Louis Cristal

Author's Note: The Louis Cristal was re-branded in 2015 and now sails as the Celestyal Crystal. Here is more up-to-date profile on the Celestyal Crystal.


The Louis Cristal is a mid-sized cruise ship that carries about 1,000 passengers. The ship was built in 1980, and has had several owners. It was significantly refurbished in 1995, and Cypriot-owned Louis Cruises bought the ship in 2007. Since then the Louis Cristal has primarily sailed on three- or four-night cruises in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Louis Cristal is a good ship for those looking for a shorter cruise that provides just a taste of several different ports of call. The price is lower than on newer ships, and many of the passengers are from countries found along the Mediterranean, so it's an interesting international experience. Organized groups of North Americans on cruise tours of the region often sail on the Louis Cristal or one of the other Louis Cruises' ships as part of a longer European tour package.

I sailed on the Louis Cristal on one of its 4-night itineraries between Kusadasi, Turkey and Istanbul, visiting Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, and Athens. This cruise was part of a land tour and cruise package that also featured hotel stays in Istanbul, Izmir, and Kusadasi. Unlike most other cruise lines, Louis Cruises often does not spend a whole day in each port, so it's a good choice for those who don't have a lot of vacation time and are looking for a value-priced cruise that touches on many different ports of call in the eastern Mediterranean.

This 13-page photo tour of the Louis Cristal provides details on the ship's cabins, dining, and indoor and outdoor common areas.

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A deluxe outside cabin is one of several different types of cabin categories on the Louis Cristal.
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

Older ships like the Louis Cristal lack the spacious, modernized cabins with balconies found on newer cruise ships. However, since the ship's 4- and 5-day eastern Mediterranean itineraries are packed with destinations, guests really won't be spending much time in their cabins.

The Louis Cristal has 483 cabins and suites, but only 10 have a balcony. The good news is that 318 have an outside view. 

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Dining and Cuisine

Caruso specialty restaurant on the Louis Cristal
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

Many of the dishes served on the Louis Cristal are Greek or Mediterranean cuisine. Overall, I thought the food was very good. The four main dining venues are:

  • La Scala Restaurant - main dining venue serving three meals per day
  • Traviata and Rigoletto Buffet - casual buffets near the pool with many of the same dishes found in La Scala
  • Poolside Dining - Good option for breakfast or lunch when the station features a special dish like gyros, tacos, stir fry, or pasta.
  • Caruso Restaurant - specialty restaurant with excellent Greek fusion cuisine. Perfect for celebrating a special event or a romantic dinner for two.
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Metropolitan Lounge

Metropolitan Lounge on the Louis Cristal cruise ship
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

The Metropolitan Lounge is the large show lounge on the Louis Cristal. Each evening after dinner, the lounge has either a production show from the onboard entertainment team, a talent show, or magic show. Live entertainment is also found in the Rendezvous Lounge, and the Stars Lounge has a disco and dancing late into the evening.

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Rendezvous Lounge

Louis Cristal - Rendezvous Lounge
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

The Rendezvous Lounge is near La Scala restaurant on deck 8. It's a great place for a before or after dinner drink. It's also near the casino and features live musical entertainment in the evening.

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Stars Lounge and Disco

Louis Cristal - Stars Lounge and Disco
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

The Stars Lounge is aft on deck 10 (the sun deck). It features excellent views by day and disco and dancing late into the evening.

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Internet Corner

Louis Cristal - Internet Corner
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

The Louis Cristal has good (i.e. relatively fast) Internet access at the Internet Corner near the reception deck on deck 5. The ship also has WiFi in the lounges, but it did not work as reliably as the hard-wired computers.

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Swimming Pool

Louis Cristal - Swimming Pool
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

The small swimming pool on deck 9 has a retractable roof, making it usable even on cooler days.

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Hot Tub

Louis Cristal - Hot Tub
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

The hot tub is on the outdoor deck aft of the Caruso Restaurant on deck 5.

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Sun Deck

Louis Cristal - Sun Deck
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

The sun deck on deck 10 is filled with deck chairs. It gets very busy on sunny days.

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Louis Cristal - Promenade
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

One thing I love about many classic older ships is the wrap-around promenade. The Louis Cristal has this nice teak promenade on deck 5.

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Cruise Itineraries

Louis Cristal at the Greek island of Patmos
Louis Cristal (c) Linda Garrison

Author's Note: The Louis Cristal was re-branded in 2015 and now sails as the Celestyal Crystal. Here is more up-to-date profile on the Celestyal Crystal/.

The Louis Cristal sails the eastern Mediterranean on 3- or 4-night cruises from March to November. The ship has three basic itineraries:

Aegean Legends sails for three nights roundtrip from Athens, stopping at Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Crete, and Santorini. The ship sails on Friday morning and returns to Athens on Monday morning, making it a perfect long weekend for those who live near Athens or for travelers who want to just get a taste of Greece and Turkey.

Aegean Legends (without Patmos) also sails for three nights roundtrip from Athens, but does not stop at the island of Patmos. Instead, the Louis Cristal has a few extra hours on Mykonos and a longer day in Kusadasi.

Jewels of the Aegean is a four night cruise roundtrip from Athens, with stops at Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini. This itinerary leaves Athens on Monday and returns on Friday.

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Louis Cruises and Karavan Travel - Cruise and Land Tours

Pamukkale, Turkey
Pamukkale (c) Linda Garrison

Author's Note: The Louis Cristal was re-branded in 2015 and now sails as the Celestyal Crystal. Here is more up-to-date profile on the Celestyal Crystal.

Since the Louis Cristal features three and four-night cruises, many who do not live in the Mediterranean region might prefer a longer cruise tour vacation. Louis Cruises has partnered with Turkish tour operator Karavan Travel to offer several interesting cruise and land tour combinations of Greece and Turkey.

These tours include either a three- or four-night cruise on the Louis Cristal combined with land tours in Turkey of up to eight days. The land tours vary significantly but visit many fascinating places in Turkey that are normally inaccessible to cruise travelers including the Cappadocia region, Ankara, Pamukkale, and Pergamon. Since each cruise and land tour is somewhat different, those looking for a value-priced vacation in Greece and Turkey should work with their travel agent to select the one most appealing to their tastes. Like the Louis Cristal cruises, the combination cruise and land tours are fast paced and cover many sites, making them perfect for those who want to see as much as possible in a short time.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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