Greek-owned line Celestyal Cruises purchased the 1,260-passenger vessel Celestyal Journey, to replace the oldest ship in its fleet, Celestyal Crystal, from September 2023. Constructed at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard in 1993, it first sailed for Holland America Line as Ryndam, one of the line's Statendam or S-class ships. From 2015, it operated as Pacific Aria for P&O Cruises Australia, and in 2019, P&O announced the sale of the ship to Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) which renamed it Ida Pfeiffer, however the line collapsed during the pandemic.
Following a $21 million refurbishment and technical maintenance overhaul in Piraeus, Greece, the ship will enter the next stage of its career as Celestyal Journey. It replaced Celestyal Crystal's itineraries beginning on September 2, 2023, and joined existing Celestyal Cruises fleetmate Celestyal Olympia -- which itself will be replaced in 2024 -- with voyages around the islands of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Although Celestyal Journey is a traditional cruise ship, when it begins sailing for Celestyal it will be the youngest and most modern ship in the fleet. Celestyal Crystal and Celestyal Olympia were launched in 1980 and 1981 respectively and as older ships have few balcony cabins.
Celestyal Journey has nine passenger decks and the cabins, which are located across five of those decks, range in size from 182 square feet to the line's first ever first ever penthouse with private terrace, the Stargazer Suite, which comes in at 937 square-foot with a 189 square foot balcony.
Celestyal Journey has 630 rooms, 80% of which are exterior, and will offer far more cabins with verandas than the other ships -- 120 in total -- with 120 Junior Dream Suites and 28 Grand Dream Suites, all with balconies.
All Dream Suite guests have access to The Beach Club, a secluded and tranquil outdoor space, with ice cream stations and juice corners. Guests booked in Grand Dream Suites also have access to Celestyal’s Concierge Service which features a dedicated priority check-in counter, expedited embarkation and express luggage delivery service including assistance with unpacking. A dedicated Celestyal Concierge will be available in the exclusive-use Compass Lounge to assist Grand Suite guests with tailored service requests.
The rest of the accommodations comprise 352 oceanview cabins and a total of 52 oceanview and balcony cabins are interconnecting for families and groups of friends.
Celestyal Journey will have seven dining venues, with an emphasis on authentic Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.
Venues include Thalassa, for dinner; daytime Greek grazing in Fig & Honey and fresh Mediterranean bites at the Smoked Olive restaurant, grilled food at Grill Seekers and for the first time on Celestyal, an Asian inspired menu at Pink Moon. There will also be cooking demos onboard and the option for a private dining experience at the new Chef’s Table.
Drinking venues include Fizz Club, The Grapevine Wine Cellar and the Blue Bar & Lounge.
Celestyal Journey has a number of sundecks and two pools, including one with a retractable roof allowing passengers to swim in any weather. The ship also has an outdoor sports area, a jogging track and a spa and fitness center all on a dedicated Wellness Deck: The Sozo Experience, an entire deck inspired by the Greek custom of Sozo -- an ancient Greek tradition of wellness of mind, body and spirit and a world of wellbeing.
The Sozo Spa includes a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, a Dream Den relaxation area and a Glow Bar.
Other entertainment includes: The Amphitheatro, a live show lounge that spans two decks, live music throughout the ship, cooking workshops and lectures. The ship also has a range of activities and facilities to keep kids entertained including a vibrant Kids Club to arcade games.
Celestyal Journey debuts on September 2, 2023 from Piraeus, Greece to Thessaloniki, Kusadasi, Heraklion (Crete), Santorini. Mykonos and Milos.
Following the inaugural Idyllic Aegean sailings, Celestyal Journey will continue in October with the unique "Steps of Paul" itinerary calling on Athens, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Istanbul, Dikili, Kusadasi and Patmos followed by the seven-night "Three Continents" itinerary, visiting Greece, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Turkey.
There will also be two exclusive holiday sailings: The 11-night, special Christmas voyage calling on Thessaloniki, Izmir, Crete, Antalya, Limassol, with two days in Alexandria and an overnight visit in Haifa (Israel) to spend both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Holy Land. This can be combined with the New Year’s eight-night departure visiting Heraklion, Rhodes, Kusadasi, overnighting in Istanbul before calling Volos.
Celestyal Journey is 55,877 gross tons and carries 1,260 passengers at full capacity with 597 crew.
A delightful cruise in the end but a questionable beginning