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Selected this cruise for the ports around Greece and Turkey because line offered two overnights, one in Mykonos (magical) and Santorini (overrated, way too many steep stairs). The staff was friendly but also up-selling at every occasion, and reminding you "that's extra - not included", hence calling it the "SS Nickel & Dime." Embarkation was a disaster - the computers went down and we were kept waiting in line outside for an hour in 37 C heat . 45 minutes in the staff passed around paper cups with some sticky sweet green beverage - we passed. No apology offered, and no explanation. Only found out real reason because we overheard staff talking about computer access issues. My traveling companion was never able to get his credit card registered - some issue with computer. WiFI - not included! That's extra. And it's not cheap at 16 Euros for 3 hours. Other lines we have traveling on include WiFi as standard issue with fare. We kept phones in airplane mode and found wifi in port every day to keep up with email and calls. The included drinks package was a real disappointment because like other lines where you could use the average base cost of a glass of wine to pay extra to get something potable, we were reduced to drinking plonk and no-name budget beer and cordials. The drinks included in the package were sticky sugar laden things - the good cocktails were all at extra price. If guzzling pink zinfandel and Long Island Iced Teas is your idea of a great time to get drunk, you'll love this ship. If you have more sophisticated tastes, prepare for a week of sparking water and disappointment. It was farcical since the cheap stuff was all included that you had to present cruise card each time. It was for "Inventory control" purposes we were told. Staffing is "Soviet Full Employment" - one person takes your order with the card, then it goes to the bar, then a third person brings you the drink. Beware the Happy Hours where you can purchase for extra money potable cocktails and wine. Bars are understaffed and it took 20 minutes to get an Aperol Spritz one afternoon. Interestingly, the same drink is priced differently at different bars, even at happy hour. My account was also padded with some extra items I never ordered that I challenged the last night and had them removed. Specialty Coffees - come out of a machine using powdered milk, unless you go to one of the bars - by the pool and the rear deck on 5 have real espresso machines. Smoking Policy - unacceptable. Smokers have use of the best areas on the ship - all the decks and the rear deck bars. Even though the smokers are supposed to be on one side of the deck, they smoked anywhere they wanted to. Vapers thought they were excluded which made for smelly hallways and public areas. Smoking policy was not enforced. If being around smokers bothers you, this is another reason to skip this line. Ship photos - photographers are everywhere making the Selfie generation happy. One night they offered a photo stand where you put on ancient Greek costumes and pose that was good fun. Wait until the last night to buy photos when the package offers get better. Onboard Shopping: boutique (watches, jewelry, basic fashions, cosmetics, cigarettes, liquor and a few sundries) was open only when in international waters so shopping opportunities were intermittent. If you see something you want in handbags, scarves, rings or or gold chains by the inch, best to buy it the first time you see it as stock gets wiped out. They do have a sale the last night and I picked up two dressy blouses at 50% off that was a good value. Meals were monotonous and just average. Breakfast is a buffet even in dining rooms. Same items every day got boring in a hurry. Stick with Greek and Turkish food for best chance of having something that isn't frozen. Sad that all the fish/seafood was frozen, when you are surrounded by the Aegean Sea. In order to get a fresh fish you need to pay 25 to 35 Euros extra to sit at a special table for a Greek Taverna style meal. Not worth it, especially considering we ate well in Athens for 20 Euros a person average, including nice house wine/quarter litre. No room service included - not even for rolls and coffee in the morning - that's extra! Pizza and Ice Cream are available - but that's extra! Ship is a converted ferry boat. Conversion efforts were basic - lacking in decor, lots of rust around the edges and worn carpets, warped railings. It felt like a budget Las Vegas hotel. Smells of bilge and sewage were often wafting through the hallways. We kept the balcony door open a lot of the time to counter the unpleasant aromas. Beds were ok but topped with thick duvet that are not needed in 35 C heat. Mattresses are hard - not the pillow top type you find on Princess, Celebrity etc. Since it was so hot I slept on top of the duvet and asked for an extra sheet. We had a Junior Suite that was OK for ship cabin - slightly smaller than what we are used to on Celebrity, Princess, Holland America. No bedside tables available so we used upturned suitcases for bedside tables instead, wedged in between beds. The hangers are the annoying kind that you need to slide into a ring that is permanently attached to the rod. I brought two plastic hangers and clips to use to dry hand-wash items-very handy! Were told by other passengers that we were lucky to get bar soap and also individual bottles of shampoo and lotion. In standard cabins you access these via a dispenser on the wall. Hair dryer was adequate if you have short or thin hair. It is tethered to the desk area and cord is not very long so tiring to dry long hair - took 2X longer than usual to get the job done. Overall the staff were friendly, and our cabin staff were flawless. However there were some floaters among the group. At Santorini tender station the staff sat in the folding chairs eating ice cream while the passengers, some elderly with canes had to stand. There is no such thing as queuing in Greece - the tender boat approached in a different area, so passengers that dutifully waited in line were pushed aside and made to wait for another tender to arrive. It's every man for himself at port side tender stops! Three shore excursions were included: Mykonos tour, Crete/Knossos Palace and Kusadash/Ephesus and Turkish carpet weaving shopping stop. Tours were good, guides spoke good English and didn't have their hands out soliciting tips. Those who wanted to offer tips did so discretely. Ephesus was the most amazing Roman ruins - best preserved (not restored) I have seen in any country. Turkish carpet weaving stop was interesting until we became trapped by salesmen. Managed to evade them and get back to the bus. Turkey is a lot like Mexico - people chase and hound you to buy souvenirs and enter their shops. The Greeks are much more relaxed, they say hello and leave you to it so it's nicer shopping for souvenirs in Greece. Other shore excursions like beach trips and sporting activities were available - but that was extra! Bottom line - if you want to stop at Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Milos (boring, stay on ship unless you need to buy groceries or medicine), Kusadasi/Ephesus, this line has it covered. If you have basic tastes when it comes to food and beverage it will do. Otherwise skip this ship and this line.

SS Nickel & Dime - shabby ship, mediocre food & bev

Celestyal Crystal Cruise Review by Globetrotter2018

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Selected this cruise for the ports around Greece and Turkey because line offered two overnights, one in Mykonos (magical) and Santorini (overrated, way too many steep stairs).

The staff was friendly but also up-selling at every occasion, and reminding you "that's extra - not included", hence calling it the "SS Nickel & Dime."

Embarkation was a disaster - the computers went down and we were kept waiting in line outside for an hour in 37 C heat . 45 minutes in the staff passed around paper cups with some sticky sweet green beverage - we passed. No apology offered, and no explanation. Only found out real reason because we overheard staff talking about computer access issues. My traveling companion was never able to get his credit card registered - some issue with computer.

WiFI - not included! That's extra. And it's not cheap at 16 Euros for 3 hours. Other lines we have traveling on include WiFi as standard issue with fare. We kept phones in airplane mode and found wifi in port every day to keep up with email and calls.

The included drinks package was a real disappointment because like other lines where you could use the average base cost of a glass of wine to pay extra to get something potable, we were reduced to drinking plonk and no-name budget beer and cordials. The drinks included in the package were sticky sugar laden things - the good cocktails were all at extra price. If guzzling pink zinfandel and Long Island Iced Teas is your idea of a great time to get drunk, you'll love this ship. If you have more sophisticated tastes, prepare for a week of sparking water and disappointment. It was farcical since the cheap stuff was all included that you had to present cruise card each time. It was for "Inventory control" purposes we were told. Staffing is "Soviet Full Employment" - one person takes your order with the card, then it goes to the bar, then a third person brings you the drink.

Beware the Happy Hours where you can purchase for extra money potable cocktails and wine. Bars are understaffed and it took 20 minutes to get an Aperol Spritz one afternoon. Interestingly, the same drink is priced differently at different bars, even at happy hour. My account was also padded with some extra items I never ordered that I challenged the last night and had them removed.

Specialty Coffees - come out of a machine using powdered milk, unless you go to one of the bars - by the pool and the rear deck on 5 have real espresso machines.

Smoking Policy - unacceptable. Smokers have use of the best areas on the ship - all the decks and the rear deck bars. Even though the smokers are supposed to be on one side of the deck, they smoked anywhere they wanted to. Vapers thought they were excluded which made for smelly hallways and public areas. Smoking policy was not enforced. If being around smokers bothers you, this is another reason to skip this line.

Ship photos - photographers are everywhere making the Selfie generation happy. One night they offered a photo stand where you put on ancient Greek costumes and pose that was good fun. Wait until the last night to buy photos when the package offers get better.

Onboard Shopping: boutique (watches, jewelry, basic fashions, cosmetics, cigarettes, liquor and a few sundries) was open only when in international waters so shopping opportunities were intermittent. If you see something you want in handbags, scarves, rings or or gold chains by the inch, best to buy it the first time you see it as stock gets wiped out. They do have a sale the last night and I picked up two dressy blouses at 50% off that was a good value.

Meals were monotonous and just average. Breakfast is a buffet even in dining rooms. Same items every day got boring in a hurry. Stick with Greek and Turkish food for best chance of having something that isn't frozen. Sad that all the fish/seafood was frozen, when you are surrounded by the Aegean Sea. In order to get a fresh fish you need to pay 25 to 35 Euros extra to sit at a special table for a Greek Taverna style meal. Not worth it, especially considering we ate well in Athens for 20 Euros a person average, including nice house wine/quarter litre. No room service included - not even for rolls and coffee in the morning - that's extra! Pizza and Ice Cream are available - but that's extra!

Ship is a converted ferry boat. Conversion efforts were basic - lacking in decor, lots of rust around the edges and worn carpets, warped railings. It felt like a budget Las Vegas hotel. Smells of bilge and sewage were often wafting through the hallways. We kept the balcony door open a lot of the time to counter the unpleasant aromas.

Beds were ok but topped with thick duvet that are not needed in 35 C heat. Mattresses are hard - not the pillow top type you find on Princess, Celebrity etc. Since it was so hot I slept on top of the duvet and asked for an extra sheet.

We had a Junior Suite that was OK for ship cabin - slightly smaller than what we are used to on Celebrity, Princess, Holland America. No bedside tables available so we used upturned suitcases for bedside tables instead, wedged in between beds. The hangers are the annoying kind that you need to slide into a ring that is permanently attached to the rod. I brought two plastic hangers and clips to use to dry hand-wash items-very handy!

Were told by other passengers that we were lucky to get bar soap and also individual bottles of shampoo and lotion. In standard cabins you access these via a dispenser on the wall.

Hair dryer was adequate if you have short or thin hair. It is tethered to the desk area and cord is not very long so tiring to dry long hair - took 2X longer than usual to get the job done.

Overall the staff were friendly, and our cabin staff were flawless. However there were some floaters among the group. At Santorini tender station the staff sat in the folding chairs eating ice cream while the passengers, some elderly with canes had to stand. There is no such thing as queuing in Greece - the tender boat approached in a different area, so passengers that dutifully waited in line were pushed aside and made to wait for another tender to arrive. It's every man for himself at port side tender stops!

Three shore excursions were included: Mykonos tour, Crete/Knossos Palace and Kusadash/Ephesus and Turkish carpet weaving shopping stop. Tours were good, guides spoke good English and didn't have their hands out soliciting tips. Those who wanted to offer tips did so discretely. Ephesus was the most amazing Roman ruins - best preserved (not restored) I have seen in any country. Turkish carpet weaving stop was interesting until we became trapped by salesmen. Managed to evade them and get back to the bus. Turkey is a lot like Mexico - people chase and hound you to buy souvenirs and enter their shops. The Greeks are much more relaxed, they say hello and leave you to it so it's nicer shopping for souvenirs in Greece. Other shore excursions like beach trips and sporting activities were available - but that was extra!

Bottom line - if you want to stop at Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Milos (boring, stay on ship unless you need to buy groceries or medicine), Kusadasi/Ephesus, this line has it covered. If you have basic tastes when it comes to food and beverage it will do. Otherwise skip this ship and this line.
Globetrotter2018’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 609
Beds were ok but topped with thick duvet that are not needed in 35 C heat. Mattresses are hard - not the pillow top type you find on Princess, Celebrity etc. Since it was so hot I slept on top of the duvet and asked for an extra sheet.

We had a Junior Suite that was OK for ship cabin - slightly smaller than what we are used to on Celebrity, Princess, Holland America. No bedside tables available so we used upturned suitcases for bedside tables instead, wedged in between beds. The hangers are the annoying kind that you need to slide into a ring that is permanently attached to the rod. I brought two plastic hangers and clips to use to dry hand-wash items-very handy!

Were told by other passengers that we were lucky to get bar soap and also individual bottles of shampoo and lotion. In standard cabins you access these via a dispenser on the wall.

Hair dryer was adequate if you have short or thin hair. It is tethered to the desk area and cord is not very long so tiring to dry long hair - took 2X longer than usual to get the job done.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Athens (Piraeus)
    Stayed in AirBnB apartment prior to and after cruise. A dusty city in need of graffiti removal but fascinating and worth the time to explore around. Everywhere you turn you'll see amazing ruins that are thousands of years old! Greek food is tasty and filling, and affordable. City is very walkable if you stay within 15 - 20 minutes of the Acropolis. Go to Acropolis at 8am, and buy tickets the night before if possible. Busloads of tourists arrive around 9:30 and it gets very crowded. We used Rick Steve's audio guide/free to walk around the Acropolis and it was great.
    View All 1,227 Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Review
  • Knossos Palace
    very good tour excursion - take a hat and water!
    View All 48 Knossos Palace Reviews
  • City Tour
    Bus picked us up and we visited three areas on the island. Well worth a visit - magical, especially when we went back on shore at night.
    View All 41 City Tour Reviews