In the growth of the Cruise Industry in the past few decades, there has been several attempts at launching a ‘Low Cost’ Cruise Line, non seem to have met any significant success. So I decided to investigate, I have chosen the little known ‘Vacation Liners’ and Stelios’ ‘EasyCruise’.
In air travel the opposite is true with many Low-Cost airlines Like Ryanair, EasyJet, Southwest (for our American readers), So why has this failed so badly in cruising?
I first heard about Vacation Liners in ‘Liners & Cruise Ships -3’ By Anthony Cooke, and to be honest that’s the only place I have heard them since. They purchased a Short Sea container ship in 1982, and transformed her into a small cruise ship for the budget traveller, The ship had a small swimming pool, a Piano bar and a restaurant that served as a disco at night. It could accommodate 176 passengers and had a crew of just 29. The ship was named Vacationer.
Vacation Liners BV provided a very basic service Buffet Meals, Little Entertainment and if you wanted a clean cabin, you cleaned it yourself! The idea was to sail the vessel out of Gibraltar to, Seville, Tangier and Malaga before returning to Gibraltar, The week-long cruise was targeted at the British Market, During the winter seasons the ship was laid up in Malaga.
In 1983 the cruise ship was featured in a british travel program and interest increased, However the people who booked had expectations far higher than what was provided, and even though they had a great deal they expected that the ship would have the mod-cons. They were let down, and that seems to have been the problem that then plagued this ship, That customers expectations of the floating accommodation is higher than the reality, and Business which fails to live up to expectation will find the are underwater sooner than they think.
In the second season the vessel was taken to the Caribbean for perform cruises there, In April of 1985 she grounded and had to be towed to port with a damaged propeller. On her return to Gibraltar in June 1985 she was briefly arrested for debt. Within the year she had been sold to and changed her name to Carib Vacationer, but this made no change to her schedule operating in the Med in the summer and Caribbean in the winter. However in 1987 she was laid up, In 1992 she was almost reactivated, but the concern collapsed and the vessel, now renamed ‘Coral Princess’ seized on behalf of her unpaid crew.
Since then there has been little news of her, and It would be wonderful if anyone could provide us with any further details of where this ship has been?
Most Europeans have heard of EasyJet, it’s a popular low-cost airline, Founded by Business personality Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Simply known as Stelios. he has founded a chain of subsequent businesses with the easy branding with various level of success.
In 2004 he purchased the small cruise ship Neptune 2 for use in his cruise line. The vessel is formerly of Renaissance Cruises (a cruise line we will cover in another upcoming blog), was refurbished with new cabins, of which due to a time constraint outside cabins did not have the portholes included. The cruise ship was debuted in the mediterranean in 2005 aimed at a younger cruise customer, the vessel stopped at a new port everyday and stayed well into the night.
The media instantly picked up on Stelios little orange boat. now named easycruiseone. The ship, like Vacationer before, operated in the Med in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. It was possible to join the ship from any port of call and you had to stay a minimum of two nights.
EasyCruise soon followed this up with a second river cruise ship operating round Amsterdam, this was known as easycruisetwo, however financial troubles at it parent company, easycruisetwo was franchised, the cruises terminated. All the time Sky TV and the TRAVEL Channel followed producing a documentary called Cruise with Stelios, Three series were made.
The cruise line did appear to have a successful first year, however they tried alternative routing and changed the product into a more full cruise experience, things changed completely with the sale of easycruiseone, and the arrival of EasyCruise Life in 2008. This change meant the product being offered onboard was now significantly different from the budget model which made easyjet the success it was. The ships where now grey with an orange hint, a million miles away from the ship that caught the attention of the media at launch.
In 2009 Stelios announced the sale to Hellenic Seaways for £9 Million, they then transferred the ship to Blue Ocean Cruises, who renamed the ship Ocean Life, and ended the EasyCruise venture. I believe with a little more time and suitable promotion this could actually have been better managed, the continuous changes to product meant nobody knew what EasyCruise stood for, Like the way we know what Crystal Cruises stands for, Easy Cruise should have been the budget equivalent
I also think the Caribbean is a bad place to relocate a budget ship for the winter, I think the Canary Islands, with the good transport links and more suitable weather would have been more suitable.
It is our understanding that people cruise as they want to be looked after, they enjoy the comforts of a cruise, otherwise the cruise is just a ferry, taking people from A-to-B, and like Cunard once said, getting there is half the fun. It is because of this that these cruise lines have never been able to develop as customers dont understand what they are, if they did they would meet customers expectations better and have the potential to deliver strong results.
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