December 14th 2017

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Louis Cruises to the Greek Islands Louis Cruises to the Greek Islands Louis Cruises to the Greek Islands

 

Continent: Europe. Country: Greece. City: Athens.

Louis Cruises to the Greek Islands

By Brendan O'Connor, Travelmax.co.uk

It was a privilege to receive an email request from The Sandra Leach Company to join their group for this travel agent familiarisation trip to the Greek Islands in association with Louis Cruise Lines & Hotels. Hopefully my report below is both informative and succinct!

My journey began on the 09th October 2013 when I flew with British Airways from Belfast City to London Heathrow where I stayed overnight before meeting our group the following day.

We were requested to meet in Terminal 1, Zone K the following morning at 10:30 am.

Day 1

One by one we met with Josie Ball & Charlotte Dent (from Sandra Leach PR) along with Lily Alicabiotis from Aegean Airlines. Check-in was swift and efficient and before we knew it we were on our way to Athens on the A3 601 flight. There was approx. 1 hour delay taking off so we arrived in Athens about 6.30 pm local time (Greece are 2 hours ahead of the U.K./Ireland).

Once our luggage was collected we proceeded to the arrivals hall and transferred to our hotel. The transfer time was about 45 minutes but before we knew it we were here, Theonxenia Hotel in Piraeus www.theonxeniapalace.com, one of the Small Luxury of the World Hotels. Luxury it was too with most of us allocated single rooms and after a quick shower and change we were transferred to Taverna Psarra Restaurant (located in Plaxa) for Dinner.

Upon arrival we were greeted by Mr. Marios Shekeris & Dr. Pythagoras Nagos (both Louis Cruise Lines) and treated to the most wonderful Greek themed meal in the most beautiful setting at the foot of the Parthenon, the views were spectacular and the bright lights in the night sky made it all so beautiful. We were starting to fade so we headed back to our hotel for a quick night cap as we had an early start the next morning.

 

Day 2

We all arranged to meet for breakfast between 7 and 7.30 am in the dining room and before we knew it we were back on the coach and heading for the port of Piraeus. (This hotel is one of the nearest to the port so a great selling point to clients). We were issued with our cruise tickets, proceeded to the check-in desks (where we received our Blue Boarding Cards),went through security, and requested to board the Louis Olympia Ship and head for the clipper Bar (deck 5). www.louiscruises.com

We received a warm “Kalimera” from Andreas (Senior Officer onboard) and his team treated us to welcome cocktails & coffees (non-alcoholic you understand as lifeboat drill was taking place shortly!!!)  I was sharing with Robert King from Roma Travel and it was an honour, a real gentleman.

The Ship, in a brief nutshell: Most travel agents will know this ship as the Sunbird Vessel previously owned by Airtours Holidays. Other previous names were Song of America by Royal Caribbean Intl. & Thomson Destiny. The ship re-entered service in May 2012 as the Louis Olympia, it is a nice sized ship carrying 1665 passengers (when full to capacity), details taken from Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships! There are 11 passenger decks with cabins and suites between decks 2 – 9. There are 8 Bars/Lounges, 1 Main Restaurant (Seven Seas with 2 dining times), Lido Café & Pool Grill, 2 Swimming Pools, Saunas, Gym, Kids Club, Video Arcade, Beauty Salon (by Sana), Library, Duty Free Shops, internet corner and Medical Centre.

There is also a Shore Excursion Desk managed by the infectious Maria Kekakou, located on deck 4, and Josie, Charlotte and Marios ensured we met here daily for our shore excursions, dinner reservations etc. …This was OUR meeting point!

Getting back to our Blue Cards, we noticed that we had the “Unlimited Drinks Package” (very generous) and we were informed that this typically cost’s €19.95 per person per day (18 years and above). This package is very good value for money and prices can vary depending on the length of the cruise so passengers need to check their Daily News Program for their applicable voyage.

Please note: There is also a Non-Alcoholic Unlimited Drinks Package @ €11.95 p.p.per day.

After drinks and a view of our cabin (#6022) we gathered our life jackets and completed the mandatory life boat drill (S.O.L.A.S.) and then headed to the Can Can Lounge for the “Welcome Aboard” talk with The Cruise Director. This Lady (Liz from Liverpool) is a very talented lady who spoke many languages and possesses a vivacious personality, a really likeable lady J

After this we had more cocktails (the real deal this time!!!) and met with other senior officers and Liz and then had an inspection of the Louis Olympia (other cabins and Suites). Liz informed us that there was over 1,003 passengers sailing but we were picking up 500 more in Kusadasi.

Our ship had set sail from Athens and is was onwards to Mykonos J

After unpacking we then had lunch in the Lido Café which was wonderful and I personally think that this was the best place for food, the standard was high and there was always a great selection to choose from and different every day. There were lots of servers too.

Our Cabin: We had an L-Shaped ocean view cabin; it was small and clean and kept well by the lovely cabin stewardess that we had assigned to us. The bathroom was small and basic, again very clean and kept well. The ONLY drawback was having to carry those lumpy keys around, it was hard enough to keep an eye on your blue card but you had to carry this too!

At 6 pm we arrived into Mykonos and we were transferred to the town square by shuttle and made our way along the narrow water’s edge to the Mykonos Theoxenia Hotel where we were met by the general manager Dimitris Salonikis. This is a gorgeous hotel in a beautiful location. www.mykonostheoxenia.com

We had dinner this evening in the main dining room, there were 10 of us on a table and Dimitris (Seven Seas Restaurant Maître d’) ensured we were looked after by his team.

 

Day 3

We were up at 6 am and our ship docked in Kusadasi at 7 am. Today we had the most wonderful excursion to Ancient Ephesus, Josie was excited and you could see how enthralled she was, her eyes lit up. We met our guide at 8 am - when the sun was just warming up, it was wonderful. We also visited the Terrace Houses, all very fascinating. I was surprised too as to why there were so many cats around this wonderful archaeological site? I have lots of wonderful pictures, please ask for these. We also got to meet Mr. Giancarlo Baltazzi from Karavan. Our excursion lasted a little over 3 hours and I even managed to find a local barber for a wonderful sharp, Turkish haircut J

We departed Kusadasi at 12 noon and had lunch in the Pool Grill followed by drinks at the pool with the wonderful crew that we grew to know quickly (and they knew our poison of preference)

At 4 pm we arrived at the lovely Island of Patmos, our shore excursion today was: Patmos countryside tour with Hora & Grotto of Apocalypse with our wonderful tour guide, Margarita Grillis. We were all hooked on her, she was mesmerising and captivating, I don’t know what it was about her, but you were drawn in, her blend of Greek, English and Irish accent but also her deep knowledge of the intensely religious character of Patmos, the monastery of St. John and the Grotto of Apocalypse. If the truth be known, I preferred Patmos over Santorini... just saying. 

The Louis Olympia departed that night at 9 pm and at dinner time there was only one topic of conversation: Patmos and Margarita J 

 

Day 4

After breakfast (and a late night!!) we arrived in Heraklion (Crete) at 7 am. Our Shore Excursion today was Minoan Palace of Knossos – 1st European Civilization! Crete is the largest and the most rugged of the Greek Islands and the mythological home of Zeus. After a short drive through the town of Heraklion we arrived at the Knossos. The Palace was beautifully decorated with frescoes; we viewed the Kings Chamber, The Queen’s Apartment, courtyards and shrines.

We sailed from Heraklion at 11:30 am and were now sailing towards Santorini.

As we were unsure about dinner this evening the girls decided to gather us all together for Lunch in the main dining room, this for me was the one and only disappointing meal times that we had. The service was very slow and it looked as if there was only one waiter looking after 3 tables L

After lunch we only had an hour before reaching Santorini, so we took Liz’s invite to try some Zumba, yes, Zumba - on the pool deck – this was a great laugh with only Me, Rob, Tiffanie and one or two others joining in, but we did promise not to let her down.

We anchored off shore at 4.30 pm and the tender boats were lowered and as with all our other excursions our group were the 1st in the queue to take the 1st tender from the ship. Our Shore Excursion this afternoon was “Spectacular Oia Village perched on the Caldera Rim”. Our guide for this tour was a beautiful lady called Irene. We took our coach high up the mountain, zigzagging our way to the top and once we reached Oia we had plenty of time to stroll through the marble-paved alleys, gaze at the cute shops, take lots of pictures and admire the buildings carved into the rocks. We then drove on to Fira (The capital of Santorini) and began our long stand in line for the cable car to take us to the bottom of the mountain. (We decided against taking the donkeys!)

As we were late back for our last night most of us dined in the Lido Café, there was a long queue and the crew dealt with it quickly, the only problem then was trying to find a table, but it all worked out well and we split into small tables.

We packed and got ourselves together for our last night onboard and after breakfast we bid our farewell to Liz and her team in Piraeus Port, Athens.

A special mention about Doina at the Pursers Desk, I witnessed her handling some difficult guests (very well) throughout our brief but wonderful trip.

 

Day 5

Christina was our guide for our Short Panoramic Athens City Tour, this was fascinating. We were then transferred to Athens Airport for our return flight, which was on time, but the crew were not as nice or friendly as the outbound crew by Aegean Airlines L

I would certainly sell and promote Louis Cruises to any first time cruiser or a client who would like to “Island-Hop”, they certainly will not be disappointed with the service and attention.

I would like to sincerely thank Josie & Charlotte from the Sandra Leach Company for the invite, to Mr. Giancarlo Baltazzi from Karavan (for the group photos), and also to Marios for putting up with me for the 5 days - he knows where I am should he need to fill a position on the Cuba & Jamaica Fam Trip in December!

 

Warm Regards and thanks so much again for a wonderful insight into the Greek Islands & Louis Cruise Lines.

 

Brendan O'Connor
Travelmax.co.uk
brendan@travelmaxworldwide.co.uk 

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