Symi is on the Louis schedules in 2014

Symi is on the Louis schedules in 2014

Louis Cruises has gone official with a dedicated brochure aimed squarely at the UK market, offering voyages on two ships on a cruise only basis.

The season begins on March 14h, when the line’s largest ship, the 38,000 ton Louis Olympia, embarks on the first of some thirty three, three night sailings, leaving from Athens on a Friday morning, with calls at Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Heraklion and Santorini. The last sailing is on October 24th.

Monday morning sailings on the Louis Olympia cover a four night itinerary to the same ports, with the added extra of a wednesday arrival in Rhodes. With a first departure on March 17th, the ship will make some thirty three of these circuits, with the final voyage beginning on October 27th.

The Louis Olympia carries around 1600 passengers in a mix of inside and outside cabins, plus a handful of upper deck balcony suites right forward. People might remember her in her former incarnations as the Song Of America and, in the UK, as the Sunbird and Thomson Destiny. She’s a comfortable, well run ship, with plenty of deck space and  a couple of decent sized outdoor pools, perfect for enjoying the balmy Greek evenings alfresco.

Summertime on Mykonos

Summertime on Mykonos

I’ve said before that these are fun, really destination intensive cruises that pass at a rapid rate of knots. To get a better feel (and a better return on your air fare) why not combine the two cruises to make a full week? It will give you more choices in ports where you spend a few hours per day.

Or, as an alternative, you could consider the seven night itineraries on offer on the slightly smaller Louis Cristal.

Returning from her winter Cuba charter, the Louis Cristal is operating  a superb seven nighter through July and August. Again, this is based on combining a three night friday departure from Athens, with a four night departure on the monday. Separately, they break down like this;

The three night cruises begin on friday, July 4th, and call in to Mykonos, Kusadasi, Samos and Milos, before returning to the port of Lavrion, just outside Athens.

A four night itinerary then departs from Lavrion on the monday, and this one visits Syros, Cesme, overnights in Bodrum, and continues on to Kos, Ios, and Santorini.

These can be combined to form some really tempting seven night cruises, without repeating the same ports of call. Options include departing on either a friday or, instead, a monday.

Lido pool on the Louis Cristal

Lido pool on the Louis Cristal

Lavrion is a ferry port, located approximately sixty kilometres from Piraeus, and apparently better suited for direct access from Athens International airport.

A second, full seven night round trip from Lavrion on the Louis Cristal begins on April 25th. There are eighteen sailings, running through until October 24th, and all take in the highlights of Istanbul, Kusadasi, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, Symi, and a final call at Mykonos.

The Louis Cristal carries around 1200 passengers, and weighs around 24,000 tons. Particularly nice is the midships poo areal, with it’s sliding glass roof, and a stern facing Jacuzzi that overlooks the ship’s wake. There’s a glass walled observation lounge, cantilevered around the funnel, that offers wonderful views out over the horizon. At night, this doubles up as a late night disco.

Cabin wise, the Louis Cristal has insides, some decent sized upper deck outsides, and a handful of upper deck cabins with unusual, v-shaped balconies. There’s also a couple of forward facing balcony suites at the base of the superstructure, each with its own hot tub, that have one of the best locations of any ship afloat.

Both Louis Olympia and Louis Cristal are intimate, welcoming, and serve dinner in two main sittings each evening. Quite at home in these waters, the Louis Cruise ships are an absolutely perfect way to see the islands and resort highlights of Greece and Turkey from a safe, good value vantage point.

Rhodes Town

Rhodes Town

All told, this is a new and varied programme that cherishes all the old favourites, while at the same time folding in some new, very tempting options. For instance, you have the flexibility to combine a three, four or seven night cruise with a stay in Athens, or even a few days on one of the major islands, such as Mykonos.

One that is definitely worth considering for 2014, I think.


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