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Incredible Aegean Cruise in the Greek Islands (Plus Honest Celestyal Cruises Review)

Posted on Published: June 7, 2023  - Last updated: September 19, 2023

It’s a bucket-list worthy adventure, cruising the Greek islands and the Aegean Sea! The vivid blue waters are met with unique flair that each destination has to offer. Whether you’re dreaming of visiting the blue domes in Santorini, amazing beaches in Milos or food scene in Crete, this Celestyal Cruises review of the Idyllic Aegean will help guide your next vacation!

Celestyal Cruises Reviews Santorni Greece pink flowers with white and colorful buildings in distance

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Going on an Aegean cruise is a magical experience. Sounds cheesy, I know. But just think about those sparkling blue waters of the Aegean Sea, mixed with picturesque villages on the islands of Greece, plus adventures at every port.

If you’re considering an Aegean Sea cruise, or are wondering about Celestyal Cruises reviews, this is the guide for you!

Aegean Sea cruises can vary greatly. The size of the ships, which islands you visit and even which countries you’ll visit as part of your cruise. So many things to consider!

Aegean Cruise with Celestyal Cruises

Celestyal Cruises Review view of ship at port with flowers in foreground

First, let’s go over reasons you’d go on an Aegean cruise, then review what you can expect with Celestyal Cruises Greece.

In this guide you can expect:

🛳️Why and when to cruise the Aegean Sea 💲Pricing and how to make it budget-friendly 🏝️Aegean cruise itinerary 🇬🇷Celestyal Cruises review – ship experience ⚓️Greek island cruise (summary of each destination) ‼️Tips for first time cruisers 🧳What to pack for cruising Greek islands

This fabulous vacation is an amazing way to explore Greece and potentially the surrounding area. Let’s  get to some of the most commonly asked questions that will help you decide!

Why cruise the Aegean Sea?

flowers with white church blue dome Santorini greece

Two words: it’s fabulous! 

In all honesty, taking an Aegean Sea cruise is the perfect way to get into cruising if you’ve never been. It’s also one of the best ways to explore the Greek islands!

You’ll get a taste of many destinations in Greece. If you’ve never been to Greece, this is one of the best ways to experience the islands. Check them each out for a day and see which is your favorite!

Santorini or Mykonos , Rhodes and Crete, Milos or Patmos – the list goes on! 

An Aegean Sea cruise will sometimes drop down south further into the Mediterranean Sea as well, making stops in Egypt, Cyprus and Israel. There’s truly so many options!

And as a bonus – every destination in the Aegean Sea is totally unique! It’s not like taking a Caribbean Cruise where so many islands look the same. Instead, you’ll get tons of personality with each destination you visit.

Aegean Sea map (Celestyal Cruises review itinerary)

If you’re still wondering where the Aegean Sea is exactly, here’s a map for a visual. It’s basically the northern part of the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Türkiye (Turkey). Here were the stops on my cruise – more about the itinerary in a bit!

Use this Aegean Sea map to reference the destination details below.

When do cruises go to the Aegean Sea?

Milos Greece view of beach teal water and hill coast

You can take an Aegean Sea cruise year-round. However, not all the destinations will be fully open and operational. The Greek islands are very seasonal, so even if the cruise company makes a stop, you may not be able to dine or shop at very many places.

The best time to do an Aegean Sea cruise is in the summertime. June through September offer the best months for weather. Plus you’ll see each destination completely open to tourism where the attractions, restaurants and activities are available to enjoy.

If you’re looking to avoid crowds during your Aegean cruise, I’d recommend cruising in May or September during the shoulder season. As a bonus – prices are typically better during these months, too.

Some companies do not operate during the winter. Celestyal Cruises offers slightly different stops in the wintertime. A popular option is the 3-continent cruise: Europe, Asia and Africa.

When to book an Aegean cruise with Celestyal Cruises Greece

greek island cruise view of Crete greece with wildflowers and mountains in distance

Consider the time of year when you want to cruise. But basically you’ll want to book as far in advance as possible for the best pricing and room options. 

If you’re particular about which Greek islands to see or the room type you want during your Aegean Sea cruise, you’ll want to book the season before. If you’re less particular about the room type because you’re all about seeing sunshine in the summer, you could probably book in the springtime and be ok!

What does an Aegean Sea cruise cost?

best cruise greek islands celestyal cruises view of ship deck with hot tub and Athens port in distance

This question is tricky to answer! There’s so many options from 4 days to 14 days – or longer! The room type and overall package options play a role, too.

I’ve seen some 4-night cruises for less than $500, which just seems like a spectacular deal based on the places you’ll go for that much. Celestyal Cruises offers great value for the money, considering you’re seeing the Greek islands, dining on board and have built-in accommodations.

Cruising Greek islands: standard pricing should include:

  • Port charges
  • Basic dining package
  • On-board entertainment and activities

Sailing Aegean Sea: add-on pricing:

  • Premium drinks package
  • Wifi options
  • Specialty dining options

Also check into the price of excursions and if gratuities are included, as these things can really add up! Later in the Celestyal Cruises review you’ll see their cruises all include gratuities , which is so nice!

If you’re cruising on a budget, consider reducing the number of nights, keeping excursions to a minimum or avoiding the premium food and drink options to keep pricing low.

What kind of excursions are on an Aegean sea cruise?

aerial view of beach with blue and teal water with hilly coastline cruising Aegean Sea

The possibilities truly seem endless! When sailing the Aegean Sea, it really depends where you go, which will determine which activities are available via excursion.

You’ll find food tours, archeological sites and other historical landmarks, religious sites and so much more to see during excursions! The Greek islands and nearby regions are pretty phenomenal to visit!

I’ll review the excursions I took with Celestyal Cruises in a bit. 🙂

Celestyal Cruises Review

cruising Aegean Sea view of sunset above island with ship deck table and chairs

First thing’s first, Celestyal Cruises is the only Greek cruise company. Other companies may come to Greece but it’s not the same authenticity. So in other words, if you’re considering the best cruise Greek islands, it’s a smart choice.

Cruise Greek islands highlights

There are too many individual moments to list in this guide. However, here were some of the best and unexpected highlights….

😳Stunning views from the balcony 🇬🇷Bucket-list destinations 😋Award-winning dining options 🌍Destinations I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen independently

And these are the details for the route I chose:

Idyllic Aegean, Celestyal Cruises

railing and ocean with land in distance

  • Departure Port: Athens (Piraeus)

Celestyal Cruises is considered a medium sized cruise company. This means they carry around 1000 people, and are nimble enough to squeeze into smaller ports (like Milos). The Idyllic Aegean cruise was the perfect mix of culture, popular spots and lesser-known gems.

The cruise company felt really authentic and the staff and service was outstanding! More on that in a bit. 🙂 

Aegean Cruise itinerary

sailing Aegean Sea view of Turkey hillside with farmland and city in mountains

To say cruising the Greek islands with Celestyal Cruises was amazing is an extreme understatement!

Here’s the route and itinerary of the Celestyal Cruise Idyllic Aegean Sea:

  • Athens (departure city)
  • Thessaloniki
  • Kusadasi (Türkiye/Turkey)

Each day is a new port and a new adventure! On this Celestyal Cruises review, it’s important to emphasize that one of the best things about choosing this company is the emphasis on the destination. 

Of course there’s plenty of on-board entertainment and amenities. But they really focus on the ports! With 10-12 hours or more at most destinations, you can really see a lot in that amount of time.

Celestyal Cruises reviews: ship experience

Not having ever been on a cruise before, I really didn’t know what to expect. But honestly, it was everything it needed to be and a really great time on board the ship!

Keeping in mind that Celestyal Cruises is a medium cruise company and their emphasis is on the itinerary and destinations, there are some things that really mattered. After all, you’re spending every night on the ship!

Celestyal Cruises staterooms (important while cruise Aegean Sea)

celestyal cruises stateroom with bed couch and door to deck

The cabins on board are comfortable and adequate. There’s obviously several stateroom options for your budget, too. I cruised in a junior suite, which included a balcony. And if you can swing it, I’d highly recommend!

Having a room with a balcony allows you to wake up and see the open ocean or port you’ve arrived in or check the weather outside without having to fully leave your room. You can also see sunrises or sunsets from the comfort of your room, or your robe on your balcony!

The junior balcony suites are a bit larger offering more room to spread out as well. 

There’s staterooms with windows and interior staterooms without windows as well. It all depends on your preference and budget which is the right room type for you.

Staterooms on the ship come with turndown service, offering a late night snack and the next day’s activities and itinerary, which is super helpful.

Since this is an honest Celestyal Cruises review, I’ll say the only thing that was lacking in the room was the size of the shower. It was really tight but manageable.

Restaurants on the ship

plate full of fruit veggies and black eyed peas

On a ship this size, you don’t actually need a ton of restaurant options, especially if you consider that you’ll be at port for most days. However, when you do eat on the ship just know there’s enough variety in meal choices.

The buffet is an easy choice for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can find snacking menus throughout the ship, offering just a handful of items like burgers, pizzas or sandwiches.

Fun fact: there can be as many as 140 nationalities on board a Celestyal Cruises ship at any given time, so they really do a great job of catering to a lot of cuisines, with Greek being in the forefront, of course!

Pro tip: if you want the classic restaurant experience, go early when they open (closer to 6:00pm or 6:30pm) or late after the dinner crowd (8:30pm or 9:00pm) to avoid the dinner rush. 

Of course you could always grab a cocktail at the bar while you wait as well!

The main restaurant and buffet do change their menu daily, which offers variety during the week considering there’s only a few restaurant options. Also consider eating at port the days when the ship leaves late.

My Greek Table – Celestyal Cruise review of the special dinner on board

assorted breads and dips with menus on table

If it’s available during your cruise and not sold out, I’d highly recommend the “My Greek Table” dining experience. With 6 delightful Greek foods plus an intermezzo, you’ll want to come hungry!

Our menu consisted of:

  • Appetizer with 3 homemade dips: Syros maintanosalata, roasted tomato kopanisti and smoked eggplant caviar
  • First course: Cretan Octopus carpaccio
  • Second course: Aegean fisherman’s saffron avgolemono
  • Third course: escallop of Aegean lobster, saffron jeweled pilafi
  • Intermezzo: pappardelle of zucchini, marinated tomatoes and mint
  • Fourth course: Kalogeros Terrine
  • Fifth course: arugula, red onion, baked olives, grilled manure and pastell crumble
  • Sixth course: Greek village cheese platter or floating Greek island in a wine-dark sea dessert

Oh my goodness don’t expect to eat it all. But you’ll really get a great taste of Greece during this authentic and spectacular dining experience!

Celestyal Cruises review: ship amenities and entertainment

dancers on stage onboard entertainment Celestyal Cruises Greece

Maybe by now you’re asking what you’ll do when you’re not at port and not sleeping. Well, there’s a pool and hot tub, which can be used at your leisure . The onboard spa services are a great way to get a little self care in while on the boat as well!

Once you’re on board the ship, sign up for a spa service before it’s booked up. From facials to massages, hot stone treatments to mud wraps, there’s a bit of everything!

Celestyal Cruises does a good job with providing other daily activities , like cooking demonstrations, wine and cheese tastings, ping pong tournament and much more. The ship can be a really peaceful experience to take a break and rest during a long day at port, too. Grab a book and sun on a deck, or people watch from the ship!

Celestyal Cruises Review watching the sunset at dusk from the railing

The nightly entertainment is also a hit when you’ve had dinner but you’re just not ready for sleep yet. There are typically two shows a night, an earlier performance and a later one. But if you want a great seat get there early because the lounge fills up fast since it’s such a popular spot!

You can also spend time in the casino, business center, fitness center or one of the other bars as well.

Service on board (honest Greek island cruise review)

where is the Aegean Sea view of ship on sea in Athens Greece white cruise ship at port

One of the areas Celestyal Cruises excels is in their service. Every single service member and encounter exceeded my expectations. From the tour desk to the restaurant host, bartenders and tour guides, everything was truly fabulous.

It’s amazing how in just a week time the crew learned our names. We even hugged as we left the ship!

The Celestyal Cruises crew were so kind and authentic. Day in and day out, you really can appreciate the hard work they put in to make the experience so memorable!

Best cruise Greek islands: Celestyal Cruises Idyllic Aegean itinerary

Alright let’s get to the itinerary already! There arso many factors to consider when deciding if an Aegean cruise is right for you, and we’ve reviewed a whole lot of them. 

But one of the most fun parts of planning your trip is finding out more about each destination along the way! Let’s dive into what ports are included on the Idyllic Aegean Sea cruise , and what you can expect at each stop.

Greek islands cruise stop in Athens view of Parthenon tall pillars of stone against blue sky

While it is possible to board the ship from other ports, most people embark and disembark in Athens. Being the largest city in Greece, there are multiple cruise ports. The Celestyal Cruises uses the Piraeus port.

Boarding the ship is easy! Once you’re on board, you can enjoy lunch or dinner and check out the amenities of the ship. This is a great chance to unpack your things too – one of the benefits of cruising is not having to move your stuff the whole week!

If you happen to embark at another location, Celestyal Cruises offers several 1/2 day tours within Athens. See the Acropolis and Parthenon , the Acropolis Museum, take a food tour, and so much more!

Athens is a great city and you can truly spend a lot of time there, soaking up the sights. It’s easy to fill 2 days in Athens , or even more. But if you’re cruising, the day at port is just enough time to just get a taste of Athens before boarding the ship again!

Thessaloniki (your first stop on your Celestyal Cruises Greece trip)

cruising the Greek islands view of large stone arch red and white stone

Pronunciation: theh-suh-low-nee-kee

Thessaloniki is the 2nd largest city in Greece. Located in Northern Greece, and being from the US, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in this city. It’s not a region I was familiar with prior to planning this trip to Greece.

Thessaloniki is a fun port city built right on the water. Most everything you’ll want to see in a day is within walking distance of the port. 

Celestyal Cruises offers 1/2 day tours within the region. Learn about the impact Alexander the Great had on the city, visit a Greek winery, go on a food tour or see the city’s highlights.

My husband and I chose to walk the city and experience the local flair on our own. Some 20,000 steps later, I can say we saw a lot of the city!

sailing Aegean Sea view of white tower at Thessaloniki port large stone round tower with trees

Thessaloniki highlights:

  • Climbing White Tower – the city’s iconic landmark near the sea.
  • Museum of Byzantine Culture for incredible history and artifacts.
  • Walking through the Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda, nestled in the heart of town.
  • Seeing the Alexander the Great Statue and learning about his history in Thessaloniki.

One of the most fun things I witnessed in Thessaloniki was the way they built the city around the ancient ruins. You’d be walking down a street between buildings and all of a sudden it opens up to an ancient ruin thousands of years old. Reminds me of a perfect Rome itinerary where you have the right mix of history, food and culture in a city. So cool.

Kusadasi, Türkiye (an Aegean cruise delight)

Celestyal Cruises Review Turkey port of Kusadasi with town sign and buildings with teal sea

Pronunciation: KOOSH-ah-dah-suh

On this Celestyal Cruises review, this was the only spot that my cruise went that was not in Greece. It honestly wasn’t on my travel bucket list , but I’m so glad I experienced it!

Kusadasi is a port city in Türkiye (Turkey), home to amazing culture, food and history. The shining star of the region is Ephesus, part of the Izmir province and just 45 minutes drive from the port. It’s actually the most well-preserved ancient city in the country.

Kusadasi is the shortest stop on the Idyllic Aegean cruise (6 hours), so my husband and I enjoyed a tour through Celestyal Cruises for this port city. Our tour focused on the ancient city of Ephesus . 

We also visited the House of the Virgin Mary, which the Vatican recognizes as a holy place where Mary spent her final years.

Bonus: if you’re taking a cruise with your family, Kusadasi is home to amazing water parks, and you can take an excursion through Celestyal Cruises during the summer months to the water parks.

Visiting Ancient Ephesus (one of the surprise activities while sailing Aegean Sea)

large stone structure with columns and people below in Ephesus Turkey while cruising Aegean Sea

This ancient city is incredible! It’s home to so many structures. Ephesus is not as well kept as Parthenon in Athens, for example, but it’s still a work in progress! When you first walk through there’s quite a bit of columns and piles of ruins. It’s hard to tell what most of it was, except for the signage and tour guide.

As you go in further you can see more structures and detail. The most impressive part of Ephesus is the library . It was the 3rd largest library in the world at the time it was built, with approximately 12,000 books (scrolls).

The city of Ephesus was approximately 240,000 people and an estimated 80% of it is still uncovered. 🤯

It’s truly amazing much of today’s world began in ancient times. The symbol for medicine – carved here. The Goddess Nike herself has a statue here as well.

The theatre is one of the most well preserved landmarks in Ephesus, with reconstruction, of course. It’s actually kept in relatively good shape, and some classic musicians like Elton John and Sting have played concerts there. The theatre holds 24,000 people. They open it up just once a year for concerts to the public.

Buying Turkish rugs

multicolored Turkish rugs on floor for cruise passengers to buy

One of the stops on the tour was to see the culturally significant Turkish rugs. A timeless tradition in Turkey, and one they’re really proud of. 

Our tour learned how they use the cocoon to grab silk and create thread. They get up to 1 mile of silk per cocoon! We saw the process of weaving the rugs using the loom, and stunning creations created in this small Turkish town.

During the tour, they serve you Turkish wine (white and red) and Raki, which is the official drink in Turkey . It tastes like ouzo or black licorice, so wasn’t my personal favorite!😜

By the way, Turkish rugs can be several varieties of fabric including wool, cashmere and silk. Because you’re paying a salary for a weaver (or multiple), they can be quite pricey. Consider adding this to your vacation budget when visiting Kusadasi!

Crete, Greece (one of my favorite stops on an Aegean cruise)

celestyal cruises review of Crete greece black sand teal water and scenic coastline

Fun fact: Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the 5th largest in the Mediterranean Sea. So although this is an Aegean Sea cruise, you’re technically dipping down into the Mediterranean Sea for a day!

With 11 hours at port, you’ll have a lot of time to explore. The Idyllic Aegean cruise arrives at the Heraklion port, in the north-central part of the island. 

Compared to the Cyclades, which are the other island stops on this itinerary, this island has a much different personality. An organized tour through Celestyal Cruises can take you through ancient ruins, a lifestyle experience where you’ll see the countryside and dancing, through a walking food tour and more.

cruising the greek islands enjoying bougatsa in Crete cinnamon pastry with apples on blue plate in Heraklion Crete

My husband and I rented a car and road-tripped through the island. Visiting the most underrated beaches on the southern side of Crete, it’s such a picturesque place!

The island is so large, you’ll see huge mountains which get snow during the winter, and stunning beaches all on the same landscape! The island is home to olive groves and open land where you’ll see far more sheep than people!

Crete, Greece is such an interesting island. You’ll definitely want to explore it while on your cruise!

Santorini (a classic destination on this Celestyal Cruises review guide)

white buildings with blue accents on hilltop in Santorini

It’s the most popular Greek island by far, and on a travel bucket list for so many people! Santorini was the mid-way point on our Aegean Sea cruise, and one island we won’t soon forget!

A few things you should know about visiting Santorini:

  • It’s super busy . Get off the boat early to maximize your time before the crowds really set in. And expect lots of people, especially in the high season (June-August).
  • Santorini is actually on a caldera. The island is on a giant rock, and you’ll need to go up that rock to see anything.
  • Your Aegean cruise will use tender boats to get you from the cruise ship to the island . There’s no actual port, so the ship is just docked at sea and you’re transferred on smaller boats.
  • It’s the 2nd most expensive Greek island. Expect to pay more for food and cocktails when you’re on the island.

Once you’re on the island, the town of Oia (pronounced ee-uh) is the most popular spot. It’s where you’ll find the blue dome churches and excellent sunset views.

Oia is also where the crowds are so thick you can barely walk through the narrow streets. Just prepare yourself!

Celestyal Cruises offers several tour excursions, most of them including Oia. You could also do a wine tour or visit ancient ruins. There’s seriously so much history in Greece it’s incredible!

cursing Aegean Sea view of shop entrance with greek souvenirs

Santorini highlights:

  • Picturesque blue domed churches in Oia.
  • Village of Imerovigli for less crowds and great views.
  • Shopping in Fira, the gateway to and from the island for cruise ships.
  • Sunsets in Imerovigli or Oia. Just be sure to make dinner or cocktail reservations for the best views.

Pro tip: plan to spend the day on the island. Most cruises wrap up early afternoon, and the line to get on the gondola to back to the boat can be hundreds of people deep. Alternatively, you can walk the 600+ steps down to the tender boats from Fira.

Pro tip #2: plan to pay for toilet tissue at public restrooms, or bring your own along with you. Most restaurants are free of course.

The overnight path from Santorini to your next stop is so brief, you can soak in the nightlife in Santorini considering the ship doesn’t leave until after midnight! One of these Santorini beach bars would be perfect for the evening.

Since this is an honest Celestyal Cruises review, I’ll say that Santorini was my least favorite stop. I’m certainly glad I saw this iconic island, but it was far too touristy for me (and I didn’t even go during peak season!) I’m glad I went but likely won’t plan to go back to Santorini.

aegean cruise large white windmills in Mykonos greece

Known as the party island, Mykonos has a personality bigger than life! One of the most picturesque islands due to the white streets, village alleyways and colorful shops, Mykonos is a fun island to visit.

Mykonos is the 2nd most popular island in Greece, and the most expensive island.

Celestyal Cruises Greece offers a few excursion options in Mykonos, the most popular being a 1/2 day trip to Delos , which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Delos is one of the most important archeological sites in Greece, only behind the Parthenon and Mount Olympia.

My husband and I had visited many other archeological sites in Greece, so we opted for the Mykonian countryside tour with Chora and Little Venice with Celestyal Cruises. Off the beaten path, we visited the small town of Ano Mera Village then the popular Windmills of Mykonos as well as some other popular spots.

blue Aegean Sea with white Mykonos town in distance

Mykonos highlights:

  • Walking the pedestrian-only streets in Mykonos Town.
  • Seeing Little Venice and the Windmills of Mykonos.
  • Beach hopping to Kalafati and Paradise Beach.

Fun fact: this review of Celestyal Cruises lists yet another reason why it’s such a great option for cruising the Greek islands. The mid-sized ship is able to dock at the port, instead of utilizing tender boats like many of the mega sized cruise ships. This makes it more convenient to go back and forth from the boat to the town as needed.

You can have another late night in Mykonos if you desire. The trip from Mykonos to Milos isn’t very long, so the boat leaves really late at night and you can visit the bars and restaurants into the night hours.

Milos (a gem while cruising Aegean Sea)

cruising Aegean Sea view of Sarakiniko in Milos Greece white rock landscape with bright blue contrast

One of the most underrated Greek islands is Milos! The island doesn’t have the capacity to disembark the volume of passengers from large cruise ships, so visiting Milos during your Celestyal Cruises Greece truly feels like a secret.

This island has a natural feel, and is way more laid back than the previous 2 days in Mykonos and Santorini. It’s a fresh break if you don’t love crowded places!

On Milos, I highly recommend you either rent a car for the day or take a tour from Celestyal Cruises. The island itself isn’t as walkable as Mykonos and doesn’t have the public transportation structure of Santorini.

Organized tours through Celestyal Cruises include visiting beaches, historical or religious tours. My husband and I rented a car and explored the beaches on the island – and actually ran into a tour bus from the ship!

Having visited beaches all over the world like the best beaches in Thailand , Flamenco Beach in Culebra Puerto Rico , the beaches of Manuel Antonio Costa Rica and so many more, I can honestly say Milos had way better beaches than Santorini or Mykonos, in my opinion.

Aegean Sea cruise view of castle on hilltop with sea view

Milos highlights:

  • Exploring the beaches and tunnels at Sarakiniko.
  • Hiking to the Plaka Castle and seeing the incredible panoramic views.
  • Plathiena Beach, which was a ghost town before the summer crowds set in.
  • Tsigrado & Fyriplaka Beaches on the south side of Milos.

You’ll definitely want to visit Sarakiniko, aka Moon Beach. With over 70 beaches on the island, this is the most popular. The white rock formations from volcanic ash create the most stunning coastline. In contrast to the bright blue waters of Greece, it’s truly stunning!

You’ll want water shoes on this day, as it’s much easier to walk around Sarakiniko with these grippy shoes , and it will protect your feet from rocks and shells on some of the other beaches.

Milos is one of the best stops on your Aegean cruise for beaches, and one of the best Greek islands for couples !

Celestyal Cruises review: back to Athens

Celestyal Cruises Review tour of Athens Greece view of stone stadium with city in distance

That wraps up the 7 nights on the Idyllic Aegan cruise with Celestyal Cruises! There’s truly so much variety during a cruise Greek islands. Each destination was unique, interesting and worthy of a stop!

Whether you’re dreaming of the iconic photos of Santorini, looking for some culture in Kusadasi or beach-hopping in Milos, there’s truly something for everyone!

And the extra bonus is that by selecting excursions through Celestyal Cruises that pique your interest, each cruise will have a customized experience to your personal preferences.

With such major airport in Athens, cruising with Celestyal Cruises is really accessible, too. If you’re coming in and departing from Athens, be sure to spend at least 2 days in Athens exploring all the most popular sights!

Let’s cover a few more tips before wrapping up this guide.

Tips for first time cruisers

pink flowers with white and colorful buildings in distance

If this is your first cruise – congratulations for taking the leap! There’s no right or wrong way to travel – and cruising is a fun option to see new destinations.

You’ll wake up each morning in (or on the way to a new place), and only have to pack up once. So convenient! Here are a few tips to make the most of your experience.

  • Book your excursion early. After you get settled on the boat, go to the tour desk and sign up for your excursion, if you don’t do it prior to boarding. Depending on season and popularity, you may have to choose your #2 choice as well.
  • If you’ve ever had motion sickness, prepare yourself adequately. Over the counter medicines can be helpful. I absolutely loved my motion sickness bracelet . I get really bad motion sickness and this helped most of the trip. Just two nights I had to layer Dramamine on top because the sea was especially rocky.
  • Be sure to plan your day to be back at the port early. Celestyal Cruises allows passengers to board up to 30 minutes before they depart. You certainly don’t want to push your luck there!
  • Take advantage of laundry service on the boat. Don’t worry about packing 7 full outfits if you don’t want to. Laundry service is quick and relatively inexpensive.
  • Carry cash with you. Although most places take credit cards, there were some restaurants and shops that only accepted euro.

Things to pack for a Greek island cruise

woman wearing black dress and jean jacket with white shoes and white buildings in background

Depending on the time of year you take your cruise, your packing list will vary. But these essentials should come with you on your cruise!

  • Sun hat. Protect yourself from the sun whether you’re walking the streets of Mykonos or lounging on a beach in Crete.
  • Sunscreen. You’re going to need it in Greece! Anytime you’re in or near the ocean, be sure to use mineral sunscreen to protect marine life. Chemicals in traditional sunblocks kill the reefs and the marine life that relies on it.
  • Water shoes. Not all Greek beaches are created equal and most of them are rocky, not soft sand. This is my favorite pair of water shoes that literally travels the world with me and they’re great for light hikes, too!
  • Comfortable walking shoes. Cobblestone streets and thin sandals are not a good combination. I loved these simple white shoes – and bonus, they washed up easily after walking through rain puddles in Milos.
  • Umbrella. Carry a mini one with you if the weather calls for rain.
  • Power bank and cord . One of the great things about long days at port is that you’ll get to see a lot! But plan for your phone battery to need a recharge.
  • GoPro. Take excellent underwater photos and videos! Plus, it’s great for smooth videos as you’re walking. You can see me carrying my GoPro in the photo in Kusadasi, above.
  • Comfortable shoulder bag. It’s popular in Greece for men and women to carry a shoulder bag for money and other essentials. This is the bag I carried everywhere around Greece!
  • Cash. As previously stated, not every business accepts credit cards. Have cash on hand just in case.
  • US-Europe adapter plug. If you’re from the US, you’ll definitely need this. 🙂

During summer you’ll want a swimming suit and over winter you’ll want extra layers. Check the weather before you go and try not to overpack!

Celestyal Cruises review of the Aegean Cruise – that’s a wrap!

celestyal cruises review view of ship and water on cloudy day

Well, are you so ready to book a tour? After reviewing why Aegean cruises are amazing and details around a Celestyal Cruise, is it clear yet it’s time to book?

There’s so many itinerary options with Celestyal Cruises. Honestly, I was looking at the 4-night cruise, but I’m so glad I went on the 7-night Idyllic Aegean cruise.

I personally think visiting multiple islands in a day isn’t enough – it would leave me begging for more! With a 7 day cruise you really get to see and experience a lot. Go at your own pace and get back to the ship earlier if you please!

Questions about the cruise? Drop them in the comments below!

Related content to read next: Mykonos vs Santorini: Which is the PERFECT Greek Island for You? 29 Best Greek Islands for Couples You’ll Love (Romance, Beaches, Adventure + More) AMAZING 2 Days in Athens Itinerary You’ll Love (+ Map & Tips for First Timers)

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Aegean Sea cruise greek islands with celestyal cruises with three photos of beach cafe and Santorini city

Thank you to Celestyal Cruises for hosting me! As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday 8th of August 2023

Hi Nikki, I'm going on this cruise in few weeks so this is super helpful! I have few questions: 1. For the “My Greek Table” dining experience, can I book this before the cruise or has to be when we're already on the ship? 2. Is the "Water Package" really worth it? Thanks for all this amazing information. I feel so ready now ;-) Best!

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Oh yay! I'm so glad you found this helpful. For the Greek Table experience - I wasn't able to book it in advance (you can check for your dates online) but there was plenty of availability the first day on the ship. I will caveat that with I boarded in Athens, which has the most people transitioning, so if you're boarding between Athens and the night they hold the tasting, it may be more booked up. Just make sure after you find your room to head to the reception to book it! I'm not really sure what you mean by water package? I'm not familiar with the term. Could you expand and I can provide info if I can!

Tuesday 13th of June 2023

I've never thought about doing an Aegean cruise but it actually looks ideal. There is so much to see on the Greek islands and western Türkiye (I agree that Ephesus is incredible!) and a cruise would make that easy.

Thursday 15th of June 2023

Yes yes yes Melanie! It's such a great way to explore the region!

This cruise looks amazing. I like the smaller size of the ship. I would also be interested in cruises that touch down to Egypt and Israel.

Oh you'd love it then, Rhonda! Sounds like an Aegean cruise with Celestyal Cruises might be in your future! 💙

Sunday 11th of June 2023

I have never been on a cruise and would love to experience it at least once. The Aegean cruise sounds like a great idea. Since I would like to explore the Greek islands, it might be a good idea to tick two things simultaneously!

Monday 12th of June 2023

Yesss Mayi! Time to book that trip to check them off.✅ Such an incredible experience.

I have yet to go on my first cruise, somehow I have been a bit prejudiced that you are "stuck" on a ship! Obviously, that is not the case - this looks awesome!

Oh yes Hege! You'd love it. I think it really depends on the cruise too. I definitely didn't feel stuck!! Maybe a Greek island cruise with Celestyal is on your horizon soon 💙

Emma Cruises

Celestyal Cruises Overview & Daily Cruise Photo Diary

If you are considering a cruise with Celestyal Cruises you may be wondering what a typical day onboard is like.

I loved my Celestyal cruise – but it was very different from cruising with an American or British cruise line. 

I took a 4-night “Iconic Aegean” itinerary onboard the Celestyal Olympia from Pireaus in 2019.

Who Are Celestyal Cruises?

Celestyal are a Greek Cruise line, who have three ships, Celestyal Journey, Celestyal Olympia and Celesytal Crystal.

They offer cruises around the Greek Isles, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean.

They have medium-sized cruise ships that have previously sailed with other more mainstream cruise lines. This means they can visit smaller islands and ports than larger ships.

If you want to explore this part of the world, they offer a more authentic Greek experience than the mainstream cruise lines.

Celestyal Cruises routinely visit more than one Island a day, so if your time is short and you want to visit many places, Celestyal could be a cruise line for you to consider!

OUR SIGNATURE AT SEA Our ships are medium sized which means they can visit ports that larger vessels cannot access, allowing us to offer unique smaller and almost undiscovered destinations in our itineraries. Onboard, our guests get to enjoy a more cosy, homely atmosphere and a less crowded affair and therefore the highest standards of customer care, comfort and personalized service Celestyal Cruises

In this post we find out where I travelled – and how I found the whole Celestyal experience!

Day 1 – Athens and Mykonos


Boarding the Celestyal Olympia in Pireaus (the port for Athens) was really easy.

We queued up for about 5 or 10 minutes to drop off our bags and maybe 5 minutes more to actually check-in.

We were on board the ship by 9.30 am – which is incredibly early for a cruise! On most cruises, you’ll find the earliest you can embark is around midday.

To learn more about when you can embark on most cruises check out this post: How Early Can You Board a Cruise Ship?

I was continually impressed with the organization of Celestyal during the cruise!

They managed to organise cruisers who speak multiple languages with ease! A few of the bigger cruise lines could learn a lot from Celestyal!

celestyal cruise pictures

Find out more about my embarkation by watching the video below:

My Ship – Celestyal Olympia

I love exploring a new ship for the first time. The Celestyal Olympia was originally built for Royal Caribbean and sailed as the “Song Of America.”

She was launched way back in 1982 – but you really wouldn’t know that just by being onboard. I’ve been on ships that are from the ’00s that feel much older.

The ship is a little bit higgledy-piggledy – with odd steps around and a bit of an odd layout. That said, the ship had clearly been very well taken care of – nothing was broken or looking worn.

The ship also belonged to Sun Cruises and was Thomson Destiny for Thomson. Thomson Cruises had a rebrand and are now called “ Marella .”

To find out more about Marella Cruises, read this article next:

Like Cruising With American Cruise Lines? You May Enjoy Marella Cruises

Celestyal Olympia is clearly well-loved by the crew onboard and by passengers, both past and present.

celestyal cruise pictures

The Muster Drill

The muster drill took place on the promenade deck and was easy enough. We all had to wear our life jackets and stand in lines as you often did pre-pandemic.

It was again pretty well organized and didn’t take too long. The muster drill was done in a couple of languages with English being one of the main languages spoken.

Many cruise lines have now given up actual Musters – preferring for passengers to watch a safety briefing – either on the cabin TV or on the Cruise line App. You then have to go to your Muster Staton to make sure you could find it in case of emergency.

I was a little bit worried prior to the cruise about taking a cruise with a Greek cruise line – due to the fact I can’t speak any Greek at all.

All staff on board spoke perfect English, and announcements were usually done in English before other languages. Any concerns I had about the language barrier were completely unfounded!

celestyal cruise pictures

Welcome Onboard Talks

Separate “Welcome Onboard” talks were held for guests of different nationalities.

We went to the English one and found it very useful. The cruise director explained what would be happening each day – and how each area of the ship worked.

We visited 7 different ports during our 4-day cruise and as a result – the crew had to be extra organised!

Buffet Lunch

We decided to grab food from the buffet as we were really hungry at this point.

There was a good mix of Greek dishes, and other more standard buffet food – like burgers, salad and bread.

The buffet is open for a few hours around breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is closed completely between meal times.

The main dining room was also open for lunch. It served the same food as the buffet, but the food was served to you.

Another food option was the “Aura Grill” by the pool. This would serve things like Gyros or Omelettes. It was very popular with guests.

It wasn’t open all of the time. Its availability seemed to depend on whether or not we were cruising or docked during lunchtime.

Celestyal Cruises Include All Inclusive Drinks

We had a couple of drinks around the ship, and I actually took some time to sit down and read a book.

Celestyal are ‘All-Inclusive’ – which means that things like gratuities and drinks are included

There was a menu of included drinks and another of “Premium” drinks that you can have at an extra supplement.

There is plenty on the included list – so I didn’t feel the need to pay extra!

If you do like specific drinks or like to have a lot of variety it may be worth ordering drinks from the premium menu.

The drinks prices were pretty reasonable, and similar to that that you’d find in a pub or at a bar on land.

I was very impressed that you could order coffee, hot chocolate, and tea on the all-inclusive drinks menu.

On a lot of other cruise lines, this would cost extra.

celestyal cruise pictures

Tendering to Mykonos

We picked up our Tender tickets for the evening’s stop in Mykonos.

Tender tickets are available on a “first-come-first-served” basis from a lounge onboard the ship.

If you are travelling as part of a group only one member needs to collect the tender ticket. Up to 6 tickets can be collected by one person.

We arrived in Mykonos at 6 pm and left after 11 pm. Excursions have priority disembarkation (as usual) and then the Tenders are filled by Tender ticket number.

I do get seasick but I am usually okay on Tenders. I think it’s the fresh air and the dramatic movements of the boat.

The tender to Mykonos only took about 5-10 minutes – so it wasn’t too much of an issue. That said – I wouldn’t want to be on the tender boat for much longer!

To learn more about what to expect when tendering check out this post:

Cruise Ship Tendering Tips 2019

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An Evening in Mykonos

We arrived in Mykonos a little after 6 pm, just in time for the sunset.

The sunset was gorgeous and we walked around the town. I do wish that we had a little bit more time in daylight to explore – but I suppose that’s the price you pay for visiting seven ports in four days!

We got a little taste of every Island, but I’d love to return to Mykonos one day!

There were SO many cats in Mykonos. My travel insurance says I can’t stroke any stray animals, and I did manage to resist. ..

celestyal cruise pictures

Main Dining Room Dinner

We headed back on board for dinner and went to the main dining room.

The food was really well cooked, there was a lot of variety on the menu and the portions were pretty big. I couldn’t fault anything with it at all.

It was the first proper meal I’d had in a few days so it went down very well!

celestyal cruise pictures

Day 2 – Kusadasi & Patmos

Morning tour of kusadasi.

The morning excursion departed at 7.15 am. I don’t think I’ve ever been up so early on a cruise.

We met in a lounge on board and were given our coaches for the day based on the groups that we were in.

Our group included people from America, Australia, Finland, the Philippines, and more.

We were the only guests from the UK on our particular bus. The majority of other guests seemed to have booked their cruise through a travel group with a representative onboard.

In the morning I was in Asia, in the afternoon I was in Europe! It was amazing!

celestyal cruise pictures

A Tour of Ephesus

Ephesus is an ancient Greek city. The building behind me in the photo above is a library that is 2000 years old!

I don’t know about you, but I find it so tricky to imagine 2000 years ago. Maybe this photo will be in a museum in 2000 years time with the caption ‘English girl visits Turkey, year: 2019’

Ephesus is an ancient Greek city, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. It was built around 100 BC and they started a restoration of the site in the 1970s.

Living on the site were SO many cats. I love cats and trying to resist stroking them was a bit of a struggle!

celestyal cruise pictures

Rug Making Tour

Next, we went to a factory/shop that was making rugs. It was very cool to see how they do the weaving, but I didn’t buy a rug for a few reasons:

  • 1) I could buy a cruise for the price or a decent rug.
  • 2) My cat Hudson would definitely scratch the rug.
  • 3) The big rugs are probably as big as the entire ground floor of my house!

On most cruise line excursions you’ll often end up visiting somewhere similar.

It’s a great way for the cruise line to provide free entertainment, and education to the guests. The factory gets the chance to sell some rugs to the passengers.

One lady in our tour did buy a rug – and I’m sure that more than paid for the free drinks that the factory provided.

I really enjoyed the morning’s tour, and it was great that it was included in the cruise price. It would easily cost £50+ each on one of the bigger cruise lines.

celestyal cruise pictures

Main Dining Room Lunch

We headed to the main dining room for lunch and I had Fish and Chips. Fish and Chips aren’t very Turkish – but I did have some Turkish delight for dessert!

Around the Celestyal Olympia

We were all back on board by 12.30 pm and set sail at 1 pm.

I sat by the pool in the sunshine, had a few drinks, and listened to the live band.

The waiters and waitresses were so attentive, they offered a new drink as soon as I put down the last.

A number of waiters had already remembered what I liked to drink by this point – pretty impressive for day two of the cruise!

Visiting Patmos (or not)

I decided to skip our Patmos stop and stay on board to film a ship tour.

The cruise was so busy, I knew I wouldn’t have another opportunity to film the tour. 

I would say about 98% of the other guests had gone off on Tenders to Patmos. I was one of the few people on board, so it was very easy to film without having to avoid other passengers.

The ship itself is also pretty small so that makes filming far easier too ! Watch my video tour below:

Greek Barbecue on Deck

There was a Greek-Style Barbecue on the top deck for dinner that evening, so we decided to head there.

There were a number of big barbecues all cooking different types of meat. As well as this there were lots of salad options and lots of bread.

The bread onboard is freshly made and you definitely can tell! It’s probably some of the best bread I’ve had on a cruise – and trust me – I’ve tried a lot of cruise ship bread !

The Cost of This Cruise

I was really impressed with the amount included in the price of the cruise.

The four-night cruise cost around £500/$630

The price included unlimited alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, gratuities, and two excursions.

celestyal cruise pictures

Day 3 – Rhodes

We docked for a full day in Rhodes and had an included excursion in the morning.

We were docked with 3 other ships – two were Azamara and one was Silversea

I can’t imagine how busy Rhodes is in peak season, as it was very busy even in late October!

We started our day with breakfast in the main dining room. I am not really a big breakfast fan, especially not before 7 am – So I just had some bread and a muffin.

Visiting Lindos

I’m pretty sure I was becoming an expert when it comes to piles of old Greek rocks! (very impressive and very old rocks it has to be said)

Our tour started at 7.30 am, and we did manage to beat the other tour buses to the Acropolis of Lindos – pictured below.

celestyal cruise pictures

Visiting Rhodes Old Town

After our tour of Lindos, we went to the old town of Rhodes. We wandered through with our tour guide before making our own way back to the ship.

If you are visiting Rhodes make sure you bring comfortable shoes with decent grip. It’s very busy and slippery inside the walls of the old town.

Lunch & Afternoon Onboard Celestyal Olympia

We headed to the buffet for lunch and caught some sun on the top deck.

It was really nice to spend some time on the ship as it didn’t feel like we’d done much of that.

I did decide to buy a cookie from one of the bars onboard. I rarely buy the extras onboard but my bill only came to 5 euros – so clearly I didn’t go too crazy!

The cookie was great and was so worth the €1.75 I paid for it !

celestyal cruise pictures

Dinner Onboard

We had dinner at the buffet. There wasn’t a huge variety of food as the buffet is quite small – but everything that there was tasty and hot.

There are quick self-serve drinks stations in the buffet which make it really easy to get a drink.

I couldn’t believe how healthily everyone was eating on this cruise!

I had a burger while the majority of other people had a big salad with maybe some potatoes or fish. The Mediterranean diet is traditionally a very healthy one!

celestyal cruise pictures

Cocktails Included

During the evening I decided to sample a few of the cocktails.

There were plenty on the “included list” for me to try. I never needed to open the “Premium” drinks menu at all!

That said, I don’t really know much about alcohol and I’m not particularly fussy.

We went from bar to bar listening to live music around the ship.

The party really begins around 10 pm as dinner ends – but by this time I’m usually heading to bed. I’m not used to 6 am starts!

A Bath on a Cruise Ship?!

I had a bath on this cruise ship – which I really enjoyed. I was staying in a suite, I see why people get addicted to “The Suite Life!”

For some reason, our toilet had a toilet roll on either side. I’m not too sure why!

Day 4 – Crete and Santorini

An early start in crete.

We didn’t have an excursion booked for Crete, but still got up reasonably early as we were docked from 7 am to 11.30 am.

We skipped breakfast and headed out to explore.

celestyal cruise pictures

Exploring Crete

I have been to Crete before, as I had a land-based holiday there a few years ago. I had one of the worst colds I’ve ever had in my life that week, so I couldn’t enjoy the holiday as much as I would have liked.

Our resort was in the middle of nowhere and I couldn’t find any medicine. I haven’t travelled without cold and flu tablets since, just in case!

It was nice to have the opportunity to revisit Crete when I was feeling better!

Bridge Tour of Celestyal Olympia

We were invited to tour the ship’s bridge – which was very interesting.

The captain said that he, and all the crew members, were very fond of the ship and cruising in this part of the world.

The sides of the bridge are actually outside – which I’d never seen before. I imagine it would be quite tricky to manoeuvre a ship when standing outside in the wind and rain.

I was assured that a lot of older cruise ships had bridges like this.

celestyal cruise pictures

Celestyal Cruises Have an Amazing Crew

The crew on this ship were some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met on a cruise. Nothing is too much trouble for them.

It always amazes me the number of languages that the crew members speak. I’m pretty sure the Cruise Director was speaking about 8 languages!

On the ship, I heard a lot of French, Spanish, Turkish, Greek, Chinese, Portuguese – and of course English being spoken. There were lots of American, Australian, and British people on board.

We headed to the main dining room for lunch and I had a Vegetable stir fry followed by some fruit.

What a healthy meal, I hope you are impressed! I was trying to detox after all the free drinks the night before…

celestyal cruise pictures

Celestyal Cruises Kept our Passports

On this cruise, Celestyal keeps the passports of the guests for the duration of the cruise. We where given them back on the last day.

We went as soon as the desk opened for collection and had to queue for 10 minutes. I didn’t think was too bad considering that 1500 passengers needed to collect their passports! It was all very organized.

Lots of cruises will keep your passports – the same happened to us in Asia – and it has happened to me on a European river cruise too. 

To learn more about why this happens, check out this post: 

Why Do Cruise Ships Keep Your Passport?

Visiting Santorini

We visited Santorini along with 4 other cruise ships. They were Celebrity Edge, a Holland America ship, one from Silversea, and one from Crystal.

You have to Tender into Santorini, and it can take a little time

We arrived at 4.30 pm and were on the first Tender. It was all very easy.

celestyal cruise pictures

Taking The “Steps to Fira”

We decided to walk up to the top of Fira, which is around 600 steps.

It’s a long way and really quite a tough walk so don’t underestimate it! We managed to make it to the top with a lot of breaks.

Luckily, it was cooler by the time we did the walk, as it was late afternoon. I’m not sure I’d fancy doing it in the middle of the day!

There is also a cable car that goes to the top if you don’t want to walk.

Santorini Donkeys

From the moment that you walk onto the path, you’ll find lots and lots of men trying to sell you a ride to the top on a Donkey.

They were quite pushy – but I’d strongly recommend you don’t take the Donkey option.

The Donkeys make the journey all day long in the boiling heat, they have no water or shade and are all tied together.

It was honestly really upsetting to see, and I spend most of the journey saying “The Poor Donkeys.”

It was fully grown – often quite large – adults riding the Donkeys up the hill in Santorini. I thought this was really cruel.

We made it to the top just in time for the sun to go down.

My legs were literally shaking from the walk. I don’t think I’m particularly unfit – but I still struggled.

The path was covered in Donkey poo and it was quite slippery – so be careful if you do go!

celestyal cruise pictures

Sunset in Santorini 

The sun did set as we reached the top which was wonderful.

Santorini is a very beautiful place, but it does get extremely busy!

celestyal cruise pictures

As soon as we got back on board we headed to dinner.

I suspect that I still smelt of Donkey poo – but I really needed some food at this point!

It was another brilliant meal. I definitely could not fault the food on this cruise.

Celestyal Olympia – Mini Suite Cabin Tour

I stayed in a mini-suite which had a bath, which is quite unusual on a cruise ship.

I would never normally have a mini-suite, but it was wonderful to be able to soak my legs after that walk!

celestyal cruise pictures

Are Celestyal Cruises Good?

I loved my cruise with Celestyal! We covered so much ground and saw so much in four days.

The food on board was great, as were the staff and the ship itself.

I was a little nervous before the cruise about cruising on a ship from 1982 but it clearly has been well looked after and loved.

Celestyal Olympia is in much better shape than a lot of younger ships I’ve cruised on.

Celestyal Cruises offer great value for money when you consider everything that is included in the cruise fare. They include gratuities, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, meals, and a couple of excursions too!

I would definitely recommend a Celestyal cruise to anybody who wants to explore a lot of Greece in a short period of time.

The cruise may not be suitable for those who aren’t good at early mornings, or those who wouldn’t like the limited time in ports.

Having said that, the destinations are well worth waking up early for!

celestyal cruise pictures

Before You Go!

I stayed in another Mini suite on P&O’s Iona recently. It didn’t have a bath, but It was one of the most controversial cabins at sea! Find out where here:

I Booked the Most Controversial Cabin on a Cruise Ship – P&O’s Iona Conservatory Mini Suite

Another controversial cabin I have recently tried was the “Infinite Veranda” onboard Celebrity Edge. Unlike most balcony cabins, it has no private outside space! Find out more here:

I Stayed in an Infinite Veranda Cabin on Celebrity Edge (Full Review, Balcony, Bathroom and More)

If you are watching my videos and you’d like to book anything that you see, my friendly, knowledgeable partner travel agents can help!

If you are not sure what you really want, they can help you find the cruise that will suit you and your family. It never costs more than booking directly with the cruise line, and you get impartial advice, and often a better price or added extras – like onboard credit that you wouldn’t get booking direct.

Click on the link below and fill in the form – we will get back to you!

Book a Cruise

celestyal cruise pictures

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Celestyal Cruises Review: All About the Greek Cruise Line

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We were so grateful to learn how uniquely Greek Celestyal Cruises is when we sailed on the cruise line for the first time. During a wonderful spring vacation, we discovered the delightful way Celestyal Cruises focuses on its port destinations, interacted with the friendly crew, and learned how wifi and the drinks packages work. 

We are sharing everything you need to know about the cruise line with an overview of their itineraries, many of which start and end in Athens. 

Here, you’ll learn more about what it’s like to sail with Celestyal Cruises, including an overview of what we liked, if they have all-inclusive pricing , and information about onboard spaces from souvenir shops to staterooms, dining, programming , and entertainment.

Disclosure: This page has affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you click the link and proceed with a purchase  at no cost to you . We thank Celestyal Cruises for generously hosting us. We truly only recommend cruises, experiences, products, and services we personally use. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Side of Celestyal Cruises ship in dock for a review of the cruise line.

Celestyal Cruises Overview

Celestyal Cruises is a Greek cruise line. They have two cruise ships that sail very interesting itineraries in the Mediterranean, including Greek island-hopping cruises and cruises that sail the Greek islands and onto some neighboring countries.

Celestyal Crystal and Celestyal Olympia are the two ships. Come September 2023, Celestyal Journey will replace Celestyal Crystal. 

We recommend the cruise line for guests who want a medium-sized ship that sails the Greek Islands and a very interesting itinerary that sails to Three Continents . 

Celestyal Cruises Pricing Overview

Celestyal Cruises are incredibly affordable! Pricing differs depending on the itinerary you choose, the cabin category, and the dates you select. But you can expect pricing ranging from just $339 for a 3-night cruise in an Interior Stateroom “IA” category to $2,578 (IA) for a 28-night cruise. 

Things We Liked About Celestyal Cruises

There were a lot of things we loved about the cruise line. For starters, very few cruise lines have a cultural identity, and we immediately got a strong feeling this was a Greek-owned and operated cruise line.

We wouldn’t hesitate to sail on Celestyal Cruises again and look forward to doing so in the future.

Celestyal Cruises is Greek, and It Shows

The cruise line’s origins revealed themselves in several ways, including Greek music in the hallways, a Greek band onboard, a Greek menu item with each meal, feta cheese on nearly all buffets when buffets were available, and Greek wine options (in addition to wines from other countries). Even the house beer, Mythos, which we really enjoy, was Greek. We liked this aspect of the cruise.

The crew is from all over the world, not just Greece, but the Cruise Director is Greek. 

Open Seating

We enjoyed open seating in the dining room and the flexibility of times we could eat within scheduled operating hours. We also loved how friendly the crew in the dining rooms and bars were; several crew members remembered our names, and it was fun to see each other day-to-day and converse about things.

Couple dining at a round table during a Celestyal Cruises Greek table dining experience.

Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director

We were incredibly impressed with our Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director, who both easily spoke more than three languages. 

Though we didn’t interact with them much like we did on Celebrity Cruises, where the Cruise Director engages in many activities with the guests throughout the day, we met Teresa, the Cruise Director, who was friendly and upbeat. 

It’s always nice to have a great welcoming committee in the leaders on the ship since behavior/demeanor is modeled from the top down.

Our cabin was a great size, and we enjoyed the balcony of our junior suite. It was spacious enough for two, and we had plenty of storage for clothes and luggage.

Evening Musical Entertainment in the Lounge

Lastly, there was a phenomenal musical duo on our particular sailing – they were a singer and guitarist from the Philippines. The woman had an incredible voice – we told her she should try out for a television broadcast talent show! She was that good.

Celestyal Cruises Areas for Improvement 

Drinks packages.

Celestyal Cruises has eight drinks packages to choose from. In this regard, we left missed the simplicity of a cruise line like Emerald Cruises, which has one drinks package option, only. 

If you don’t have the premium package, the waiters and waitresses in the restaurants and bars continuously try to upgrade you to the highest package. So much so that we wondered if they make a commission on each drinks package upgrade. 

Beverages and glasses on a table for a Celestyal Cruises review, including drinks packages.

What’s more confusing is that the in-room water, we learned, isn’t even included in the drinks package, even if you have the highest package. However, one complimentary bottle of water is placed in suites and junior suites. If you’re confused, we were a bit confused too. 

Overall, we learned that water in the staterooms is maintained by housekeeping. Luckily, to avoid all that confusion, we filled our reusable water bottles in the dining room as needed.

celestyal cruise pictures

Memo Bottle

We love these because they’re flat, so a Memo Bottle fits in a pocket, on the side of a backpack, in a purse, etc., very easily and comfortably.

celestyal cruise pictures

MiiR Bottle

They’re insulated and keep the liquid at the temperature you added it to the bottle, for HOURS and hours. They rock.

We also love that the wide-mouthed bottles are easy to get ice cubes into. Use code “ SOMETIMESHOME ” for  15% off   your order .

celestyal cruise pictures

Collapsible Water Bottle

This Nomader water bottle saves a lot of space when rolled up and empty. The only reason we don’t carry one is because we’re worried about squishing it when it’s filled with water. But it’s a great option if it fits your needs.

Shore Excursions: Onboard Desk and Organization  

There is room for improvement with Celestyal’s onboard shore excursions team. We overheard several team members unable to answer guests’ questions, and several guests clearly frustrated that they had booked one thing through the website, yet once onboard, the experiences weren’t showing or registered in their reservations. 

We personally experienced confusion with the bookings as well. For example, we were never informed that our Israel excursion to Tel Aviv didn’t have enough people sign up, which left us scrambling to find availability on the very full Jerusalem and Bethlehem excursion when it was nearly too late. This nearly happened with a second excursion we were signed up for during our cruise. 

We realized that we had to be very much on top of what was going on with each port and the excursions we selected one to two days before our arrival at that destination. Also, because the excursions desk isn’t open all the time, if you want to confirm your excursion — and realize during that confirmation that you may need to sign up for a different one (that may be at near capacity) — you usually have to do so before the day before. 

Additionally, the way that Celestyal Cruises divides tour groups and designates buses in the morning is through stickers. There were two occasions when we didn’t receive stickers in our stateroom the evening before. This was a red flag that something was off. 

If you don’t get stickers for your excursion delivered to your stateroom the night before, go to the excursions desk as soon as possible to see what’s amiss.

The point is, our advice is to do the following:

Evening Shows

The entertainment – specifically the evening shows – was fine, but not great. We’re grateful they had a main stage show every evening, but the choreography and production levels we lacking even though it was clear that the dancers, singers, and acrobats were talented. 

The great talent, multiple costume changes through every show, and lighting were just enough to prove they have what it takes to be great shows. They just need the right choreographers and producers to get them there!  

Celestyal Cruises Pricing 

Is celestyal cruises all inclusive.

The cruise line is not all -inclusive though some things are included in the base fare. Their website carefully says the pricing is “inclusive,” not “all-inclusive.” 

Celestyal Cruises emphasizes that their cruises are designed to be about the ports, not their ships. However, guests pay to be onboard, so the cruise fare and what’s included versus what costs extra is something to consider. 

Base cruise fares get you a stateroom and main dining, with house beer and wine for lunch and dinner. It’s unlikely that you won’t add on anything else — whether excursions or a beverage despite if you pay per drink or add a drinks package. 

Below, we list a fare upgrade option that we recommend, then get into details about overall costs. 

Celestyal Cruises “Enhance Fare” 

We recommended booking their Enhance Fare option, which is a package up from their base fare. It includes a lot more for a great price.

This fare includes: 

  • Premium drinks package
  • Complimentary $160 shore excursion discount
  • One hour of Wi-fi access
  • 25% discount on the specialty menu and upgrade options 

While the price may change depending on how many days your cruise is, expect a 7-day cruise to cost an additional $260 per person with the Enhance Fare on top of the cruise base fare. Also, you have to add it per stateroom. So if you are two guests in one room, both guests must add the Enhance Fare, not just one.

If you want to upgrade your drinks package that is included with the Enhance Fare, it’s $17 more per day to go from the Premium drinks package (included) to the Premium Plus drinks package. Remember that you have to add that per guest in the stateroom, not for just one.

If you have children under the age of 18 traveling with you, Premium and Premium Plus drinks packages will automatically be converted to a Non-Alcoholic Premium drinks package on board, meaning no alcoholic beverages will be served. Kids can look forward to plenty of milkshakes, smoothies, and soft drinks!

Two martini cocktails on a table for a Celestyal Cruises review, including drinks packages.

What Does Celestyal Cruises “Inclusive” Pricing Actually Include? 


A buffet venue and a sit-down restaurant are included for lunch and dinner. There are onboard dining experiences that guests can pay to go to as well, like “The Greek Table” experience. 

Upgrade to a Suite for More Dining Options

Suite and junior suite guests (cruise categories S, SG, and SB) have an additional dining option for breakfast and lunch, where they can sit down at a table and either order an item off the menu or go through the suites-dining buffet. Depending on the ship and itinerary, the restaurant is sometimes open for dinner.

The buffet items are similar (if not exactly the same) to what is available in the main buffet area. It’s simply a quieter, less hectic/more peaceful dining venue because there were fewer adults and kids, and the finishes were a bit nicer than the other dining space, like white tablecloths, whereas the other dining venue had bare tables.

Upgrade to Enhance Fare for 25% off Specialty Dining

If you upgrade to the Enhance Fare, you can take advantage of 25% off The Greek Table dining experience. 


Onboard shows are included and do not cost extra. This includes daytime and evening entertainment, including music in the lounge and the main evening show. 

Performers on stage during a Celestyal Cruise for a review of the cruise ship.

Excursion Discount 

All cruise fares enjoy a credit of $80 per guest in their cruise fare to put towards an excursion if pre-booked. If you select to upgrade to the Enhance Fare, this onboard credit doubles to $160 per person if the excursion is pre-booked.

Port Charges and Gratuities 

We love when a cruise line includes port charges and gratuities, as Celestyal Cruises does with every cruise fare.


Four Wi-Fi packages are available onboard: 

  • One hour for €7.00
  • Three hours for €16.00
  • Six hours €25.00
  • Unlimited hours for €100.00

If you plan on being online at all to read emails, browse the web, or engage with social media, our recommendation is to get six hours as a minimum. If you upgrade to the Enhance Fare, one hour of Wifi is included in the package. 

The wifi isn’t strong enough to stream anything, but it was good enough for emails and text messages. We weren’t always able to get a strong connection while we were sailing. For example, photos within text messages didn’t always download.

How it works is you buy a package for x-amount of hours (whatever you choose) and then log in and out so the wifi time doesn’t continue to run if your phone isn’t open, but the device is connected. The system remembers the total time you have used and displays it when you log back in. 

Wi-Fi in Ports 

We always carried our wifi hotspot during this trip, so when we were off the ship exploring ports we could still get online and use the device’s connection to do anything that needed more bandwidth, like social media posts. 

In general, the connection was stronger than the wifi on the ship, but it doesn’t work when you’re at sea because it needs to ping cell towers to get wifi (which is why it works incredibly well on land in 135+ countries). 

  • WiFi on up to 10 devices
  • Lightweight and pocket-sized
  • Works in popular port cities worldwide

Hand holding an orange Solis wifi pocket-sized hotspot.

Select Beverages 

Certain beverages are included with meals in the dining room and buffet. House wines and house beer are included with lunch and dinner, sodas by the glass, select juices by the glass, coffee, hot tea and iced tea, and mineral water.

Suite and junior suite guests have a small complimentary bottle of water in the stateroom that is replenished daily. Suite guests (not junior suites) also have complimentary beer and soda in the room, which is replenished daily.

There are eight drinks packages available to choose from. 

Prices are per person per day, including taxes:  

  • Premium Plus €47.00
  • Premium €30.00
  • Alcohol-free €27.00
  • Kids €16.00
  • Premium Kids €20.00
  • Soft drinks €10.00
  • Premium Water €7.50
  • Coffee €10.00

Premium Plus includes anything from alcoholic beverages up to a certain price, to beer any time, to milkshakes, fresh squeezed orange juice, smoothies, and lattes. The included options decrease as you go down the line for the drinks package options.

If you purchase the Enhance Fare, the Premium drinks package is included. Or you can upgrade it to the Premium Plus package for $17 more per day. You can also upgrade to the Premium Plus drinks package with the base cruise fare if you do not want everything in the Enhance Fare. 

Transfers and Pre-Post Cruise Extensions

Though it’s not included in the cruise fare, Celestyal Cruises has add-on options for a cruise package that takes care of your pre/post cruise hotels and transfers – to and from the airport and to/from hotels to get to/from the ship. 

Book a package that includes pre-cruise accommodations and transfers, or a package with pre and post-cruise offerings. 

Celestyal Cruises Excursions 

A true highlight of a Celestyal Cruises experience is the ports you visit. The cruise line strongly focuses on this aspect of its cruises, which is why the itineraries are so great. 

We joked that every day we were on the Three Continents Cruise, another bucket list travel item was checked off our list, whether see the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, being at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in Israel, or exploring the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey. But it was true! 

All cruise fares include an $80 credit for excursions to encourage you to book them. The Enhance Fare includes double that. 

Regardless, since multiple excursions throughout your cruise per person will cost more than that, factor between $300-500 per person for Celestyal Cruises excursions when you’re budget-planning. Cost per excursion varies depending on the destination and the tour. 

Onboard Spaces 

Both Celestyal Cruises ships have the following onboard spaces and amenities:

Shop with Souvenirs

You can purchase a variety of items at the Celestyal Cruises shop. Whether you want snacks for your room, like chocolates and gummy bears, or a souvenir magnet, or want new sandals and a hat, they have several options. 

Souvenir shop onboard a Celestyal Cruise ship.

Photography Prints Area 

A small area of the ship is dedicated to viewing printed photos from your days on board and in ports. If you decide you want to buy them, they are reasonably priced at $11 or so per print. 

Several photographers are working onboard who take photos of the guests. These images get printed for guests to see, though you have to make a point to go to the photography area to see them. 

The staterooms are lovely, with a color palette that evokes feelings of the Mediterranean and Greek islands. The toilet and showers are in the same room, which leaves more space for the bedroom and living space.

We recommend getting a suite or junior suite with a balcony for maximum enjoyment of the ship while you’re onboard. 

If you are sailing during shoulder season, which is before or after peak season when temperatures are slightly cooler, or you know you’ll be off the ship on excursions every day, we think it’s less important to spring for a suite if you’re on a budget than for something like upgrading your drinks package.

An onboard spa is available for guests to book treatments, including massages, facials, and the like. We enjoyed a couple’s massage on the first day of the cruise that set us up for relaxation the entire trip. 

Entertainment Areas, Lounges, and Bars

There are several areas to relax and enjoy a cocktail around the ship. This includes the main entertainment venue where evening shows are and the lounge areas. You can get beverages, play cards, and games (if you bring them onboard), and listen to musical entertainment at night in the lounge and bar. 

The ship has several bars open at various times throughout the day. So you have options, whether you want to order a drink and be indoors or enjoy the top deck with the most sunshine possible. There is also a small onboard casino that is usually open when the ship is sailing. 

Celestyal Cruises Dining

Dining is often a highlight of any cruise, and Celestyal Cruises didn’t disappoint. We loved that they had featured Greek dishes on every menu as part of the meal offerings, which have regional ingredients from islands Celestyal visits.

Salad in a white bowl with lettuce, tomato, red onion, Kalamata olives and cheese.

There is specialty dining experiences onboard called The Greek Table experience, which we detail below.

Suites Dining

There is a dining venue that is specifically for suites and junior suites guests. The restaurant has white-linen tablecloths, the same crew serving as waiters and hosts every day, a buffet to go through, and a menu to order from for breakfast and lunch.

It was usually open for two meals daily, depending on the port and daily schedule. It is not open for dinner. 

We were in a junior suite and enjoyed this option for breakfast and lunch whenever possible.

Buffet with cheese and meats in a restaurant on Celestyal Cruises.

An Especially Tasty Greek Evening: Celestyal Cruises “The Greek Table Experience”  

Celestyal Cruises has partnered with esteemed chef, Diana Kochilas, to create a special menu for the cruise line. Kochilas is a Greek American who is the host, creator, and co-producer of My Greek Table, a Public Television program that airs in the US and Australia. She is also the author of 18 cookbooks on Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. 

For just under $60 per person, you can enjoy dinner in a private restaurant reserved for the evening’s Greek Table diners, and relish in a six-course tasting menu. With the homemade dips to start, an optional cheese course, and an intermezzo, it’s more like nine courses!  

Trio of homemade Greek dips and pita on Celestyal Cruises.

The Greek Table Courses

We signed up for The Greek Table on our second evening of the cruise, the day at sea. It started with an absolutely phenomenal octopus carpaccio dish and ended with Greek cheeses and a photo-worthy dessert. It was so much food we couldn’t eat it all, but we certainly tried everything.

Though the menu may change should Chef Kochilas and Celestyal Cruises choose to switch it up, here’s what we had:

  • Three homemade dips and pita bread and Simit (which is like a very thin Greek sesame bagel)
  • Cretan octopus carpaccio with fennel and an orange-ouzo vinaigrette 
  • Aegean fisherman’s saffron avgolemono soup
  • Escallop of Aegean lobster, saffron-jeweled pilaf with pistachios, almonds, and peas
  • Pappardelle of zucchini, marinated tomatoes, and mint with toasted pine nuts
  • Kalogeros terrine with sliced beef loin, sheep’s milk cheese, and tomatoes 
  • Arugula, red onion, baked olives, grilled manouri, and pasteli crumble, tossed in Greek virgin olive oil and aged balsamic
  • Dessert: Selection of Greek village cheeses or floating Greek island in a wine-dark sea, with a rose geranium-infused fruit soup and meringues

Bowl of lemon chicken soup at The Greek Table Experience dinner on Celestyal Cruises.

The Greek Table Experience Dinner Review 

The highlights for us were the octopus carpaccio, pappardelle of zucchini (a refreshing vegetable plate that was beautifully crafted), and the vibrant arugula salad with pomegranate seeds and sesame candy, which was the “pasteli” on top. Another highlight was the Escallop of Aegean Lobster; the dish’s textures were quite nice.

The service was very good, and the private dining room that the specialty dinner was in, with no more than four tables, was lovely and intimate. However, we recommend keeping at least one menu nearby, so you know what you’re eating. We were glad we have a menu next to us because the server didn’t explain each dish as he set the plates down. 

Programming Aboard Celestyal Cruises

Daytime entertainment.

As a cruise line focusing on ports, it’s not a cruise line that will wow you with onboard daytime programming. That said, there is plenty to enjoy onboard if you have a day at sea or choose to stay onboard instead of disembarking to explore a port. 

You can enjoy the onboard hot tub or pool, read a book on a lounge chair, enjoy the sports bar and whatever news or sporting event is on television, or look at the daily schedule to see if something like bingo, trivia, Greek language lessons, or a cooking demonstration is scheduled. 

Greek Wine Tasting on Celestyal Cruises Day at Sea

We decided to sign up for the Greek Wine Tasting on our day at sea. It was a fun thing to do for an extra $25 for two people. 

The tasting was well-organized and a  fun activity to look forward to. Though we didn’t expect a wine tasting of the caliber of our Bordeaux River cruise experience in France, we were a little disappointed there wasn’t slightly more depth to it. We were also surprised that the cheese plate with the tasting didn’t include Greek cheese. 

The wine-tasting facilitator was one of the beverage people on the ship who wasn’t a sommelier and, it was evident, not an expert on Greek wines. Though he didn’t educate us on the wine regions in Greece or wine history there, he knew slightly more about Greek wines than we did, so we learned a thing or two. 

We have partaken in countless wine tastings, from Bordeaux and Burgundy to California, so while it wasn’t a standout, at €12.50 per person during the day at sea, it was something different and enjoyable to do. And we accomplished our goal of tasting Greek wines! 

Glasses lines up on a placemat for a Greek wine tasting aboard Celestyal Cruises.

Evening Entertainment

The shows on Celestyal Cruise are okay, but not great. As we mentioned earlier, the talent is there. They just need some production improvement. 

While the shows are not at the level of some mega-ship entertainment, the production level is definitely higher than a river cruise or yacht cruise, for example. Remember, it’s a mid-size ship with affordable pricing, so the entertainment matches the cruising level. 

If you don’t want to watch the show – or only want to watch some of it, then explore other areas of the ship – the lounge is nearby and always had music at night. In fact, the musical duo was so good we made sure to attend every night!

Celestyal Cruises Itineraries 

We’ve shared everything onboard – so you’re probably wondering about the itineraries. 

Celestyal Cruises offers three, four, five, seven, and 14-night itineraries. We went on one of the regularly scheduled sailings, but they also offer special event cruises, like an eight-night New Year cruise.

Celestyal Cruises’ Ports of Embarkation

  • Greece : Piraeus (Athens), Lavrion (Athens), Crete/Heraklion and Thessaloniki
  • Turkey : Kusadasi and Istanbul
  • Cyprus : Limassol  

The main port city people leave from is Athens.

7-Night Itineraries 

  • Idyllic Aegean : Athens | Thessaloniki | Kusadasi | Crete | Santorini | Mykonos | Milos | Athens
  • Eclectic Aegean : Athens | Istanbul | Kavala | Thessaloniki | Volos | Santorini | Athens
  • Three Continents : Athens | Port Said | Ashdod | Limassol | Rhodes | Kusadasi | Athens
  • Steps of Paul : Athens | Thessaloniki | Kavala | Istanbul | Dikili | Kusadasi | Patmos | Athens

We embarked on a 7-night Three Continents Cruise, which was fabulous. 

5-Night Cruises 

  • Legendary Aegean : Athens | Santorini | Rhodes | Samos | Istanbul
  • Legendary Ionian : Athens | Kotor | Corfu | Chania Souda | Athens

3 and 4-Night Cruises

  • Iconic Aegean (3-nights): Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Santorini, Athens
  • Iconic Aegean (4-nights): Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Rhodes, Santorini, Athens
  • Legendary Aegean (4-nights): Istanbul, Chios, Kos, Mykonos, Athens

Celestyal Cruise Guest Demographics: Where Are the Guests From? 

We have been on many cruises, from small to large. And we always meet a few people from other countries here and there, especially from Australia and the United Kingdom. 

An aspect of cruising with Celestyal Cruises that surprised us was that guests were from so many different areas of Europe. This included places like Greece, the Balkans, and South Africa. 

Onboard Smoking

The reality of the increased attendance of Europeans onboard meant many more cigarette smokers were on board. 

You cannot smoke anywhere inside the cruise ship, of course. That’s the same across the board with any cruise line. However, we found that the smokers did not respect the designated smoking areas. The smell would sometimes drift over into our room or to where we were outside. 

If this happens while you’re on the cruise and you find someone smoking in a non-designated area that affects your cruise enjoyment, simply alert the nearest crew member, and they will direct the smoker to a smoking area.

While there isn’t much you can otherwise do about this if you don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke, you’ll be more prepared for what to expect than we were if you know about it ahead of time.

Celestyal Cruises Experience in Review

We really enjoyed our cruise. We look forward to sailing with Celestyal Cruises again because we loved the Greek identity of the cruise line and their truly impressive itineraries and ports. Knowing what you’re paying for and what to expect, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your Celestyal Cruises vacation.

Interested in European cruising? Read this next:

Celestyal cruises three continents cruise with bucket list sightseeing .

  • Marseille Cruise Port Info: Complete Visitors Guide
  • Complete Guide to Closed-Loop Cruises (and Open Jaw Itineraries)

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Celestyal Crystal cabins and suites

Celestyal crystal staterooms review, floor plans, photos.

Celestyal Crystal cabins and suites review at CruiseMapper provides detailed information on cruise accommodations , including floor plans, photos, room types and categories, cabin sizes, furniture details and included by Celestyal Cruises en-suite amenities and services.

The Celestyal Crystal cruise ship cabins page is conveniently interlinked with its deck plans showing deck layouts combined with a legend and review of all onboard venues.

Grand Suite

Celestyal Crystal Grand Suite photo

Balcony Suite

Celestyal Crystal Balcony Suite photo

Window Suite

Celestyal Crystal Window Suite photo

Balcony Junior Suite

Celestyal Crystal Balcony Junior Suite photo

Oceanview Cabins

Celestyal Crystal Oceanview Cabins photo

Inside Cabins

Celestyal Crystal Inside Cabins photo

Celestyal Crystal cabins review

Of all Celestyal Crystal cabins, 59 are Suite-grade accommodations, most of which are with step-out balconies. The ship has a total of 254 oceanview staterooms (including 6 Window Suites) and 163 interior cabins.

Follows the review of Celestyal Crystal staterooms as amenities, furniture, and complimentary services:

  • Both SG-Grand Suites have forward-facing / bow balconies (with whirlpools, 4 sun loungers, table, 4 deckchairs). Each SG-Suite has 1 living room (sofabed, table, chairs, TV), 1 bedroom (ample storage space, writing desk with chair), bathroom (bathtub, deluxe bath products).
  • SB-Balcony Suites have 1 living room (with sink and bar area concealed behind a wardrobe door, sofabed, low table with chairs), triangular-shaped terrace, bedroom (double bed, ample closet space), split bathroom (toilet/sink, and sink/shower).
  • SBJ-Junior Suites sizes vary (260 to 465 ft2 / 24-43 m2). Each one has only one room with a sitting area (sofabed, table, chairs, TV, 2 single beds / convertible to Queen-size double bed).
  • XF-Deluxe Outside / Oceanview cabins have 2 single beds, sitting area (sofabed, table, chair), desk, TV, ample closet space), shower room (sink, curtain).
  • XBO-Superior Outside / Oceanview cabins on deck 6 are with obstructed views (by the lifeboats). Each stateroom has 2 lower single beds plus two upper bunk beds, large picture window, writing desk with chair, TV, small shower room (no mini-bar).
  • XA-XB-Standard Outside / Oceanview cabins have a porthole window, 2 single beds (XA has also 2 upper bunks), desk with chair, shower room.
  • Inside / Interior cabins vary in size, still smaller than the industry’s standard. All have 2 single beds, 2 Pullman beds (upper bunks), small shower room. IF-Deluxe has a suite area, Standard Insides have additionally 2 Pullman beds/bunk beds.

All Celestyal Crystal cabins as complimentary amenities offer private bathrooms (WC-toilet, shower), HDTV, phone, radio/alarm clock, electronic safe box (in the closet), individual air conditioning. All cabin decks are interconnected via 4 lifts (passenger elevators).

Wheelchair accessible cabins (for disabled passengers) are located on Deck 5. They feature wider doors, accessible bathroom (ramp), wooden floors. All Suies are with refrigerators (mini-bars). Suite balconies extend by 5 ft / 1,4 m from the ship’s bulkhead. Veranda lengths vary between 9-19 ft (2,8-5,8 m).

Celestyal Crystal cabin and suite plans are property of Celestyal Cruises . All floor plans are for informational purposes only and CruiseMapper is not responsible for their accuracy.

celestyal cruise pictures

Authentic Experiences With Celestyal

C elestyal Cruises prides itself on its broad range of Authentic Excursions , as well as its simple fare structures, with so much already included in the fare price.

Here is a look at some of the unique adventures you will experience in different ports of call.

Athens Food on Foot is a truly special journey, where we share our love for Greece’s capital city and its cuisine on a tour that brings the senses alive. We start in Classical Athens, the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of democracy. On this panoramic tour, guests experience some of the world’s most magnificent and historic sites, such as The Acropolis and the majestic Parthenon. See the Changing of the Guard outside Parliament, Syntagma Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, National Academy, Academy University, Old Parliament, and the Russian Orthodox Church. 

But there’s also plenty of time to share the evocative tastes and smells of traditional Greek cuisine. Stop by a traditional kafenio for a Greek coffee and some great hospitality. Stroll through the bustling central market and the spice market. Then take in the air on Evripidou Street, with its hard to forget and distinctive scent—a mix of foods and spices wafting out from the open-fronted stores. And visit a traditional sweet shop for a mouthwatering taste of delicious loukoumades, yeast-risen dough puffs, deep fried to golden brown, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. 

Whirling Dervishes & dinner is a mesmerizing, bizarre, and beautiful experience. Whirling Dervishes are an integral part of Turkish culture. Guests visit the Hodjapasha Culture Centre for traditional entertainment with complimentary drinks. Visitors will be dazzled and transfixed by the color and vibrancy of this sacred ritual. Some are even moved to tears by its beauty. 

Mevleviye of the Sufi branch of Islam is known for its famous practice of whirling dances and dervishes, spinning faster and faster. This 800-year-old Sema Ceremony has been preserved on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. With their eyes closed, they cross their arms over their chest and bow when they are finished. The bow signifies their return to subservience. After the show, dinner is served at Hamdi Restaurant with a spectacular view of Bosphorus and Galata. 

The thrill of the Ride Buggy Safari in Kusadasi may not have been on your agenda, but it’s another experiential option that is a little out of the ordinary. Here, guests will experience a thrilling ride over the natural terrain, while absorbing the fascinating and varied landscape. 

Sit behind the wheel, strap in and feel the wind in your hair as you really go off the beaten track. 

Guests ride through forest, marshes, dusty roads, creeks and mud, spotting wildlife on the way and seeing spectacular views of the Aegean. The buggies are comfortable, safe and easy to steer and maneuver. A stop at a local beach for a swim or a bit of relaxation is also on the itinerary.

Ancient Civilizations with an expert archaeologist, in Ephesus, is the very essence of experiential travel and Celestyal is  proud to offer it in the company of an expert archaeologist-guide. Ephesus ranks among the world’s most beautiful classical cities; St. John and the Virgin Mary visited it, and here, St. Paul wrote one of his most celebrated epistles, the Letter to the Ephesians. Beginning at the Magnesium Gate, walk downhill through Ephesus’ marble streets, passing historically significant sites such as the gymnasium, Temple of Hadrian, Upper Agora, and Roman Baths.  

Opposite Hadrian’s Temple, at the foot of the Bulbul Hill and the covered part of the archaeological site, protected from the heat and natural elements, lie the Houses of Koressus or Terrace Houses. It was here that the wealthy families of Ancient Ephesus lived. These villas are excellently preserved, especially the interior decor. The oldest houses so far unearthed date from the 1st Century BC. 

Two Sailing Choices 

Cruising packages can be complex affairs, but Celestyal makes things easy, with the Celestyal Experience and the Celestyal Plus+ Experience. The Celestyal Experience includes all meals, drinks with meals, gratuities, and a shore excursion credit. Or for those guests who upgrade to the Celestyal Plus+ Experience, they will enjoy more dining options, drinks throughout the day, Wi-Fi connectivity, and additional shore excursion credits. Note that in order to use credits toward excursion, these must be pre-booked prior to the sailing departure.  

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece

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Celestyal Cruises Unveils New Countries & Ports for 2024/25

Celestyal Cruises Unveils New Countries & Ports for 2024/25

Photo: Celestyal Cruises

Celestyal is adding an entirely new itinerary, featuring three new countries and several new ports, to its 2024 and 2025 lineup. The new itinerary will be offered on Celestyal Journey, which debuted for the cruise line this past fall.

The three new countries – Croatia, Montenegro, and Italy – will be showcased on the line’s new seven-day Heavenly Adriatic cruise. The itinerary will feature full days in Kefalonia (Greece), Kotor (Montenegro), Bari (Italy), and Corfu (Greece), along with a late-night stay in Dubrovnik (Croatia). Bookings for 2024 are open, with 2025 sailings opening in the next few weeks. All ports, including in Greece, are new for Celestyal.  

“Less than a week from announcing our recent acquisition and complete fleet refresh, we couldn’t help ourselves by going a little bit further for our customers,” said Lee Haslett, chief commercial officer for Celestyal. “As a business, we really do take the time to listen to customer and agent network suggestions – and Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro came out on top.”

“We are more than finding our sea legs on a global stage and fast becoming known as a confident challenger brand,” he added. “Our team is set to make waves across the industry next season, with new destinations, a completely updated fleet, a fresh new brand identity, and a renewed sense of direction.”  

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The best cruise lines in the world for 2024, ranked

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With so many cruise lines to choose from, it can be hard deciding which one to sail with.

But travel experts have put together a list of rankings.

Luggage Storage website Bounce used data including number of ships, number of cabins, amount of Facebook likes, number of YouTube subscribers, amount of Instagram followers and itineraries to come up with a top list.

Here are the top 20 cruise lines in the world for 2024.

  • Cruise Ships

20. Azamara

20. Azamara

Azamara landed at number 20 on the list.

The cruise line describes its self as "luxurious and intimate," and has four ships.

19. Fred Olsen

19. Fred Olsen

With just 619 cabins, Fred Olsen cruises offers intimate cruises to places bigger ships can't go.

18. Celestyal

18. Celestyal

Celestyal's affordable cruises landed at number 18.

It offers an impressive 473 itineraries.

17. Regent Seven Seas

17. Regent Seven Seas

Regent Seven Seas' luxurious ships made it to number 17 on the rankings.

The capacity of its biggest ship is just 829 sailors.

16. Hurtigruten

16. Hurtigruten

Upmarket Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten was at number 16.

You can see places including the Kimberley in Australia or Antarctica on one of its 37 itineraries.

It's also planning its first 'zero emissions' ship.

15. Seabourn

15. Seabourn

At number 15, is luxury cruise line Seabourn.

It's famous for smaller ships, all-inclusive packages and caviar parties in the ocean.

The biggest ship in the fleet still has only 266 cabins.

14. Silversea

14. Silversea

Silversea, which will bring new "ultra-luxury" ship, Silver Nova, to Australia and New Zealand for the first time this summer landed at number 14.

The company has 13 ships.

READ MORE: Why cruise ships are christened by celebrities

13. Oceana

Another upmarket cruise company, Oceana came in at number 13.

It offers a big choice of itineraries - 633 to be exact.

12. Cunard

Historic cruise firm Cunard, which recently launched new ship Queen Anne, was number 12 on the list.

It currently has four ships.

11. Virgin Voyages

11. Virgin Voyages

Richard Branson's adults only company, Virgin Voyages, which sailed for one season in Australia , narrowly missed the top ten.

Its biggest ship as 1408 cabins.

READ MORE: What we loved the most about Virgin Voyages, as Richard Branson's cruise firm heads to Australia

10. Holland America

10. Holland America

European brand Holland America was at number 10.

It has an impressive 1.6 million Facebook likes.

9. P&O Cruises

9. P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises - not to be confused with P&O Australia - has seven ships.

It landed at number nine on the list.

8. Celebrity Cruises

8. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises, which sails from Australia is known for innovations including its Magic Carpet bar.

The capacity of its biggest ship is 3950.

It was at number eight in the rankings

READ MORE: All the things I learned on my first cruise

6. Disney

Family favourite, Disney, which came to Australia last year for the first time and recently announced a plan to port a ship in Japan, was equal sixth.

It has 1.7 million Instagram likes from loyal fans.

6. Costa Cruises

6. Costa Cruises

Euro favourite, Costa Cruises, whose biggest ship is Costa Smeralda shared equal sixth place.

"When it comes to cruise options, Costa Cruises is far ahead of the competition with an impressive 1,768 itineraries," Bounce said.

"Costa offers many choices, allowing you to embark and disembark at different ports rather than a fixed port like many other cruise lines."

5. Princess Cruises

5. Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises, who recently launched its biggest ship Sun Princess , made the top five on the rankings.

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruises, which despite its name actually sails around the world, came in at number four.

3. Carnival

3. Carnival

Carnival, which has two ships in Australia, Luminosa and Splendor, is known for being family-friendly and affordable.

It was at number three in the ranking.

"The company scores highly for its number of cruise ships at 26," the experts said.

"It also takes second place for its number of rooms at 2,641, shared by two ships, Carnival Celebration and Carnival Mardi Gras.

"It also has one of the largest followings on YouTube. With 115,000 subscribers, it takes second place for the factor."

2. MSC

MSC is much beloved in Europe, and has a new ship, World America coming soon.

"With a score of 8.80 out of 10, it takes second place," Bounce said.

"MSC Cruises ranks relatively well across the board, taking second place for its 5.2 million Facebook likes. It also ranks third for five factors we looked at and is in the top five for its over 76,000 YouTube subscribers."

Celestyal Cruises

  • Idyllic Aegean – 7 Nights
  • Idyllic Aegean (2026) – 7 Nights
  • Summer (Mar - Oct)
  • Iconic Aegean Summer – 4 Nights
  • Iconic Aegean Summer - 3 Nights
  • Winter (Mar, Oct, Nov)
  • Iconic Aegean - 4 Nights
  • Iconic Aegean - 3 Nights
  • Arabian Gulf Mini Cruises
  • Desert Days – Dubai – Abu Dhabi – 4 Nights
  • Desert Days – Abu Dhabi – Dubai – 3 Nights
  • Iconic Arabia – 4 Nights
  • Iconic Arabia – 3 Nights
  • Idyllic Aegean - 7 Nights
  • Heavenly Adriatic – 7 Nights
  • Steps of Paul - 7 Nights
  • Summer Heavenly Adriatic – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days & Qatar Grand Prix – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days – Doha Extended Stay – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days & Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days Abu Dhabi Extended Stay – 7 Nights
  • Gulf Icons – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days Doha – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days – Dubai – 7 Nights
  • Desert Days Abu Dhabi Extension – 7 Night Cruise Celestyal Journey 2024-12-07
  • Idyllic Aegean & Steps of Paul - 14 Nights
  • Desert Days & Double Grand Prix – 14 Nights
  • Heavenly Adriatic & Idyllic Aegean – 14 Nights
  • Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Doha, Qatar
  • All Inclusive Cruising
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  • Group Cruises
  • Last Minute Cruises
  • Religious Cruises
  • Cuisine Cruises
  • Mini Cruises – 3 & 4 Day
  • Winter Cruises
  • Cultural Cruises
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  • Khalifa Bin Salman, Bahrain
  • Khasab, Oman
  • Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE
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  • Thessaloniki
  • Greece and Greek Islands
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Top Destinations

Romantic Fira Santorini

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Meet the crew: JD

27 Jun 2024


We talked to JD, Bar Manager on board the Celestyal Journey, about the inspiration behind Celestyal’s incredible signature cocktail menu… and his surprising other role on board.

1. How did you get to your current position? I’ve been with the company for 18 years. I had been working as an actor and in a bar in the Philippines before I applied to work on the ship. I started on a utility contract, in a crew support role. It’s a good foundation before stepping into a guest-facing role. Then I was promoted to bar waiter in 2007 and have been working my way up ever since.

2. Can you tell us about a typical day for you? There are more than 65 bar crew across the ship, working across eight bars. There are eight of us in the Martini Bar – four bar waiters, three bartenders and the crew members who maintain the space, so that it’s always pristine.


It’s our job to make sure everyone has a great time on board, so our day is divided between stocking up the bar and spending time with guests. At the end of each night, I’ll check that all the equipment is working and everything is properly clean. If anything isn’t right, we’ll correct it there and then: otherwise if something isn’t working, there’s a ripple effect across the whole operation the next day.

3. What’s the most popular cocktail on board? Under the Sea, made with Hendrick’s gin, lemon squash and other special ingredients. Only two of us know the secret recipe. It comes in a test tube and it’s blue and red. And it’s also great value, because guests get two cocktails from it.

4. What’s your favourite cocktail? Probably Pirate’s Comfort. It’s inspired by the legends and history around Santorini. According to Greek mythology, the son of Poseidon threw a lump of earth into the sea, and created the island. So we make the cocktail look like a chest, covered with Greek grapes to represent the earth. Even the glass itself is shaped like a globe, to commemorate the ancient Minoan tribes who first settled on the island. When it comes to the signature cocktails, it’s all in the detail.

5. Where do you get inspiration for the menu? Our cocktail menu is bigger than ever this year, and we’re really proud of them. They’re based around Greek mythology, and by Greece itself, especially the fruits and local liqueurs, like Skinos, made from the resin of mastic trees in Chios.

We’re the only ship where all the signature cocktails are created by the bartenders. We go through a lot of trial and error before we decide on the final mix, but we have a lot of support from our Operations Manager, Mr. Michael. He says to us, ‘Don’t be scared to make mistakes.’ That makes us braver to try new things, because we know that even if we fail, we’ll learn something. It gives us the opportunity to make the menu as perfect as we can.

6. What’s the biggest challenge? Consistency. We have to make sure all cocktails come out the same as the pictures. It should be like that. Because we have a reputation to live up to and because we want guests to have those picture-perfect moments to share with their friends and family back home.

7. What’s your favourite onboard meal? I love chicken gyros from the Greek Deli. It’s a dish of chicken cooked on a rotisserie then served in pitta bread with some salad and tzatziki.

8. Tell us something surprising about yourself I’m the senior magician of the ship. About 17 years ago I found a pack of playing cards and showed one trick to one passenger. I saw their reaction, and they told me I’d made their holiday an experience they’d never forget. Then in 2009 I was showing some of my magic tricks to a passenger, who turned out to be one of our big bosses, who put me on stage. So between 2009 and 2018 I was doing the crew show for the bar, doing stand up comedy and magic. Since then, the company has hired three more magicians!

9. What have you adopted from Greek culture? I’m from the Philippines, but I’ve worked in this area for a long time, so I’ve adopted most of the Greek culture. Especially the food! I think there are a lot of similarities between Greek and Filipino culture. When we party, we both party loud. Not in a bad way – we just express our emotions freely. And both cultures put a lot of effort into celebrations, with big spreads of food. So I think that’s a connection there, too.

10. What does Filoxenia mean to you? Filipino people are very welcoming, like the Greeks. Even if they don’t know you, they will feed you. And I think that’s at the heart of Filoxenia: just making everyone feel welcome and giving them the best possible experience on board. It’s what we try to do every night in the bar.


Thank you for requesting a quote about the amazing cruises we have on offer at Celestyal Cruises.

Our team are looking into your request and will be in touch within 2 working days. We are confident you will not be disappointed!

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