Just returned from a week on the Celestyal Line’s Crystal “Idyllic Aegean” cruise to the Greek Isles out of Athens. Here’s the bottom line on the entire cruise experience - with apologies to those negative reviewers from another orbit who’ve expressed reservations.
Firstly, the really spectacular:
- The multilingual cruise director, Danny, an energetic John Oliver clone, was an absolute delight and livened up the entire week;
- Formal dinners are served and presented with gastronomic flourish, and most offer a truly memorable food experience - with a distinct European flair and great service. If your vision of good cuisine is everyday American comfort food, then maybe consider a different vacation option. The executive sous chef also offers a poolside specialty breakfast (omelet station) and lunch each day (pasta; gyros; fajitas; BBQ);
- The nightly shows in the main theatre, performed by a resident troupe, were simply amazing with fabulous choreography, music, stage production, sound/lighting, and at times audience participation; we didn’t miss a single night;
- It’s a visit to another world: the 910 passengers onboard represented 34 countries, the 403 crew members 31 countries, all of which provided a chance each day to talk to someone from a different culture (all announcements were in five languages) - an invaluable life event;
- Generally, each interaction with a staff person was courteous and efficient.
- Yes, it’s an older ship that has been tenderly maintained. While it’s not the Ritz Carlton, accommodations are comfortable, clean, and well-serviced (thank you Jose and Ramesh). Does it look a little tired in spots? Sure, it’s a Euro-centric vacation vehicle and, thankfully, not a Disney wannabe. Consider what you really want when cruising the Greek Isles;
- Rooms are clean and fresh, with comfortable bedding. We splurged on a balcony junior suite (only about 10% of all cabins have balconies) and it was well worth the extra cost;
- Despite other comments here, the check-in, boarding, and disembarkation process was well-managed and flawless; ignore those comments from behind the curtain:
- Crews are constantly sprucing up the ship to a sparkling white outside, and the interior reminds one of a favorite living room chair: comfortable and familiar, but not flashy or exotic;
- Unlike American cruises, there is no automatic add-on gratuity cost for the week (which the crew probably never receives). We handed out cash directly to an appreciative staff.
- no assigned seating at dinner, but there are three available restaurants plus two buffets; (we covertly tipped one maitre’d the first night and were treated exceptionally the other six);
- the gym and casino are tiny by today’s standards, but we didn’t care in the least (we took a week off exercise);
- bottled water was not part of the beverage package;
- no free Wi-Fi. but we were able to use cellular at each destination from the ship;
- some of the free shore excursions were just mediocre and overcrowded. Consider upgrading to the other paid options at each port.
Overall, a wonderful, adult experience. For couples or groups, not kids or teens, and a chance to interact with people from around the world.
Great balcony room - only 10% of cabins have one. Comfortable bedding, couch, desk and sitting area. Two room attendants. Temp-controlled A/C. Bathroom a little dated but clean and functional. Nice bath products..
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Not to be missed. The ruins of an ancient city of 200,000 and part of Western civilization.
The port of entry with some local shopping and restaurants.
Interesting, but not a must see.
Good, bit could have navigated the town independently.
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