But after two years, and a number of changes, easyCruise is not quite as revolutionary as it once was.
While the line is still hanging on to some of its anti-establishment traits -- many of its calls are still at small, offbeat ports; cruise fares pretty much cover only the basics; and facilities onboard, such as a bar/eatery, remain fairly basic in scope -- it has certainly adopted some more mainstream characteristics.
First? easyCruise has bagged the flexible boarding policy, where the only requirement was that passengers bought a minimum of two nights and a maximum of 14; otherwise, they were free to get on and off the ship when and where they wanted. Now, less flexible options exist. Passengers must purchase set-length cruises ranging from four to 14 nights.
Half board meal packages (breakfast and either lunch or dinner) can now be purchased online at the time of booking for 8 GBP per person, per day, and maid service for 2 GBP per person, per day -- a clear move, albeit a somewhat minor one, toward a more all-inclusive cruise. Passengers can now pay for meals and room steward all in one shot, at the time of booking. Note: Guests paying in dollars should remember that ships' currency, the Great Britain Pound, is currently worth over $2 U.S.
In response to customer feedback indicating that more (not less) onboard amenities were desired, the Aptiva Spa and a sauna have been added to easyCruiseOne. Treatments include manicures and pedicures from under 5 GBP, facials from 10 GBP, and aromatherapy massages from under 20 GBP. easyCruise Life, which will debut next spring, will also feature the spa services.
We're told that easyCruise Life will have even more cruise-like amenities; we'll provide an update when details are available.
Prepare for streamlined itineraries. In the past, easyCruise tried out a variety of cruise regions, such as the Southern Caribbean, the rivers of Western Europe, and the French and Spanish Rivieras. Now, easyCruiseOne -- and its future sibling -- are firmly planted in the Eastern Mediterranean.
easyCruiseOne specifically will be sailing various Greece-based itineraries. Included are a seven-night Classical Greece offering that is sailing now through April 2008 and a slightly longer 10-night Eastern Mediterranean option that operates through the spring and summer.
easyCruise Life's 2008 season will include stops at six different Greek islands, from the lesser-known Syros and Samos to the more popular Kalymnos, Kos, Paros and Mykonos. The ship will also feature the line's first calls in Turkey with a stop in Bodrum.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor