This was our experience on Celestyal Cruise Line, ship “Crystal”:
Embarkation was an exercise in chaos, frustration and exhaustion.
Long, long lines, very bureaucratic and much standing around waiting…and waiting…and etc...
Not nearly enough cruise staff to take care of +1000 people
Same for “life preserver safety class”. Standing and waiting, waiting, waiting, etc…
We booked an outside cabin with what we expected to be an “unobstructed view” window. We got a tiny, TINY room (Cabin #5212) with beds pushed up against the window wall and a walkway outside the window where people strolled back and forth, looking into the cabin at will. Beyond the walkway was the ocean, but the only time you could pull the drapes back (unless you were the exhibitionist type) to enjoy it was at midnight. In effect, it was an inside cabin with a higher price.
We spent ~$800 to upgrade to a Jr. Suite. Very nice with an outside deck, but the sting of the original booking situation remains. We feel it is only fair to rate the original booking rather than the upgraded one.
Only exception: Flushing toilet (I won’t go into detail)
Shower would go super hot on you with no warning
Pros – Wonderful, helpful, patient, kind housekeeping staff (Kafik & Yuleidis). Great waiters, hair stylist, entertainers, etc. All service personnel worked very hard, were always helpful, pleasant and polite, and did a great job. We thank them and greatly appreciate them.
1 Con: Last morning before debarkation, needed tipping change for a 50 euro bill, but purser very rigidly refused. This is the desk where you change money so they had to have had bills and coins. Just not willing to share? Very disappointing attitude.
Pros – Fantastic ports…Istanbul was unbelievably gorgeous, Troy was an amazing adventure, Volos was beautiful and other-worldly. Crete, Santorini and Mykonos far exceeded expectations. Itinerary could not have been better. Big, big kudos!!! . Tour guides were all excellent and informative.
1 Con: Crowds, crowds, crowds…not the cruise line’s fault, of course, but still VERY frustrating. The lines were long…more standing around and waiting, waiting, waiting. That’s time away from real sightseeing. Perhaps go earlier in the am? Crete tour took off at ~noon and way too hot and crowded by that time.
Pros: We didn’t attend classes or spend much time on the ship so we can’t rate that area. I had my hair washed and blown dry very well and very inexpensively in the Beauty Salon. We did attend two evening shows and they were both as good as cruise entertainment goes.
“All Inclusive”: This is a definite misnomer. You were constantly asked to pay extra for what should have been part of the price, i.e. an ice cream cone by the pool (really!), a list of exotic drinks which was shoved in your face continually in the bar and food was only available at certain times. If you wanted coffee at, say, 6:30am, before the breakfast buffet opened, you had to pay for room service. That’s absolutely ridiculous when rising early for touring. No sit-down breakfast either…only buffet. The lunch and dinner buffets were slowly set up and quickly closed down. The food dry, uninteresting and unappealing. The dining rooms at night were over-crowded and there was often a wait if you didn’t arrive at opening.
Sad story: We booked the “Special Dining Room” for a “special gourmet dining experience” (4 people). It cost 38 euros for the booking. Then we ordered 2 Surf & Turfs for ~60 euros and 2 Lobster Thermidors for ~the same + 2 bottles of Pouilly Fuisse wine. Surf (lobster) was totally tasteless. I have never had that experience with lobster before…mind blowing. Turf was “beef tournedos” that were ordered med. rare and yet came with not a hint of pink on or in them. They were grey, dry and didn’t even look like meat at all. The potatoes were beautifully sculpted…and tasted like gelatin. On the other hand, the wine was wonderful, which was a blessing considering the foodl!. Our waiter was a very elegant gentleman from Egypt who was way too charming and classy for the food he served.
The regular dining room food was just plain mediocre to bad with uninspired options. The buffet food was often cold and looked like it had been sitting for some time at opening. You had to pay for fresh orange juice (in Greece yet, folks!)
Omelets in the morning were good, but only 2 stations (guys working hard) going for 1000 people created another long line and waiting, waiting, etc…
Only had one lunch…stir fry. Was pretty good, but not hot enough. Again, only 2 stations (again working hard) meant more lines and more waiting and waiting.
The food on this cruise was a HUGE disappointment. We did not expect unmitigated gourmet, but we did expect “tasty” and well prepared with maybe a little gourmet thrown in once in awhile. We simply cannot, in good conscience, recommend a cruise where the food is this bad. That’s about the bottom line for us and coupled with the rest of the frustrations, we would probably not book on Celestyal again.
This is my 4th cruise. My 1st was a 4-day Greek Island cruise on a small Greek cruise ship (1981). Cabin was an insider (we were very young and poor), but larger than the Crystal’s window cabin we originally booked. Food was good and plenty of it. Young, fun crowd and it was a blast. I remember it fondly and wish that line was still running. For a small cruise, it was very well organized and everything moved along well.
My 2nd and 3rd were 14 day’er on a Caribbean cruise (Norwegian) and 7 day’er on a Mexican Riviera cruise. On both cruises, the food was excellent, particularly (of course) Norwegian. There was always food available somewhere and no standing in lines or waiting.
That’s our story and much as we hate to say it, we do not recommend Celestyal cruises based on our current experience.
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