The boat was manageable and offered places of privacy + escape
Our cruise of 700 people was more efficient in every sense of the word – from check-in to exiting the ship – you never felt like you were waiting in a line.
Dayne and I are both explorers, people who need to know the lay of the land, and after reaching our cabin, we quickly set afoot to explore the entertainment and food offerings. We raced to the top deck to find the pool, kid’s play area and the theatre where much of the evening entertainment takes place. What I noticed immediately in comparison to larger ships I had been on was that this boat was both manageable and refreshing. Gambling and 24-hour food service, two aspects of cruises I don’t like, was not the highlight of a Celestyal Cruise. In fact, there are dedicated eating times, such as high tea each day and the small buffet that is tucked away in the back of the boat has off hours. I also found tranquil spaces to be alone to finish off my book by one of my favorite authors, Liane Moriarty, which I greatly valued.
Exposure to so many other cultures
Being that Celestyal is a Greek carrier, I didn’t anticipate the breath of families from around the world who we would meet and engage in. The experience of being around kids and parents from Russia, Japan, Canada, China, England, Iran, and Germany was priceless. When cruise director ‘Danny’ made his opening remarks in eight different languages (yes, this amazingly talented cruise director not only speaks eight different languages but also commands a stage rich with his comedy and perfect timing), we knew we were in for a treat of cultural experiences. My daughter who is certainly curious in global cultures very much appreciated being able to share experiences with kids who are from far away lands and who didn’t speak the same language.
Another key differentiator of Celestyal is that it offers guests total immersion in Greek culture, from food and wine to entertainment and special events onboard such as Greek language and dancing lessons to cooking demonstrations.
And, when you travel solo with a child, you do things you wouldn’t normally do as a family of five. With Dayne, she has a zest for life, and on this trip, she was not in the shadows of her older twin brother, so she could be her authentic self and mostly had the support of me (I had to draw the line on the paragliding though).
Due to my Dayne’s enthusiasm and quest to try new things, I did things on this trip that I would normally not engage in if we had been with the rest of the family. First, Dayne went to every evening show of a Cuba-based entertainment troupe that was fantastically talented in dance and singing. Dayne even went to the shows a few nights without me. Second, I did karaoke for the first time in my life. Third, Dayne and I went to every game when we were on board and became quite competitive at “Name this Fact about the Ship.”
Each night, we could select from one of four dining options (two dining rooms, buffet and Chef’s Corner, which was poolside each night). Of the two dining rooms, each night had a themed menu option where you selected an appetizer, a main meal, and dessert, that was inclusive in the price, but would be an additional charge on other cruise lines). The food was so delectable that I had to ask about the chef and meal preparation. Everything was cooked fresh to order, and even the bread is made onboard. There was enormous pride of the serving staff, and my daughter and I felt like we were the only guests on board. Each night we were excited to learn about the theme of the day (e.g. Greek night), and the food that corresponded to that theme.
Friends for My Daughter (and Me)
I realized long ago that seeking out playmates for Dayne on a trip is ideal – she needs camaraderie among her peer group, and truthfully, I need time to myself to re-energize. By the second day, Dayne asked if she could explore the boat on her own and hang out in the kid’s lounge area since they were offering Wii games at a certain time. I agreed, and hours later, she returned with a beaming smile, as she had met and had been hanging out with twin girls’ from Pennsylvania. It turns out that the mother of the twin girls’ was traveling solo with her kids and I met additional women traveling alone. We all bonded, and for our time on the cruise together, we solo mothers had a sorority of friendship, support, and very interesting conversations. I felt like a schoolgirl again, and we all enjoyed engaging in activities and conversations we didn’t have the luxury to do often.