Embarkation day Celestyal Crystal Idyllic Aegean 7 Day Cruise

Mykonos weather was incredibly windy making it difficult to spend any time on the beach or dining around Little Italy waterfront area. No surprise then that, after 3 days of constant strong winds, we were looking forward to boarding the cruise ship. I had originally thought the ship docked at 6.30am….perhaps wishful thinking on my part as there isn’t really a lot to do on Mykonos in wild weather…only so much restaurant sitting a person can do before boredom sets in. Don’t get me wrong, Mykonos is a beautiful island and I do like it but, for me, 2 days is plenty to wander around as I’m not a person that can lie on a beach for too longs and this was my 3rd or 4th visit.

 Wearing baseball cap (not my preferred type of hat) and scarf for protection against the wind...

Wearing baseball cap (not my preferred type of hat) and scarf for protection against the wind…

Ty used Google to find a Marine website which would giive the approximate coordinates of all ships at sea, the Crystal hadn’t left Athens yet!  Damn, it wasn’t due in till 6.00pm this evening, another day of battling the wild winds. “Hmm, what shall we do today?” I asked at breakfast, “We could take a local bus around to one of the beaches on the other side is of the island”. Silence. “Ok, perhaps we won’t”. Troy didn’t seem keen on taking local transport whereas I quite like it….you get to see areas away from the main tourist sections. We finished breakfast, packed up our bags and took them to reception where they would be held until we were ready to go to the cruise terminal. Helena would drive us back to the terminal. I just felt like a boiled egg for breakfast this morning…very tempted, then again I remember Gordon Ramsay’s programme on Hotel disasters. Oh well, guess I’ll wait till I go home.

We spent the last few hours drinking, eating and drinking and eating…..in that order!! Coffee at a café called Caesars, lunch at Boulangerie Atika. A ham and salad roll, salmon wrap and 2 soft drinks cost €10.90. Good value and very tasty. Of course, as in all places in Europe, we had an ashtray on our table, we moved it to the table next to us, the cleaning lady put another ashtray on our table, I moved it again. We had a little chuckle about that and continued eating our lunch when, not 5 minutes later, the cleaning lady returned with yet another ashtray. Wasn’t she wondering where the ashtrays were going? I now had 3 on the floor beside me and still they kept coming. If we stay for another hour I’d have all of the café ashtrays on the floor beside me. Lunch completed it was time to let others sit down. A unanimous decision was made to go back to the hotel where we would try and find a position on the balcony out of this annoying wind for a while. Arriving back at the hotel we had only been seated on the balcony, in the wind, for less than 10 minutes when the receptionist came to tell us Helena would be going out soon and she could drop us at the Port now rather than later if we preferred. We thought that was a good idea as surely there would be a bar we could park ourselves in for a couple if hours. The short drive to port was all downhill this time so uneventful.

The car pulled up at the port, Ty unloaded the bags from the little green car, we said our thanks and goodbyes to Helena, by the time we lifted our bags she was gone. We walked across to a concrete building with a number of entrances, there was also a small kiosk to one side. We stepped inside the entrance and found a large, dark room with a few concrete seats and nothing else. Not the type of room we were hoping for so this was going to be a long 2 hours waiting for our ship to come in. There was nothing in the vicinity remotely like a café, restaurant or bar. Not even a lot of people watching around here either!!

Ty, Frank and Troy took turns in wandering over to the edge of the dock to look towards the horizon for our ship…..at one stage we got a little excited as, in the distance, we could see a ship heading this way. It wasn’t ours! After an hour had passed more people were arriving at the port however they were embarking on the ship we could see on the horizon. We had placed the bags in the dingy waiting area and, just for something to do, to alleviate some of the boredom, we moved the bags out under the awning of the dingy waiting area. Yes, that used up not even 5 minutes of the waiting time….now what? Ah, yes, back to walking to the edge of the dock and looking to the horizon.

We had placed our bags at the end of the awning, up close to the fenced area,beside a small seat under the awning and I had just stood up to talk to Troy when several Italian girls wandered into the area with their luggage, pushed past us and squeezed into the small area beside me between the fence and the edge of the seat….mind you there was no need to do that as we were at the very end of a large area. Anyway, once they muscled in, we could no longer sit with our luggage and we couldn’t get them to move out of the way so we could all retrieve our bags. It’s instances like these when we remember how considerate and conscious of personal space most of us Aussies are.

Finally, I hear excitement in the voices of Ty and Frank…our ship, they believe, is on the horizon and heading straight for us! Finally, it had been a long day of waiting and sitting around – our ship had come in!!!

Celestyal Crystal

Celestyal Crystal

Yes, they were correct, our ship had come in and had berthed about half a kilometre from where we had been waiting. Collecting our luggage we all headed for the ship. We reached the ship and were stopped by security….tickets and passports were required and ‘now please sit over there’ we were instructed. The security person pointed to a couple of seats along the wall. We needed to wait till all the passengers had disembarked for their excursions before we could embark the ship. More waiting!!

We sat patiently, then impatiently, we fidgeted and took turns to stand, as we watched all the passengers file past us in a slow procession defying the instructions of the crew and excursion organisers for 2 lines only. As the procession dwindled we became annoyed by the one or two stragglers that ambled past, then another three or four would wander past as if they had all the time in the world. Well they did of course but we just wanted to get on the ship and have a drink….we all joked about how inconsiderate these stragglers were!! Didn’t they know we’d been waiting since 6am this morning to board? Finally, after almost another hour had passed, everyone was off the ship and we could board.

The embarkation process was fairly easy, although they didn’t have the camera at the entry door so we received our shipboard card without a photo. Given this simple security procedure wasn’t carried out proper that probably should have been a warning to us that this cruise may not be as slick and organised as we had come to expect of cruising. We had pre booked our drinks package and 5 excursions so, with no further rituals to go through, we were taken to our respective cabins.

Our cabin was a suite on Deck 6. It was our anniversary so we had decided to go the ‘whole hog’ (Aussie slang for the most expensive or top of the range). We had a separate living area, a bedroom with a mini walk in wardrobe, a bath and shower in the bathroom and a very large balcony containing a whirlpool, a table and four chairs plus four sun lounges. Our suite was at the front of the ship and named the Presidential Suite due to the younger of the George Bush’s staying in this particular cabin. There were two suites of this size on the ship.

Our balcony

Our balcony

The ship was not a new modern ship full of bling, such as the Splendida we cruised on last year, but it had undergone a refit around 2011 (I think) and it held a maximum of 1200 people. It was a smaller ship which enables it to manoeuvre into some of the smaller Greek Islands and that’s the reason I chose this cruise; it visited 5 different islands to the usual Greek cruises.We had previously cruised with Louis Cruise lines and found them to be quite satisfactory and Louis has since undergone a name change to Celestyal Cruises. In the European summer they cruise the Greek Islands and in the winter the ship moves to cruise Cuba.

We unpacked then waited for our companions to join us in our cabin before taking a walk around the communal areas of the ship. Of course, all my clothing, shoes plus bits and pieces was neatly placed in the little walk in robe but Ty spread his clothing and other items over 2 wardrobes, several side benches, a couple of drawers and the lounge room table!! Hmm, perhaps these suites need another revamp to include a second walk in robe!!!

Companions all present and accounted for it’s now time to start our tour of the ship. The ship had two a la carte restaurants, a buffet eatery and a bbq area near the pool. As well as several bars and a gelato wagon. We peeked into the hairdressing salon, wellness spa and gym. I wouldn’t be using the gym this cruise because my right foot and ankle was still extremely tender and, although the swelling went down a little at night, very swollen during the day. I definitely looked like I had cankles, well, one cankle anyway so that probably looked even stranger. For those of you not sure a cankle is an ankle that has no tapered shape….essentially this part of the leg is the same size/shape from top of calf to ankle bone. There was also a large showroom, a karaoke bar and a very nice lounge/bar at the rear of the ship.

“Ok, we’ve surveyed our surroundings what’s next?” I questioned. I was met with a chorus of “Food and drinks”. We didn’t think we were dressed appropriately for the dining room so we opted for the buffet. Not my choice as I’m not a fan of buffets….food left sitting uncovered or not properly refrigerated and people picking at it, very often with their fingers, makes me very wary of buffets in general. In my opinion the food didn’t look particularly appealing…the salad veggies looked a little tired (perhaps they’d been waiting around all day as we had). The cold meat had been cut into smaller pieces as had the cheese which brought to mind the saying ‘like a boarding house scrap of butter’ meaning the portions on offer were cut very small to make it go as far as possible or feed as many as possible. My opinion didn’t change as I wandered along the food line nor did I find much to eat….some say I’m way too fussy………Gorging Gonz managed to fill his plate in the shape of a mountain and Lord Lunchalot had quite a full plate as well. Must just be me or it’s a man thing!! I felt sure the a la carte would be a different story and in future we would do our best to eat our meals in either the Olympus Restaurant or the Amalthia Restaurant.

We ended our first evening of seven with a few drinks at the Thalasso Bar on deck 5. We chose a lounge area at the back of the bar trying to sit somewhere out of range of the cigarette smoke…..we learned fairly quickly this would be impossible. We just sat back, enjoyed our drinks along with the calm seas, and talked about our thoughts of the ship so far. Lord Lunchalot was not happy with the size of his cabin, it was very small for a deluxe cabin with barely any room between the twin beds. If this was a deluxe cabin what did a standard look like? Gorging Gonz booked the cheapest inside cabin available on deck 3…..we had visited both of their cabins and GG had more floor space in his. Can you imagine how dark GG’s cabin must be when the light is turned off? I couldn’t stay in a room without a window to the outside world and letting in the light. Ty and I were happy with our suite and also more than happy to share our large balcony and our outdoor amenities and furniture with the others although the whirlpool would fit 2 of us in it at a time but 4 was definitely out of the question.

Tomorrow was Lord Lunchalots’ birthday and the first port of call was Khusadasi in Turkey. We would eat in the Amalthia Restaurant as, unbeknown to him, I had requested a cake for him.

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