June 12, 2003
A British entrepreneur is proposing to launch easyCruise, a new budget-oriented no-frills cruise line where fares could run as low as 29 pounds (about $48) a day. Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who calls himself a serial entrepreneur – and is the founder of Brit low-fare air carrier easyJet (not to mention a worldwide string of Internet cafes called easyInternet) -- has announced that his ship will be an all a’la carte operation. Beyond the basic fare – which will be available only for purchase on the Internet – passengers shell out for food and entertainment. And it’s a bring-your-own-bedding type of operation (though plans are to offer sheets and towels for sale). Passengers can clean their own cabins – or pay another 20 pounds (about $33) to have “steward service”. The cabins, which are of the same pre-fabricated design as Haji-Ioannou’s other proposed take on budget hotels called easyDorm, contain a shower, toilet and bed that’s styled in the fashion of a Japanese tatami floor mat. Haji-Ioannou, who launched this idea recently at a cruise ship trade fair in London, has said he intends to start the operation next summer, at the earliest. And though he has not yet acquired a ship, Haji-Ioannou is said to be shopping for a ferry-style vessel. According to spokesman James Rothnie, “we're looking for a ship at present [though] likely it will hold hundreds rather than thousands of passengers.” He adds, “We're not looking for the highly-staffed, every whim catered for, floating ten-story city kind of ship.” The company’s intent is to sail the Mediterranean during warm weather months and the Caribbean during the winter.