Cruising the Aegean Sea

The first night, our group was treated to a dinner in a small private dining room. I particularly remember the dish prepared in front of us by a couple of chefs, stir-fried shrimp in a simple sauce of oil, garlic and herbs.

We didn’t eat like that every night, but were in fact sampling the variety of dining venues aboard this midsized ship.

Passengers could opt for buffets at every meal, and that is what we did for most on-board lunches. But there were sit-down lunches and dinners with service, too.

At the buffet lunches, choices ranged from the very familiar — pasta comes to mind — along with tasty Greek choices such as meat from the gyros station at poolside and the ubiquitous Greek salad.

Two dinners were Greek meze (appetizer) events. Our group also dined twice in the small a la carte restaurant, Thalassa, with a menu featuring Greek fusion cuisine.

Even with eight port calls, ship staff squeezed in dance classes, language classes, not to mention those trivia quizzes. There were swimming and all the services at the Sana Health Spa. Besides massages, reflexology, facial treatments and mud baths, its broad umbrella embraced hair care and manicures.

A busy Sun Deck at the top of the Louis Cristal.

Professionals provided entertainment in the ship’s Metropolitan Show Lounge every night after dinner. On that first evening, I watched “Broadway @ the Movies” for a reimagined take on popular shows. The quality was uneven, but the laughter quotient was high.

There also was a disco (I visited once) and a casino (I did not visit).

There wasn’t a lot of reason — or time — to hang out in the cabins, but for those seeking more private space, there were 16 suites among the 480 units. Cabin sizes ranged from 265 square feet to 592 square feet for the largest suites, and all cabins had TVs, hair dryers and safes.

My cabin measured 388 square feet and was furnished with a small couch, table and chair near the window, plus a desk and chair closer to the door. Two single beds sat in the middle.

Computer access, besides in hotspot territory, was via an Internet cafe.

Our itinerary was precisely planned for punctual arrivals and departures, allowing time — mostly in daylight hours — at

The Louis Cristal seen (with the help of a zoom lens) from high on a hillside at Patmos Island in Greece.

each port for a sampling of highlights. We were efficiently tendered to docks at Patmos and Santorini, aboard vessels that accommodated 180 and 100 passengers, respectively.

That is, everything was punctual except for a delayed departure from Istanbul because five Greek passengers were stuck in traffic. Finally, we left them behind.

A cruise line employee laughed a lot when he told a few of us that the husband of one woman was on board and, when told of the problem, said, “Leave her. She does this to me all the time.”

But the husband became quite alarmed when he realized the wife really would be left behind, probably, as he also realized what he was in for when he saw her again.

The five were driven by a Louis Cruises port agent to Izmir, Turkey, to meet the ship at our next port call.

When the five rejoined the ship the next day, they wanted to know if they would be reimbursed for any of their expenses or if they would get a refund for the part of the cruise that they missed.

No.

Besides sailing out of and into Athens, we called at eight ports in seven days: Istanbul, Izmir and Kusadasi in Ephesus in Turkey and Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete and Santorini in Greece.

The article and photos are by Nadine Godwin, the author of Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia, which was published by The Intrepid Traveler.

 

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