“We have decided who we are and how we fit into the cruise industry,” said Louis Cruises CEO Kyriakos (Kerry) Anastassiadis, talking to Cruise Industry News in Miami. “We’ve come out with a decision that we’re going back to our roots, essentially we are a cruise company that is Greek; we have a Greek identity.”
That means focusing efforts on becoming “the” niche operator in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“We operate in our own back yard, we are a regional player,” he explained. “Therefore, we are going to become different by doing what we’re good at.”
This year, Louis will run three ships, the Cristal, Orient Queen and the new-to-them Olympia, which they took back from Thomson Cruises as the British tour operator takes over the former Louis Majesty on a long-term charter.
Louis has two ships in lay-up, which may be activated, based on market demand, said Anastassiadis.
The ships are also slightly smaller, allowing the company to explore new itineraries.
“There are 3,000 islands in Greece, and every cruise line goes to the same ones,” Anastassiadis continued, pointing to the fact that passengers going to Europe are going for the destinations, not the ship.
With the economic disaster ongoing in Greece, Louis has less capacity in 2012 than years past, also underlined by late deployment announcements.
“A lot of our source markets are booking late,” explained Anastassiadis, pointing to the economic issues and the perception of Athens to international passengers.
Nevertheless, the company still has fleet renewal plans, ranging from refurbishments of current ships to acquiring more second-hand tonnage, and even a possible newbuild program which has been rumored with a Korean shipyard.
“If we’re going to go out and visit all these different islands, the ports also define what kind of vessel you can have, you can’t take a big ship into some of those ports,” Anastassiadis added.
For now, the cruise line will concentrate on the Eastern Mediterranean, despite being a partner in the Marseilles port project.
“We don’t want to be like the other cruise lines,” Anastassiadis stated. “We want to be doing something different and be proud to say we are Greek.”