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Crown Cruise Vacations | March 30, 2015

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Greek cuisine a cruise delight

January 20, 2015 | Heidi

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL - I’ll admit it. One of the things I enjoy most on a cruise is getting to try various foods.  Even a standard steak can taste different according to which chef created the recipe.

So I am excited to learn that my Celestyal Crystal cruise will feature Greek cuisine. Makes sense since we will be cruising to places in Greece and Turkey. But the emphasis on Greek cuisine is a new one, says Demetra Vlachou, research & communications manager for Celestyal Cruises.

“We want to make it as authentic as possible,” she said. “Before it was international cuisine but our passengers requested more Greek cuisine so that is what we are doing.”

The Celestyal Crystal menus are so appealing that it is difficult to choose. For example, the lunch menu today had these delicious options: Cretan Bruschetta, Solomos se Ampeloffyla, Karrotosoupa, Spanakotiropita, Seafood Pikilia, Greek Kebab and more.

I’ve already seen the dinner menu and those choices include Anixiatika Rolla, Kalamata Chicken Liver Parfait, Kolokithosoupa, Artichoke a la Polita, Prawn Souvlaki, Beef Tas Kebas, Masticha Cheesecake, Pasta Pralina Sokolata and even other taste tempters.

Sure sounds like Greek to me. And it definitely is delicious.

The daily newsletter left in our cabins also has a nice touch – Greek recipes that don’t seem too difficult to prepare. I’m saving those to try at home. And I’m sharing one of my favorites here for you to sample.

As the Greeks say before enjoying a great meal, “Kali orexi!”



(Spinach-Cheese Pie)


2 lbs fresh spinach

1 onion, finely chopped

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup cream sauce

6 eggs, beaten

1 cup finely crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper

Dash of nutmeg

½ pound phyllo pastry sheets.

Butter, melted


Wash spinach and discard stems. Dry thoroughly on absorbent paper and cut into pieces. Sauté onion in butter until soft. Add spinach and sauté a few minutes longer. Cool. Add cream sauce, eggs, cheese and seasonings. Mix well.

Place seven layers of phyllo pastry sheets in an 11x14x2-inch pan, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Add spinach mixture, then place eight phyllo pastry sheets on filling, again buttering each sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cut into small squares before serving.

Photo and Story by Jackie Sheckler Finch

New Carnival Breeze dazzles with recreation wonders

January 16, 2015 | Heidi

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL BREEZE – It  doesn’t look all that scary. But when you are up there standing on a thin rope with the vast sky overhead and the deep sea beneath, it can be quite exhilarating.

And a bit frightening, I must admit.

A first for cruise ships when it was unveiled on the sister Carnival Magic, the ropes SkyCourse aboard the Carnival Breeze offers outdoor adventure suspended above deck with spectacular views. Hooked to a safety harness, passengers can participate in different rope activities of varying fitness levels – easy, moderate and challenging – while enjoying awesome sights of the sea nearly 150 feet below.

Traverse rope bridges, swinging steps and beams. It is worth a trip to the top just to see the ocean scenes.

Although ocean liners have long had exercise options for sports and health enthusiasts, the new Carnival Breeze is certainly going an extra mile in offering outdoor recreation. SportsSquare has enough activities that cruisers might burn off those one or two pounds we are said to gain on a cruise.

That is one or two pounds a day.

The miniature golf course is getting plenty of use on our cruise to the Caribbean.  A large lighted multi-purpose court is popular for basketball, volleyball and soccer.  Strong netting around the court keeps balls from zooming into the ocean. There are also ping-pong tables and foosball tables.

Sky Fitness features a wide array of exercise equipment, stationary bikes, elliptical and rowing machines, punching bags and more. A six-station Vita exercise course seems well used whenever I pass it.

For a run in the sun or a stroll at sunset, Sports Court is an 800-foot-long padded jogging path that surrounds the fitness area and the Lanai is a convenient wraparound walkway on the promenade. Nothing like getting some exercise while watching the ocean roll and stars starting to light the night sky.

Story amd Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch





Meeting the owner of Celestyal Cruises

January 9, 2015 | Heidi

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL  - My first day on the Celestyal Crystal and who should I meet? The charming executive chairman of the cruise company himself.

When I sat down for a cocktail and some hors d’oeuvres in the ship’s Horizons Bar, Costakis Loizou was there. He is the son of the man who in 1935 started the company that became Louis Group – Louis Loizou, known as the “Father of Cypress Tourism.” When Louis died in 1971, Costakis took over the business along with his brother Vakis. Today, Louis Group owns and operates 19 four-and-five-star hotels and five cruise ships.

“This is where cruising started,” he says. “We hope every year we will be adding new islands.”

With the smaller Celestyal cruise ships, he adds, “We can go where the huge boats cannot go.”

The company prides itself on providing an authentic Greek cruise. As part of that goal, Celestyal is cruising to islands this year that it has never visited before. In response to passengers’ request, the Crystal  also is serving Greek cuisine on the Greek cruises instead of the customary international cuisine. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve already tasted some of the ship’s delicious food and know it is far superior to the Greek restaurants I have tried in the states.

“It is a different experience,” Loizou says of our cruise. “It is a combination of modern Greece and the traditional old Greece.”

Although Greece has been having difficult economic problems, Loizou says the country is recovering. “We would like to show the world that we have been through a very difficult time but we will be fine,” he said. “I think we have everything that somebody should wish to have … We will be back. We are already coming back.”

Then Loizou says the very words that describe exactly why I think this cruise will be a most memorable one for me. “The things you have heard about and read about, you are going to see.”

Story and Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

S.S. Legacy: Half portions a good option for dining delights

December 30, 2014 | Heidi

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY – Would I prefer mahi mahi with feta and avocado oil, roasted rack of lamb with honey tomato relish or spanakopita? Decisions, decisions!

But the folks on my S.S. Legacy cruise have made those tough choices a bit easier. “Choose half and half,” our server suggests, noting that we can have a split portion of two different entrees.

So that is what I have done for most of my delicious meals aboard the Legacy. And I’ve seen other diners doing that as well. I have also noticed that the portions on this cruise are just right – not too big and not too small.

Along with its portions, the S.S. Legacy has another way to cut back on food waste in keeping with its “green” ship goals. Each morning, the chef comes out during breakfast to tell us what he will be serving for lunch and dinner. Then our server takes down our entrée choices.

“You can always change your mind and order something different,” chef Antonio Orlando tells us. “This is just so we can have an idea of what we will need to fix so that we don’t waste food.”

Sounds strange but I quickly got used to it and enjoyed knowing what I would be having to eat the rest of the day. For the cuisine, the chef supports local economies by buying salmon, fish and other locally-produced foods and products whenever possible. Each meal offers an entrée of fish, meat and vegetarian, along with a beginning salad, two side dishes and an ending dessert.

Story and Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch