About This Line
In 1935, what began as a one-man travel agency by Louis Loizou has evolved into Louis PLC, one of the biggest tourism conglomerates in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The cruise line itself was established in 1986, with a fleet of refurbished, well-maintained ships. Disaster struck in 2007 when the MV Sea Diamond sank off the coast of Santorini, but the line has rebuilt its reputation for safe maritime travel in the interim. Today, the value-oriented line operates six ships, two of which are chartered by and sail under the Thomson brand.
Fastidious planning and design of excursions coupled with standard rooms and facilities one would expect on larger vessels offer passengers memorable journeys. Cruises are organized to optimize visiting the best ports of call during the best conditions for sightseeing, walking, hiking, and exploring.
Louis Cruises began cruising with the now-defunct Princess Marissa that embarked from Limassol, Cyprus towards Greek islands, Israel, and Egypt. By the 1990s, the line had added the Sapphire and Emerald (also now retired) as charters to UK-based Thomson Cruises, beginning its long-time affiliation with the British tour operator. Various ships have gone into and out of the Louis Cruises fleet since its inception, but by the beginning of the new millennium, the current line-up of ships began to take shape. The fleet was expanded in 2000 with the purchase of the Calypso, which has been recently retired. Louis also purchased what is now the Thomson Spirit from Holland America Line. It's other chartered long-term charter, the Thomson Destiny, was purchased from UK-based Sun Cruises. Louis Olympia entered service in 2005 (and was further refurbished in 2012). In 2006, the Orient Queen and Sea Diamond joined the fleet, though Sea Diamond sank off Santorini in 2007. The Louis Cristal was refurbished for seasonal itineraries to replace Sea Diamond in 2007.
Today the Louis fleet is composed of mostly second- or third-hand refurbished vessels, purchased since the early 1990s. The diverse collection ranges from the more basic 968-passenger Coral and 1,450-passenger Olympia to ships that are larger and somewhat newer. Ships vary in size, age, and available amenities, but all the ships’ cabins and facilities are well-maintained and clean.
Lacking luxury appointments and the accompanying prices and pretension, a cruise on any of the four Louis Cruises vessels concentrates more on destination than the actual shipboard experience. Passengers can tailor a three- to eight-day holiday to explore Greek islands off the beaten track or access Turkish ports of call. Some Louis ships may not meet the high expectations of well-heeled globetrotters, but the itineraries can be outstanding.
Proud of its Hellenic heritage, Louis Cruises specializes in short, port-intensive, discount cruises from Athens (Piraeus and Lavrion), Greece; Limassol, Cyprus; and Istanbul, Turkey in a fleet of seven classic midsized ships. Cruises typically explore Greece (both World Heritage Sites and remote Aegean Isles), the Turkish coast, ports in Croatia, and Venice. Chesterfield House, 385–387 Euston Rd., London, NW1 3AU. (44) 08000183883 in the UK; (30) 2104583400 in Greece. www.louiscruises.com. Cruise Style: Mainstream.