We chose this 7 days cruise because of the ports - Cairo, Jerusalem/Bethlehem, Cyprus, Rhodes and Ephesus. We also chose it because of the great value for what we paid as the price included 3 excursions (Cairo, Rhodes and Ephesus), gratuities and drinks (albeit you could also pay for “premium drinks”).
We had read the reviews on the Celestyal Crystal and had “lowered the bar” for our expectations slightly - and we were not disappointed!
We had an early arrival in Alexandria and then travelled as an 18 bus convoy complete with armed military escort on the bus and with the convoy for the 3 hour trip to Cairo and later up to Port Said. Cairo is not an overly impressive city - lots of traffic and chaos. We first stopped at the Egyptian Museum for about an hour with our guide rushing through an explanation of the mummies and artifacts. The guide was difficult to hear on our hearing devices and despite the short visit and difficulty in hearing was still interesting.
Then a stop at a large hotel for a 45 minute buffet lunch and off to the pyramids. There were many hawkers and vendors there and one had to be firm to say NO. We did have a boy of around 18 offer to help take our pictures which lead to taking more pictures which seemed quite innocent enough. Then he encouraged us to get on some camels for a picture and I remembered being told if you get on a camel you would have to pay to get off. Anyways after being asked for something from Canada we gave him 5 Euros - but be on guard!
After this we went to the Sphinx - very interesting and then a papyrus and gift shop before the 3 hour trip to Port Said where our ship was waiting.
LONG day but enjoyable.
We were delayed leaving Port Said and missed our slot into the Suez Canal and ended up getting into Ashdod 3 hours late. Because of this our ship excursion had to be shortened and we didn’t do lunch. We had a trip to Bethlehem but as usual because of long line ups we were unable to visit the grotto where Jesus was born but had a good explanation of the surrounding buildings and area. Then to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and to the wailing wall. Our guide was quite knowledgeable and we felt we learned more than on previous trips there.
Because the 2 previous days were supposed to have been quite long we chose to take the bus into Limassol for EUR 1.50 each. When the bus got to town the driver announced there would be a tour at 2pm for EUR 10. So we walked around town, had something to eat and took the tour which for what we paid to visit some historic castles and digs was fine.
This was our third time to Rhodes - a place we always loved. This time the excursion. Went to Lindos an old castle about 45 minutes from the port. Again a wonderful guide and some time to explore then back to the downtown of Rhodes for a walk about. Great day!
A wonderful 3 hour tour with a fantastic guide and great explanations.
The friendliness of the crew was unbelievable. The cruise director - Danny was absolutely phenomenal- he spoke something like 5 languages, was always full of energy and up and also participated in some of the shows!
The food was good - maybe not quite as good as on other ships or not the variety but still quite palatable. The waiters worked very hard to serve and please and we’re awesome. Buffet is also served for lunch and dinner and the variety is a bit lacking.
Yes this is a 40 year old ship and yes there are a few things that might not be quite as good a standard as bigger ships but lower your standards a little bit and go with an open mind. The mix of passengers is mostly European (Danny’s announcements were first in English and then Bulgarian! followed by Spanish, German). The value for what you pay far outweighs anything where the standards might be a bit lower and we can only HIGHLY recommend the Celestyal Crystal!
The cabin is slightly smaller and the twin beds do not go together to make a single bed but how much time does one spend in a cabin and a week of a twin bed is not unbearable.