Our adventure began on a very hot summer day of July this year, in the – as per usual – busy port of Piraeus near Athens. That is when, after a couple of needed checks (buggage drop off, Covid rapid test and the check-in) we arrived on board the Greek line of Celestyal Cruises for the one-week sailing through the Greek islands of the Aegean Sea.
The ship. Celestyal Crystal (capacity 1,200 passengers), sailed that same evening from the port, exactly at 20:00 pm with the magical Greek sunset being our companion. During those hours before and after, the restaurants were open for the passengers to enjoy a good meal, a coffee at the Helios Bar (the pool’s bar) accompanied by live music of latin and greek tunes. One will easily discover that the staff on board are fluent in many languages (English, Greek, Russian, Italian, Spanish, etc) and thus there is no problem with communicating and receiving the assistance you need.
The first port we docked at was that of Patmos. Patmos is a small island and there’s not much one can do other than visit the Monastery of St. John and see the Cave of the Revelation a bit further down the mountainous area. Like many of the islands in the Aegean, Patmos has this unique white and blue beauty with the cobbled streets through the towns and the beautiful beaches, which one could visit easily as there was plenty of time until the departure.
The same day, we enjoyed a rather delicious dinner in the Amaltheia a la carte restaurant (mainly because it was my birthday and we decided it was worth the luxury). But back to the importance of the meals… Portion wise and taste wise, both a la carte restaurants, Amaltheia and Olympus, on the Celestyal Crystal ship are excellent. They both serve three different dishes (starters, main course and dessert) although you can always skip one or two, should you wish.
Having enjoyed the dinner of our cruise in the restaurant mentioned above, we decided to head for a cocktail in the Muses Lounge where a show was also going to take place. The Lounge was spacious and comfortable with sofas and chairs for all and an interior balcony for those who wish to have a different view to the stage from above. During the one week cruise across the Aegean Islands, the showcases take place every night (twice) and the themes are various. In a few simple words, there is a Latin Show, a Cirque Show, a Cabaret themed show, a Greek themed show, a Journey through Countries via Music show, a Mythology themed show and even an Abba themed show!!! You definitely do not get bored of watching and listening to the dancers and singers putting on an amazing show featuring acrobats from the team.
Our next stop, Rodos, offered beautiful tours through the town of Lindos and its Acropolis as well as through the medieval castle cobbled streets in the main city of Rodos. All excursions on land take up to four or five hours but leave plenty of free time at the end for one to do as they please!! In addition, one can find plenty of extra excursions on board and book something more to their liking. The groups are divided according to language and bus number and the details of each are given to the passengers from the night before. Everything from tickets to daily on board programs are left in the cabins during dinner times.
As the week progressed, I couldn’t help but think what excellent value for money Celestyal is, especially for families or groups of friends. With most drinks included, and even those not included in still decent prices, along with the entertainment on board (singing, dancing, greek dance lessons and more) and at least two excursions paid, one barely needs to put their hands too deep in their pockets!!
Our cabins, exterior with a window view, were spacious enough for two people and everything was kept spotlessly clean through the entire day! The layout of this passenger ship is slightly quirky with one swimming pool located on Deck 9 between the two buffet restaurants and the Helios Bar and surrounded by tables for dining or coffee drinking. Sunbathers, however, had to climb one extra staircase to Deck 10 and sit outside the Horizon Bar-Club which was open all day and for dancing between 23:00 – 02:00 a.m. However, there are are many lounges within one can explore and sit for a cocktail or a soft drink during the day and the night and the Thalassa Bar on Deck 5 at the back of the ship for magical views. In some, there is always some live music (classical, latin, green, etc).
The rest of the stops included Santorini (with boats to pick up the tourists from the ship and take them to the port for the day), Lavrion and Mykonos in the same day (the ship is docked in the party island until 02:00 a.m), Milos and Crete before the return to the port of Piraeus.
You can find more information and destinations with Celestyal Cruises here: https://celestyal.com/