ECONOMY

easyCruise heads to Aegean islands

The founder and chairman of cut-price service provider easyGroup, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has begun talks with Greece’s Merchant Marine Ministry to bring easyCruises to the Greek islands in the summer of 2006. «Today we started talking to the ministry,» Haji-Ioannou told a Foreign Press Association press conference on Monday night. «We’re trying to access seven ports for summer 2006.» A sample cruise could start from the Athens port of Piraeus and include the islands of Myconos, Patmos, Rhodes, the port cities of Iraklio and Hania on Crete, and Milos, he said. All destinations except Patmos can also be accessed by air, permitting customers to join the cruise at an intermediate point. «The secret is that the boat spends the night in port, to enable young people to enjoy the city,» Haji-Ioannou said. This concept has enabled easyCruise to have an average passenger age of 35 on its existing Cote d’Azur package from St Tropez to Porto Fino, which launched this month with «very strong» bookings, he said. The age equivalent across the rest of the cruise industry is 54, Haji-Ioannou said. The easyGroup founder also revealed plans to take his existing cruise boat, easyCruiseOne, to the Caribbean islands this winter. Haji-Ioannou said he would travel to Barbados on June 16 to negotiate access to local ports. The deal could also include the French island of Martinique. Cabin prices start from 29 pounds sterling (42 euros) per night, while suites go for 159 pounds (231 euros), a charge that does not include meals. Most of the cabins have a size of 10 square meters, are simply furnished with two beds and storage space, and have a bathroom with shower but no windows. (AFP)