There aren’t many cruises that visit three continents during a seven-night sailing. Thankfully, the Celestyal Cruises Three Continents Cruise makes this bucket list feat possible. As this cruise line’s destinations are its focus, the ports of call are extra special.
Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Celestyal Cruises Three Continents itinerary so you can make a decision if it’s the right vacation for you. Find out more about what three continents the ship visits and the day-by-day itinerary, as well as the excursion we signed up for in each port.
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Celestyal Cruises Three Continents Cruise Itinerary
The Celestyal Cruises Three Continents cruise was the one that most piqued our interest when we were researching a spring cruise in Europe. This seven-night, eight-day itinerary takes guests to Africa and Asia from its starting and end point in Europe. Specifically, it starts and ends near Athens, Greece, and guests travel to Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Rhodes, and Turkey.
Due to the war in Israel and Gaza, Celestyal Cruises is not currently sailing to Israel. They are closely monitoring the situation for 2024.
Celestyal Cruises Three Continents Day-By-Day Ports of Call
Here’s an overview of our itinerary:
What We Loved About This Cruise: “Wow” Moments
We were amazed by what a cool itinerary this is. There’s really nothing else like it on the market, considering the places it visits in just a few days' time and that Celestyal Cruises is very affordable.
This trip took us to places we didn’t even know we wanted to visit until we were smiling next to the Great Sphinx in Egypt, or we were atop the Acropolis in Rhodes, or gazing up in awe at the tall columns pointing toward the sky at the ancient library in Ephesus, Turkey. Every day was wonderful in every sense of the word, and we loved discussing the incredible destination of the day at dinner each night.
Cruisers can truly check off multiple bucket list sites in just one week with this cruise on the eastern Mediterranean Sea. If you tried to do the same itinerary traveling by land – needing to book multiple flights, trains, cars, and hotels for a trip of this kind – it would cost thousands of dollars. Instead, you can go on a cruise with Celestyal Cruises, and the entire trip will cost around $1,800 per person, including some excursions but excluding the roundtrip flight to get to Athens to embark and disembark.
A prime example of a “wow” moment during the Three Continents Cruise was visiting the pyramids in Giza or seeing artifacts from King Tut’s tomb in Cairo. Learning about the ancient Greeks while on the Acropolis in Rhodes provided onsite education and photo-worthy views to send to family and friends back home.
Bethlehem in Palestine was also a really great place to visit. When we learned that our tour guide from Jerusalem, Israel, would get off the tour bus before Palestine, and a new guide would be waiting for us over the “border,” we were so curious about the inner workings of the contentious relations between the two places, which both guides were open to discussing. It's simply the kind of understanding you can only get through travel.
The Three Continents You Visit During This Celestyal Cruise
How is it possible to travel to three continents within eight days? The geographical locations of the ports along the eastern Mediterranean coast make it possible.
We boarded the cruise ship for our closed-jaw itinerary, starting and ending in Europe at the Port of Piraeus. The port is a 15 to 20-minute drive from the city of Athens, Greece. The three continents you visit during the cruise are:
Greece and Cyprus are the European destinations during this cruise. This includes Athens for cruise embarkation and debarkation, the Greek island of Rhodes, and Cyprus. You visit major cities but also discover fantastic small towns and villages depending on your excursion choices.
The second continent you visit is Africa. Port Said, Egypt, is the ship’s docking point at the continent’s northeastern tip. We saw some parts of the cities of Cairo and Giza during our excursion. The cities are inland, so we took a three-hour bus ride to reach them once we were in port, which was absolutely worth it.
The third continent you visit is Asia. Though part of Turkey is in Europe, Kusadasi is in Asia. This interesting port city is on the country’s Aegean coast, which is part of the Mediterranean Sea.
This city has grown in popularity as a tourist destination thanks in part to its ancient city of Ephesus, which guests can opt to visit with Celestyal Cruises as one of various excursion options.
Day-by-Day Experience And A La Carte Options
We wouldn’t recommend this cruise for someone who wants to simply stay on the ship or in their stateroom to relax. Celestyal Journey is a fun ship to be on, and it’s great to enjoy meals at one of the restaurants, drinks at one of the bars, or a massage in the spa, for instance. We even really liked listening to the live music on board at night before going to bed. But the real reason to go on this particular cruise is for the ports and sightseeing.
Most things are a la carte with Celestyal Cruises, from the drinks packages, to Wi-Fi, to excursions. That’s why you should budget for excursions as part of the trip so you don’t have to justify adding them on afterward.
Signing Up for Excursions for the Celestyal Cruises Three Continents Cruise
While guests aren’t required to sign up for an excursion anywhere, they are a highlight of the cruise. Celestyal Cruises has multiple options in each port. You can sign up in advance online in the cruise portal or onboard the ship.
Some ports along the Three Continents Cruise are easier to explore on your own, while other ports are difficult to see without an organized tour. This is especially the case in Israel and Egypt because the tourist spots are an hour's drive or more from the port.
One example of that is Ashdod, Israel. You arrive at a truly industrial port that welcomes mostly commercial ships with the occasional leisure cruise ship. The port is an hour and 15 minutes from Jerusalem, which is east of the port, or an hour's drive to Tel Aviv, north of the port.
A port like Kusadasi, Turkey, is easier to explore independently. The ship docks in town, and it’s easy to walk around the city, which is just steps off the ship. You don’t even need a car. And if you want to explore Ephesus on your own, you can arrange for a trip independently of the cruise line.
However, the cruise line takes care of all the transportation and ensures you’re back on the boat by “all aboard” time if you simply book your excursions through them.
Below, we go through each day of the itinerary. Note that the itinerary may change slightly depending on your exact cruise date, including Celestyal Cruises' monitoring of the war in Israel and Gaza.
Day One: Cruise Embarkation at the Port of Piraeus
We boarded the ship at around 1:00 pm after getting to the port in Piraeus, Greece, at 12:15 pm. The taxi ride from our hotel just outside central Athens to the port took just 15 minutes. Boarding the ship in the afternoon gave us enough time to sign up for a morning tour of the city.
Upon arrival at the port, we were greeted by friendly Celestyal Cruises staff, who helped us tag our bags for delivery to our room.
Once inside the terminal, we went through one line to check in with the Celestyal Cruises team, where we were handed keys to our stateroom. Then, we went through another line for security and passport control.
If you’re only doing a cruise to the Greek Islands, you don’t have to go through passport control. However, if you’re going on the Celestyal Cruises Three Continents cruise or any cruise that goes to another country, you must clear customs. This was the longest wait we had during embarkation, which – all things cruising considered, especially with bigger ships – wasn’t bad at all. After 15 or 20 minutes, we were through security and passport control and ready to board the ship.
Before boarding, we stopped for the ship photographer to take our picture with a captain's wheel and a green screen behind us. When we saw the printed photo later on, a picture of the ship was where the green screen once was. You can choose to have your photo taken here before boarding or kindly skip it, which we usually do. But for some reason, we decided to take the picture and we were glad we did because it was really cute.
Amenities at the Port of Piraeus
There are restrooms, free wifi, and souvenir shops inside the Port of Piraeus cruise terminal. There is also a Duty-Free shop after security.
Boarding the Ship
We boarded a very simple gangway to the ship and were onboard in no time, heading to our stateroom.
It’s easy to get disoriented when you board a ship you’ve never been on. Let’s face it: sometimes ships with more than 1,200 passengers, including crew, often feel like a maze. It’s likened to an unfamiliar city you have yet to explore. Luckily, we found a crew member who was willing to help us find our room as soon as we boarded.
Once she helped us find our new home for the next seven nights, we set down our carry-on bags. Before we knew it, our curbside checked bags arrived. This was unlike a mega-cruise ship where you may not get your luggage delivered to your room for a few hours. It was so nice that this medium-sized ship of 800 or so guests had super-fast luggage delivery. It was in our stateroom before we left for lunch at 2:00 pm, which was within the hour after we boarded the ship.
For lunch on embarkation day, guests had the option of a buffet or a full-service restaurant. We opted for the latter and enjoyed the Greek options on the menu, followed by cocktails in the Sports Bar, their main indoor bar.
Spa Treatment to Kick Off the Cruise
For something different on embarkation day, we decided to sign up for a spa treatment. Cruises are the perfect remedy for a break from daily life, and we figured why not begin the cruise with the ultimate relaxation treatment: a massage.
Our couple’s massage was the most rejuvenating way to start our Three Continents cruise and set the tone for enjoying all that was to come. What a lovely way to start our vacation!
Day Two: Day at Sea
Days at sea are always a favorite, as you get to enjoy the ship without an agenda or need to be somewhere ashore. We found assorted activities to participate in listed in the Daily Program, but we chose to relax in our stateroom, wander around the ship, and do our own thing for the most part.
We slept late, still getting over the jet lag from our flight from the United States to Athens. The day flew by. We enjoyed the ship’s lounges, some music trivia, and a wonderful presentation about ancient Egypt in preparation for visiting Cairo and Giza the next day. Soon after, it was time for the Greek wine tasting we signed up for during dinner the night before.
The wine tasting was an additional $12.50 per person and was worth the cost for a fun activity during our sea day. While the crew member in charge of leading the tasting had minimal knowledge of the wines and viticulture, the reason we signed up was to taste Greek wines, and that goal was certainly achieved.
Specialty Dining Experience: The Greek Table
Because we very much enjoy Greek food — and the Greek food options onboard was one of the things we appreciated most about Celestyal Cruises — we signed up for The Greek Table dining experience. It is an additional cost but a special experience.
Our dinner was a six-course meal with bonus treats and dishes in between some of the courses. The Greek Table Experience is available across the Celestyal Cruises fleet, not just during the Three Continents Cruise itinerary. We recap our full dinner here.
After our memorable two-hour dinner, from which we were thoroughly stuffed, we skipped the nighttime show and went to bed. We had an early alarm set to wake up for our third day in Egypt.
Day Three: Port Said, Egypt, Visiting Cairo and Giza
The third day of our Three Continents cruise was long but wonderful. We woke up at 5:30 am to see the view as the ship pulled into port. After an early breakfast, we disembarked to board the buses that drove the three-hour trip to Cairo.
Our tour guide was a lovely Egyptian woman who was smiling and enthusiastic the whole day. She spoke perfect English.
As someone who is always interested to know about bathroom availability during any excursion, I want to note that this was the only tour bus during our Celestyal Cruises Three Continents itinerary that had bathrooms on it. This was due to the long hours we were on the bus.
We’ve been on many cruises, and it seems that it’s actually more typical than not that the coach bus doesn’t have a usable bathroom for guests, even if there appears to be one on board. We were grateful there was a bathroom on the bus for the long journey.
Classic Cairo Tour
Our first stop was at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which houses many ancient Egyptian artifacts and treasures, including furniture, sarcophaguses, jewelry, and more. We opted for the lunch nearly across the street from the museum at the Ritz Carlton instead of the river cruise lunch, which was also an option with Celestyal Cruises. It was delicious and very well-organized.
Afer lunch, we went to the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was approximately 30 minutes away. It is the only one left of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was incredible to admire its wonder standing in front of the awesome pyramids. The area is touristy, indeed, but the Celestyal Cruises excursion made it easy to know where to go and avoid having to wait in line for tickets; the cruise line and your guide arrange tickets for you.
Our guide even arranged camel rides for the guests who wanted to participate. You’ll need cash on hand if you want to ride camels at the pyramids, which we recommend. (We used euros.) It’s a unique experience and photo opportunity.
Having seen the Great Sphinx in photos and school history books growing up, it was wild to see it in front of us and pose for photos with it. Dan and I got a kick out of seeing what its tail looked like since you always see the monument from the front in pictures but never the back.
Our last stop was at a market to do some local shopping and see some papyrus art after a brief demonstration to learn how the paper. The journey from Giza back to Port Said was three and a half hours, and we got back to the ship around 7:00 pm. The bus ride was a good opportunity to nap!
Day Four: Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israel and Palestine
Our cruise stopped in Ashdod, Israel. The port of call allowed us to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It was a really wonderful day.
We went to the Western Wall, the surrounding Arab markets, and the Christian Quarter in the morning. As afternoon neared, we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem before going to Palestine for lunch. In Palestine, we visited The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.
These are three of the holiest sites in their respective religions. Though Dan and I are not religious, it was amazing to visit these bucket list places.
Celestyal Cruises is not currently going to Israel because of the war. But hopefully, when it’s safe to one day visit the area again, they’ll be able to resume visits here and guests will once again be able to see these fascinating places.
Day Five: Cyprus
We arrived in Cyprus at a very modern port in Limassol. We boarded buses and had a little tour of the island as we were driven to our first destination: the Archaeological Park of Curium.
The morning was enjoyable and low-key as we toured the most visited portions of the park, including the House of Efstolios. We saw impressive, well-preserved 5th-century mosaic floors from the homes of wealthy Greeks here, with mosaiced figures from Greek mythology. The view from this area was as incredible as the view from the Greco-Roman Theatre.
After we saw these two impressive historical sites, we headed to the charming village of Omodos for lunch. Our guide took us for a walk around the small town — including a stop inside the local church to see its architecture — and then to our lunch spot.
Lunch was included in the tour and was phenomenal. We love food and trying the local cuisine, so this was a highlight of the cruise! We got to try various dishes and were wowed by the flavors. Everything was delicious, and our bellies were happy before the last stop of the day, a wine tasting to try local specialties.
A scenic drive along the coast took us back to the cruise port, where we boarded our ship for the evening.
Day Six: Rhodes, Greece
April through October is the busy season in Rhodes, and we were lucky to be there at the beginning of the cruise season in March. Rhodes is also sunny 310 days a year, and we were grateful for a beautiful day. There was a tourism explosion on this Greek island in the 1970s thanks to the perfect combination of nature, sunshine, and history. Visitors enjoy flocking to Rhodes to this day.
Visiting Lindos in Rhodes
It was only a 10-minute walk from the ship to the local Medieval village within Rhodes’ walled city. But we hopped on buses to drive the one hour to Lindos, our first destination on the island.
We exited the buses at a parking lot in Lindos and made a bathroom stop at the main square, where there were public restrooms to use for 50 cents. (Paying to use public restrooms in Europe is typical.) There were also restrooms at the top of the Acropolis, or, as our guide told us, at any cafe as long as you purchase something, even if just water.
We hiked through a fortified area with walls from medieval times up to the Temple to Athena from the 4th century BC at the Lindos Acropolis.
As our guide took us on a moderate walk up to the temple, he narrated the site’s history as we listened on the Whisper devices that allowed us to hear him in our ears as we walked.
After the guide helped us reach the top, he gave the group the option of walking back down with him or walking back on our own. We opted to go down alone at our leisure. There were so many photo opportunities on the way down I was looking forward to taking advantage of!
At the designated time, everyone in the group gathered on the buses at Lindos to go back to the city center. Rhodes has one of the best-preserved medieval streets in the world, with three moats surrounding the city, and this was our next destination.
Discovering Rhodes' Medieval History
We saw one of the preserved eight gates to the city as we walked toward the citadel and Street of the Knights. This was also the time the sun was beginning to set, and the lighting along the street was magical.
Afterward, we were given the option to spend some free time in town and walk back to the ship, which was just a ten-minute walk away, or we could hop back on the bus to catch a ride back. We opted to stay in town and walk around for a little while, which was the perfect end to a fabulous day on the island.
Day 7: Kusadasi, Turkey
We didn’t know what to expect in Kusadasai (pronounced Koo-shud-i-sigh) because we had never heard of it before the cruise! But now we’ll never forget it. This cruise port has gained popularity over the past 40 years, but prior to that, it was a fishing village.
Visiting the Ancient City of Ephesus
Turkey is home to nearly 3,000 ancient cities, and we were delighted to tour the ancient city of Ephesus with Celestyal Cruises on the Ephesus and Terrace Highlights excursion. We met our group at the buses at 7:45 am, left the parking lot by 8:15 am, and we were at Ephesus at 8:45 am.
Our guide, Oz, was a retired teacher and Turkish resident who spoke perfect English. He walked us through the ancient city, explaining how archeologists are piecing together the bits and pieces of the puzzle they have found from the ruins and through archeological digs.
We visited the most famous icon and most photographed spot in Ephesus, The Library of Celsus, as we learned about the 3,000-year-old history of Ephesus's 200,000 inhabitants and the earthquakes and geological reasons that forced them to abandon the area.
The particular tour we chose took us to the area of the terrace house remains. We saw walls, columns, and rooms of the homes in astonishingly good condition, including painted walls and mosaic tile floors.
Learning About and Shopping for Turkish Rugs
Afterward, our bus took us to a Turkish rugs business where we learned how silk is created and dyed, then handwoven by women – whose hands are typically smaller than males and are the right size to weave rugs – to create spectacular pieces.
We were comforted to know that it was a reputable Turkish rug business. It was a warehouse of sorts, and we knew that the business was approved and vetted by Celestyal Cruises.
Otherwise, if you don’t go to the cruise line's approved Turkish rugs place, you could be taken for a ride with a scam from dishonest vendors at the port. And not a magic carpet ride you want to be a part of either! So be careful and only buy from who the cruise line partner with!
For this reason and more, we purchased a fabulous rug here when its blue hues and geometric black and white pattern met our eyes. We love that we’ll have this keepsake from our Celestyal Cruises Three Continents Cruise forever. And we can happily report that the rug was shipped to our home as promised and has been in our hands and house ever since.
Final Morning: Back at the Port of Piraeus
Our last morning of the cruise was easy and carefree as we disembarked back where we started, at the Port of Piraeus. We then boarded Emerald Azzurra for a small ship cruise of the western Mediterranean Sea.
Book this Bucket List Three Continents Cruise
It almost seems too good to be true. One day, we were standing at the Athens Acropolis, and days later, we were posing for photos at the pyramids in Giza. The next day, we visited the Western Wall and the Church of The Nativity. It was a bucket list dream come true made possible with Celestyal Cruise’s Three Continents itinerary. And we’re not saying that to gloat about our experience. Rather, it’s to say that you can sign up, too.
Search the Celestyal Cruises availability as soon as possible and book a cruise with them to check several historical sites off your travel bucket list.