Affordable, authentic cruises in the Aegean hit the spot.
The Hellenic Mediterranean is home ground for Celestyal Cruises. Guests enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, immerse themselves in Greek culture and cuisine, and have plenty of family fun.
From the UK, guests fly into Athens, stop the night to enjoy watching a sunset over the city, and in the morning join the ship, moored on the turquoise sea in Piraeus.
Celesytal offers three, four or seven-night cruises from £238pp on departures from March to October on sailings around classic Greek islands and Turkey.
On-board entertainment is Greek-themed – in the evening local actors put on shows ranging from Shirley Valentine to drama inspired by Greek Mythology – and, of course, there always some Greek dancing.
Greek culture and heritage is in Celestyal’s DNA and on sea days there are educational workshops, Greek language lessons and the opportunity to learn dance steps to Sirtaki and the energetic Zorba.
By the end of the friendly cruise guests should know their kalimera (good morning), from their kalispera (good evening) and their kalo vardi (goodbye).
The Greek theme includes traditional cuisine such as watermelon with feta marinated in sweet wine and the delicious oven-baked pasticcio macaroni. Bread is baked twice daily and olive oil is always on the table!
The cruise is also the perfect introduction to Ancient Greece – as well as Ephesus, half an hour from the port of Kusadasi in Turkey, with educational trips for all the family or independent travellers.
AN EXAMPLE THREE-NIGHT CRUISE:
The island fell under the spotlight when Jackie Kennedy, later Onassis, visited in the 1960s. It is now a popular destination for bar-hopping and drinking cocktails on the azure shores.
The town has a maze of shops, and Matoyianni Street tempts visitors with designer boutiques, restaurants and bars. Kite surfers go to Ornos bay and visitors can hire boats for fishing trips and sunset cruises.
EPHESUS / KUSADASI
The ship sails overnight to Kusadasi, in Turkey, and guests can visit Ephesus, about 20 minutes’ drive away.
This once mighty Roman port city is one of the largest open-air archaeological museums in the world. Excavations have uncovered grand monuments, including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Not much remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but visitors can climb to the top of the amphitheatre built in 4BC to accommodate 24,000 spectators.
From Milos take a day trip with Aquatta Yachts, (about 50 euros). The crew guides guests to hideaway coves that can only be reached by boat. Swim in the crystal waters close to Sarakiniko and sail to Kleftiko to sunbathe and tuck into lunch, drinks and snacks. Bliss.
This spectacular city deserves more than an overnight stay, so guests should linger for at least another day. Celeystal can help with arrangements.
Consider a £28 Athens City Pass to gain admission into Athens’ top museums and major sights, as well as hop-on hop-off bus tours.
Even better is the two-day pass, which gives access to public transport, including the journey from and to the airport to make life so much easier.
NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
A treasure trove of Greek art and history that includes pottery, sculpture, jewellery and frescoes in a cavernous 19th-century building. The gold Mask of Agamemnon was discovered at Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. He believed he had discovered the body of Agamemnon, the hero of Troy, but recent research suggests the mask was created much earlier around 1550–1500BC. Wow.
THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
This huge museum beneath the Acropolis tells the story of the life and times of the Acropolis and Parthenon, which were built in 5BC. The ground floor gallery houses finds from the ancient slopes and a glass floor gives visitors a chance to walk over history.
TEMPLE OF OLYMPIA
This is the largest temple in Greece and dedicated to Zeus, situated between the Acropolis and the River Ilissos. Classical history buffs will be astonished at the magnificent architecture.
Celestyal Cruises offers three, four or seven-night cruises, with departures from March to October. Prices fro £238pp, full board for three nights. Drinks and shore excursion packages from £18 per day. Return flights from Heathrow to Athens from £239 with Aegean Airways or British Airways.
Celestyal Crystal: 1,664 passengers
Facilities: Two swimming pools, two lounges, five bars, three restaurants, gym, beauty centre, shopping centre, library and Kids’Club.
Drinks packages are also available: Non-alcoholic at €14.95 a day or blue package (unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks excluding premium brands and champagne) at €22.95 which, at today’s exchange rate, is about £19.
WHO ELSE SAILS IN?
- Minerva 14 days from £3,000 departs Piraeus (Athens) on October 1, 2017 swanhellenic.com 01858 897434
- Voyager 14 days from £1,574 departs Trieste, Italy August 18, 2017 voyagesofdiscovery.co.uk 01858 897275
- Seabourn Sojourn 14 days from £2,999 departs Monte Carlo, Monaco on November 3, 2016 seabourn.com 0843 373 2000
- Brilliance of the Seas 12 nights from £1,898 departs Barcelona on May 13, 2017 and includes calls to Piraeus (Athens) and Santorini royalcaribbean.co.uk 0844 493 4005