Celestyal Crystal Cruise Review by frank.page
- Sail Date: September 2015
- Destination: Greece
The ship itself has been on the water for many a year and the fabric and finish is showing signs of wear and tear and is not quite leading edge from a designers perspective. Despite this the hard working staff keep everything shiny and polished and persevere with its short comings; cupboard door half off a hinge in the Amalthia restaurant, the main dining room, drawers that don't close properly in our cabin.
A seven day cruise around the Aegean is a Greek Island taster and no more, with Istanbul and Kusadasi thrown in for some Turkish delights - Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and Ephesus being on offer. Excursions available at all ports and so the chance to get a flavour of Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, Chios and Lavrio (Athens). The excursion process is always good and bad. Highlights you would never see independently are delivered in bite sizes with tour guides who mainly avoid sounding rote and inject some enthusiasm for their subject matter. Organisationally there is the marshalling and checking of the excursioneers, with inevitable waiting and the usual stragglers who are always holding up the show.
Back on board Celestyal Crystal gets everyone well fed and with some tasty interpretations of various Greek and Turkish fare. The ship carries a lot of large tour groups and they tend to dominate in all departments. Individual passengers, independently booked, are a bit crowded out. Even a nine month old booking and promised waiting list failed to get an upgrade from an inside cabin to an outside cabin. One suspects that the tour companies have all the outside cabins permanently booked. It's a shame that Celestyal Cruises can't free up some for travellers like us who book independently.
The drinks package represents a good deal if you like your wine, beer and cocktails. Strangely this doesn't cover everything and a few items attract a discounted price.
Wait staff both in restaurants and bars do a stirling job and the team in the restaurants are friendly and fun at times. The Bali waiters typify the smiling island they hail from. Apparently they sometimes perform their Kechak dance in the crew quarters and the ship should unleash that on the passengers for some wonderful alternative entertainment.
The entertainment is very good with exceptionally good dancers with great choreography. A couple of male singers worked hard on their programmes but need a little help to keep them on the note. The Greek ensemble are superb and very popular with their traditional music and song. It must be hard to perform constantly and maintain the enthusiasm - some obvious tedium evident with a few performers. But overall bravo for their efforts.
Celestyal Crystal gets an 8 out of 10 from us. November sees it off to the Caribbean but no doubt it will be back for the 2016 season.
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