Exploring the Aegean with Celestyal Cruises

With a tagline of 'See the Unseen. Sea More.,' a cruise onboard Celestyal delivers a true island-hopping experience, allowing an opportunity to see more.

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PAX recently sailed onboard Celestyal Cruises’ Olympia to the Greek Islands, on the four-day Iconic Aegean itinerary.

 

With a tag line of 'See the Unseen. Sea More.,' a cruise onboard Celestyal delivers a true island-hopping experience, definitely allowing an opportunity to see more. Sailing roundtrip from Athens, in four days we visited six islands - Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini.

 

The Aegean in mid-September remains sunny and warm, with temperatures around 30C every day. Locals are actually calling it cool, as summer months can heat up to 45C. While most large ship lines call at Mykonos and Santorini, Celestyal is one of the few that gets into Rhodes, Crete and Patmos. These idyllic ports are uncrowded and offer great sightseeing opportunities. The islands are dotted with churches, forts and temples reflecting its rich history, with equal amounts of commercialization for shopoholics looking for those iconic souvenirs. Although many lines have stopped calling in Turkey, Celestyal still visits Kusadasi, and the excursion to Ephesus remains on the must-do list. There is no sign of trouble and visitors are warmly welcomed.

 

In 2018, Celestyal will add overnight stays in Mykonos and Santorini to its seven-night Idyllic Aegean itinerary, which both ports so deserve. Mykonos has vibrant nightlife which can only be appreciated after the sun sets, and speaking of sunsets - Santorini is THE place in Greece to catch the best. At every dusk, throngs of visitors line the streets and cafes in the village of Oia (pronounced Eea) to admire the natural wonder, as we did. Having the overnight will allow guests to linger more and perhaps enjoy a great meal overlooking the scenic caldera.

 

 

Celestyal Cruises is headquartered in Athens and was rebranded from Louis Cruise Line in 2014. It operates three ships in the Greek Islands and Cuba. The Celestyal Olympia was built in 1982, ship buffs may recognize her as the former Song of America. Typical of older ships, standard staterooms are small (approx. 120 square feet), and only the top two suite categories have balconies. The ship has been refurbished and retains classic features such as a wraparound promenade, and wide open teak decks for sunning and lounging. All public areas are pleasant and comfortable, but do keep in mind that this is an older vessel and cannot be compared to the large new ships in the market. The focus is definitely on the destination. If your clients are looking for a comfortable way to see multiple Greek islands without changing hotels and living out of a suitcase, Celestyal is the way to go.

 

Celestyal also features an authentic Greek experience onboard, found in the cuisine, entertainment and activities. On our sailing, representatives from GAEA - a leading olive oil producer - were onboard to offer tastings, and additional Greek experiences include Greek cooking demonstrations, Greek dance and language lessons and more. A section of the ship dedicated to Greek artisans also showcases local talent and offers guests a chance to bring home authentic, handmade jewellery, art and leather goods.

 

North American guests sailing on Celestyal should be prepared for a European cruise experience with international flair. This includes mingling with European and international guests, some of whom may not speak English. Announcements are made in multiple languages (but English is always first), and dinner time is slightly later at 7:30 p.m. Just like travelling overseas is different than travelling in North America, internationally based cruise lines are different from American ones. Properly advising your clients before they cruise will ensure they have a good understanding and enjoy their cruise experience.

 

In 2017, Celestyal Cruises received an unprecedented four Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice Awards. It earned first place for Best for Value, Best for Entertainment, Best for Embarkation and Best for Shore Excursions. Value is definitely a key benefit when cruising with Celestyal as they offer an all-inclusive onboard program. A complimentary alcoholic beverage package, an excursion at every port, and gratuities are all included in the fare. In Canada, air-inclusive packages are available through Air Canada Vacations and Transat Holidays.

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Ming Tappin, paxnewswest.com