Louis Aura Cruise Review by Edelweiss Darlington: The insider's review
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The insider's review
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Ours was a Fly UK to Marseille option. You may also go via rail/French TGV to the port. Those using the second option had a more enjoyable journey.
I should say at the outset that cruising is never cheap and usually the more you pay, the better the deal.
What you must be aware of, however, are the add-ons. Louis Lines are probably no better or worse than other cruises in this respect.
"Drinks unlimited". If you opt for this, ALL passengers in your cabin over 18 must aso sign up. Pretty obvious really, as one passenger could keep on getting ALL the drinks for the others! The cost is a whopping Euros 279 per person. For this you get 'house brand' spirits + mixers, beers, tea/coffee, soft drinks, glasses of wine, certain cocktails. You may also have TWO scoops of ice cream! You may also BUY bottles of mineral water and wine at a DISCOUNTED price!
So, if there are two of you you pay Euros 558 for some "Free" drinks, Discounted mineral water and More bottles of wine. You're going to have to drink a lot of booze to show a profit!
I've been on a few cruises and I have never seen so many passengers carrying litre bottles of water in the restaurant and bars. This speaks for itself.
Bar prices are what you'd expect in a hotel but some of the pricey cocktails were very watery.
Food was of ordinary hotel standard.
Excursions should be looked at carefully to ensure value. This applies to all cruises. The opinions of ourselves and other passengers were as follows but I do accept that some people may have a special reason for wanting to visit certain places. The prices are for TWO people.
Genoa Euros 92 (Not highly rated) Portofino Euros 112 (V. Good) Naples Euros Euros 88 (Not highly rated) Pompeii Euros 106 (Must see) Athens & Acropolis Euros 124 (Must see) Athens and Plaka Euros 104 (Not as good as above) Ephasus Euros 120 (You haven't missed much) Ephasus Ancient Euros 114 (Ditto) Patmos Euros 98 (OK) Patmos Tour Euros 68 (OK) Mykonos tours at Euros 98, 78 and 66 (50-50 reports) Santorini Euros 106 (Very scenic) Katalon Euros 112 (Expensive) Messina Euros 106 (Quite missable) Mount Etna Euros 104 (A long drive to see Etna from a distance!) Marseille Euros 94 (Not as good as below) Aix-en-Provence Euros 98 (Good)
If you went on every excursion, you'd spend a fortune. Do some guide book research before you go!
Like all cruises, you are expected to tip. In other words, pay the crew's wages so that the Cruise Line may lower their brochure prices. Their advice is Euros 8 per person per day. Children, 6-15 years, pay (or more exactly their parents pay - how many 6 year olds do you know who are of independant means?) Euros 4 per day each. A bit of maths: You are a family of Mum, Dad and two kids. That totals Euros 24 per day. A 12 day cruise = 24x12=288 Euros in tips, assuming the kids don't chip in with their holiday money! The 'small print' says you can obtain a form to opt-out of this extortion which is otherwise automatically deducted from you credit card.
YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE QUEUE TO GET THE FORM!
We tipped our cabin stewards and table waiter ourselves, in cash, and no-one else.
We enjoyed the cruise and the places we visited. The criticisms: Average quality food, rip-off "free drinks" (pay-as-you-go is better) and rip-off tipping. And just in case you wonder: No, like most cruises, you can't 'smuggle' in booze you've bought ashore! Less
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