Celestyal Cruise’s 7-Day Idyllic Aegean Island cruise departs and returns from Piraeus (near Athens) on Mondays. This week-long itinerary, new in 2018, differs from Celestyal’s 3 and 4-day cruises. The Celestyal Crystal, a medium size cruise liner with a maximum of 1,200 passengers, spends an overnight in both Mykonos and Santorini.
Boarding begins at 2 pm; however, we arrived later, at 4:00 pm. That time slot worked out beautifully. We passed through the pre-boarding rituals in a flash. The process included surrendering our passports to Celestyal security for the duration of the trip. Each passenger gets a multi-purpose ID card. It serves as the room key and on-board, credit card. Reading it every time you get on and off the boat brings up on a computer a photo that lets the security officer know it’s really you.
Most everyone chooses the unlimited drink package, but the servers still swipe your card each time you order a soft drink, alcoholic beverage or bottled water. Premium liquor and certain fancy cocktails have an upcharge.
Our stateroom includes a large window from chair rail height to almost the ceiling. Most rooms do not have a balcony, as the Crystal is an older ship and not in the high-end luxury realm. Two twin beds, pushed together in the middle of the cabin make for the commonly offered European “double bed.” A couch near the window, a mini-refrigerator, TV, an upholstered chair and small coffee table fill most of the remaining space.
We also have a vanity with a mirror and desk space with power outlets. Only two power outlets per room, but unplugging the TV (not a significant loss) produced another socket available for our additional needs. A spacious closet divides into a full-length hanging space, including two terrycloth robes, and shorter compartment with shirt hanging rods. Two big drawers below offer added storage and room for the life jackets. Another closet section contains more drawers and additional hanging space. A full-length mirror hangs near the beds.
Naturally, the bathroom is small but efficient. The shower lies at an angle but offers plenty of room within. A toilet and sink with a small amount of shelf space complete the bath. Upon leaving the room, our on-the-spot room steward replaces any wet towels, offering nightly creative folds in the shape of marine and land animals.
A Muster Drill was held after embarkation, around 6:30 pm before our initial 8:00 pm departure. Everyone donned a life jacket and reported to their muster station where they remained until the all-clear was given.
The ship features four dining areas. The Amalthia, on the 8th deck, and Olympus, on the 5th deck, offer formal dining rooms featuring linen-covered tables. The Olympus is only open for dinner. Breakfast comes buffet style in the Amalthia and at the casual Leda and Aura restaurants on the 9th deck. The area near the outdoor Helios Bar and swimming pool sets up an omelet and pancake/waffle station. Some guests eat their breakfast outdoors or take their individually prepared items into the Leda or Aura restaurants.
Diners may choose a more casual lunch or dinner from the buffet offerings in the Leda and Aura restaurants. The Leda includes Asian fare at each meal.
Drink waiters roam the restaurants and bar/lounge areas, taking and delivering bar orders. In the Almathia and Olympus, they pour the red, white or rose dinner wines at the table. A wine menu offers premium selections.
Guests chose their restaurants and meal times, within reasonably generous operating times. No need to worry about early or late seating times or assigned tables. Guests may request to sit at a table for two or join a larger table according to their spoken language. The flexibility is ideal and gives the opportunity to meet other passengers when inclined.
Guests are reminded that tank tops, short trousers, flip-flops, and swimwear are not permitted in the restaurants. Most folks dress a little nicer when eating in the formal dining restaurants. The Captain’s Cocktail Party calls for elegant attire.
The Muses Lounge hosts evening entertainment, some nights a performance is offered twice with early and late shows, and other nights just once. Additional live or DJ music is another option in the smaller salons. Our first night’s entertainment exceeded expectations, with some outstanding singers and dancers. Costuming and lighting add pizzazz and a professional quality to the performances.
The swimming pool on the top level (with a glass roof covering) is small, with a 10-person maximum. That appears ample as my observations show very few jump in! A Jacuzzi tub, located by the outdoor Terrasse Bar on level 5, seems popular.
John and I plan to take the daily cultural excursions offered for additional fees. Many on-board daytime offerings include arts and crafts, dancing and cooking lessons, bingo, basic Greek language lessons, Wii games and Zumba classes. A small Casino with digital machines only opens when the law permits.
Wi-Fi is not included; instead, it’s sold by the hour or in packages. If you need a lot of Wi-Fi time, you might choose to get a sim card to save money.
We felt very comfortable aboard. The staff is warm and welcoming, always greeting guests with a smile and ready to help with any needs.