Celestyal Cruises

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Celestyal Cruises
IndustryCruise line
HeadquartersPiraeus, Athens, Greece
Area served
Eastern Mediterranean
ServicesCruise ship operator and chartering
ParentLouis PLC

Celestyal Cruises (formerly Louis Cruises and Louis Cruise Lines) is a Cyprus-based cruise line and the only cruise company based in Greece.[1] It is a subsidiary of Louis plc, founded in 1935 as the first travel agency in Cyprus. There are four ships under Celestyal's operation.[2][3] Celestyal runs an Eastern Mediterranean program traveling to Greek and Turkish ports as well as a Cuba program.[citation needed] 2017 was Celestyal's fifth year in Cuba.[4] The company has historically chartered several ships to Marella Cruises, previously Thomson Cruises.[5][6][7]


MV Aquamarine anchored off Patmos, Greece in July 2008.

Celestyal Cruises is a subsidiary of the Cyprus-based travel and tourism group Louis plc, that was founded in 1935 as the first travel agency in Cyprus. During the 1970s the company began chartering ferries for short cruises Cyprus, which eventually led to the purchase of the cruiseferry MV Prinsessan from the Finland-based Birka Line for $4 million in 1987. Renamed MV Princesa Marissa, the ship started making cruises from Limassol to the Greek Isles, Egypt and Israel under the then newly established Louis Cruise Lines band.[8][9] By 1994 the company had acquired three more ships, all of which were used in the short cruise market from Cyprus.[8]

In the mid-1990s Louis Cruise Lines entered the business of chartering ships to other companies, chartering MV Princesa Oceanica (renamed Sapphire) to the UK-based Thomson Cruises in 1996. [8]</ref> The following year the newly acquired The Emerald was also chartered to Thomson. In 1999 Louis chartered the 1998-acquired SS Ausonia to First Choice Holidays, one of Thomson's competitors in the UK market. By this time the Louis fleet consisted of a total of eight ships. Also in 1999, Louis acquired a stake in the Greece-based Royal Olympic Cruises. Royal Olympic was already in difficulties by the time Louis became involved with the company, and the 11 September 2001 attacks dealt a further blow, finally leading to the collapse of Royal Olympic in 2004.

During the early 2000s Louis further modernised their fleet by acquiring Calypso in 2000, and chartering MV Nieuw Amsterdam from Holland America Line in 2003, immediately sub-chartering her to Thomson as MV Thomson Spirit. In 2004 Louis acquired MV Aquamarine from the fleet of the UK-based Sun Cruises (which had gone out of business).[8] Another former Sun Cruises ship, MV Thomson Destiny, was chartered from a Norway-based investment company and sub-chartered to Thomson Cruises.[10] The new acquisitions also made possible the sale of three of Louis' older vessels. Also in 2004, following the collapse of Royal Olympic Cruises, Louis Cruise Lines purchased two of their former ships at bargain prices and established their own Louis Hellenic Cruises brand for the Greek cruise market.[8]

MV Sea Diamond was acquired in 2006, but sank off Santorini in 2007.

Further expansion came in 2006 with the purchase of MV Orient Queen and MV Sea Diamond, another former Baltic Sea cruise ferry purchased from Birka Line, while Calypso was chartered to Thomson and Aquamarine (renamed Arielle) to Transocean Tours. Additionally Louis entered a franchise agreement with easyCruise to operate ships in the Eastern Mediterranean on behalf of easyCruise in the future. Disaster struck in April 2007 when the Sea Diamond sunk off Santorini, Greece. All but two of the ship's passengers were safely evacuated, but the sinking resulted in a flurry of negative publicity for Louis.[8] MV Oceanic II and MV Ruby were chartered as temporary replacements for the Sea Diamond, until MV Cristal – former Silja Line cruise ship MV Silja Opera – entered service in July 2007.[8][11] By 1994 the company had acquired three more ships, all of which were used in the short cruise market from Cyprus.[8]|df=dmy}}</ref> In 2008 the Arielle was returned from her charter to Transocean Tours, reverted to her earlier name Aquamarine and entered service under the Louis Hellenic Cruises brand.[12] By 1994 the company had acquired three more ships, all of which were used in the short cruise market from Cyprus.[8]|df=dmy}}</ref> By early 2008 the Louis Hellenic Cruises brand appeared to have been abandoned.[13] By 1994 the company had acquired three more ships, all of which were used in the short cruise market from Cyprus.[8] |df=dmy }}</ref>

In April 2008 Louis Cruise Lines agreed to purchase MV Norwegian Dream and MV Norwegian Majesty from Star Cruises. The agreement at the time was to charter the ships back to Star Cruises/Norwegian Cruise Line until November 2008 and December 2009, respectively.[14] By 1994 the company had acquired three more ships, all of which were used in the short cruise market from Cyprus.[8]|archiveurl=Cruise Business Review|archivedate=8 July 2011|df=dmy}}</ref> However, in September 2008 Louis cancelled the purchase of the Norwegian Dream due to "technical issues relating to the vessel".[15] In May 2008 Louis Cruise Lines purchased Thomson Destiny and Thomson Spirit that had previously been operated under charter. At the same time Princesa Marissa and Serenade were sold for scrap.[10]

In 2009 the company changed its name to Louis Cruises.

In 2010 Louis Cruises became a five ship fleet due to having laying up the SS The Emerald & MS Sapphire due to the SOLAS 2010 and the selling of the MV Aquamarine in order to renew the fleet.

In 2012 the company signed a new charter agreement with Thomson Cruises and the MS Louis Majesty will switch over and be on charter until 2017.[16] By 1994 the company had acquired three more ships, all of which were used in the short cruise market from Cyprus.[8]|df=dmy}}</ref> In return, the Thomson Destiny will return to the Louis fleet and will be renamed Louis Olympia.[17] She will then be deployed on 3/4-day sailings out of Piraeus and Kusadasi to the Greek Islands and Turkey.[18]

The MS Sapphire was sold for scrap in May 2012, and the SS The Emerald was sold for scrap in August 2012, along with The Calypso late 2012, all three ships were laid up for two years due to SOLAS 2010.

The Coral was scrapped in late 2013, and theLouis Crista was charted to Cuba Cruises, but still operating under the Louis brand.

In early 2014, Louis Cruises announced a new livery. All Louis ships will receive a Louis Cruises logo on their white hall, along with a red and blue stripe next to it. The "Louis Olympia" was the first ship to receive the new livery in early February 2014.

In September 2014, Louis Cruises rebranded itself as Celestyal Cruises.[19][20] It is a subsidiary of Louis plc, founded in 1935 as the first travel agency in Cyprus.

Celestyal renovated some of its fleet in 2015. 43 new balconies were added to the Crystal, and 227 outside cabins, 21 junior suites, and nine suites were refurbished on the Olympia.[21][22][23] The Crystal is used for cruises in Cuba and Greece,[24][25][26] and Olympia travels in Greece.[27][28]

At the 2015 Greek Tourism Awards, Celestyal received four awards, one of which was the Gold Award for Themed Events. It also received two Silver Awards and one Bronze Award. The following year, it won the Cruise Line Revelation Award at the Excellence Awards in Cartagena, Spain.[29] Celestyal received the Best Value Cruise Line of 2016 at Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks Awards,[30] as well as four Greek Tourism Awards in 2016.[31]

In May 2017, Celestyal launched its redesigned website which was designed to include cruise information as well as company news and details for its value program, Celestyal Inclusive Experience.[32][33][34]

In September 2017, Celestyal announced a partnership with Hays Travel to expand its customer base across the UK, making its cruises available through Hays Tour Operating Limited.[35] Celestyal has also partnered with Air Canada Vacations, Transat, Hola Sun Holidays, Apple Vacations,[36] Iglu and Planet Cruise.[37]

In December 2017, Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks Awards recognized Celestyal with Best for Service.[38][39] The Marella Spirit also received three Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks Awards.[40] Also in 2017, Celestyal received five top Critic Cruiser's Choice Awards,[41] as well as five awards at the Greek Tourism Awards.[42]

In late 2017, Celestyal announced that it would be extending its cruise season in Greece to 10 months. The extension included seven-night Aegean cruises with overnight destinations in Mykonos and Santorini.[43][44] The following month, Celestyal announced its 2019 Greek islands itineraries leaving from Piraeus, which had longer stays with more destinations included Mykonos, Samos or Kusadasi, Patmos, Heraklion (Crete), Rhodes and Santorini.[45][44][46][47] The M/V Majesty was added to the Celestyal fleet in Greece for Aegean cruises in 2018,[48][49][50][51] when its charter to Marella Cruises, previously Thomson Cruises, ended.[3] In July 2018, it was announced that Majesty was sold to the Israeli company Mano Maritime.[52]

Celestyal was featured in the final episode of the second season of Jane McDonald's Channel 5 show, Cruising with Jane McDonald in 2017.[53] McDonald went on a Cuban cruise that stopped in Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba and Montego Bay, Jamaica with an overnight in Havana.[54][55]

Celestyal Cruises due to the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended all cruises since 13th of March 2020. [56]

A decision issued from the company was to extend the suspension further until 6th of March 2021 due to a ongoing uncertainty on travelling to Europe this summer. [57]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Celestyal Cruises acquired the former Costa neoRomantica from Costa Cruises, the vessel was renamed Celestyal Experience in August of that year. A year later it was announce in September 2021 that Celestyal decided to sell the Experience. Citing, "due to the prolonged effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided not to increase the size of Celestyal Cruises’ fleet at this time and will instead continue to operate the cruise ships Celestyal Olympia and Celestyal Crystal which served the company’s needs well prior to the pandemic. In addition, the sale is expected to further support the liquidity of Celestyal Cruises," the company said.[58]


Current Ships[edit]

Ship Built Builder Entered service
with Celestyal Cruises
Gross tonnage Flag Notes Image
Celestyal Crystal 1980 Wärtsilä Turku New Shipyard 2007 25,611 tons  Malta Operates cruises to Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and the Caribbean. Celestyal Crystal fondeado en Santorini - panoramio.jpg
Celestyal Olympia 1982 Wärtsilä Hietalahti shipyard 2005, 2012 37,584 tons  Malta Currently operating on 3/4-day cruises from Greece. Kuşadası (3) (cropped).JPG

Former Fleet[edit]

Ship Built Builder In service
with Celestyal Cruises
Gross tonnage Flag Notes Image
Celestyal Experience[59][60][61] 1993 Fincantieri 2020-2021 (Never entered service) 56,769 tons  Malta Ex-Costa neoRomantica. The ship was bought from Costa Cruises, joined in August 2020, but was sold one year later.[62]
Majesty 1992 Wärtsilä Marine/Kvaerner Masa-Yards 2008–2018 40,876 tons  Malta Now named MS Crown Iris for Mano Maritime. Louis Majesty Rhodes.jpg
Celestyal Odyssey 2000 Blohm + Voss 2015–2016 24,318 tons  Malta Now named MV Glory Sea for Diamond Cruises. Explorer IMG 9891 (14351764521).jpg
Celestyal Nefeli 1992 Union Navale de Levante 2016–2017 19,093 tons  Malta Now named Gemini for Blue World Voyages. Gemini 2011 (cropped).jpg
Marella Spirit 1983 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 2002–2003 33,930 tons  Malta It was chartered to Marella Cruises until 2018; previously Thomson Spirit, Patriot, Spirit, and Nieuw Amsterdam. Sold for scrap at Alang under the name Mare S in 2018 ThomsonSpirit.jpg
Princesa Marissa 1966 Hietalahti shipyard 1987–2008 10,487 tons  Cyprus Previously named Prisessan and Finnhansa. Scrapped at Alang under the name Prince in 2008. MS Princesa Marissa on 2004-05-27.jpg
Princesa Amorosa 1956 Harland & Wolff 1994–2002 ? tons  Cyprus Previously named Scottish Coast, Galaxias and pink. Scrapped at Alang under the name Rosa in 2002.
Louis Aura 1968 AG Weser 2006–2017 15,781 tons  Malta Previously named Starward, Bolero, Orient Queen and Aegean Queen. Scrapped at Alang under the name Aegean in 2018. Louis Aura in Tallinn Bay 13 June 2015.JPG
Sea Diamond 1986 Vuosaari shipyard 2006–2007 21,484 tons  Greece Previously named Birka Princess. Sank near Santorini on 2007. Sea Diamond and Sky Wonder (Sea Diamond).jpg
Sapphire 1965 Cantieri Navale Felszegi 1996–2012 12,263 tons  Malta Previously named Italia for Costa Crociere sold for scrap at Alang under the name Aspire in 2012. Sapphire in Malaga, Spain.jpg
Princessa Victoria 1936 Harland & Wolff 1994–2004 15,007 tons  Cyprus Previously named Dunnottar Castle, sold for scrap at Alang under the name Victoria in 2004. MV The Victoria alongside Fort de France Nov 06 1985.jpg
Princessa Cypria 1965 Cantieri Navali del Torrino e Riuniti S.P.A. Riva Trigoso Genova 1988–2005 ? tons  Cyprus Previously named Princess Marghethe, sold for scrap at Alang under the name Princes in 2005. "Poseidonia" - Eleusis, 2004.jpg
The Emerald 1957 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock 1996–2012 26,431 tons  Greece Previously named Santa Rosa. Sold for scrap at Alang in 2012. Emerald barbados (4332282732) (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Ausonia 1956 Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico 1998–2006 11,879 tons  Greece Previously named Ausonia. Sold for scrap at Alang under the name Winner 5 in 2006. "Ausonia" - Genoa, 1989.jpg
Serenade 1956 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 1999–2008 14,173 tons  Bahamas Previously named Jean Mermoz. Sold for scrap at Alang under the name Serena in 2008. Patmos2005 (cropped).jpg
The Calypso 1967 Fincantieri 2000–2013 11,162 tons  Greece Previously named Canguro Verde. Sold for scrap at Alang under the name Caly in 2013. The Calypso cruise ship at Rhodes, Greece 2008.jpeg
Perla/The Aegean Queen 1971 Cantiere navale di Riva Trigoso 2004–2008 16,710 tons  Greece Previously named MS Southward. Sold for scrap at Aliağa, Turkey in 2013. "Southward" - Miami, 1986 (cropped).JPG
Coral 1971 De Rotterdamsche Droogdok, Rotterdam, Netherlands 2004–2013 14,194 tons  Greece Previously named Cunard Adventurer. Sold for scrap at Alang under the name Cora in 2014. GOLDEN HORN ISTANBUL TURKEY JULY 2011 (6017563126).jpg
Aquamarine 1970 Hietalahti shipyard 2005–2010 18,346 tons  Greece Previously named Nordic Prince. Sold for scrap at Alang, India in 2014.[63] MV Aquamarine off Patmos (cropped).jpg
Ruby 1974 Navali Mechaniche Affini, La Spezia, Italy 2007–2007 17,593 tons  Cyprus Previously named Cunard Countess, after named Ocean Countess. Sold for scrap at Aliağa, Turkey in 2014. Ocean Countess 2009 Quail Cruises.JPG


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External links[edit]