15 November 2021






2 mins

Festival Cruises (known as First European Cruises or First Choice 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 newbuilt ships between 1999 and 2002, but was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2004.

Festival Cruises acquired their first newbuilt ship in 1999, when MISTRAL was delivered from Chantiers de l’Atlantique in France as yard number J31. She was christened on 25th June 1999 by Claude Deschamps, wife of French football player, Didier Deschamps. Her maiden voyage started on 17th July 1999,  a seven day cruise from Genoa to the Greek islands with Valletta as port of call too.

She was later deployed to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean after her inaugural Mediterranean season and later operated primarily from Cuba. She had 8 passenger decks while she was 216 metres long with 28.8 metres beam. With 670 crew she had 1,727 maximum passenger capacity.

On 20th February 2001 she ran aground near Saint Kitts & Nevis after got stuck on a sandbank some 900 feet from the shore and local residents used this misfortune for a good day out to see the ship. None of the passengers or crew were injured and damage was not too severe, although there had been reports that the ship took on water. She was pulled out of her mooring one day later and continued her cruise.

Festival Cruises collapsed in 2004 and most of the company’s fleet, including MISTRAL was sold off.

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Published – Monday 15th November ,2021

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Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli otherwise stated. NO PHOTOS can be used or manipulated without our permission.
© All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –