In late 2014, European travel company the Louis Group PLC rebranded the cruise line segment of its business, Louis Cruises, to Celestyal Cruises. The Louis Group continues to operate its ship charter business as Louis Cruises. The Louis Group has been in the cruise business since the early 1970's, originally operating short cruises in the eastern Mediterranean from Cyprus. Over the years, the business has grown and the company now owns four ships, with two of them leased to Thomson Cruises'
The biggest highlight of Celestyal Cruises is that its ships visit many islands and ports of call in the eastern Mediterranean that are either not accessible to larger ships or that Celestyal has properly identified as special and interesting to travelers using its in-depth knowledge of the region.
Beginning in November 2016, one of the Celestyal cruise ships, the Celestyal Crystal, will sail year round Cuba cruises.
Celestyal Cruises Lifestyle
Most of Celestyal Cruises' itineraries are in the eastern Mediterranean, primarily Greece and Turkey. The onboard ambiance is casual, with no formal nights. Most passengers are focused on visiting these marvelous destinations on the cruise lines' 3, 4, and 7-night itineraries.
Celestyal promotes its cruises as providing the best of Greece, and is the only cruise line to homeport its ships in Greece. The company has proudly sailed the eastern Mediterranean for over 25 years, so its local knowledge is significant. Much of the onboard ambiance is Greek or Mediterranean. Announcements are made in English, Greek, and other languages with a significant number of travelers onboard (ie Italian, Spanish, German).
Celestyal Cruises Ships
Celestyal Cruises currently operates two of the ships it owns. In the past two years, the company has invested 12 million euros in refurbishing the two cruise ships.
- Celestyal Crystal. This 1000-passenger cruise ship was originally built as the cruise ferry MS Viking Saga in 1980. Today's cruise travelers might remember the ship as the Norwegian Cruise Line Leeward since she sailed under that name in the 1990's. The Celestyal Crystal was most recently named the Louis Cristal until she was re-branded in late 2014. More on the Celestyal Crystal -- Photo Gallery
Most of the year, the Celestyal Crystal primarily sails 3, 4, or 7-day cruises of Greece and Turkey from the Greek ports of Lavrion and Piraeus.
Starting in November 2016, the Celestyal Crysal will sail year-round to Cuba from Montego Bay, Jamaica on 7-night Caribbean cruises to Cuba. The ship has spent the winter high season in Cuba the past few years, embarking and disembarking most USA citizens in Montego Bay and most of those from other countries in Havana.
All guests on the ship have a 7-day cruise since they just disembark in the same place they embarked. The Cuba cruise itineraries visit Santiago de Cuba, Cuba's second largest city; Havana, Cuba's capital; Maria la Gorda, a marvelous Caribbean beach; and Cienfuegos, a colonial city near Trinidad, Cuba.
- Celestyal Olympia. This is the company's largest ship, carrying 1664 passengers. The Celestyal Olympia was built in 1982 and originally sailed for Royal Caribbean Cruise LInes as the Song of America. Most recently, the Celestyal Olympia was named the Thomson Destiny. The Celestyal Olympia primarily sails 3- and 4-day cruises of Greece and Turkey from Athens or Kusadasi.
Celestyal Cruises Passenger Profile
Celestyal Cruises' ships primarily cater to budget-minded travelers and families looking for a good value to great destinations in the eastern Mediterranean. Cruise history buffs who love classic-looking cruise ships are also attracted. Passengers are international, with most from North America and Europe. Since many of the cruises are either three or four nights, many guests drive to the embarkation ports from their homes in Greece. The company's ships are older, so they do not have all the activities for children found on newer ships like water parks.
Celestyal Cruises Cabins and Accommodations
These ships are older, and many cabins do not have private balconies. The cabins vary significantly amongst all the ships and on each individual ship. Since the cruises are destination-focused, having a large cabin with a balcony is not as important as on ships with more time at sea.
Celestyal Cruises Dining and Cuisine
The food is of good quality and features mostly Continental cuisine, with a lot of Greek, Turkish, and eastern Mediterranean dishes. All ships have a casual buffet and one or more main dining rooms.
Celestyal Cruises Onboard Activities and Entertainment
Each of the ships has a show lounge with production shows from the onboard entertainment team, talent shows, comedians, and magicians. With so much emphasis on the ports of call, nightly entertainment is not as important as on larger cruise ships. Some of the shows are Greek-oriented, with Greek music and dancing. The shows at the Cuba cruises feature Cuban music and dancing.
Celestyal Cruises Common Areas
All the Celestyal Cruises' ships have numerous lounges and a casino. All of the bars and lounges are busy in the evenings, and everyone seems to enjoy the music and dancing. However, some of the indoor common areas and pool area seem packed when everyone is on board.
Celestyal Cruises Spa, Fitness, and Gym:
The spa and fitness areas on the Celestyal Cruises' ships are not as luxurious or spacious as those seen on newer ships. However, you will find a beauty salon and spa that offer all the usual treatments and a small fitness center on each ship.
More on Celestyal Cruises
How to Contact Celestyal Cruises
History of Louis Group and Celestyal Cruises