To say I’m excited about my upcoming Celestyal 7-day, 3–continent cruise on the Celestyal Crystal is a significant understatement. All my life, Egypt has topped my bucket list, but never seemed attainable. The epic moment will come when I finally set foot in Cairo, see the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. This cruise is an opportunity to make my dreams come true. On top of that, I will add Cyprus as another new country to my global count, and return to Israel and Turkey.
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When the opportunity to sign on for this cruise came my way, I jumped at the chance. Like my previous Celestyal cruise, this one will begin and end in Piraeus, the port near Athens, Greece, but this time I’m sailing in early December.
My partner John and I will land in Greece the day before the cruise begins, always a good idea to avoid missing the boat. We plan to make a return tour of the Acropolis and ancient Agora – those grand ruins. If time permits, we’ll shop in the Plaka district, and hopefully avoid getting lost amongst the narrow honeycombed streets. Then, we’ll make our way to Piraeus, and board the Celestyal Crystal.
I don’t know how many passengers will take this cruise, but the Celestyal Crystal holds up to 1200 guests in 408 staterooms. The staff/crew of 406 take care of all customer needs, plus keep the ship running in tip-top shape. Although the Crystal is an older ship, she has all the necessary amenities and venues of newer cruise ships. The ocean liner includes two restaurants, a casual buffet dining area, poolside cafe, three lounges, two bars, casino, swimming pool, sauna, gym, medical center, spa and massage room, hot tub, beauty salon, Internet area, video arcade, conference room, and retail shops. There are 9 passenger decks and 4 elevators, but no water park rides.
Each stateroom or cabin comes with a bed, wardrobe, safe, desk, and a flat-screen TV. Outside cabins and above also have bedside tables, a coffee table, and a chair. Bathrooms offer shampoo and shower gel from dispensers.
Every stateroom features a personal steward and assistant steward who are there to ensure your stateroom is clean, comfortable, and safe, as well as answer any questions that arise. The housekeeping crew cleans guest staterooms twice a day.
Celestyal cruise packages include three meals as well as afternoon tea every day. Even better, they throw in an unlimited drink package and all gratuities. Both of those amenities are huge; they save passengers a lot of out of pocket expenses.
Some highlights of the excursions included on this cruise are:
Cairo, Egypt: the largest city in Africa with the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, the mighty Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx. After a buffet lunch at a 5-star hotel, we’ll head to the National Archaeological Museum to become acquainted with Egypt’s ancient history – spanning an incredible 50 centuries. We’ll see fabulous antiquities, including the collection of King Tutankhamen. After visiting a Papyrus Institute, we’ll browse some souvenir shops before traveling back to the cruise ship.
Rhodes, Greece: Centuries of culture and extraordinary civilizations will be discovered during our bus tour through impressive Lindos. One of the highlights is the Acropolis of Lindos. We will then walk along the cobblestone Knight’s Street in the heart of historic Rhodes. I’ll be looking for the seven lodges of the Order, still bearing their original coats of arms. At the top of Knights Street, we’ll see the Grand Master’s Palace: an imposing Gothic architecture fort.
Kusadasi, Turkey: Built 3,000 years ago, Ephesus shaped the history of Greek, Turkish, and Christian civilizations. Legend claimed its location was chosen by the oracle of Delphi. Ephesus is currently one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. I’ll wander its streets and exceptionally well-preserved ruins, including Houses of the Patricians, the beautiful Temple of Hadrian, and the astonishing Library of Celsus.
Other excursions I plan to make include Masada in Israel. I’ll climb Masada in the cable car to the top to the fortress built by Herod the Great. I’ll see the ancient holy sites and the baths, the big cistern and the water project surrounded by the old Roman walls.
In Cyprus, I’ll visit to the Archaeological park of Curium. Curium was an important ancient city-kingdom founded by the Greeks in the 14th Century B.C. Visit the Greco Roman Theatre and the House of Efstolios.
Here is a brief look at the exciting and impressive itinerary:
Monday – Athens, Tuesday – at sea, Wednesday – Alexandria and Port Said, Egypt, Thursday – Ashdod, Israel, Friday – Limassol, Cyprus, Saturday – Rhodes, Greece, Sunday – Kusadasi, Turkey, Monday – return to Athens.
Celestyal Crystal photo courtesy Celestyal Cruises