When Olympic Explorer was delivered in 2002, it was to a company in which Louis Cruise Lines had a significant stake and in which that company had invested heavily to try to save it. The company was Royal Olympic Cruises, formed in 1995 by the amalgamation of Sun Lines and the cruise business of Epirotiki. A listing on the NASDAQ in 1998 raised $90 million, with which the company would buy two new fast ships.
They were Olympic Voyager and Olympic Explorer, but political turmoil in the Eastern Mediterranean caused much of Royal Olympic’s business to evaporate, and in 1999 the company was in real trouble. Louis came along and saved the day, and the two new ships were eventually delivered, but a further financial crisis struck in 2003. At the end of that year the two ships were seized, leaving Royal Olympic to struggle on for a few more months before going out of business.
Olympic Explorer, by now named Olympia Explorer, eventually became Semester at Sea’s Explorer, sailing around the world as a floating university campus. Semester at Sea will cease to use the ship in early 2015, and Louis Cruises, in its new guise as Celestyal Cruises, has taken a three-year charter on the 24,000gt, 850-passenger ship for use in the Mediterranean as Celestyal Odyssey, with her recently renamed fleet mates Celestyal Cristal and Celestyal Olympia.