Orient Queen Review

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One of the smaller ships in the Louis Cruise fleet, the Orient Queen is a reasonable alternative for a four-, five-, six-, or eight-night excursion to the Aegean and Ionian Islands and Turkish coasts. Dating from 1968, this old-timer operated from 1968 to 1995 by Norwegian Cruise Lines as the MS Starward. After 1995, she was purchased, reconverted, and sailed for Festival Cruises until acquired again for nearly US$10 million dollars by Abou Merhi Lines. In 2005, she set sail out of the Persian Gulf, and by 2006 found a home in Port Canaveral, Florida under the management and operation of Paradise Caribbean Cruise Line. In July 2006, the Orient Queen was employed to help evacuate U.S. citizens from Lebanon due to the continuous regional conflict. In August 2006, Louis Cruise purchased and refurbished the ship, her next starring role for easygoing Hellenic passages.

With its signature helipad at the bow, the 15,781-ton Orient Queen is slim by current cruising standards, a positive trait if less crowded decks and facilities are desired. With a total of 355 staterooms, the vessel accommodates 912 passengers in an atmosphere that is more contemporary and casual chic than the larger ships in the Louis Cruise armada. A mostly Greek crew offers knowledgeable and friendly service that feels personalized on eight decks of comfortable restaurants, lounges, and bars. Typical activities and facilities include a mini golf course, shopping boutiques, and fitness/spa center. Expect to recognize faces while leisurely strolling the promenades or enjoying a cocktail in the upper-deck lounges. While not providing the height of individual privacy, the cruise experience is tailored for a more intimate journey.

An excursion on the Orient Queen tends to please passengers looking for a good informal voyage with outgoing, attentive service, excellent food, and comfortable cabins. Since the vessel is smaller and older, expect to feel the swells of the sea and hear loud engine drones, despite extensive refurbishment and stabilizers. Buffet meals, conservative entertainment, and a variety of onboard programs provide a full experience. The real highlight will be accessing places such as the Greek isles of Paxos, Naros, and the village of Mytilini as well as the Turkish delights of Istanbul and Kusadasi.


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