Tag Archives: celestyal nefeli


Majesty at San Sebastian, La Gomera. Photo by Anthony Nicholas

After her return from Thomson Cruises this coming November of 2017, it had been intended to send the 40,000 ton, 1400 passenger Celestyal Majesty (currently still sailing as the Thomson Majesty) to Cuba after a short refit. That plan has now been sunk.

Instead, it seems that the ship will lay up for the first two months of the year, before entering service on the three and four day run out of Athens to the Greek Islands and Turkey in late March.

Three day cruises will sail from Piraeus each Friday, offering a call in Mykonos that same evening. Next morning, passengers can choose between an early morning visit to Samos, or a shorter call into Kusadasi, before an early evening visit to Patmos.

Next day finds the ship at Heraklion in the morning, with an early evening visit to Santorini, before arriving back into Piraeus on the following Monday.

The four day, Monday sailings follow an identical route, except for an added, full day call into Rhodes after the Patmos call. In this guise, the Celestyal Majesty is offering the pretty much tried and tested ‘short run’ options that have proved so popular for several years now.

But it’s the following, seven day Idyllic Aegean itineraries that are really making waves. Beginning on April 30th, the Celestyal Majesty will offer a seven night cruise running through to October that offers no less than three overnight stays in two of Greece’s most compelling high spots.


Mykonos at dusk. Photo by Anthony Nicholas

Sailing in late afternoon, the Celestyal Majesty arrives at Mykonos just before midnight that same day, there to begin a two day and night stay in the platinum chip people watching capital of the Dodecanese. Passengers can come and go from the ship as and when they wish during this extended stay- the only one of its kind-at the Aegean’s most hedonistic hot spot.

The ship then sails on to further calls at Ios and Milos, before a third full overnight stay in Santorini. There is an afternoon call into Crete’s capital of Heraklion, before a final day that again offers the options of either an early start to Samos, or a longer day in Kusadasi, before the ship returns to Piraeus the next day.

Aegean Islands sunset. Photo by Anthony Nicholas

These new cruises- similar to the ones being offered aboard the smaller Celestyal Nefeli this year- have really upped the ante in the Greek local market. While still very port intensive, the included possibility of three full nights ashore (though it’s not likely that the ship would run all night tender service into Santorini) on a larger ship, really marks a significant notch up in the local product offering.

Shore excursions in the ports, as well as an all inclusive drinks package, are offered to UK passengers as part of the overall cruise price. And, while Celestyal does not offer a fly cruise programme, flights and transfers to Athens are easily arranged independently.

From London, Manchester and Edinburgh, Easyjet has direct flights to Athens. Ryanair flies to Athens from Stansted. Air France and KLM serve Athens from twenty one UK airports via their respective hubs at Paris and Amsterdam.

Celestyal Majesty herself is the perfect size for cruising to the smaller, more secluded ports of the Greek Islands, as well as the ‘Greatest Hits’ ports such as Mykonos. While she does not have numerous balcony cabins or multiple restaurants, she is a pretty ship, both inside and out, that will offer her passengers an authentically intimate, local Greek style experience, with food and entertainment crafted to fit the environment through which the ship will be sailing.

Standard inside and outside cabins are of roughly the same size; not huge, but big and comfortable enough for a week where passengers will be spending much of their time ashore. And, while wardrobe space might be tight, you won’t need a huge amount of formal wear for what is a very footloose, free and easy kind of cruise experience.

Highly recommended for sure.



The Celestyal Nefeli has had a successful first season cruising in the Greek Islands

Interesting times lie over the horizon for Celestyal Cruises, it seems.

In an interview with Cruise Critic UK (www.cruisecritic.co.uk), Celestyal CEO Kyriakos Anastassiadis confirmed the return to the fleet of both Thomson Spirit and Thomson Majesty at the end of 2017. With new tonnage coming on line, the UK based holiday operator no longer needs these smaller, more intimate ships.

The line plans to add a second ship to the current, year round Celestyal Crystal sailings in the Cuban market out of Havana. This could probably the Thomson Spirit, once rebranded in Celestyal livery. The second ship will offer three and four night sailings on a year round basis, in and around Cuba. My feeling is that the smaller Celestyal Crystal might shift to the shorter sailings, with the bigger second vessel taking over the current, seven night sailings, but time will tell.

As for Thomson Majesty, it has been bruited that she might make off season sailings in the western Mediterranean, where her smaller size would allow her to access the smaller, more intimate ports that the big ships have to pass by.

And-confirmation of an earlier rumour- the Celestyal Olympia will, indeed, go to the Persian Gulf next winter, to operate a season of short, three and four day cruises out of Dubai. Ports of call will for the 1,664 passenger ship will include Bahrain, Doha and Muscat. Sailings will last through until April 2018, when the Celestyal Olympia will return to Piraeus to operate her summer season in the Greek islands.

This gives much needed year round employment to the ship, which traditionally had laid up in Piraeus over winter at the end of each Greek islands season. Traditionally, one of the problems encountered by Celestyal was the need to lay up its whole fleet in Piraeus over the entire winter season. It is good to see this anomaly finally being addressed, and no doubt it will bring a welcome boost to the company’s revenue stream.

On the traditional, port intensive summer Greece and Turkey itineraries, the three, four and seven night cruise programme will be maintained from both Greece and Turkey by both Celestyal Olympia and the recently added ‘baby’ of the fleet, Crystal Nefeli.

But most intriguing of all is that the line does, indeed, intend to build two brand new cruise ships of their own- the first in the history of the company. At around 60,000 tons each and with a passenger capacity of around 1,800, the new ships would feature balconies as standard on all outside cabins. It is anticipated that they will operate-initially at least- on the short, three and four day cruise circuit out of Athens. But it would also make perfect sense to send both ships further afield through the winter as well.

The problem thus far is in finding a shipyard with enough spare capacity to fulfill a building order. Cautious estimates give a launch date of 2021 or 2022 for the first of these new vessels.

A lot of momentum seems to be building here. Certainly, developments here are well worth following.

Stay tuned for updates.



Celestyal Olympia at Santorini

Celestyal Cruises, the company that leads the way in small ship, destination intensive itineraries around the Greek Isles and Turkey, is going all inclusive for the 2017 season.

The company currently operates a trio of vessels- Celestyal Olympia, Celestyal Cristal and Celestayl Nefeli- on a series of three, four and seven night cruises from March through to November, sailing from ports around the Athens area, to such storied destinations as Mykonos, Rhodes, Istanbul and Kusadasi, among others.

As of 2017, these cruises will now be offered as an all inclusive package, with all drinks and shore excursions ashore bundled into the lead in fare as standard, creating great value packages that should appeal to family groups and singles of all ages.

For instance, a three night cruise in April from the port of Lavrion, some sixty kilometres south of Athens, visits Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Heraklion and Santorini. Fares for this sailing start from 422 euros per person, based on two people sharing an inside cabin, and include all the perks of the new all inclusive fares.

Such breaks are perfect for groups of friends looking to travel together, as well as for first time cruisers, and those looking for a quick, cost effective post winter break that does not really eat into valuable holiday time allowances too much.

I’ll be on the Celestyal Olympia later this month, so you can expect a full review of the experience, plus photos, on my return.

As ever, stay tuned.


Ocean Countess was typical of the ‘old guard’ at Celestyal/Louis Cruises. Now, it looks as if considerably bigger new builds are on the way

Greek cruise operator, Celestyal Cruises, has announced some radical departures from the usual during the Seatrade conference currently taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

As previously alluded to in this blog, the company will begin a first of a kind ever winter cruise season in the Eastern Mediterranean over the winter of 2016-17. These cruises will be offered by the company’s current flagship, the 37,000 ton Celestyal Olympia, originally the 1982 built Song of America of Royal Caribbean International.

In another major move, Celestyal CEO Kyriakos Anastassiadis announced at Seatrade that the highly successful winter cruise programme around Cuba, currently served by the Celestyal Cristal, will become a year round operation with effect from 2018. As of yet, no ship name has been announced for this venture, but it is quite likely that the current Thomson Majesty’s charter to Thomson Cruises will end after 2017. Her subsequent return to Celestyal would allow the line to free up either her, or another ship, for a year round Cuba deployment.

But most significant of all is the news that the line is looking to order a pair of new builds- the first in the history of Celestyal. Carrying around 1,800 passengers each, they will be considerably bigger than the smaller ships that the line has always been known for. None the less, they will still be considerably smaller and more intimate than many of the modern mega ships now in service.

At present, the company is talking to different potential shipbuilders with a view to arranging building slots, and is also in the process of locking down finance for these new ships.

In the next few weeks, the fleet will be augmented by the entry into service of the 19,000 ton Celestyal Nefeli, on a new programme sailing out of Turkey. The ship is currently undergoing final upgradings and renovation at a dockyard in Piraeus. With her addition, Celestyal will offer a three ship deployment out of Piraeus to the Greek islands and Turkey for the 2016 season.

As always, stay tuned for updates.