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Sail Date: January 2015
My husband and I took this cruise January 30 - February 6, 2015 embarking in Montego Bay. Check in from Jamaica was short, simple and easy as was check out at the end of the cruise. We did not have to pay exit fees from Jamaica or Cuba ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise January 30 - February 6, 2015 embarking in Montego Bay. Check in from Jamaica was short, simple and easy as was check out at the end of the cruise. We did not have to pay exit fees from Jamaica or Cuba (although we were prepared to) nor were we ever asked for proof of medical insurance. At all of our stops in Cuba, there were Cuban medical staff checking our temperatures to ensure we were not running a fever. Some stops had more bureaucracy than others in terms of wanting us to have our passports with us. We've done a lot of traveling and are used to quixotic rules. Danny was always clear in his announcements as to what we might or might need when leaving the ship so this was not a big issue. We took crisp Canadian cash with us for exchanging into CUC and encountered no problems at the currency desks in ports. I heard that US cash could be exchanged but at a 10% surcharge. The currency desks did have exchange rates posted for a wide variety of currencies so I assume other cash was acceptable as well. A couple in front of us wanted to use a credit card to get CUCs and were told no. Descriptions of the ship posted previously are generally accurate so I won't elaborate except to say that we had no problems with the room i.e. hot water when we wanted it, good pressure in the shower, cleaned well and regularly, etc. Yes, we were asked to put our dirty toilet paper in a trash can rather than in the toilet but on previous visits to China and the Greek Islands, we were asked to do the same. The water on the ship is safe to drink and we used it to refill our own water bottles. No gastrointestinal problems at all. We didn't notice any unpleasant taste to it and if you asked the staff in the dining areas, they would fill your bottle for you. We found the food quite good and in some cases excellent. My husband and I have taken Regent and Uniworld cruises in the past so my comparisons are to that level of dining. In talking with the Maitre d' we learned that the chef had been replaced two weeks previously (mid-January?). He also told us that both Jamaica and Cuba do not allow the ship to load food through them. Food is flown to Trinidad where is shipped to the Louis Cristal when it is in international water. I was pleasantly surprised by the jambalaya which was spicy, a veggie burger which was moist and flavorful, my steak which was tender and blue when I wanted it to be, etc. It is true that the offerings at breakfast are somewhat repetitive but we found there was enough selection that we did not have a problem finding something interesting every day. Perhaps previous comments about poor food quality resulted in a change of chef and an overall improvement. We found all the staff polite and helpful. My husband uses a cane and staff would almost always help him with his tray and especially when the ship was a little rocky. I've tried to focus on new information that may be helpful to others. We took some tours but explored other places on our own. Fellow passengers were congenial and spoke a variety of languages although there was some degree of English spoken by most. Thanks to the French Canadians on board for their patience with my French.   Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Coming from Australia, we are used to being savvy about cruising – our country is a dumping ground for older ships with poor facilities (looking at you, Princess and P&O) or decent ships that have their prices massively pumped up the ... Read More
Coming from Australia, we are used to being savvy about cruising – our country is a dumping ground for older ships with poor facilities (looking at you, Princess and P&O) or decent ships that have their prices massively pumped up the moment they hit our shores for the season (looking at you, Royal Caribbean/Celebrity). Our family of four (parents, 19yo son and 17yo daughter) are experienced cruisers, so we are used to being cautious when booking our cruise holidays whether domestically or overseas. On this occasion, we were attending a family gathering in Europe and decided to extend our holiday by taking a cruise. Having done the Western Med several times, we were keen to concentrate on a different region. In October 2017, I cruised on Azamara Journey ex Athens return with my mother and had thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary, so I was keen to show my husband and children what Greece had to offer. Unfortunately, the choice for family cruising in the region is very limited, as many of the large, reputable cruise ships use Italy and Spain, rather than Greece, as their embarkation/disembarkation points, with limited Greek ports as part of their itineraries. Despite some research, we could find very little information from an Australian perspective on the quality of Celestyal cruising - even the travel agents we consulted had limited information and asked us to provide them with feedback if we went ahead with our cruise. (As we were to find out, most of the people cruising this line do not come from Australia, the UK or even the mainland of the USA; rather, they seemed to be from the Latin American countries and some European nations.) In the end, we decided to chance it, but played it safe by booking the best available cabins which, at the time, were a suite (Cat S) and an obstructed oceanview, both cabins being on deck 6. The total cost for the Idyllic Aegean itinerary (7 days), which included gratuities, selected drinks packages and three shore excursions, was in excess of AUD12,000. (We had hoped to upgrade both cabins onboard if this became an option, but it never eventuated as the cruise sailed at full capacity.) This price was in the ballpark of what I had paid per person for my 8 day cruise on Azamara in an oceanview cabin, so I was hopeful this cruise would be a decent one, though I wasn't naive enough to expect it would be up to Azamara's standards. My thinking was that it might equate to some of Royal Caribbean's older, smaller vessels, such as Rhapsody. THE GOOD: The ship is part of a Greek line and focuses on the islands, which is what we were looking for. We overnighted in Mykonos and stayed two full days in Santorini, which is not an option on larger liners. You can't take away from Celestyal that it offers unrivalled access to the Greek ports. Worth noting is that, at the last minute, the captain allowed all guests to disembark for an hour or so in Samos, while he picked up passengers who had attended an alternative shore excursion - this was unscheduled but appreciated and not something you could expect on larger liners. Our suite was very spacious, but had no opening windows or balcony. In fact, it was more like a very large oceanview, with just one large porthole. The shower stall was generously sized with a sliding glass door and the shower itself had the best pressure we'd ever experienced at sea. Fruit platters were provided each morning and canapes each evening (though the latter was often dry and tired) and there were complimentary toiletries for suite guests. These appeared to be the only privileges for this room category, with no advantages offered at embarkation/disembarkation, dining or for tender tickets. The cabin staff (Shafik and Teresa/Silvia) were excellent, which is usual on any cruise ship we've been on. They were attentive and keen to help with any requests. We ensured they received additional tips, accordingly. THE BAD: Our children's oceanview cabin was tiny - it was uncomfortably small for two adults and was sparsely appointed. The mattresses in both cabin grades were unusually firm and the pillows unusually soft, so we all ended up with sore shoulders when attempting to sleep on our sides. This was the first ship I have ever been on that didn't allow toilet paper in the toilets. As is the tradition in Greece on the mainland, all loo paper had to be disposed of in the bathroom bins. I found this off-putting. We have travelled diversely, from trekking in third world destinations to staying in five star resorts, however, this was the first time I felt the toileting facilities were substandard for the price we were paying. At home, we live on self-sustainable acreage with a biocycle septic system on the driest inhabited continent on earth, yet we have never had issues putting loo paper down the toilet in any system in our country, let alone on a cruise ship. I really think they could make more effort here. At the time of booking, our children were initially assigned an oceanview cabin on deck 2, however, I'd read the CruiseCritic review cautioning about the diesel fumes on this deck and I insisted on a deck change before final payment. Thank goodness I did. As it was, we still experienced occasional diesel fumes in the cabins on deck 6, as well as in the restaurants. Not terribly pervasive, but I can only imagine how bad it could be down on deck 2. THE UGLY: There is no polite way to say this - the food was appalling. We were looking forward to something more tempting than the usual American-influenced fare offered on the larger ships (which we sometimes find overly sweet and heavy). Celestyal claims to offer authentic Greek cuisine. Sorry, but last time I was in Greece, bland boarding school food was not part of the local experience. There were too many times that even the a la carte dinner in the restaurant was inedible (such as an Osso Bucco that was nothing but a bone chunk and fat swimming in packet-tasting gravy with no accompanying muscle meat to be found). Sadly, even breakfast offered little relief. If you strayed from the omelette and waffle station on the pool deck, there was only bland scrambled eggs and stale pastries on offer. The cereals, fruits and yoghurts were all poor quality; given the wealth of produce available in the region, it was unnecessary and very frustrating. The waitstaff in the restaurants were, almost without exception, terrible. They would forget entire courses, often provided the wrong meals to the wrong people and could not be bothered to apologise or seem at all concerned when their mix-ups became evident. Waitstaff on cruise ships are usually hard working and attentive - these guys were clearly not trained in the same manner as any others we've encountered over the years. It was like the Fawlty Towers of cruise ship restaurants. We had the 'all-inclusive' drinks package as part of our cruise and, at the time of booking, I asked our travel agent to find out how much it would cost to upgrade to premium drinks so that we could take care of this upfront. My experience is that included drinks packages with 'selected' drinks are never particularly good. After having some difficulty getting responses from the Australian wholesaler, our travel agent was told it would only be about an additional $5 per day to upgrade and we could do this onboard. The unpalatable truth is that it was an additional EUR14 per day to get the upgrade once on the ship. The included drinks were so poorly prepared that we decided not to risk throwing good money after bad. We found that as long as we stayed away from any drinks that involved mixers (viz. all the cocktails), then we could find something drinkable. Surprisingly (and fortunately), the house wines were not terrible. My husband, who is a whiskey drinker, simply purchased a bottle of Jameson from onshore and kept that in our suite for his drinks, rather than being forced to pay the premium upgrade for a watery version. We had a mixed experience with the included shore excursions. We didn't take the one offered in Oia, but did use the one offered in Heraklion. It was well run and very enjoyable. The shore excursion in Kusadasi was a travesty. When sailing on the Azamara, I did this port with a private guide and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the guide provided as part of Celestyal's excursion couldn't speak comprehensible English and ruined the whole experience. It was so frustrating to know how it could have been presented and to see the faces of so many people glazing over from the way it was presented. Then, to top it off, we were dragged to the unwanted rug sales pitch where a couple fell for the hard-sell and purchased a rug, holding up our entire tour group so that we got back to the ship within 5 minutes of departure. My husband had wanted to explore the options to purchase a leather jacket, but in the end there wasn't even time to shop independently for souvenirs. The whole shore excursion was unacceptable and I would strongly encourage people to use a private guide for this port. The final insult to this cruise was the disembarkation. We arrived in port at the same time as another of Celestyal's ships, holding up disembarkation so that many passengers were in a panic as to whether they would make their flights. Unlike any other cruise I have been on, there was no prior request for information about people's plans for the next stage of their journey and there was no priority offered to disembarkation of suite guests. Frankly, watching people argue with the crew and push and shove to disembark the vessel was a fitting end to this cruise. Not at all recommended. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Chose this cruise due to price and location. Had a Jr. Balcony Suite. This room had a very poor.. There was a refrigerator in the middle of the closet, thus no room to hang clothes unless they were to lean against the frig. The safe was on ... Read More
Chose this cruise due to price and location. Had a Jr. Balcony Suite. This room had a very poor.. There was a refrigerator in the middle of the closet, thus no room to hang clothes unless they were to lean against the frig. The safe was on the floor had to get down on a knee to use. Then if following the instructions that were with the safe was not the way I was showed how to use the safe. Maybe saw the cabin steward twice the whole week and it was at least day 3 before even knew if room steward was male or female! Had sign in room if left towel hanging then would not change, but changed every time. The trash cans were the ones with step on lids, what a pain. The toilet paper holder was a reach for even me a tall person, the the end of the roll is looped inside the roller!. The front desk could never really answer any questions! The food variety was a little to be desired! The fact that you had to pay to get a hamburger was astonishing and no ice cream outside restaurant without paying. The activities were a joke, no prizes, except you got to keep your answer sheet! We only saw the cruise director when she introduced the shows! They would leave a polish on the hand rails so after you came down the stairs your hands would be black! The way they did the white drink package was totally a mystery as to why it worked the way it did. For every time you ordered a drink they had to scan the card even if you were still in the same location. The excursions were good you just never knew how long they were going to last, The disembarkation was a real joke as you did not know what time you were to depart and when they made an announcement you could not hear ir even setting in a lounge! Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
I chose this cruise, because I wanted to have fun with my wife. I hoped I would find a clear and fresh cabin but I didn't. So I don't suggest it to anonybody. Besides doctor does not appear, if you call him. A nurse is sent in ... Read More
I chose this cruise, because I wanted to have fun with my wife. I hoped I would find a clear and fresh cabin but I didn't. So I don't suggest it to anonybody. Besides doctor does not appear, if you call him. A nurse is sent in order not to pay 45€ per visit! The pharmacy is not properly updated and you may be in danger during the cruise, if something health matter occures. I called the hospital of the ship and an ironical nurse came into my cabin. She gave me a medicine for diarroia, caused by bad food in the ship, that caused stomachache and breathing problem during the night. Also many members of the crew didn't speak greek, although the majority of the passengers of the ship were greek people. I obviously do not suggest that cruise to anybody. I left the cruise in Kos in the third day and I did not regret it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2016
Yes.. I explored my departure city prior to traveling. Embarkation and Debarkation went smoothly. Ship.. small.. bad food.. my cabin was decent size. Ship was grossly understaffed. 1 crew member for every 500 passengers (I'm ... Read More
Yes.. I explored my departure city prior to traveling. Embarkation and Debarkation went smoothly. Ship.. small.. bad food.. my cabin was decent size. Ship was grossly understaffed. 1 crew member for every 500 passengers (I'm exaggerating but it felt like that) One plus was cruise director looked like John Oliver! one (or most negative) was bed bugs.. all over the ship.. had the "Sanitation Director" come to my cabin and see the bumps on my arms and legs and he said "Sorry it happens" I would not recommend this cruise line to my worst enemy.. choose some other one.. Carnival.. Royal Caribbean.. Disney.. Any other one besides this one.. And if you happen to choose this one.. I will pray for your safe return. This ship was supposedly rebuilt twice and just ran into an oil tanker recently.. "Whoops" Also.. just happens... Good luck and "safe" travels and hoping for no oil tankers in your way! Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This tiny ship could be a small jewel---it is not. A sunken ferry, ra1sed and refurbished, the very small state rooms remain with the single beds joined into one. With no guard rails nor T-bar [to fit between the two mattress] the ... Read More
This tiny ship could be a small jewel---it is not. A sunken ferry, ra1sed and refurbished, the very small state rooms remain with the single beds joined into one. With no guard rails nor T-bar [to fit between the two mattress] the mattress separate, especially in turbulence, leaving a 4-5inch gap, making spooning with your spouse impossible. The cruise is made semi-successful by a wonderful crew [the arrogant Captain who crashed us into the Havana dock excepted]. The international staff was attentive and can not be praised enough. The food quality was appalling. Out of approx 100 servings between my wife and myself, only 3 were palatable [the lamb shank, the pasta carbonara, and the roasted Canadian bacon]. Most meat was mystery meat of uncertain origin. Even the hamburgers were at least 40% soymeal in the best scenario, 40% sawdust in the worst. At every corner you were nickeled and dimed --even pizza cost extra. Drink packages were required, even if you don't drink; the wine was of the lowest Greek quality. As a final blow, at least 50% of the passengers were ill at disembarkation. It was apparently not Noro virus but caused many trips to the infirmary. For $203 dollars, you received a CBC, flu test, exam and placebo meds. What a deal!! The PTP excursions were led by enthusiastic and well-educated guides. Most started early [8:30 AM] but then actually began after an hour of waiting, often on hard concrete. The Cuban people we met were personable but could not hide the misery and poverty in which they live. The largest portion of Havana is slums with poor water and sewage systems; the other cities are similar. So we do not expect to return to Cuba. If we do, it certainly will not be on this cruise line. Read Less
Celestyal Crystal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates N/A N/A

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