Cruising the Greek Islands
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course dinners with double-starters and delicious deserts, all-inclusive
drinks, fabulously friendly staff and tomorrow morning we sail into Santorini! Idyllic
Aegean indeed as I’m on a 7-day cruise around the Greek islands with Celestyal
Cruises on their yacht-like ship Celestyal Crystal.
are up on deck early this Thursday as we slowly sail into Santorini which
curves round a giant lagoon formed from the rim of an ancient sunken volcano
that exploded in about 1628 BC. Thanks to that fateful day the island is
considered by many to be one of, if not the most, spectacular sights in Greece.
In fact mention Santorini to most people and you will find that if they haven’t
already visited, it’s high on their ‘bucket list’. Multi coloured cliffs
soaring out of the sea with tiny whitewashed buildings at the top look
spectacular from our ship.
Cruises is the main home-porting cruise operator in Greece and is becoming more
and more popular with UK travellers. If you’re thinking of visiting a Greek
island then why visit just one when Celestyal can take you to all the famous islands
in complete comfort on an all inclusive basis with shore excursions included at
a really great price!
wife and I chose the 7-night Idyllic Aegean cruise departing and returning to
the Greek port of Piraeus which is about 50 minutes drive from Athens airport
depending on traffic. As you can see from the picture Celestyal Crystal is a
fantastic looking ship and her size is perfect for cruising the islands. As
soon as we arrived at the port our luggage was checked in (soon to be in our
stateroom) and after a welcome drink and formalities done we make our way
onboard. With yacht inspired design, classic teak decks and a very warm welcome
from the staff we immediately felt right at home keen to explore the ship and
looking forward to the weeks itinerary. Unknown to us then but we were soon to
be captivated by the romance of the area visiting enchanting Greek islands
dotted around the Aegean Sea where culture, history, pristine beaches and
fishing villages, seemingly suspended in time, await. There’s no time for long
sea days on this cruise and at 9pm during dinner we set sail for Mykonos;
Milos, Santorini, Heraklion (Crete) and Kusadasi (Turkey) were to follow.
Crystal has comfortable relaxing staterooms and suites; we had an exterior
stateroom on deck 7 with a sea view via a large picture window. The stateroom
had a double bed plus a sitting area with an armchair and sofa. The bathroom
had a shower with toiletries supplied, plenty of wardrobe and drawer space for
8 days, hairdryer, safe and TV. Our stateroom steward kept the room spotlessly clean
and tidy with a twice-daily supply of fresh towels throughout the week. Onboard
we found elegant restaurants, bars and plenty of lovely lounges, there was
never a problem finding somewhere to sit. Ship facilities also included the reception
area, casino, boutique shop, shore excursion desks and a spa and fitness room
as well as a swimming pool with a retractable roof and what seemed like endless
promenade decks with loungers or tables and chairs where you could relax, soak
up the sun or enjoy a drink or two. Talking about drink, the cruise was
all-inclusive and came with a drinks package with unlimited alcoholic and
non-alcoholic drinks including wine. The cruise also included breakfast, lunch,
afternoon tea and dinner, onboard activities, evening entertainment, port and
service charges, staff gratuities and a shore excursion in Santorini, Heraklion
and Kusadasi. A wide choice of other optional excursions was available on board
or could be pre-booked.
meals choices included the Leda or Aura Buffet on deck 9 or the stunning a la
carte Amalthia Restaurant on deck 8. Dinner was served between 6.30pm and 9.30pm
with open sitting and although we chose to dine at the peak time of between 8pm
and 8.30pm the wait time for a table was in the region of just 5 to 10 minutes.
A speciality restaurant, the Fish Tavern, was available for reservations with a
was our first stop that has become one of the most popular of the Aegean
islands and is vying to become the new Ibiza. Tourists from all over the world
are drawn towards its vast stretches of sandy beaches and the upscale bars and
restaurants crowded into the lively port town, also called Mykonos. Celestyal
Crystal docked at the port of Tourlos just 3 km from the town centre and
Celestyal laid on a free shuttle bus. Mykonos town is the archetypal image of
the Cyclades and we enjoyed exploring and seeing the immaculate white washed
streets and houses with their dashes of sky blue doors and domes, windmills and
winding alleys. We enjoyed a lunch in one of the restaurants overlooking the
iconic windmills. Celestyal Crystal stayed overnight in Mykonos so that guests
that wanted to could enjoy the buzzing nightlife.
and it’s Milos. Our ship tendered just off the main town of the island famous
for the statue of Aphrodite now in the Louvre and some great beaches. After our
arrival at 1pm we enjoyed a relaxing stroll around the harbor area and the
boutique shops followed by a late lunch in one of the delightful harbour
restaurants. That evening onboard the show was Cirque Fantastic, a spectacular
acrobatic show production in the Muses lounge.
and we pick up from where I started… Santorini! The included tour took us by
coach from the port area climbing the narrow hairpin bends to the top of the
cliffs. We visited Megalochori an authentic Greek village and then made our way
to Oia on the cliff top at the north end of the island. Oia must be the most
photographed village in Europe with marble-paved alleys, pristine boutique
shops and the famous white washed buildings carved into the rocks. I could see
now why Santorini is so popular, the spectacular panoramic views and dazzling
sunsets are amazing. After our free time in Oia the excursion continued back to
the capital, Fira from where we descended to the port via the cable car. We
stayed in Santorini for 2 days which gave us an opportunity to explore Oia and
Fira again. That evening onboard was the Captain’s cocktail party hosted by
Captain Nikolaous Vasileiou, a very elegant affair. Later that night we sat on
deck cocktails in hand as Celstyal Crystal weighed anchor and slipped off into
the night bound for Heraklion.
an early morning arrival in Crete and the included excursion here is a visit to
the ancient city of Knossos. Known as the Palace of Knossos the huge
archaeological site dates back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization.
The tour stopped at Heraklion on return for free time in the city and from here
we made our way by foot the short distance to the port. With a few blasts of
the ship’s horn we say goodbye to Crete and gaze in awe at another spectacular
sees our last port of call, one of Turkey’s largest and most cosmopolitan
resorts, Kusadasi. It’s a good all round resort offering great beaches a lively
nightlife and some serious shopping! The included tour at Kusadasi was the
famous archaeological site of Ephesus. I’m afraid we passed on this excursion
as the lure of the shops in the beautiful redeveloped harbour area and town
proved far too much for my wife! Too soon we were cruising back to Piraeus but
time now for one more sumptuous dinner in the Amalthia Restaurant.
From the moment we stepped onboard we enjoyed the many comforts of Greek hospitality and were pampered by friendly attentive staff. Our memories of the ship and pre-dinner cocktails with new found friends re-living the days activities, the wonderful islands we visited and the fantastic sunsets will remain with us for a very long time.
Cruises certainly impressed me, with their super itineraries, two lovely ships,
Celestyal Crystal and Celestyal Olympia, it’s a cruise line that’s definitely
going places. I for one can’t wait to cruise with them again!
2020 prices for the
seven-night Idyllic Aegean cruise onboard Celestyal Crystal start from £899 per
person based on two sharing an inside stateroom with all meals and drinks
onboard, three shore excursions, port taxes and gratuities.
Call Celestyal Cruises on
0800 411 8038 or visit www.celestyalcruises.uk
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