While preparing to write my impressions of my cruises ( my 123th , I am a professional in the cruise market and I have accompanied groups with almost all the cruise companies over a period of 40 years ) here is the first word that came to mind: kindness! From the moment I boarded I found, as usual (I do this cruise every year) so much courtesy, everywhere! All crew , from the exquisite lady Guest Relation Manager to the very efficient cabin waiters , our table waiter Ali and the restaurant Manager Mr. Alex (a word for describe him: simply outstanding ! ) , just to name a few , all, really all of them , were ready to answer to all my needs with a smile , always offering an impeccable service.
The ship : well, Crystal is my favorite Celestyal ship: It looks like a huge yacht, the optimum size to enter small ports but large enough to offer the services of a large ship but scaled down which means personalized service and more spaces Individual. The décor, a bit ' retro ' but bright and airy is the best you could possibly want to sail in the Aegean Sea.
My cabin, the 7205 Junior suite, is not really a junior suite: it is actually comparable to a spacious balcony cabin of a today standard cruise ship. I have to open here a small parenthesis of "little disappointment" because a review, to be fair to be credible, must be fair, in good things ( and really MOST are very good ) but also in... not so good . The world’s cruise companies, when they have a less valid hardware (as in this case, a junior suite that is not) compensate with better service as ordinary and here is where Celestyal is wrong: this cabin is part of the “suite” price category (the other two main groups being the outside and inside cabins ) But, while costing just little less than other suites JS doesn’t enjoy any perk at all. Nothing at all. Everything in contrast to the other categories of suites that have excellent benefits ( well done Celestyal for these ! ) . Not even free breakfast service in cabin , and this is really simply unacceptable . Now, tell me, is out there a single company in the world not offering this service in Js ? The answer is: NO or , better YES : Celestyal. The price is certainly not cheap , suitesa are expensive and Celestyal should realize that this is correct at all. The Junior Suites customer thinks that they have booked a "Cinderella" suite.
Having said that... everything else has been of my total satisfaction: the catering is much improved compared to past years , it was already good, but this year it was definitely better. Also noteworthy is the excellent presentation (and abundance) of the dishes. The presentation of the buffets has also considerably improved. The bar service is pretty well organized taking into account that on Celestyal there is the all inclusive formula which guests obviously take advantage of and the work of the bars for employees is hard . Well done. What else to say? The style : I mean, the Celestyal cruise style is a little...how to say, retro ? Perhaps, but retro ' in the best meaning of this world : lot of class and this makes it an almost unique product in the International cruise panorama. Hope they don't change because that makes them absolutely different.
And, now, the best of the best: the evening shows ! The cabaret offered here is ( light years ) better than the insipid mega shows offered on the big ships, here there’s "pathos" and the result is that I enjoy myself crazy and try not to lose a single one. On premium ships, an example for all Holland America Line : I much prefer reading a book in my cabin than attending their shows . This says all !
The cruise director: Well, one of the best I've ever experienced ( and enjoyed so much ) and between other 122 cruises to compare with , I believe It says a lot.
The itinerary is really nice, with the overnights in Mykonos and Santorini that allow you to enjoy all the excitement of these islands that become particularly alive and charming in the evenings (while almost all other cruise ships depart ). The ship had to cancel the call of Milos due to marine weather conditions and we made instead a call at Syros’s capital Ermoupoli , an elegant city that I particularly love and that I recommend to visit. Then Kusadasi , Turkey: apart from the amazing ruins of Ephesus, shopping here is absolutely not to be missed.
What have I forgotten? Ah, the beautiful Crete: I have been there at least a dozen times and always I found something new to see, this time I visited a typical farm on the hills that produces oil, raki (the typical Cretan brandy) and typical wines and we were offered excellent local delicacies produced by the farm.
Ah, I forgot! Early evening , while the ship was still anchored to Heraklion , came aboard a troupe of local dancers who offered us a show of typical cretan dances: again, a “bravo” to Celestyal . Such shows were once frequent on cruise ships but today they are almost gone.
And now, just a little advice to enjoy the Celestyal hospitality at its best : try to "swim against the tide" while aboard . For example,If the mass of passengers likes to dine late in the evening, and this is the case here, try to dine sooner : you’ll enjoy a better restaurant service ! More quiet and relaxed . As soon as the ship arrives, don't rush to the ship’s exit : instead , wait a while and leave queues and stress to others. I do so and for me the cruise is nothing othen than relax as I like it.
And when the cruise is over ? Nostalgia of course so the best… treatment ( ehehe ) is booking immediately another cruise with Celestyal for 2019, so I can dream of a Celestyal cruise for a whole year !
I sincerely believe that with Celestyal you can’t go wrong: if every year I repeat this trip in the Aegean there’s a reason ( hope they will soon introduce new itineraries , for example alternate routes in order to allow passengers to make longer back to back cruises . ) .
Of course Greek islands are full of charm but Celestyal Cruises will take you there in an absolutely special way , different from all other cruise companies in the world : the “Greek way” with its special food, its music and its wonderful people which means, simply, a totally different , and far superior experience !
The cabin is a slightly wider standard balcony cabin but certainly not a junior suite. Clean, well furnished , airy and the balcony is a little deeper than standard. Please read in the review other notes about this cabin.