LOUIS AURA- THE END?

LOUIS AURA
The Louis Aura seems to have come to the end of her road

It looks very much like the end of the line for the Louis Aura.

The 16,400 ton ship has been towed from Piraeus to the outer port of Salamina and placed in what is described as a ‘state of permanent lay up’.

For several years now, the Louis Aura– the only ship in the fleet not to be rebranded with the Celestyal livery- has survived on a series of French charters, as well as making short summer cruises from Limassol for the Louis group itself.

Though the decision to lay up the still elegant, 1968 built twin stacked ship is sad, it has been somewhat inevitable for a few years now. Louis Aura has grown increasingly more expensive to operate, and that, combined with her advanced age, was bound to accelerate her ultimate demise.

She was originally built in Germany in 1968 as the Starward, the first year round, purpose built Caribbean cruise ship, for Norwegian Cruise Line. As such, she was nothing less than the pioneer of the modern Caribbean cruise ship. Starward sailed for NCL until as late as 1995 and remained an immensely popular ship to the end.

She then went to Festival Cruises and sailed for nine years as the Bolero on mainly seven night long Mediterranean routes. In this role, she was often chartered out during the summer to the British holiday operator, First Choice.

Then, in July 2006, sailing under the name of Orient Queen, she gained world wide media attention when used to evacuate refugees fleeing the conflict in war torn Lebanon.

After a $15 million dollar renovation, the ship was sold in August of 2006 to the then Louis Cruises, who operated her on a series of three, four, and seven days cruises from both Piraeus and Limassol, to the Greek Islands and Turkey. Her relatively small size and large amount of open deck space made her the perfect ship for these itineraries. I enjoyed a memorable weekend aboard her in September, 2012, on just one such cruise. For the following season, she received her final name of Louis Aura.

Even then, there was a sense that the still pretty ship was very much on borrowed time. She managed a couple of seasons on European charters before the decision to lay her up in Salamina was finally taken.

Sadly, it seems almost certain that her last voyage to the scrapyard beckons. She was one of the true, pioneering cruise ships, and many people retain fond memories of their time aboard what was one of the most forward thinking and evolutionary cruise ships of all time.

She will be sadly missed, but few ships have served so well, for so long. Her dignity remains intact to the end.

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15 thoughts on “LOUIS AURA- THE END?”

  1. Sailed on the Starward in 1970/71 and 74/75. I have a lot of good memories. In those days she belonged to Kloster’s company and NCL was Norwegian Caribbean Lines.

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  2. Our 25th anniversary cruise was aboard this ship, then called the Bolero. It was the perfect cruise ship, big enough to have all the frills while being small enough to dock in most places in the Caribbean Islands. We were hoping to sail in her this year in Greece – what execreble timing!

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  3. My wife and I took our 2 girls on th Bolero’s Millennium cruise (Dec 1999 -Jan 2000) it was a 7 day cruise of the East or West Carribean. We were off St Bart’s on New Year’s Eve. Many went on the island for celebrations, but it was the only day on board that I was sick, so I couldn’t. Apparently several well-known actors were on the island along with Bill Gates according to some of our fellow passengers. It was our one and only cruise, both for my wife and I, as for our 2 girls who have both since married. We always felt that,because the Bolero was a smaller cruise ship, it made the experience more personal, and the fellow passengers friendlier, and more open to interaction with those who started the trip as strangers. I, too, am sorry to hear that the ship has probably sailed for the last time.

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  4. I started in the cruise industry on her. I was a store keeper. 1971. Then later I served her as a 2nd engineer. Then I was the Chief Engineer for about 6 years. It was me there got the pleasure to deliver her to the new owners in greece. I don’t now if I could consider it a pleasure, how ever it was in 1997.
    What about it folks, should we chip in sn get her. She must be cheap. But I chechet her out, she is beautifyl.
    Now i have become an author. My book are signed, chiefen steinar kruse.

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  5. Sad to learn that M/S Starward ( Bolero, Louis Aura…- she was Starward to me ) era has gone to an end…She was already old when I worked on her 91-94, and by the way she was definitely a Norwegian CRUISE Line ship by then – I belive the ‘C’ somehow changed…. could not really have that name with cruises around the world…😊…Caribbean cruise Line in Alaska or Europe ..right…anyway, have many fun memories …she was old, but old ships usually have a charm and identity that new onesnever come close to …cause they are to big…. Sail in peace old Lady!! / Gunnilla / Purser

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