GEMS OF THE AEGEAN SEPTEMBER 2009
Part 3 - AQUAMARINE
Friday 11th September 2009
Hooray, the OLS cruises start today, with early check in, ready for 11 a.m. departure on AQUAMARINE. She had arrived at 6 a.m., well before the 7.04 a.m. sunrise, so we were in our cabins very quickly. She was built in 1971 at Wartsila, Helsinki, Finland, originally at 18,346 gt to carry 714 passengers, and named M/S NORDIC PRINCE, for Royal Caribbean Cruises for week-long trips from Miami. Sister ships were SONG OF NORWAY and SUN VIKING. She was enlarged (i.e. stretched) in 1980 by 26 metres, to carry 1194 passengers in the Mediterranean, and in 1997 sold to Airtours and renamed SUNDREAM but with the Viking Crown Lounge removed. I would love to have seen that Lounge, which was pictured in two of the original pieces of artwork on a stairwell on board.
In 2008 she was sold to Greek owners and re-named AQUAMARINE and so this was the historically interesting ship on which we were to travel for 3 nights.
With 7 passenger decks, it was a fairly long way down to my Bahia Deck cabin but it was a comfortable outside twin with 2 portholes and many original fittings. The bathroom included the usual washbasin and large ‘tray’ in a delightful aquamarine-colour!
Bahia Deck and Adria Deck were for passenger cabins, Marine Deck above them included cabins, Purser’s Desk, Excursion Office, duty free Shop and Beauty Salon; Lido Deck above held the Aquamarine (ex Carousel) Lounge forward, the Avalon (ex Camelot) Restaurant behind it, with a beautiful stained glass picture artwork;
aft of that was a Casino, a Card Room, a Pub and Bistro Buffet. The Promenade Deck above had long and wide teak decks, and inside there were a few cabins forward of the Moonlight Disco and Bar. The Sun Deck above included a swimming pool and Lido Buffet. Visible over all of this was the Louis Cruise Lines logo on the funnel.
I saw the builders plate, and a small area of carpet that reminded me of Corsica Ferries.
Louis Hellenic Cruises had done us proud and printed English versions of the Louis News, so we noted the welcome to all passengers on board from Captain Stathis Romeos.
As we left port we could see CRISTAL, CORINTHIAN II and The EMERALD, and an eye-catching (to me)blue view.
Lifeboat drill followed departure and I discovered I was allocated to a ‘raft’.
By chance whilst I was waiting to go to my Boat Station I noticed MONA LISA (ex VICTORIA) actually sailing towards the harbour as we were sailing away.
I was able to take a few quick photos as the Emergency Signal had still not been sounded. How amazing to think that only a week or so ago I had been sailing on her on a 7 night cruise out of Bremerhaven. Goodness, what a surprise and an emotional moment again.
One of our group was passing through Reception and overheard a man complaining to a member of staff that he had no view from his cabin; when this was checked he was reminded that he had booked an inside cabin. We think he was hoping for a free upgrade, cheeky man.
Restaurant lunch followed and we relaxed and prepared for our first port of call at the Greek Cycladic island of Mykonos at 6 p.m., a distance of 95 nautical miles from Piraeus.
Along the way we’d been followed by The AEGEAN PEARL, and she berthed alongside the quay whilst we anchored in the bay under a rather grey sky and had to use tenders to get ashore.
Astern of us we could see COSTA ROMANTICA, and near AEGEAN PEARL was the new SEABOURN ODYSSEY ship, looking very stylish.
The trip ashore was a chance to walk along part of the coast and see the famous windmills , before returning to the ship for Restaurant dinner.
Ships seen: Costa Romantica, Aegean Pearl, Cristal, Seabourn Odyssey, Corinthian II, easyCruise Life, Emerald, Seven Seas Navigator, Mona Lisa (heading into Piraeus as we left, ready for re-fitting prior to the Winter Olympics), Agios Georgios, Nefeli, Speedrunner II, and lots of ferries
To be continued...