Celestyal Cruises said the first sailing of its recently acquired vessel will be on March 6, 2021, with a seven-night “Three Continents” itinerary calling on Greece (Athens, Rhodes), Turkey (Kusadasi), Israel (Ashdod), Egypt (Port Said) and Cyprus (Limassol).
Part of the Cypriot Louis Group, operating cruises to the Greek islands and eastern Mediterranean, the company’s new flagship, Celestyal Experience, is the renamed 1,800-passenger Costa neoRiviera, built in 1993 and bought from Carnival Corp. in July for an undisclosed amount.
Celestial’s fleet includes two similar-sized cruise ships – the 1,664-passenger Olympia and the 1,200 capacity Crystal.
The new flagship’s itinerary for next year has a total of eight 7-night cruises that will include Limassol in March, November and December.
Beginning on April 3, the Celestyal Experience will set sail on the seven-night “Idyllic Aegean” itinerary visiting Athens, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Milos, Mykonos and Kusadasi and is advertising an introductory special offer of £519 (€572) per person.
Later in the season, the Celestyal Experience will operate the “Eclectic Aegean” itinerary, a seven-night voyage that will include Thessaloniki as a new embarkation port.
In addition to the highlights of an overnight stay in Istanbul and the ‘hanging monasteries’ of Meteora, this itinerary also includes a visit to the site of Ancient Troy.
The Celestyal Experience has 789 staterooms, 166 of which feature balconies, sea terraces or bridge-view verandas.
The company said the Experience is well-suited for visiting smaller ports, a key differentiator for Celestyal, with destinations that remain off-limits to larger vessels.
“This ship will be a game-changer for us, and we can’t wait to introduce her to our guests. She will undoubtedly be instrumental in driving our continued growth,” said Celestyal Cruises’ CEO, Chris Theophilides.
Introduced in 1993, then known as the Romantica, the ship was one of Fincantieri’s first new constructions for the modern cruise industry.
At 53,000 gross tons and accommodating 1,800 passengers, she is considered a small cruise ship, whereas Carnival’s Costa subsidiary is currently introducing ships more than twice her size and capacity.
While Celestyal Cruises cancelled all of its 2020 cruises, scheduled for the Greek islands and eastern Mediterranean, Theophilides said in July that the ship was an investment as part of their strategic plan to grow their cruise operations.
The Celestyal Experience features a range of facilities for guests of all ages including four restaurants, seven bars and lounges, two pools, two Jacuzzis, a beach club, sundeck and jogging track.
Rounding out the Celestyal Experience will be nightly entertainment, a casino, library, meeting rooms and onboard boutiques, all topped off with a unique, speciality wine and cheese bar that will serve as a tribute to Mediterranean wines and cheeses.