Mit der MS Mistral
von Madeira bis zur Ostsee, Mai 2003


Festival Cruises

(known as First European Cruises in North America) was a Greece-based cruise line that operated between 1994 and 2004. It was founded in 1992 by the Greek entrepreneur George Poulides using second-hand ships. The company acquired three new-built ships between 1999 and 2002, but was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2004.[1][2][3][4]


George Poulides founded Festival Cruises in 1992. The company begun operations in 1994 after purchasing MS The Azur from Chandris Cruises.[2] The following year the company acquired MS Starward from Norwegian Cruise Line, renaming her MS Bolero.[5] A third second-hand ship followed in 1997, when MS Southern Cross was acquired from Premier Cruise Line and renamed MS Flamenco for service with Festival.[6]

Festival Cruises acquired their first newbuilt ship in 1999, when MS Mistral was delivered from Chantiers de l'Atlantique in France. In 2000 Festival Cruises announced that the company would be merged into Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), with the Festival Cruises brand being maintained under P&O ownership. The merger plan was abandoned later that year due to low value of cruise line shares at the time. Two additional newbuilt ships based on an enlarged version of the Mistral design were delivered in 2001 and 2002 as MS European Vision and MS European Stars, respectively.[2] Following delivery of the new ships the Bolero and Flamenco were chartered to other opeators.[5][6] Festival Cruises had an option for two more ships of the enlarged Mistral design, but the company decided not to use the option. Two more Mistral class ships were however built for MSC Cruises as MSC Lirica and MSC Opera.[7]

Festival Cruises went bankrupt in early 2004, with all the company's ships were laid up and subsequently auctioned to other operators; European Stars and European Vision were sold to MSC Cruises,[2][4] Mistral to a French investor group who chartered her to Iberojet,[2][8] The Azur to Mano Maritime,[9] Bolero to Orient Queen Shipping and Flamenco to Cruise Elysia.[2]

Mistral in Kiel Harbour, May 2005 (Quelle: Wikipedia, engl.

Ship Built In service
for Festival Cruises
Tonnage Status as of 2008
MS Azure 1971 1994-2004 11,609 GRT Since 2004 MS Royal Iris for Mano Maritime.
MS Bolero 1968 1995-2001 12,948 GRT Since 2006 MS Orient Queen for Louis Cruise Lines.
MS Caribe 1948 2002-2004 15,614 GRT Since 2005 MS Athena for Classic International Cruises.
MS Flamenco 1972 1997-2003 17,370 GRT Since 2004 MS New Flamenco for Cruise Elysia.
MS Mistral 1999 1999-2004 47,276 GT Since 2005 MS Grand Mistral for Iberocruceros.
MS European Vision 2001 2001-2004 58,174 GT Since 2004 MS MSC Armonia for MSC Cruises.
MS European Stars 2002 2002-2004 58,625 GT Since 2004 MS MSC Sinfonia for MSC Cruises.