Celestyal Olympia cruise: Greek cuisine a cruise delight

One of the things I enjoy most on a cruise is getting to try various foods.  Sometimes the choices are very difficult. But I had no problem deciding what to order aboard the Celestyal Olympia.

I just went with the “Chef’s Specialty” option on each lunch and dinner menu.

I had no idea what some of those specialties were but they were always delicious.

The Galileo Room is a smaller dining spot off the main Aegean Restaurant.

At lunch today, for example, the Chef’s Specialty was Kotopoulo Pastitsato. The description said it was chicken breast simmered with fresh tomato sauce with red wine, scented with thyme, tossed with dark wheat penne pasta and topped with graviera cheese.

It was yummy.

The menu also gave some background on the Greek use of thyme. The herb denoted graceful elegance to the Greeks. “You smell of thyme” was one of the finest compliments an ancient Greek could receive.

The ancient Greeks used thyme in their baths and burned thyme incense in their temples. The name of the herb is derived from the Greek word meaning courage so Byzantine soldiers would bathe in thyme water to give them vigor.

A plate of cheese, fruit and nuts is served before dining orders are placed.

Another lunch menu offered the Chef’s Specialty of grilled piccata of pork tenderloin served with Caesar salad flavored with basil cherry tomatoes and Tripoli potatoes.

Basil, the menu noted, is held in reverence as a plant imbued with divine essence. In some countries, basil belongs to the love goddess as a powerful protector and is sometimes carried in pockets to regain a roving eye.

My goodness, I learn something every day just from reading the menu.

Remember, this was only lunch. Other entrée offerings included vegetable briam, oven baked Greek pasticchio, pan seared Canadian wild salmon and grilled beef strip loin steak with béarnaise sauce.

Greek dishes made with fresh ingredients are served on our cruise.

I could have made a meal of the cheese, fruit and nut plate that is served as soon as we sit down in the Aegean dining room.

Located on Deck 4, the Aegean Restaurant serves breakfast from 6 to 9 a.m., lunch from noon to 2 p.m. and dinner from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on most days. Just off the main dining room, the Galileo Room has a slightly quieter atmosphere and tables for two. Diners can request to be seated there. It is where we ate most of our meals.

The self-serve Leda Buffet on Deck 9 is at the back of the ship and is semi-open. A cooking station in the middle of the restaurant offers items cooked to order such as eggs for breakfast or tacos for lunch.

Watching the ocean roll at my breakfast at the Leda Buffet.

The Leda is usually open 6 to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast, noon to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4 to 5 p.m. for afternoon tea. I had breakfast this morning in the Leda and loved watching the ocean roll as we cruised the Greek coast.

The breakfast buffet includes eggs, meats, cheeses, waffles, bacon, fruit, cereal, pastries and yogurt. The food was good but the main draw for me was the view of the ocean.

Aura Grill on Deck 9 is open only on days when the ship is at sea during lunch hour. A buffet close to the pool, Aura serves burgers, fries and other quick options. Greek cooking demonstrations are offered during the cruise and we are scheduled to have at least one Greek cookout by the pool.

Presentation is lovely and dishes are tasty on the Celestyal Olympia.

Believe me, there is never a shortage of fantastic food on the Celestyal Olympia. As the Greeks say before enjoying a great meal, “Kali orexi!”

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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