Cruising the Greek Islands

Five course dinners with double-starters and delicious deserts, all-inclusive drinks, fabulously friendly staff and tomorrow morning we sail into Santorini! Idyllic Aegean indeed as I’m on a 7-day cruise around the Greek islands with Celestyal Cruises on their yacht-like ship Celestyal Crystal.

Celestyal Crystal People are up on deck early this Thursday as we slowly sail into Santorini which curves round a giant lagoon formed from the rim of an ancient sunken volcano that exploded in about 1628 BC. Thanks to that fateful day the island is considered by many to be one of, if not the most, spectacular sights in Greece. In fact mention Santorini to most people and you will find that if they haven’t already visited, it’s high on their ‘bucket list’. Multi coloured cliffs soaring out of the sea with tiny whitewashed buildings at the top look spectacular from our ship.

Celestyal Cruises is the main home-porting cruise operator in Greece and is becoming more and more popular with UK travellers. If you’re thinking of visiting a Greek island then why visit just one when Celestyal can take you to all the famous islands in complete comfort on an all inclusive basis with shore excursions included at a really great price!

Santorini My wife and I chose the 7-night Idyllic Aegean cruise departing and returning to the Greek port of Piraeus which is about 50 minutes drive from Athens airport depending on traffic. As you can see from the picture Celestyal Crystal is a fantastic looking ship and her size is perfect for cruising the islands. As soon as we arrived at the port our luggage was checked in (soon to be in our stateroom) and after a welcome drink and formalities done we make our way onboard. With yacht inspired design, classic teak decks and a very warm welcome from the staff we immediately felt right at home keen to explore the ship and looking forward to the weeks itinerary. Unknown to us then but we were soon to be captivated by the romance of the area visiting enchanting Greek islands dotted around the Aegean Sea where culture, history, pristine beaches and fishing villages, seemingly suspended in time, await. There’s no time for long sea days on this cruise and at 9pm during dinner we set sail for Mykonos; Milos, Santorini, Heraklion (Crete) and Kusadasi (Turkey) were to follow.

Celestyal Crystal Celestyal Crystal has comfortable relaxing staterooms and suites; we had an exterior stateroom on deck 7 with a sea view via a large picture window. The stateroom had a double bed plus a sitting area with an armchair and sofa. The bathroom had a shower with toiletries supplied, plenty of wardrobe and drawer space for 8 days, hairdryer, safe and TV. Our stateroom steward kept the room spotlessly clean and tidy with a twice-daily supply of fresh towels throughout the week. Onboard we found elegant restaurants, bars and plenty of lovely lounges, there was never a problem finding somewhere to sit. Ship facilities also included the reception area, casino, boutique shop, shore excursion desks and a spa and fitness room as well as a swimming pool with a retractable roof and what seemed like endless promenade decks with loungers or tables and chairs where you could relax, soak up the sun or enjoy a drink or two. Talking about drink, the cruise was all-inclusive and came with a drinks package with unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks including wine. The cruise also included breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, onboard activities, evening entertainment, port and service charges, staff gratuities and a shore excursion in Santorini, Heraklion and Kusadasi. A wide choice of other optional excursions was available on board or could be pre-booked.

For meals choices included the Leda or Aura Buffet on deck 9 or the stunning a la carte Amalthia Restaurant on deck 8. Dinner was served between 6.30pm and 9.30pm with open sitting and although we chose to dine at the peak time of between 8pm and 8.30pm the wait time for a table was in the region of just 5 to 10 minutes. A speciality restaurant, the Fish Tavern, was available for reservations with a cover charge.

The Islands

Mykonos Mykonos was our first stop that has become one of the most popular of the Aegean islands and is vying to become the new Ibiza. Tourists from all over the world are drawn towards its vast stretches of sandy beaches and the upscale bars and restaurants crowded into the lively port town, also called Mykonos. Celestyal Crystal docked at the port of Tourlos just 3 km from the town centre and Celestyal laid on a free shuttle bus. Mykonos town is the archetypal image of the Cyclades and we enjoyed exploring and seeing the immaculate white washed streets and houses with their dashes of sky blue doors and domes, windmills and winding alleys. We enjoyed a lunch in one of the restaurants overlooking the iconic windmills. Celestyal Crystal stayed overnight in Mykonos so that guests that wanted to could enjoy the buzzing nightlife.

Wednesday and it’s Milos. Our ship tendered just off the main town of the island famous for the statue of Aphrodite now in the Louvre and some great beaches. After our arrival at 1pm we enjoyed a relaxing stroll around the harbor area and the boutique shops followed by a late lunch in one of the delightful harbour restaurants. That evening onboard the show was Cirque Fantastic, a spectacular acrobatic show production in the Muses lounge.

Santorini Thursday and we pick up from where I started… Santorini! The included tour took us by coach from the port area climbing the narrow hairpin bends to the top of the cliffs. We visited Megalochori an authentic Greek village and then made our way to Oia on the cliff top at the north end of the island. Oia must be the most photographed village in Europe with marble-paved alleys, pristine boutique shops and the famous white washed buildings carved into the rocks. I could see now why Santorini is so popular, the spectacular panoramic views and dazzling sunsets are amazing. After our free time in Oia the excursion continued back to the capital, Fira from where we descended to the port via the cable car. We stayed in Santorini for 2 days which gave us an opportunity to explore Oia and Fira again. That evening onboard was the Captain’s cocktail party hosted by Captain Nikolaous Vasileiou, a very elegant affair. Later that night we sat on deck cocktails in hand as Celstyal Crystal weighed anchor and slipped off into the night bound for Heraklion.

Celestyal Crystal It’s an early morning arrival in Crete and the included excursion here is a visit to the ancient city of Knossos. Known as the Palace of Knossos the huge archaeological site dates back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization. The tour stopped at Heraklion on return for free time in the city and from here we made our way by foot the short distance to the port. With a few blasts of the ship’s horn we say goodbye to Crete and gaze in awe at another spectacular sunset.

Sunday sees our last port of call, one of Turkey’s largest and most cosmopolitan resorts, Kusadasi. It’s a good all round resort offering great beaches a lively nightlife and some serious shopping! The included tour at Kusadasi was the famous archaeological site of Ephesus. I’m afraid we passed on this excursion as the lure of the shops in the beautiful redeveloped harbour area and town proved far too much for my wife! Too soon we were cruising back to Piraeus but time now for one more sumptuous dinner in the Amalthia Restaurant.


From the moment we stepped onboard we enjoyed the many comforts of Greek hospitality and were pampered by friendly attentive staff. Our memories of the ship and pre-dinner cocktails with new found friends re-living the days activities, the wonderful islands we visited and the fantastic sunsets will remain with us for a very long time.

Celestyal Cruises certainly impressed me, with their super itineraries, two lovely ships, Celestyal Crystal and Celestyal Olympia, it’s a cruise line that’s definitely going places. I for one can’t wait to cruise with them again!

More Information

2020 prices for the seven-night Idyllic Aegean cruise onboard Celestyal Crystal start from £899 per person based on two sharing an inside stateroom with all meals and drinks onboard, three shore excursions, port taxes and gratuities.

Call Celestyal Cruises on 0800 411 8038 or visit

252 people found this helpful

Share Article:

David Powell

Travel editor

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Explore China with our guide tailored for travellers over 50. Discover ancient wonders, vibrant cities, culinary adventures, and landscapes…
Rich in exotic wildlife, tropical forests, white-sand beaches and lost civilisations, Belize really is a diverse pocket of overlooked beauty….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.