobster escalope with ouzo-flavored rice, which is delicious; zucchini and a meat main of beef lion, followed by arugula. Try and leave space for dessert -- the Floating Greek Island has to be seen to be believed.
The Mediterranean Experience takes from across the Mediterranean region and includes some lovely dishes such as mushroom soup served in a scooped out sourdough loaf! There are a huge number of antipasti dishes to choose from, such as smoked salmon, jamon, cheese, zucchini and peppers. Beef loin the surf and turf is the main event, which is grilled and tastes delicious; and dessert includes Mediterranean favourites such as Crêpe Suzette stuffed with Anaris cheese, ice cream profiteroles, chocolate tahini lava cake and a must try: crème brûlée cheesecake.
The service is exceptional -- attentive, knowledeable and personal -- and both experiences come in at around two hours, so we advise you not to book too late -- and it's probably wise not to eat too much at lunch either, as you'll be rolling out of here at the end. You can also hire the whole room if you are a group.
Room Service: 15.95 euros or a la carte: There is a charge of 15.95 euros per person for an English breakfast; or you can order individual items a la carte, starting from 2.95 euros for a croissant. Pizza, paninis and hamburgers start at 5.95 euros. Pizza comes with a beer or a soft drink. The same "Kwik & Easy" menu operates in all the bars onboard, if you fancy a snack.
* May require additional fees