To kick off 2008, the core of the programme will focus on a series of three-, four- and seven-day itineraries out of Athens onboard either the line's largest ship, Aquamarine (1,268 passengers), the 1,200-passenger Cristal or the slightly smaller Perla, which carries 1,095 holidaymakers.
There is also a choice of weeklong and 10-day sailings in both the Eastern and Western Mediterranean departing from Marseilles and Genoa; Christmas and New Year itineraries; and a 16-day Canary Islands departure on December 5.
These cruises will be onboard Orient Queen and Coral, and will be sailing out of Genoa. U.K. manager Peter Adamou described this year's voyages as focusing on a "classic cruising" experience, characterized by his fleet of small-sized ships that can call at smaller Aegean ports than the industry's larger vessels.
Indeed, Louis' eight vessels, most of which were originally launched in the 1960's and 1970's, measure from 10,487 to over 25,000 tons and carry in the range of 500 to 1,400 passengers. Compare that to many of today's larger, more amenity-laden vessels, such as the 110,000-ton, 2,974-passsenger Carnival Freedom, which last summer cruised the Greek Isles, or even Fred. Olsen's 34,242-ton, 1,340-passenger Balmoral (though it must be said that easyCruise's 4,077-ton, 232-passenger easyCruiseOne is a rare small-ship budget offering that falls within similar parameters).
Adamou's other comment -- that "no one knows Greece and the Mediterranean better than we do" probably should be taken with a grain of salt. In one of the most vivid -- and sad -- spectacles of 2007, Louis Cruises' Sea Diamond sank off of Santorini. The cruise line blamed the accident on "erroneous mapping information." (Cruise Critic's Athens-based Joyce Gleeson-Adamidis told us that "Finding that the hydrographic service is at fault will be very difficult for [Louis] to prove. The captain had been to this port several times without problems. A reef isn't going to make any drastic moves or any sudden growth. There have not been any such accidents in Santorini until the Sea Diamond.")
Louis Cruise line also currently has five ships out on charter (four of the cruise ships -- Thomson Destiny, Thomson Spirit, The Emerald and The Calypso are chartered to Thomson Cruises -- and another one, the Arielle, to Transocean Tours).
Prices are based on two sharing a standard inside cabin and include full board, all port taxes and a fuel surcharge.