easyCruise problems?

fred henderson
19th February 2008, 19:08
It seems that the easyCruise concept is not going as Stelios Haji-Iouannou envisaged when he launched the concept in 2005 with easyCruise One. This is the 4,000 ton ex-Renaissance Two, built in 1990 with lower berth accommodation for 176 passengers (250 max). After starting operations along the French and Italian Riviera as a binge-drinking pad, she moved to the Caribbean for the winter and in subsequent summers has been in the Greek Islands.
Stelios then announced the signing of a letter-of-intent with Greece’s Neorion Holdings to build seven larger ships. As Neorion have no experience in building modern cruise ships and Stelios appeared to be seeking financing terms that were considerably in excess of anything allowed by the EEC, it is not too surprising that nothing further has been heard of this project.
The next move was to re-brand an existing river cruise ship as easyCruise Two, on the basis that the owners of the ship paid Stelios to use the “easy” brand and for the benefit of his marketing expertise. This venture was cancelled by the owners at the end of the first season, because of the poor level of business obtained.
In September last year Stelios announced that he had bought another ship, which turned out to be the Farah. She is a 12,600 ton ship that was built in Poland as a Soviet ferry in1981 and was converted into a cruise ship in 2001. She has recently been operating in the Red Sea under the management of Salam International. She had lower berth accommodation for 460 passengers (650 max). She is being refitted and is scheduled to enter service in the Greek Islands and Turkey on 19 April 2008 as easyCruise Life. In a change in strategy there will be an increased focus on families.
It has now been announced that easyCruise One has been withdrawn and is for sale. In the words of a spokesman “easyCruise One does not have enough space onboard for us to do what we want, and it makes the line more financially viable if we can get two ships the same size. The new-build programme is shelved.”
easyCruise is loss making, but it is difficult for Stelios to abandon a concept, as this could devalue the “easy” brand. It seems likely that he is only prepared to operate one ship at his expense.