easyCruiseOne Embarks on Rocky Maiden Voyage

May 10, 2005

On Sunday, the same day that bad weather on the East Coast forced delays in Atlantic Ocean sailing schedules for Norwegian Dawn and Golden Princess, gale-force winds in the Mediterranean disrupted the much-ballyhooed inaugural voyage of easyCruiseOne.

The first ship in the brand-new, Britain-based easyCruise line -- uniquely targeted at budget-conscious travelers in their 20's, 30's and 40's who are seeking to spend more time in port than at sea -- departed from Nice as scheduled on Friday and completed a port of call in Cannes before running into 55-mile-per-hour winds en route to St. Tropez on Sunday morning.

For safety reasons, the captain decided to divert the ship to less-than-glamorous Toulon, a place described by Rough Guides as having "all the paranoia of a big city but with few of the charms". As such, the line's founder, serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who was onboard the inaugural, announced that the ship's normally a la carte food and drink service would be free. He also arranged for complimentary buses to take travelers between Toulon and St. Tropez, about an hour's ride (though it took the ship some four hours to get to Toulon in rough seas).

Barring further mishap, the sold-out maiden voyage will continue to Monaco, Genoa, Portofino and Imperia before returning to Nice.