AS WE CHECKED into our cruise dockside, dropped off our luggage and boarded the Celestyal Crystal, the ship that was to be our home for the next 5 days, I was entering a new world. As a first time cruiser, there was a lot to take on as we found out way to our comfortable cabin.
If I’m honest a cruise has never appealed to me, but that is perhaps why the schedule of the four day ‘Idyllic Aegean’ cruise was so appealing. Celestyal Cruises promise to give its guests an ‘authentic taste of Greece’ and this trip certainly delivered that. While I have visited Greece before, it was my travel companion’s first time to the area. After our five-day cruise, they too disembarked feeling that this was a great introduction to the country and a ‘taster’ of all it has to offer.
The Celestyal Crystal was taking us from Athens to some of the most beautiful islands of Greece, with a quick jaunt to Turkey to visit Cesme. For a first time visitor to Greece or a traveller short on time and wanting to experience as much as possible during their holiday, each of the cruises have been expertly put together for variety of locations, sights and scenes and give passengers a chance to experience the Greek food, drink, history, culture and entertainment. After leaving Athens and having a spot of lunch on board we arrived in the beautiful island of Syros. Walking around the cobbled streets and dropping into churches our first island, the noise of Athens soon seemed like a distant memory.
For breakfast the following morning there are two options on board from breakfast, both offering a buffet of a wide selection of fresh fruits, cereals and pastries. On the second day of our cruise we arrived in Cesme, Turkey for a more relaxed day as we visited the very stylish Sole Mare Beach Club before lunch and then a spot of shopping in Alacati.
Kos was our island for Day 3, which saw us visit the ‘Old Town’ of the island and learn more about Hippocrates’ birthplace and see the location where he taught his students 2,500 years before. On our last day on board we firstly visited the island of Ios to wander around the iconic white building and windmills before departing to visit our last island, Santorini.
One of the highlights of the trip was visiting ‘Selene’ Restaurant. The restaurant promotes the use of local produce to create delicious Greek dishes and sitting in the Santorini sun overlooking the vineyards of the island it is easy to see why ‘Selene’ is regularly named as one of the world’s best. A visit to the restaurant is a perfect way to end the cruise and the Greek adventure.
The Ship - Celestyal Crystal
With a capacity of 1200 passengers and 480 cabins the ship features two restaurants, two bars, a café, lounges, a duty-free shop, a casino, a beauty salon and a spa. On each cruise there is one staff member (all of whom were very friendly) for every two passengers. Our schedule of activities for the week was jam-packed with shore excursions, which meant that we spent very little time on the ship but the cozy Celestyal Crystal was extremely welcoming to her passengers and provided all we needed as it took us onto our next destination.
Further enhancing the promise to deliver a Greek experience the nightly entertainment has a distinctly Greek feel – with one night we attended a ‘Greek Wedding’. Admirably Celestyal Cruises partnered with Lyceum Club of Greek Women to showcase the cultural heritage of the country through dance and music, as part of the cruise company’s ongoing ‘Corporate Social Responsility’ initiative.
The entertaining show was both informative and enjoyable and by the end of the show it had everyone in the audience up and dancing. It was lovely to speak to some of the cast afterwards and see that they genuinely loved performing to the international audiences and to provide an insight into their traditions and culture.
As I disembarked back in Athens feeling I had experienced the best Greece had to offer, and still couldn’t quite believe we had only been at sea for a few days. My only regret was that there wasn’t the chance to spend longer in each destination - but you can’t have everything.
Well Done Celestyal, after a week of island hopping you have converted me to cruising!
|TLTB says... 2016 looks to be an exciting year for Celestyal Cruises. Celestyal Crystal is scheduled for 117 cruises, Celestyal Olympia will set sail for 134 cruises and Celestyal Nefeli for 28 cruises during 2016. For more information about the cruises visit www.celestyalcruises.com|
|How to get there: The Luxury Travel Bible travelled to Greece on Aegean. Flights from London to Athens depart three times a day. www.aegeanairlines.com|
| Before you depart: The Luxury Travel Bible stayed at the Grand Resort Lagonissi, a luxury beach-front resort located on the stunning Athens Riviera. The hotel is a perfect option for those departing on cruises, as it is located just a 30 minute drive from the port of Lavrion.|
|Luxury Links: www.discovergreece.com |
Sarah Bryans 17/12/15