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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Royal Olympic Cruises, Ltd.

MTS Stella Oceanis

Rating:Three Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Royal Olympic Cruises, Ltd.
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1965 / 1995
Length / Tonnage: 350 / 5,500
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 159 / 300
Officers / Crew: Greek / Greek and Filipino
Operating Area: Aegean, Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Suez Canal
Telephone / Fax: Tel 113 0471 / Fax 113 0471

Review by Mark H. Goldberg, TravelPage.com, Cruise Editor

This Royal Olympic Liner is the darling of more savvy travelers than I would want to count. With a crew of 140 and a capacity of 300 passengers, her reputation for personalized service is easily met aboard this ship and simply put, the STELLA OCEANIS is one of the prettiest small passenger ships afloat! Was it her origin in the design section of an Italian shipyard that gives her aesthetic advantage over so many small cruise ships, or was it just plain luck that makes the STELLA OCEANIS (Star of the Ocean) a real joy to look at? Small and comfortable, this gracious little cruise liner is one of the best ships of her size anywhere. "Kid-sister" though precursor of the STELLA SOLARIS, the STELLA OCEANIS is very much like her larger fleet mate...and the family resemblance is uncanny despite the many differences occasioned by their different sizes...

Three ships being built in Italy during the mid 1960's had been promised to the government of Greece as the final installment of Italian World War II reparations to Greece. Ordered by the National Tourist Organization of Greece, plans called for each ship to be operated by a different Greek company, though ownership was to remain with the Greek government. The ships were intended as cruise/ferries, a new concept back then. They would have accommodations for 414 passengers in deluxe class, tourist class and aircraft seats. They were to have swimming pools, lidos, lounges and the like to please if not attract passengers, but were to be first and foremost work horses. Each was to have a garage capable of carrying 40 cars - they were to bring tourists to vacation in Greece. Of maritime historical significance, they were among the first passenger carrying ships to have bow thrusters, those handy devices that eliminate the need for tug assistance when maneuvering in ports.

One of the three ships, the ADONIS of Nomikos Lines, was instead turned over to the "K" Lines and eventually became the full scale cruise ship ATLANTIS. A second ship, the EROS, was set to go to the Typaldos Lines. Typaldos had just purchased 3 ships in France and did not need additional tonnage, so the ship was sent to Epirotiki Lines and renamed JASON and still charms passengers today. The third ship, the STELLA OCEANIS, was christened APHRODITE when she debuted for the "K" Lines in May, 1965. She immediately went to work, sailing thrice weekly from Piraeus to either Rhodes and Dodecanese or Crete. Then Sun Line got her and she was renamed STELLA OCEANIS. Though her internal fittings were in the ferry boat configuration, she didn't stay that way long. During the following year she was withdrawn from service for renovations to become a cruise ship for the Sun Line. With a new stern, new, enlarged lido and extensive cosmetic improvements, she returned to Sun Line where she served as flagship until losing pride of place to the bigger STELLA SOLARIS in 1973. Throughout her Sun Line career and as a Royal Olympic ship, the STELLA OCEANIS has been a wonderful little liner...

As delivered to Sun Line, the interior design of the STELLA OCEANIS was so perfect that save decorative updating over the years, no major renovations have been effected. She is so good that the company used this ship as the model from which the later STELLA SOLARIS was developed. Sun Line is one of the only cruise lines we can think of who got the designs right the first time out, and have yet to find room for improvement. Because of this, when you go aboard a STELLA it's pretty easy to find your way around.

Public Areas
She has more public room and deck space than you might expect on a ship of her particulars. Lacking for almost nothing, this ship is in every way a full cruise liner in miniature. Decorative accents in cinnamon and gold give the Minos Lounge a warm inviting tone. There's a seat for every passenger so it's here that most evening entertainments are held - dancing, sometimes Greek music and dances or a crew show. Aft is a small Club, quite the spot for reading and writing or late-night chats. There is also a small Casino and writing room. One deck above, the Plaka Taverna, normally a late night spot, also offers large windows with terrific views.

The Aphrodite Dining room is located forward on Oceanis Deck and looks out forward and to the sides. Big enough to seat 200 comfortably, there are usually two sittings...since it's rare that the ship isn't full, full, full! No matter...the two sitting service is usually at dinner only with breakfasts and lunches usually open sittings. Let me confess that I like this room....not only because I like the decor...or the good views...I like it for the outstanding service and very tasty food...OK...so I DO eat more than I should when I am aboard the STELLA OCEANIS...don't let it stop you...the food is GOOD here!

Because the STELLA OCEANIS cruises such interesting itineraries, I'd say entertainment is "Destination oriented". Expect lectures on ports of call...history...culture...from VERY good lecturers (hey...I LECTURE on Royal Olympic ships from time to time so expect me to plug the lecturers...ok?) If you enjoy meeting people and being part of what's happening, the small number of passengers will work in your favor since with only 300 aboard there are always congenial people and parties often happen. With a "STELLA" name, don't be surprised that this ship shines at night...she does... Things can get pretty lively, especially on her longer cruises...and certainly on nights before a day at sea. Besides the lecturers, concert artists and professional entertainers who ride and perform on the STELLA OCEANIS, there is the Greek Crew Show...where you might see your waiter or cabin steward, dressed in typical country fashion, doing the high kicks of an exuberant Greek folk dance while everyone claps and many shout "OPA"! "Greek Night" is a highlight of every STELLA OCEANIS cruise.

Ever vigilant toward passenger comfort, the family Keusseoglou paid significant attention to the design and fitting of cabins on board their ships and the 113 outside and 37 inside cabins and suites aboard the STELLA OCEANIS show the care that went into their creation. Cabins here are very cute and while many are cozy at l30 square feet...tiny to many but bigger than many standard cabins aboard RCCL ships (for example), STELLA OCEANIS cabins are comfortable. Deluxe suites...type SC are as large as 208 square feet and have their own sitting areas. Deluxe cabins (the higher graded TA and TB cabins) run as big as 170 square feet. All have ample closet space and each cabin has private bathroom with shower (there are also bathtubs in categories SC, TA and TB), air conditioning, lock drawer for valuables and dual channel radio. For those of us who love porthole, all outside cabins save four, have large windows or two portholes. Considering the comfort of suite aficionados, Sun Line arranged Pelagos Deck deluxe cabins to interconnect. One cabin could be left as a living room with an L shaped sofa area, and the other could be a dedicated bedroom. Adding cachet to the two room suite concept... there were two bathrooms as well! The line is justifiably proud of its steward service - they are some of the best I have ever encountered in my many many years of sea travel...Steward service aboard the STELLA OCEANIS is a delight....and there is room service around the clock.

Who Goes
STELLA OCEANIS' passengers tend to be 40plus... mainly Americans but in the height of the summer expect a mixture of suave, cultured Europeans who enjoy the style of a Sun Line - Royal Olympic cruise. There are always a lot of repeaters, who can't seem to get enough of her! Expect affluent, experienced travelers in this ship, people with solid backgrounds who don't need the glitz of new money.

The STELLA OCEANIS has always gotten around! During the spring and fall of this year she will alternate between 3 and 4 day cruise itineraries. The 3 day cruises leave each Friday afternoon and visit Mykonos, Rhodes, Patmos, and Kusadasi before returning to Athens. The 4 day cruises depart Mondays and visit Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini.

During the summer she will sail on 7 day cruises from Crete. The 7 day itinerary includes visits to Delos, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Athens, Hydra, Rethymnon, Santorini, Amorgos, Rhodes, Marmaris and Crete.

Sun Line never strayed far from the cruise yacht concept so passengers on the STELLA OCEANIS experience royal treatment by the ships' Greek crews. The same is true now under Royal Olympic and time and time again crews extend hearty "Welcome Aboard" greetings to familiar faces. On these ships passengers are individuals, not numbers, and many people are delighted when a crewmember remembers not only the face but the name, even when several years have passed between meetings! Of all the ships in her size category I find myself drawn to the STELLA OCEANIS more than to any other...maybe it's because she both looks and feels like a ship...and for me the ship is the thing! This is a honey of a ship and I recommend her very highly to anyone with a modicum of refinement and sophistication. Is it worth a flight to Europe to take a cruise in her? If you don't have time to sail over in either the STELLA SOLARIS from Florida or the ODYSSEUS from Rio...ABSOLUTELY! People who can't "stand furriners" won't like her but you probably will! I know I do! More than that...I love her!

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