ATHENS -- The Olympia Explorer is here. That might seem like an
obvious way to introduce a ship, but this new vessel from Royal
Olympic Cruises is a long-awaited product.
The ship originally was slated to launch on May 12, 2001, but
delivery from Germany's Blohm + Voss shipyard was pushed back
several times until last month, when the Olympia Explorer sailed to
Athens for its inaugural cruise.
Yiannos Pantazis, Royal Olympic's chief executive officer, said
the ship received a 90% satisfaction rating on its first sailing
"despite the fact it was only the first cruise, and you can expect
many things to go wrong."
So the Olympia Explorer is moving full speed ahead -- literally.
The ship's top speed is 33 knots with a cruising speed of around 26
knots, making it and sister ship the Olympia Voyager the fastest
cruise vessels in the world, according to Royal Olympic.
The Olympia Explorer's seven-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary
calls in eight ports: Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Istanbul,
Turkey; and Olympia, Mykonos, Santorini, Athens and Corfu,
Company officials boast that most ships would not be able to
visit this many ports in a regular seven-day sailing, although some
calls are only five hours long.
The 25,000-ton ship carries 836 passengers, a relatively small
size that enables the ship to visit smaller ports, as well as
provide more personalized service, Pantazis said.
The Olympia Explorer's design scheme is called "precious earth,"
with bright stones and matching colors dictating the theme of each
room. The main restaurant, Aqua Marina, features 2,000 blue
crystals in the room's chandeliers; the casual Topaz Garden Lounge
eatery features a brilliant blue design.
Gambling is available in the Golden Room Casino, shopping along
the Coral Walk. The Jade Spa offers facials, massages, mud baths
and thalassotherapy treatments.
After dinner, guests can be entertained in the Amber Lounge or
at the disco in the Panoramic Lounge.
The Olympia Explorer's layout is similar to the Olympia Voyager,
although there are a few changes, such as the addition of more
But on a speedy ship such as the Olympia Explorer, the port
calls take center stage. Passengers, Pantazis said, "can visit many
ports and can go on more excursions."
"The shore excursions [are] geared towards archeological [sites]
and monuments that Greece has a rich tradition in."
Royal Olympic's passenger base is split between U.S. and
European travelers, but Pantazis said the line makes a special
effort to cater to U.S. clients.
"Americans are very good customers," he said. "They appreciate
what Greece and the Aegean have to offer."