Celestyal Cruises’ Hellenic Diversions and Dining is a new dining experience for those cruising to the Greek Islands with Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Celestyal Cruises.
Ever wonder what it’s like to try different food and wine in a foreign country? Then the Hellenic Diversions and Dining – Taste of Greece Cruise is the perfect vacation for you.
With the Greek islands being just over a week away, most of you have decided to take a trip to Greece at least once in your lifetime. For most, Greece is about living it up on the sandy beaches and sunbathing, enjoying a wide variety of delicacies and the beautiful landscapes. But, for those who are interested in experiencing the rich culture of the country, Greece is more than just a tourist destination.
Note from the editor: This is the second installment in a three-part series about Celestyal Cruises. The brand’s approach to cruising, ship rejuvenation, a third ship due in March, and other topics were addressed in our first article.
Guests who take a Greek Isles cruise with Celestyal Cruises may walk through whitewashed towns, sample traditional cuisine and wine in taverns and cafés, relax on beaches, and interact with “the locals.” However, on Travel Agent’s recent cruise on Celestyal Crystal, this destination-focused company also provided a “excellent flavor of Greece” in terms of onboard activities and cuisine.
The line’s 2021 trips will be completed later this month, but here’s what passengers can anticipate when the line resumes operation in March 2022:
Embarking on a Sailing Trip with a Greek Band
El Greco, a Greek band, greeted visitors on embarkation day at Piraeus, Greece, with a selection of Greek instrumental music. They switched to “Sailing on Greek Waves” choices later that day.
What are our thoughts about the band? It was made up of outstanding musicians who kept the passengers amused during the trip, both in stand-alone musical performances and in production presentations. Listening to a band member play the bouzouki, a long-necked folk instrument, was a pleasure.
Dancing, Dancing, Dancing
On vacation, cruisers often let loose and hit the dance floor. At the Helios Bar on Celestyal Crystal, visitors may learn the fundamentals of “Dancing like a Greek: SIRTAKI.”
In addition, several cruisers took the line’s “Kalamatianos” dancing class aboard the ship following a day of touring in Patmos. This dance is often referred to be Greece’s “National Dance.” Cruisers went in a counterclockwise circular motion while they danced in a chain and held hands.
Guests were invited to a “Santorini Blue and White Dance Party” featuring intense music and dancing in the Eros Lounge on Deck 8 after the ship’s stop in Santorini on one port day. The Greek flag is blue and white, therefore attendees were encouraged to wear those colors to the celebration, which started at 10:45 p.m.
A “Greek Fusion Disco Party” rocked the ship’s Horizon Lounge on another night, with music played by DJ Alberto.
Enrichment in Greece
Celestyal’s enrichment lectures in the cozy Muses Lounge had a distinctly Greek tone, which was not unexpected given the cruise line’s strong location emphasis.
One enrichment lecture, for example, was on Santorini’s volcano and its worldwide effect, while another was about “Minoan Culture and the Island of Crete.” During “Greek Philosophy and the Beginning of Science,” we studied how ancient Greek philosophy provides the basis for today’s science.
Rhodes is one of the Greek islands visited by Celestyal Cruises, and Lindos is one of the island’s most famous tourist attractions. Susan J. Young took the photo.
“Rhodes, An Island Like No Other” was one of the island-specific presentations.
Furthermore, knowing Greek mythology fundamentals is helpful when going ashore, which is why the company provided a “Back in Time to Ancient Greece” lecture early in the trip. Guests learned about ancient gods and goddesses as well as mythological stories.
On a more practical note, cruisers may want to enroll in a basic Greek language course. Guests learned simple Greek phrases like “kalimera,” which means “good morning,” and “efcharisto,” which means “thank you.”
Shows in production/theatre
The “Hellenic Voyage” performance in the Muses Lounge on Deck 8 was a blast. This Greek traditional celebration with dancing and singing was appreciated by Travel Agent.
It’s a down-to-earth look at the culture of the area. Yes, this was a performance steeped in tradition. Yes, it was vibrant and musically pleasing. Yes, it was a little hokey, but that just added to the allure.
As the ship traveled to its next location, guests were encouraged to dress in blue and white and many “hammed it up” with the performers by standing, applauding, swaying, and getting into the spirit of the Greek folkloric experience.
Another performance that night, Cirque Fantastic’s “Mythologia,” likewise went back to the realm of ancient Greece’s gods and goddesses. Shows were usually held twice in the evening, at 8:45 p.m. and 10 p.m., for example.
Celestyal’s sports bar and various lounges throughout the ship offer creative drinks. / Photo by Susan J. Young
Many lounges at Celestyal Crystal offer inventive drinks. Guests may purchase the premium drink of the day, “Mykonos Dusk,” throughout the port day at Mykonos. On another day, the queue served “Aphrodite Paradise,” which we saw many people order before resting on the terrace and taking in the sights.
Many passengers also bought the line’s unlimited beverages package, which gives them access to a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks that they may order in lounges around the ship. Beers, house wines, nonalcoholic cocktails, spirits, soft drinks, unique teas and coffee, and a range of other Greek beverages are included in the drinks package.
Dishes from across the world and from Greece
Celestyal’s food is best characterized as a fusion of foreign and Greek cuisine. As the ship sails, the line finds a variety of fresh, local foods. Yves Sou, the line’s corporate chef, was born in Cambodia, raised in France, and has lived in a variety of foreign locations.
Early risers may start their day with coffee at the Helios Bar at 6 a.m., followed by breakfast at the Leda Buffet and Aura Buffet on Deck 9 at 6:30 a.m., with a diverse menu. Alternatively, passengers may have an a la carte breakfast with table service at the Amalthia Restaurant on Deck 8 (ordered a la carte).
Amalthia Restaurant at Celestyal Crystal / Photo by Susan J. Young
Cruisers do not serve themselves at informal “buffet” restaurants. To help, crew members are stationed behind the buffet counters. Guests just point to or tell the staff member what they want, and the meal is served and delivered to them.
Alternatively, if customers order several food items, the plate is handed down the line to another crew member (all waiters wear disposable gloves), who will add the remaining items. The dish is then placed on a tray with silverware and handed to the visitor by another crew member.
The same establishments that offer dinner also serve lunch. Just bear in mind that European meal hours are a little later than American dining times. As a result, cruisers should not anticipate to have lunch at 11 a.m. On many days, lunch started at noon, 12:30 p.m., or 1 p.m., and lasted until approximately 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., or 3 p.m., depending on the restaurant.
Fruit, salads, appetizers, veggies, rice or potatoes, freshly baked buns and bread, and a decent variety of entrees—everything from Greek moussaka to chicken, fish, sausages, and even American-style burgers—were all available at the lunch buffets. A separate dessert buffet offers delectable sweets.
If passengers have been ashore all day and miss lunch aboard the ship, the “pass around” of afternoon small meals in the ship’s bars and lounges—usually between 4 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.—is a pleasant bonus.
Salad at the Olympus Restaurant for supper / Photo by Susan J. Young
The Amalthia Restaurant on Deck 8 and the Olympus Restaurant on Deck 5, where Travel Agent dined weekly, both provide open dining between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The Ikarian Soufico Casserole, a classic meal made with baked layered potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, was one delicious dinner with a Greek flare.
Guests may also choose a Grilled Pork Cutlet Normandy, Pan Seared Sole Fish Filet, or Veal Osso Buco on that night. The menus also included a variety of appetizers, salads, and delectable desserts, one of which was decorated with a tiny Greek flag (see photo below).
A delectable Greek dessert served atop Celestyal Crystal in the Olympus Restaurant. / Photo by Susan J. Young
There was also a “a la carte entrée” menu with entrees at an additional fee, in addition to ordering from the dining room menu (and it’s essential to emphasize that the choices on this menu were substantial, a mix of foreign and Greek cuisine).
For an additional charge, guests may choose special menu dishes such as lobster tail or surf and turf during supper. Susan J. Young took the photo.
If a couple is celebrating an anniversary or a cruiser just wants to do something new, this is a great choice. We ordered the lobster tail (€23.95) one night. It was tastefully prepared, big in size, and well-presented.
Dining in the Cabin
What about eating in your cabin? In the cabin, there is a “Breakfast In Cabin” menu as well as a separate “Kwik nEasy Menu.” Room service is offered for a fee by scanning a QR code on the menu.
Room service menus are available on the desk for guests. Susan J. Young took the photo.
A full English breakfast (for at least two people) cost €15.95 per person, other listed items such a croissant basket, Greek cheeses, a ham and cheese toasted sandwich, fresh fruit salad, and so on were also offered for a fee. Cruisers may choose Prosciutto Crudo, a Bacon Cheese Burger, a Vegetarian Burger, or a Greek Salad for an additional charge for lunch or supper.
The Greek Feast pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, port gyros, bacon, fresh mushroom, caramelized onion, bell peppers, black olives, feta and oregano for €11.30) was another tempting choice, especially considering the cruise schedule.
Celestyal’s offering is a wonderful combination for people who want a Greek Isles cruise to numerous islands (many not visited by conventional itineraries) while still wanting “touches of Greece” aboard.
Most cruisers were having a wonderful time, whether they were learning new moves to a Greek traditional dance, wearing blue and white to a nighttime celebration, or just resting by the pool with a “Aphrodite Paradise” drink.
By the conclusion of the trip, passengers from both the United States and Europe were greeting each other in the corridor with “kalameri,” which means “good morning” in Greek. They’d clearly immersed themselves in the Greek experience, whether on land or on the ship.
In the coming weeks, look for the third article in our series on Celestyal Cruises, which will focus on the shoreside experience.
Visit www.celestyalcruises.com for more information about Celestyal Cruises.
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Even the best and most dedicated of travelers take a vacation, but if you’ve never been to Greece and don’t know anybody who has visited, you may be a little confused about what you can expect. Greece is an expensive country, but Celestyal Cruises has found a way to broaden the appeal of traditional Greek-style cruise vacations…. Read more about celestyal cruises all-inclusive and let us know what you think.
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