Louis Cruises Are The Number One Company In Cyprus For Cruising

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Louis Cruises Corporate Video

Some Background Information

Until April 2007 was probably the biggest cruise line you had never heard of. The cruise line company was then suddenly exploded into the world media spotlight, when its newest ship the Sea Diamond tragically ran aground and sank off the coast of Santorini with two French passenger casualties.

Despite spending several years being a low key cruise line, Louis has grown successfully over 20 or so years from a single ship operation into the fifth largest cruise operator in the world.

Louis Cruises Becomes The Largest In The Eastern Mediterranean

Thanks to this great success they have become the largest cruise line in places like Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, and with the recent addition of their new flagship Louis Majesty, they have expanded and are enjoying an annual presence in the Western Mediterranean. Louis also leads the way in chartering ships to other reputable cruise lines, like the UK based Thomson Cruise Lines.

The Cruise Lines is the passenger shipping side of the huge Louis plc company, which is a Cyprus based travel and tourism group founded in 1935 by the young entrepreneur Louis Loizou, who founded the first ever travel agency in the then British colony of Cyprus.

Louis Cruises Goes From Strength To Strength

By the time of his death in 1971, the Louis company had grown into the most successful and dominant travel group on Cyprus, catering for major tour operators and airlines from across the world and operating many profitable travel agencies, hotels and resorts.

Louis Cruises The Family Business

Now still a family run business, the founders son Costakis Loizou, first entered into the cruising industry with the charter of ferries that made short cruises from Cyprus. The great success of this operation resulted in the launch of the Cruise Line in 1986, the companies very own entrance into the cruise line market.

Its first ever cruise ship, the former Finnish cruise ferry the Princess Marissa, successfully operated from it Cypriot port of Limassol and offered short cruises to the Greek Islands, Israel and Egypt.

Louise Cruises Becoming More Successful

Though the Princess Marissa had long been decommissioned, by 1993 three more ships had been added to the Louis Cruise Line portfolio and a thriving short cruise business from Cyprus was in operation. The next big leap came in 1995 and 1996, when two more ships were introduced, the Sapphire and The Emerald which were chartered to the Thomson Holidays tour operated based in the United Kingdom.

Towards the end of the decade came the cruise liner Ausonia, which was chartered to Thomson's main competitor First Choice. Another new ship addition was also added to the Cyprus based fleet called the Serenade. The Louis fleet now numbered eight, with five of its own ships and three chartered to UK tour operators.

Louise Cruises Expansion Plan

The next key element to the company's expansion came in 1999 with the investment of a large stake in Royal Olympic Cruises, the leader in Greek cruise lines. The company already struggling with an ageing fleet, high labour costs and ever increasing foreign competition, was dealt a fatal blow by the 9/11 tragedy.

By December 2003, it began its slow decline with the loss of their only newly built ships, the Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer. Still struggling financially through the summer of 2004, Royal Olympic cruises finally collapsed in the autumn of that year.

Louis Cruises Moves Into The Greek Cruise Market

Louis flatly refusing to save the failing company, decided instead to start its own new venture into the Greek cruise market, with the Louis Hellenic Cruises company. This company acquired two of Royal Olympics ships, Triton which was renamed Coral and Seawing which was renamed Perla, and obtained them at way below market value.

Louis Cruises Starts Operations In Greece

By early spring of 2005, Louis Hellenic Cruises was welcoming aboard its very first passengers for Greek Isles cruises from its home port in Piraeus. Louis Hellenic also started the Louis company's first cruises into the North American market.

Louis Cruises In The American Market

Several top American tour operators had include cruises from Royal Olympic in their tour packages in Greece, Turkey or Italy and Louis Hellenic conveniently and eagerly filled this gap in the market. While the company did very minimal marketing in North America, the company's cruises were still widely sold by the biggest name in package tours.

In comparison, the rest of the successful company continued to modernise and expand in size and by 2000 the cruise liner Calypso had joined the Louis fleet increasing its number to nine. In 2003, the company had chartered Nieuw Amsterdam which was briefly the United States Lines Patriot from Holland America and renamed it the Thomson Spirit, which replaced a ship that Thomson had chartered from an alternative company.

The two ships Sapphire and Ausonia had now returned from their charters and entered into Louis's own fleet, allowing their cruise line to finally sell of their ageing ships such as the Princess Amorosa, Princess Cypria and Princess Victoria, which were all successfully sold for scrap.

Louis Cruises Further Expansion

Further expansion was on the agenda when in 2004; Louis acquired ships from the struggling My Travel Group, whose Sun Cruise brand had brought the introduction of mass marketed cruises to the United Kingdom. One ship was resold, but two were included into the Louis fleet the first Sunbird (former name Song of America, from Royal Caribbean's) was chartered out to Thomson and renamed Thomson Destiny, while the second Carousel (former name Song of Norway) became Louis' next ship rename Aquamarine.

Louis Cruises Add More Ships To The Fleet

In 2006 even more ship were added, with the Orient Queen originally NCL's Starward and Sea Diamond previously the Baltic cruise ferry Birka included in the fleet. By it's 20th anniversary the Louis fleet would number 13. With the new charters to Thomson with Calypso and Aquamarine (renamed Arielle) to German Based Transocean Tours, the company now had five ships chartered to major tour operators and eight included in its own fleet.

The company also set up a franchise agreement that allowed them to operate ships in the Eastern Mediterranean on behalf of easyCruise. Entering into 2007, the future for the Louis company had never looked more certain.

Louis Cruises Has A Tragedy

Suddenly when everything was running so smoothly, tragedy struck. When on April 5th, 2oo7 the newest and largest of the Lois fleet, Sea Diamond hit a reef just off Santorini on its very first cruise of the season. All passengers and crew, except two missing French passengers were safely evacuated from the ship, several hours before the ship finally sank in the early hours of April 6th.

News of this tragic accident was reported and watched on televisions throughout the world. In Britain one of the company's key markets the Louis Group had already made headlines for the wrong reasons, when in 2006 two British children had died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty boiler at a Louis resort in Corfu. The tragic accident that befell Sea Diamond was yet another terrible blow to the Louis reputation.

Louis Cruises Explanation For The Tragedy

In an inquest a year later, a spokesman for the Louis Group claimed a faulty map was the cause for the grounding and subsequent sinking of Sea Diamond, and new evidence has recently emerged which actually support that claim. Even with these tragic accidents, the company though a little tarnished still remains one of the largest and most reputable names in tourism across the Eastern Mediterranean.

Louis Cruises Expansion On Hold

After the Sea Diamond accident, any expansion planned by Louis had to be put on hold while the company tried to find a suitable ship to replace their other sunken vessel. Most of the Sea Diamonds charters had to taken over by other members of the fleet, such as Thompson Spirit and The Emerald, whose own charters for that summer hadn't yet begun.

Even Pullmantur Cruises' Oceanic II which was also on lease from a Greek owner was also chartered to cover a few of the cruises, while Monarch Classic Cruises' Ocean Countess, now renamed Ruby by Louis was chartered for the remaining summer cruises.

Finally a more permanent replacement was chartered with the Louis Cristal, the former NCL Leeward which was about the same size as Sea Diamond, but was several years newer and contained much better facilities. Cristal was a prime example to the industry of the continuation in modernising of the Louis Fleet and yet more additions were to be made shortly.

Louis Cruises Disposes Of The Ausonia

With the introduction of new SOLAS regulations which became effective in 2010, meant the company would dispose of its ship the Ausonia. The company's charters to Thomson already included Thomson Celebration, along with its sister ships Thomson Spirit and Thomson Destiny. The Calypso charter had ended and in the winter season of 2010-2011, started operating for Louis in the Red Sea on several short three and four night cruises.

Louis Cruises Has A Sojourn Into India

The company enjoyed a brief entrance into the short cruises in India with their ship Aquamarine, before the ship was re-chartered with the Aegean Pearl for short cruises in Spring 2010 to the Greek Islands. Their ship Ocean Countess also went on UK based charters for Cruise and Maritime Voyages in April 2010.

The big news came when the company attempted to purchase to much larger ships from NCL, the Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Majesty which were due to be delivered in 2009. A deal for the Norwegian Dream has subsequently fallen through, but the Norwegian Majesty was finally delivered in November 2009. after some 18 month lease back to NCL.

After some clever tweaking for the European market, the Majesty was chartered into service by December 2009 and was aptly named Louis Majesty, the largest ship in the Louis fleet and the first ever ship which would be chartered to cruise all year round in the Mediterranean.

The ship represented a slow but ever evolving modernisation for Louis fleet, finally introducing the company's first ever on-board a la carte restaurant for passengers to enjoy fine dining while on their cruise.

Now with ships like the Cristal sailing out of Piraeus, and both the Orient Queen and Coral offering 10 to 14 night cruises from Marseilles and Genoa. The recent expansion and modernisation of Louis Cruises has cemented its place has a real major player in the cruise line industry worldwide. 

Copyright 2011 the-real-cyprus.com

Schedule For 2014

Sadly due to the political climate in the Middle East, no trips are going to Israel, Egypt, the Lebanon or Syria until further notice.

A sad thing as a trip to any or all of those places would really round out your visit to Cyprus.

Let us hope peace and tranquility will once again prevail.

> Louis Cruises

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