On Live Voyage Reports: Cruising Cuba, A Day At Sea And A Look At Louis Cristal

Exploring Cuba Cruise’s Louis Cristal At Sea

Cuba Cruise's Louis Cristal, seen here at anchor off Punta Frances, Cuba, earlier this week. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Cuba Cruise’s Louis Cristal, seen here at anchor off Punta Frances, Cuba, earlier this week. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

January 14, 2014

Cuba Cruise’s Louis Cristal is sailing the Caribbean Sea for Antilla, Bahia de Nipe today. At a distance of 443 nautical miles from Havana, Antilla will be our gateway to the inland city of Holguin, which was originally founded in 1545 as San Isidoro de Holguin.

But that’s for tomorrow. Today, guests can relax and settle into their shipboard routines as the Louis Cristal thunders through the water at an easy 18 knots. For me, a sea day is a great excuse to focus completely on the ship, and Louis Cristal is quite the ship.

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

If cats have nine lives, Louis Cristal is the purring pet of the cruising world. Onboard information has the ship’s construction date pegged as 1980, but that’s really a bit unfair – except for a few hull plates and propeller shafts, very little of the original 1980 ship known as Viking Saga still exists.

Following a fire aboard the ship – then called Sally Albatross ­– she was extensively rebuilt from the keel-up in 1992, and underwent further changes in 1995 following a grounding. The Baltics had not been kind to Sally Albatross, and she was leased to Norwegian Cruise Line in 1995 and renamed Leeward.

The gorgeous Promenade on Deck 5 is one of my favorite spaces aboard the Louis Cristal. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The gorgeous Promenade on Deck 5 is one of my favorite spaces aboard the Louis Cristal. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Operating almost exclusively in the Caribbean, Leeward was a huge success for Norwegian, but didn’t fit in with its changing fleet structure, which by the late part of the 1990s was trending toward larger vessels. Leeward then became SuperStar Taurus for Asia-based Star Cruises before ending up back in the Baltics as Silja Opera for Silja Line in 2002.

Once again, the Baltics treated Silja Opera unfairly. Silja was having difficulty making money off of the vessel’s short voyages from Stockholm to Tallinn, and a series of embarrassing navigational mishaps in Russia weren’t helping matters. Silja was eager to offload Silja Opera, and her saviour swooped down in the form of Cyprus-based Louis Cruises, who placed her into service in 2007 in the Mediterranean.

The Internet Cafe, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Internet Cafe, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Reception Lobby, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Reception Lobby, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

In the intervening years, Louis has taken superb care of the Louis Cristal. Public rooms sparkle with new carpeting and soft furnishings, and the ship has some decidedly unique features that really make her a pleasure to sail aboard.

For Cuba Cruise, this is the ideal ship: sleek and intimate, but still offering all the amenities you’d expect from a proper cruise ship, like multiple dining venues, lounges and entertainment hubs. So let’s take a virtual walk around the decks of the gorgeous little Louis Cristal!

Staterooms

A Category XC Outside Stateroom on Deck 3. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

A Category XC Outside Stateroom on Deck 3. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Cuba Cruise’s Louis Cristal has 480 staterooms spread across 17 different categories. The two highest categories – SI and SB – are full suites that feature balconies. But there are also six additional suites that feature picture-windows, while the rest of the accommodations are made up of inside and outside staterooms of varying sizes and deck locations.

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