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The Cristal docked in the Aegean near Santorini
The Cristal docked in the Aegean near Santorini

This is part 2 in Caitlin Martin’s recap of her 7-day Aegean adventure with . Check out part 1 here, and part 3 here.

Are you a cultural junkie but yearning for some relaxation? Do you want to experience some local off-the-beaten path spots in addition to the hot spots but don’t want to spend time planning it? If so, a cruise could be a great option for you.

Not just any cruise.

I’m not talking about the booze cruise you took over college Spring Break (however, I bet I just took you back to some epic memories). I’m talking about a cruise across the Aegean Sea that lets you experience ancient history and the beauty of countries like Greece and Turkey. Cruise companies are coming out with unique cruise itineraries to lure that cultural seeking, off-the-beaten-path traveler to cruising and it’s catching on.

Mykonos
A few minutes away from docking at Mykonos

I thought planning a trip to see hidden Greek isles meant spending a lot of time researching everything from transportation to restaurants and hotels. However, taking the right cruise seems to take away the need for all of that research while still giving you access to lesser-known spots. You only have to worry about getting yourself to the ship each night and unpacking once!

Below, I’ll tell you about my experience with one cruise line, , its cozy ship the and why they have a good thing going. As you know from reading my post on Greece, I was invited by Celestyal Cruises (formerly Louis Cruises) on this journey but my opinions are my own.

Blue and white houses full of beauty in Chora, Ios
Blue and white houses full of beauty in Chora, Ios

1. Access to lesser-known islands
Smaller cruise ships like the Cristal can dock in smaller ports. Smaller port access means hello to hidden islands, like my favorite little gem, Ios!

I grabbed this sunset shot just before sitting down to dinner!
Go to bed in Greece and wake up in Turkey refreshed and ready to explore

2. Maximize your travel time
Sleeping time equals transportation time! You’ll maximize your time in Greece and Turkey because the ship typically travels at night to the next port. I felt relaxed when I woke up instead of worried about getting to the next island.

Deck five of Cristal—jacuzzi and a view leaving Athens
Deck five of Cristal—jacuzzi and a view leaving Athens

3. Charming ship
The Cristal has character and charm. It’s a floating full-service hotel with all the amenities. The ship has restaurants, cafes, a buffet, lounges, bars, shops, a casino, a pool, a gym, a salon, a conference room, and an internet area with computers. All of this was plenty to keep busy with when I was on the ship in the evenings.

Sisioun delivering our table the biggest block of feta cheese I have ever seen! I couldn't get enough of that fresh feta cheese and olives the entire journey.
In the Olympus restaurant, Sozon delivers our table the biggest block of feta cheese I have ever seen

4. Greek hospitality
With a total of 1,200 passengers aboard the ship in 480 cabins, I didn’t feel like a number. The employees were well-trained, knowledgeable and downright nice people. Every day, Sozon (our waiter pictured above) would bring our favorite food without us having to ask. I spoke with other travelers and they had similar stories of employees going the extra mile.

CAPTION HERE
Santorini caldera rock formations with vibrant hues of red, brown and yellow

5. Diverse itineraries
The idyllic Aegean 7-day cruise was perfect because it combined off-the-beaten-path excursions with iconic historical experiences. For those that want one or the other, Celestyal Cruises has itineraries for that too.

Greek dancing lessons during the day
Greek dancing lessons during the day
Passengers dancing the night away as we watched with our delicious drinks!
Passengers dance the night away as we sipped on our delicious drinks

6. Top deck dancing
Traditional Greek dancing lessons are offered during the day and the nightclub on the ship’s top deck comes alive at night. Most nights the dance floor was filled by midnight. Opa!

The chef prepared shellfish for us. I also noticed the chef cooking during BBQ day in the café. He was personally grilling the kebabs himself in the center of the cafe!
The chef prepares fresh shrimp for us

7. Greek culinary experience
The ship served a yummy Greek cuisine and I recommend eating lunch and dinner in the Olympus restaurant on deck five. Each port stop, the chef goes out to buy more fresh items to develop special dishes that appear on the menu here. I also noticed the chef grilling during BBQ day. He was personally flipping the kebabs himself in the center of the cafe!

Tip: Greeks love their long meals so just allow for extra time because it’s not a quick meal but it’s a very delicious meal!

The first day on the ship, I got to watch as the captain docked the ship in Mykonos
The first day on the ship, I watched as the captain docked the ship in Mykonos

8. Expertise with their sea
Celestyal Cruises is the only home-porting cruise line in Greece so these guys know the sea better than anyone. There was only one night I had trouble sleeping due to the ship rocking.

Relaxation and wind in your hair!
Relaxation and wind in your hair!

9. You get to do this (above) on the ship… 

Eggplant Imam was extra fabulous topped with onion ragout and feta
Eggplant Imam was extra fabulous topped with onion ragout and feta

…and eat (as much) as you want on the ship…

View from the ship docked in Kos
View from the ship docked in Kos

…see this view from your lounge chair on the ship…

Manganari beach, Ios (guess if I EVER wanted to leave?)
Manganari beach, Ios (guess if I EVER wanted to leave?)

…and wander off for this little gem.

Before you sail away:

  • Best rooms: In speaking with a few travelers aboard, they preferred the SB balcony suite for the fresh sea breeze. I stayed in an XF outside cabin ocean view room and it worked for me. I was barely in my room and I was right next to the outdoor deck on deck seven. However, I checked out a balcony suite and I agree if you can splurge, do so!
SB balcony suite aboard Cristal
SB balcony suite aboard Cristal
XF outside cabin room aboard Cristal
XF outside cabin room aboard Cristal
  • Wi-Fi: The Wi-Fi on aboard is available in common areas and dining areas when the ship is docked. I recommend going to the top deck for the best signal if you want to use your own device. When the ship is moving, you can always check your email and social channels from computers in the lobby.
The top deck was my favorite spot for Wi-Fi when docked
The top deck was my favorite spot for Wi-Fi when docked
  • Before and after cruise: Do yourself a favor and don’t fly into Athens on the same day as you board the cruise ship. There could be flight delays, and imagine the benefits of resting after a long travel day. I loved the  and stayed there a day before and after my cruise. Request a north-facing room and the Acropolis view you’ll get from your room is amazing during the day—and lit up at night!
A perfect Acropolis view from my room at Athenaeum InterContinental
A perfect Acropolis view from my room at Athenaeum InterContinental

How to book:
In 2015, the Cristal began sailing under Celestyal Cruises. Reservations can be booked online at or through most major tour operators in the U.S. and Canada. For more information call (877) 568-4787.

Kusadasi, Turkey and Louis Cristal
Kusadasi, Turkey and Louis Cristal

Returning home:
When I returned home, a frown swept upon my face as I opened my refrigerator to see the tiny green plastic container of Athenos feta cheese sitting in my frig. No fresh Greek feta!? Needless to say, I had dreams of the big feta cheese block in front of Sozon.

This is part 2 in Caitlin Martin’s recap of her 7-day Aegean adventure with . Check out part 1 here, and tune in next week for part 3!

Manganari beach, Ios (guess if I wanted to leave ever?)
Manganari beach, Ios (guess if I wanted to leave ever?)
Kusadasi, Turkey and Louis Cristal
Kusadasi, Turkey and Louis Cristal
Greek dancing lessons during the day
Greek dancing lessons during the day
A perfect Acropolis view from my room at Athenaeum InterContinental
A perfect Acropolis view from my room at Athenaeum InterContinental
The top deck was my favorite spot for wifi when docked
The top deck was my favorite spot for wifi when docked
Louis Cruises sails on the Aegean
Louis Cruises sails on the Aegean
Blue and white houses full of beauty in Chora, Ios
Blue and white houses full of beauty in Chora, Ios
Mykonos
Mykonos
Go to bed in Greece and wake up in Turkey refreshed and ready to explore
Go to bed in Greece and wake up in Turkey refreshed and ready to explore
XF outside cabin room aboard Louis Cristal
XF outside cabin room aboard Louis Cristal
In the Olympus restaurant, Sozon delivers our table the biggest block of feta cheese I have ever seen
In the Olympus restaurant, Sozon delivers our table the biggest block of feta cheese I have ever seen
Santorini caldera with vibrant hues of red, brown and yellow rock formations
Santorini caldera with vibrant hues of red, brown and yellow rock formations
Passengers dancing the night away as we watched with our delicious drinks!
Passengers dancing the night away as we watched with our delicious drinks!
The chef prepares fresh shrimp for us
The chef prepares fresh shrimp for us
The first day on the ship, I got to watch as the captain docked the ship in Mykonos
The first day on the ship, I got to watch as the captain docked the ship in Mykonos
Relaxation and wind in your hair!
Relaxation and wind in your hair!
Deck five of Louis Cristal — jacuzzi and a view leaving Athens
Deck five of Louis Cristal — jacuzzi and a view leaving Athens
View from the ship docked in Kos
View from the ship docked in Kos
Eggplant Imam was extra fabulous topped with onion ragout and feta
Eggplant Imam was extra fabulous topped with onion ragout and feta
A nice Acropolis moment
A nice Acropolis moment
SB balcony suite aboard Louis Cristal
SB balcony suite aboard Louis Cristal
Caitlin Martin

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6 Comments On "Why You Need an Aegean Cruise"
  1. Marian Jankiebwicz|

    I am enjoying following you on this cruise you make it sound like it is a vacation that I have always dreamed of.

    1. Caitlin Martin
      Caitlin Martin|

      Thank you! The cruise was definitely the perfect combination of hidden gems and iconic history! Check back soon for part 3!

  2. Andreas Belivanakis|

    Great job on the 2nd part as well, Caitlin!

    Athenos feta? LOL, that stuff is inedible! It’s not even greek. It’s an industrial product that tries to deceive customers by playing on the brand name, which suspiciously sounds like “Athens”. It tastes like crap, too. :)

    1. Caitlin Martin
      Caitlin Martin|

      Haha! Thanks Andreas! Yes, I will need to return to Greece asap for the real feta!

  3. miss miss|

    If you are traveling alone is there a single supplement? Is wifi free?

    1. Caitlin Martin
      Caitlin Martin|

      Hi! There is a charge for wifi. The cost is 7 € per hour of wifi use on your own device. Wifi can only be accessed in some public areas. (I seemed to have the best luck on the top deck). There is also an internet corner with computers that guests may use for 0,25 € per minute of use. I’m told though they are working on new wifi options in the future. There is no single supplement.

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