Ask yourself one question, do you think cruising is the new millennial way of traveling? I’m 25, three cruises in, and have developed a love for cruising. Typically cruising attracts the older generation, however, I actually find it one of the most affordable and effective way to travel to multiple places at once. I was fortunate enough to be invited by Celestyal Cruises and Discover Greece to spend 7 wonderful days on-board their Crystal ship around Greece. When you dream of a Greek cruise you think of a few things; blue rooftops, crystal clear waters, and scrumptious foods which will tickle your tongue. This is a complete review, so grab a cuppa, and let’s jump into the secrets of cruising as a millennial.
This is quite odd for me, to start with an airline review. However, I was that impressed with the service to and from London Heathrow to Athens, I thought that I would give it a mention. Aegean Airlines is a Greek Star Alliance member and seven-time winner of Europe’s best regional airline. Aegean flies direct three times a day from London to Athens, also offering direct flights to Athens and Heraklion from London Gatwick, Birmingham, and Manchester airport. During taxi, we received free drinks, a delicious meal, and friendly staff who couldn’t do enough for us. I currently rank Aegean’s plane food the best that I’ve ever tried, they even topped Singapore Airlines! I highly recommend flying with them.
The Celestyal Ship (Crystal)
I’m not new to cruising, I’ve travelled with Princess and The Royal Caribbean, so I would say that I was quite savvy when it comes to the ‘cruising experience’ and millennial travel. The first and most important thing to note is that the Crystal ship is much smaller than other cruise companies. Despite this, it meant that we could dock in smaller ports and reach less touristy islands. On the other hand, this does mean that there aren’t as many facilities as what you would get on, let’s say, a Royal Caribbean ship. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages but as you read the rest of this post, you will quickly learn that there are in fact more advantages.
During my stay, I was treated to a cabin with a window which I highly recommend booking. As you are literally staying on a boat, it’s almost like a floating hotel room and you do get treated the same (if not better) as if you were staying on land. Once I stepped into my room, I was pleasantly surprised by the size. Although it was just me staying, you could quite comfortably home two adults and two small children. My favourite feature was definitely the window, having the ability to gaze at the glistening waters on a daily basis was a complete treat. You also got your room cleaned and a turndown service every single day!
However, I must mention that the rooms were dated. With the hair dryer looking like that it came from the 70s, and with no state of the art tech systems, the rooms were surprisingly extremely comfortable. On this cruise, there weren’t any sea days which meant that each day was an exploring day on land. So, to conclude, I didn’t spend much time in my room anyway.
The food on this ship was amazing, in fact, leagues better than The Royal Caribbean. There were several dining options; buffet, smart/casual, and formal. In our group, there were two people with dietary requirements (vegetarian and dairy free). On the menu, there was always vegan and veggie options and our dairy-free woman was shown a special menu daily.
Usually, for breakfast and lunch, we just took ourselves to the Leda and had a buffet meal. There was a huge range of hot and cold Greek plates which could be enjoyed in the restaurant or outside by the pool. For evening meals, we booked into Aura and enjoyed a sit-down meal. If you are looking to go on this cruise, I would highly encourage booking your tables in advance, it can get very busy! Each meal was outstanding, best cruise food I’ve had to date. Everything is fresh, full of flavour, and presented beautifully. The formal restaurant comprised of ordering from an a la carte menu which I, unfortunately, did not experience this time.
Despite being a small ship, there was a range of facilities to enjoy. If you truly want to see the ship in its full glory, then definitely check out my Greek Island Travel With Celestyal Cruises on my YouTube channel. Anywho, here’s a quick run down on what I particularly enjoyed during my stay on the Crystal ship by Celestyal.
Gym: There is a small sized gym with key gym equipment; treadmill, cross trainer, weights, quad extension, hamstring curl, just to name a few. I would avoid going during busier times (early morning and just before dinner) especially if you want to do weight work as there isn’t enough room for two people in front of the mirror. There are a number of classes also to enjoy, so it would be worthwhile grabbing a programme.
Pool: The pool is small too, but again, it isn’t a big ship. Located very close to the restaurants, it also homed a poolside bar where you could enjoy soft and alcoholic drinks. Comparing the poolside to other ships that I have been on, I was a little confused with its set up. Normally, you would have sunbeds all around the pool with everyone sunbathing, instead, there were many tables and chairs where most people dined. Whilst this didn’t affect me in the slightest, I just thought it was very different.
The Spa: I really enjoyed the spa, I would have to say that it is probably the most modern area of the ship. I personally really enjoyed a half an hour back and shoulder massage, but there are also many other services available.
Bars: There were a lot of social areas on this ship, my favourite was sitting in the terrace outdoor bar whilst watching the waves go by. We had an unlimited drinks package which worked out to be extremely worth it, I mean, the cocktails certainly do flow whilst on holiday! In the evenings, we fell in love with the sports bar because they had karaoke and a disco until the early hours. We had a fantastic time on-board in the evenings, there’s so much to do and everyone is up for a laugh and a boogie.
Other facilities: Also, on board, there is a well-stocked shop selling beauty products, clothing, and jewellery (I bought a lovely pair of Havaianas flip-flops in there). You’ve also got a Casino, photography gallery, kids club, and live shows. I admittedly didn’t spend too much time in these areas as they are closed whilst docked in port. However, they are available during certain times.
Millennial Travel | Island Hopping
As mentioned above, I find cruising one of the most effective and affordable ways to travel. During the cruise, we got to experience five beautiful islands. I put emphasis on that because we got to visit five destinations for the price of one holiday! I know for a fact that I probably wouldn’t have gone and visited Milos and Samos but I’m bloody glad I did. So, here’s what I got up to on each island.
If you want to visit the best beach in Mykonos, then Super Paradise Beach is the ticket! Located 6km away of Mykonos Town, Super Paradise Beach is the most popular beach on the island. Whilst the sunbeds are super comfortable, an immaculate beach, and great cocktails and food, it’s very expensive to rent a bed (near 30 euros!). The beach also has a fully equipped bar with DJs and an upbeat atmosphere (which I can only imagine being the place to be at night!). In the evening we took a trip to Mykonos Town and experienced the idyllic corridors which I can only describe as the ‘perfect film set’. The town is gorgeous, clean, and home to expensive brands. We also took a trip to Little Venice and watched the sun go down, and boy, it is currently the best sunset I’ve seen to date (beats Bali!!). We then completed our evening with a tasteful fish dinner overlooking the ocean, then made our way back to the ship for the evening.
Let me start off with one thing, Santorini is beautiful. However, it’s hugely over hyped! If you haven’t experienced Santorini, you probably think I’m mad. I mean, the Instagram pics look great don’t they? We took a tender boat from the ship to the port, then took a tour through Santorini before reaching Oia. This tiny island during the holiday season greets 15,000 new tourists a day. The population is only 9,000-10,000! I was really saddened to see litter everywhere on the roads and the streets of Santorini rammed with tourists. If you ever plan to book a holiday here, do not stay in Oia. Visit a resort or an Air B&B outside of Oia, even on the other side of the island would still feel like paradise. The worst time to visit is during sunset, people barge you out of their way so that they can take their idyllic sunset shot. The photo below looks peaceful right? Behind the camera there must’ve been 100 tourists queueing for a photo!
We spent two days in Santorini and I have to admit, my second day was much more pleasurable. We got to Oia extremely early so that we could take beautiful shots in front of the three church rooftops. We also spent time exploring this beautiful little town, visiting the famous Atlantis bookshop and also lunching down cute streets. Later on in the day, we then took a trip to the beach. As the island is volcanic, the beaches are grey/black sand. Comparing the beaches to the rest of Greece, they aren’t the best, but you can still swim in the beautiful crystal waters.
To finish the day, we then went to Venetsanos Winery which I highly recommend visiting. Situated on top of a hill, the winery overlooks the beautiful waters and the port of Santorini. We enjoyed tasting five generous glasses of Greek wine from the vineyard and a spot of light lunch. The winery also has its own museum, so you can also partake in a tour and learn more about the wine in Greece. If you are not participating in a group, wine tastings start from €10 a person.
If you want to see the real Greece, go to Milos. I cannot emphasize enough how beautiful this island is, I’m even getting goose bumps writing this sentence. We chartered a boat for the day and it honestly felt like utter paradise. Some of you will know that I am absolutely terrified of the sea, I hate swimming in it. However, in Milos, it seemed that the clear turquoise waters immensely helped in overcoming my fear. We sailed past caves, beautiful fishing ports, old pirate hiding spots, and the ‘mini Grand Canyon’ which ironically, really does look like the real Grand Canyon. I fell in love with this place that much, I’m seriously considering booking my wedding here. I find that the most important thing when it comes to the millennial way of traveling is to find new, and untouched, destinations. Milos is certainly one of them.
Crete is the only Greek island that I had visited before, so I was pretty familiar with the place. During our short time here, we took more of a cultural approach and visited Knossos Palace. The ancient city of Knossos, with constant habitation from the Neolithic era until the 5th century, is beyond doubt the land that ‘gave birth’ to the first civilisation of Europe, the Minoans. This place was certainly an eye-opener, I felt so privileged to be standing in such a historic place. The palace is surrounded by peaceful scenery, so it was hard not to stop and think about what it was like living there during those times. If you want a flavour of culture and history during your trip, I highly recommend visiting Knossos Palace. You can’t find anything more Greek than this!
We then made our way to Heraklion’s fascinating Archaeological Museum. Here, we explored Cretan culture and learned more about the history of Heraklion and life at Knossos Palace. If you did not know, Heraklion was founded in 824 and is an important homeland of many key figures of the literary and art world. These include; Nobel-winning poet Odysseas Elytis, Renaissance painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), and writer Nikos Kazantzakis. Heraklion is endowed with some wonderful edifices. The Koules fortress, the award-winning Venetian Loggia, Morosini Fountain, the Basilica of Saint Mark, the Church of Agios Titos, the medieval monastery of Saint Catherine, the Cathedral of Agios Minas are some exceptional examples. Crete certainly does have some cultural gems!
Like Milos, if you want to see the real Greece, this is the ticket to buy. Between Milos and Samos, these islands were definitely my favourite on the itinerary. Which for me is strange, because I always thought that either Santorini or Mykonos would steal my heart.
We took a tender boat from the ship to Samos and then visited a hidden cave church called Monastery of Panagia Spiliani which is situated close to Pythagorio town on top of a hill. The views from this place are simply stunning, see below. Samos almost looks like an oil painting! We then took a trip to Tsamadou beach (the island’s best beach) and my goodness, the water looked and felt just like the Caribbean. This place is seriously a hidden gem of Greece and I am kind of glad that not too many people know about it. We reluctantly pulled ourselves away to the beach to visit a winery for some tasting. We learnt about Samos wine production and how it became an award-winning Muscat. We then visited Pythagoreio Town to enjoy a spot of lunch.
So, to conclude, if you are someone like me who probably wouldn’t enjoy the backpacking life, cruising your way around the world is a great option. Not only do you pretty much five holidays for the price of one, you can always find the places that you would like to visit for a longer period of time later in the future. It’s also worth mentioning that it is a great way to travel multiple places without quitting your full-time job! We all felt that the ship also felt like a ‘safe space’, so you can travel the world completely feeling at ease. This is exactly why I feel that cruising is the new millennial way of traveling.
Have you been on a cruise ship before? What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment below. Much Love, Eltoria x