I'll start by saying we travel a lot, but aren't "cruise people". We've only been on one other cruise. Most of our travel is self-booked, no groups, tours, etc. That said, we were looking to do something out of the ordinary and special for our 35th anniversary cruise, and had our sights set on exploring a few greek islands. After looking at options including cruises, flights, and water taxis, we decided on the 3-night Celestyal Olympia cruise. We figured that if it didn't agree with us, 3 nights would be OK. We liked the smattering taste-test of the islands, and we liked that two excursions were included.
Embarkation was a breeze for us, but read the cabin details for possible explanation.
Yes, the ship is old, but it's been refurbished quite nicely. It was perhaps a little nicer than expected. I think we had 1,000 passengers, so quite a bit under capacity. That may have helped with things for our cruise.
Staff was exemplary! Every single staff member we interacted with was just so nice and helpful. There were no exceptions to this: from the Master (captain), who told us how to find our room (we didn't know who he was at the time), to the people who gave out towels as we came back aboard, 100% of them were just great.
The food was better than expected. We like greek food, but were certainly not limited to that. The Texas BBQ night was superbly executed and very popular.
Entertainment was OK, but we didn't really pursue that at all.
We really enjoyed both of the included excursions in Turkey and Crete! A lot. Really added value for us. We did not book any other excursions. Yes, some of the island stays are very brief, but we knew that going in. They were long enough to learn where we might want to return some day.
Getting off the boat for island visits seemed very organized to us, and went smoothly. Again, some of this was due to our cabin selection. We learned that people who booked excursions got off first (!), then cabins by rank/number, then people who were staying at the location (not getting back on the boat). We didn't even look at any other excursions, so I don't know what the options or cost were, but worth considering if you want to get off the boat first.
Lastly, I should mention I was fighting a nasty kidney stone the entire cruise, and it really compromised my ability to enjoy food, drink, and a couple of the excursions. This is no reflection on Celestyal at all; on the contrary, the staff were very understanding and supportive of my situation.
We splurged and stayed in one of the two Grand Suites. WOW, it was amazing! I realize that is not for everyone, but we don't regret it one bit. The suite area on deck 9 had its own dedicated staff and great service. It helped to have a wonderful space when my kidney stone was being a b*tch. We were pleasantly suprised to learn we had our own private dining area with designated table and wait staff. Very nice! We also had #1 for getting off the boat (after the paid excursion folks). Sweet!
One bad thing is we had 2 different plumbing issues in our bathroom. We reported them and they were corrected promptly.
We loved both of the included excursions: Kusadasi and CreteView All undefined undefined Reviews