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Exterior photo of Celestyal Discovery (Photo: Celestyal Cruises)
Exterior photo of Celestyal Discovery (Photo: Celestyal Cruises)

Just Back From Celestyal Discovery: A Greek-Infused Cruise around the Aegean

Exterior photo of Celestyal Discovery (Photo: Celestyal Cruises)
Exterior photo of Celestyal Discovery (Photo: Celestyal Cruises)
Contributor
Leon Beckenham

Last updated
Apr 17, 2024

Read time
6 min read

The mood was upbeat in the queue to check in for the maiden voyage of Celestyal's latest ship — Celestyal Discovery. The vessel's resident DJ pumped out tunes while an impromptu dance routine by staff was greeted by whoops from the waiting line; a party of all-girl passengers followed suit. While the line's latest ship hadn't received an official launch party, this felt appropriately celebratory for the reveal of this newly revamped vessel. 

Replacing the now-retired Celestyal Olympia, the 1,266-passenger Celestyal Discovery is the second of Celestyal's two ships to have undergone multi-million-euro makeovers. Key upgrades are refurbished public spaces, new livery and an expansion of their food and drink offerings. 

Fresh off the ship after a three-day Iconic Aegean sailing, here are some high- and low-lights. 

While Far from Radical the Revamp has Given the Ship a Real Polish

Restyled public areas felt freshly finished
Restyled public areas felt freshly finished (Photo: Leon Beckenham)

You might not feel like you're boarding a brand-new ship when you first step onto Celestyal Discovery, but both inside and out the vast majority of the vessel feels smart, polished and freshly rejuvenated. Besides keeping the original artworks and occasional vestige of its previous incarnation (as AIDAaura) in the form of German-forward signage, Discovery felt like its own ship. Plus, there was no last-minute finishing touches taking place that can often take the shine off first impressions. 

Celestyal Discovery exterior new signage
Celestyal Discovery's exterior new signage (Photo: Leon Beckenham)

Adding to the refreshed look and feel, new livery was revealed in the form of an updated Celestyal logo, signature Celestyal stars and a blue wave running along the hull. From the newly replaced carpets throughout to the freshly repainted beach-hut-esque cabin doors, the ship felt more than ready to welcome its first guests. 

Heavy Investment in Public Spaces has Paid Off

Cafe Nation coffee corner on Celestyal Discovery
The new-to-the-line Cafe Nation coffee corner on Celestyal Discovery (Photo: Leon Beckenham)

Evidence of where the money has been spent is mostly on show in the ship's public areas. Largely confined to decks 8 and 9, inside social spaces have been completely overhauled with a fresh, contemporary look and new-to-the-line additions such as Café Nation gourmet coffee shop. Open, airy interiors never felt overly crowded and the interconnected spaces flowed well. 

As it was still officially winter season during our cruise, the Halara Cove pool deck was mostly empty, but the pool was still filled and looked like it would make a great spot to cool off in during warmer months. That said, some guests were still braving the large poolside hot tubs. Top-deck Rays also offers a secluded sun terrace with panoramic sea views.

Jazzed-up Nightlife Areas and a Mix of Latino and Greek Entertainment

The neon tunnel connecting to the AFTer Bar and Lounge
The neon tunnel connecting to the AFTer Bar and Lounge (Photo: Leon Beckenham)

A neon-lit passage that links to the ship's after-hours area – the AFTer Bar & Lounge – certainly injects some theatre into your arrival. The bar is the ship's main nightlife zone, with plenty of low-lit comfy seating, nightly DJ sessions and a bar-side dancefloor. As the name references, the ship's main late-night zone is positioned at the ship's rear and away from cabins.   

A resident troupe from Cuba perform much of the live music and theatrical entertainment, giving evenings a pleasantly tropical Latino vibe. Typical Greek music also features at the Martini Bar stage, often inspiring Greek elements on board to break out into traditional dancing. 

Decent Wellness Space and Upgraded Fitness Facilities

The relaxation room in the Sozo Spa on Celestyal Discovery
The light-filled relaxation room in the Sozo Spa on Celestyal Discovery (Photo: Leon Beckenham)

Celestyal opted to keep the original spa's Arabian Nights styling, complete with a muslin-draped Moorish entrance, Moroccan lanterns and wooden latticework. While the space doesn't feel as freshly revamped as others (because it wasn't) it still works perfectly well as their new Sozo Health Spa. 

Sozo offers all the usual massage treatments, there's a trio of hammam/steam rooms, and a big light-filled relaxation zone overlooking a generously sized outdoor hot tub. Two levels up on deck 11, the ship's fitness room has had a complete overhaul, with shiny new cardio machines and free weights, and it sits right next to the similarly up-styled Sozo Beauty and Wellness Centre. 

Itineraries Pack a Lot In, But That's the Point

View of the Acropolis in Athens from Philoppos Monument
View of the Acropolis in Athens from Philoppos Monument (Photo: Kyle Valenta)

True to the company ethos of immersing their guests deeper into the destination and culture, for our three-night 'Iconic Aegean' cruise, we squeezed in five destinations: Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos and Santorini. This destination-led itinerary was certainly all about getting off the ship with no sea days and a schedule that might feel rushed to those looking for a little more time between ports. For example, for the Kusadasi excursion in Turkey, the one non-Greek stop involved a particularly early (7 a.m.) start. 

From March through to November, Celestyal Discovery will be rotating this three-night itinerary with four-night Iconic Aegean itineraries, featuring an additional day in Rhodes.

Dining Reflects the Line's Greek Heritage

A platter of food on board Celestyal Discovery
An impressive starter trolley in Grill Seekers on Celestyal Discovery (Photo: Leon Beckenham)

Discovery has four dining venues, the main two dining rooms being Thalassa Restaurant and The Taverna which are free of charge. Lunch service is pretty identical between the two, both offering a solid buffet of around a dozen stations most of which varied daily and always included Greek specialities. Thalassa is the more formal and dinner is a la carte with waiter service. Food was good quality though portions were on the small side, but bear in mind you're not restricted to one pick per course.

For-fee Grill Seekers is a fine-dining surf and turf restaurant with personalised service and an excellent menu of steaks and seafood. The Mediterranean antipasto platter, which arrived tableside on a trolley, was particularly impressive but everything was excellent – including the service. A poolside Greek Deli also serves hearty locally inspired food for lunch, while Fig & Honey offers a healthier mix of smoothies and light bites, both for a fee.  

Cabins are Colourful and Comfortable Though Awaiting Refurb

Oceanview cabin on Celestyal Discovery
Cabins have been refreshed rather than revamped (Photo: Leon Beckenham)

The ship has 633 cabins, of which 62 (or almost 10 percent) have balconies. Mine was an XC Exterior stateroom, which had been refreshed but not restyled. It measured around 182 square feet and could sleep up to three. While a little dated, it was colourful and comfortable with all the basics – TV, hairdryer, safe and shower room – plus a good-sized window. There's talk of starting a modernisation roll-out of cabins across the ship at the next dry dock, but until then you should expect a slightly more 'vintage' style of cabin. 

Final Thoughts on Celestyal Discovery

Celestyal Cruises' professed aim for Discovery to be a destination-focused ship certainly felt to have been realised on my three days on board. Excursion opportunities came thick and fast, and would certainly appeal to those looking to pack a lot in. In fact, many of the passengers (who represented a broad mix of nationalities) had tagged this cruise onto a wider European itinerary as a convenient way to cover Greek island highlights. That said, the newly refreshed vessel still offered plenty of traditional cruising fun on board, with a lively programme of music, entertainment and activities to enjoy between all the sightseeing. 

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