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  #1  
Old February 12th, 2010, 02:00 PM
sirwired sirwired is offline
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Default easyCruise... R.I.P.

Well, now that the news has broken that easyCruise is apparently gone, maybe anyone still here can reminisce before CC kills the board.

For myself, my Ancient Greece cruise on EC1 a couple of years ago was a great deal, and a wonderful vacation. Maybe somebody else will pick up the niche EC originally filled (rock-bottom prices, zero frills, extended port times.) I would have gladly paid twice as much as I did for that off-season cruise...

I wonder if the ferry company that bought EC from Stelios will be providing full refunds, like easyGroup did every time EC changed their business plan?

I think it was several things that killed the line:

1) Keeping the ship in Greece year-round. Caribbean in the winter I think would have been much lower-cost, and kept the ship sailing constantly.
2) Moving away the extended port time model. I cannot imagine why they thought anyone would sign up for only spending three or four hours in each port. Especially not at their higher prices. Especially on a ship most certainly not built for extended on-board time.
3) ecLife. They seemed to do okay with the original ship... maybe they spent too much on ecLife?
4) Not going elsewhere in the Med. With such a limited niche, perhaps expanding destinations beyond Greece and Turkey might have helped.
5) Pricing too low, and then too high. Moving from $30-$35/nt/pp to $100-$200? I don't think so.
6) What was wrong with no-frills? Certainly devoting what would be dining space to cabins, and berths to pax instead of cabin cleaners had to have saved something...

Farewell easyCruise!

SirWired

  #2  
Old February 12th, 2010, 04:03 PM
sceptic sceptic is offline
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Sirwired: RE your numbered thoughts - All of the above, I imagine. This is a little long, but EC deserves a thoughtful post-mortem

The multiple problems they currently faced stem, I believe, from a lack of direction about who they were and what service they were providing. I knew what EC1 in the Caribbean was all about. So did EC. They had a plan in place for a specific type of experience and cost, and they delivered. Their original plans for expansion were to essentially duplicate, on slightly larger scales, the EC1 concept. Rumors of staging out of Miami or the Bahamas were a near constant. But they were all centered around the EC concept. Did any of us save the hilarious ads and PR stuff that stelios put out when EC started? Everyone who read the text and saw the photos got it. Love it or hate it, everyone understood the concept.

So to go through your points:
1) Greece year round? Not a good choice. They lost the North American market, and I got the impression that there are a lot more Europeans (including Brits - never sure if I'm supposed to call you chaps Europeans or not) who liked the holiday out of Barbados than were assumed by EC. On both my Carib cruises I got constant statements from crew that they fully intended on coming back, just not sure of itinerary year to year.
2) No extended port time? deal breaker. THat was part of the essence of EC, and to have only 4-5 hours in a port is a joke. I don't mean that lightly. It is an utter absurdity that makes zero sense for just about any customer. I would never, ever consider going on any cruise at any price with the time/itinerary of ECL.
3) EC Life. No opinion. Seemed a little lush. EC1 was clean, spare, and comfortable. They were going up-scale on a converted older ferry. But I don't think the ship itself was a violation of the original concept.
4) Limited niche (no other Mediterranean locales). Yep. try other itineraries. But this was sold to a greek concern, and that's all they cared about, sort of like being shocked if it was sold to an Alaskan ferry service that they also didn't ply the waters of FRench Polynesia.
5) Price too low, and then too high. The final prices for a 3-4 day cruise were absurdly high. HOw could they sell this against a large ship that offers more time in port, more onboard amenities, more food options, and a smaller price? NOt luxurious enough to get away with a Crystal experience. Was it orginally too low? I don't know. Their price point concept was difficult to grasp. They were floating prices (okay, all cruise lines do this to some extent) but these changed almost daily. Let me give you an example. We paid $570 for a week for two cabins on our last Carib tour. That's less than $145 a week per person. I would have paid double. Triple? Dunno. But going from cheap to ridiculously expensive was a deal breaker. And going from 7 nights (getting on and off anywhre - another great concept) to regimented 3-4 day trips was in extremis change.
6) NO frills was the concept. IF they couldn't make money, then no frills didn't work. It's really (and sadly) as simple as that. The problem is that I don't think Stelios went into this full-on, like his goal was to tweak the Carnivals. He did that, but Carnival is still around. One small ship might not be enough to validate the concept. If he'd tried 2 or 3 ships in the Carib at once it might have seemed more like a viable business - not just to cruisers, but to the islands themselves. I didn't know this beforehand, but one of the larger markets in the 2nd year for EC1 in the carib was actual residents of the Caribbean! We met many people on board who were using the ship as an opportunity to visit friends on nearby islands, or to visit one place for a few days before heading back to their home on St. Martin or wherever. None of us really know if EC1 ever made a dime in the Caribbean. It might have been a money pit, and if STelios was going to lose his shirt, he might as well do it in his home waters of Greece.

This sounds odd, but if there was a problem in marketing it was that EC was sold as TOO no-frills. I heard from people who thought we slept on cots or hammocks. It was simple, basic, ridiculously clean, and very comfortable. It was not a floating YMCA or hostel. It had character, and it offered an utterly unique way of visiting the Caribbean. I did talk to some people off the big ships in Antigua, and they were astonished at what I told them about EC. A few said they'd surely like to give it a try.

I do wonder what break-even was for the little ship. I suppose we'll never know. I'd like to find a ship that is even somewhat remotely similar in concept, even at a higher price.

  #3  
Old February 20th, 2010, 12:51 AM
bob brown's Avatar
bob brown bob brown is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by sceptic View Post
Sirwired: RE your numbered thoughts - All of the above, I imagine. This is a little long, but EC deserves a thoughtful post-mortem

The multiple problems they currently faced stem, I believe, from a lack of direction about who they were and what service they were providing. I knew what EC1 in the Caribbean was all about. So did EC. They had a plan in place for a specific type of experience and cost, and they delivered. Their original plans for expansion were to essentially duplicate, on slightly larger scales, the EC1 concept. Rumors of staging out of Miami or the Bahamas were a near constant. But they were all centered around the EC concept. Did any of us save the hilarious ads and PR stuff that stelios put out when EC started? Everyone who read the text and saw the photos got it. Love it or hate it, everyone understood the concept.

So to go through your points:
1) Greece year round? Not a good choice. They lost the North American market, and I got the impression that there are a lot more Europeans (including Brits - never sure if I'm supposed to call you chaps Europeans or not) who liked the holiday out of Barbados than were assumed by EC. On both my Carib cruises I got constant statements from crew that they fully intended on coming back, just not sure of itinerary year to year.
2) No extended port time? deal breaker. THat was part of the essence of EC, and to have only 4-5 hours in a port is a joke. I don't mean that lightly. It is an utter absurdity that makes zero sense for just about any customer. I would never, ever consider going on any cruise at any price with the time/itinerary of ECL.
3) EC Life. No opinion. Seemed a little lush. EC1 was clean, spare, and comfortable. They were going up-scale on a converted older ferry. But I don't think the ship itself was a violation of the original concept.
4) Limited niche (no other Mediterranean locales). Yep. try other itineraries. But this was sold to a greek concern, and that's all they cared about, sort of like being shocked if it was sold to an Alaskan ferry service that they also didn't ply the waters of FRench Polynesia.
5) Price too low, and then too high. The final prices for a 3-4 day cruise were absurdly high. HOw could they sell this against a large ship that offers more time in port, more onboard amenities, more food options, and a smaller price? NOt luxurious enough to get away with a Crystal experience. Was it orginally too low? I don't know. Their price point concept was difficult to grasp. They were floating prices (okay, all cruise lines do this to some extent) but these changed almost daily. Let me give you an example. We paid $570 for a week for two cabins on our last Carib tour. That's less than $145 a week per person. I would have paid double. Triple? Dunno. But going from cheap to ridiculously expensive was a deal breaker. And going from 7 nights (getting on and off anywhre - another great concept) to regimented 3-4 day trips was in extremis change.
6) NO frills was the concept. IF they couldn't make money, then no frills didn't work. It's really (and sadly) as simple as that. The problem is that I don't think Stelios went into this full-on, like his goal was to tweak the Carnivals. He did that, but Carnival is still around. One small ship might not be enough to validate the concept. If he'd tried 2 or 3 ships in the Carib at once it might have seemed more like a viable business - not just to cruisers, but to the islands themselves. I didn't know this beforehand, but one of the larger markets in the 2nd year for EC1 in the carib was actual residents of the Caribbean! We met many people on board who were using the ship as an opportunity to visit friends on nearby islands, or to visit one place for a few days before heading back to their home on St. Martin or wherever. None of us really know if EC1 ever made a dime in the Caribbean. It might have been a money pit, and if STelios was going to lose his shirt, he might as well do it in his home waters of Greece.

This sounds odd, but if there was a problem in marketing it was that EC was sold as TOO no-frills. I heard from people who thought we slept on cots or hammocks. It was simple, basic, ridiculously clean, and very comfortable. It was not a floating YMCA or hostel. It had character, and it offered an utterly unique way of visiting the Caribbean. I did talk to some people off the big ships in Antigua, and they were astonished at what I told them about EC. A few said they'd surely like to give it a try.

I do wonder what break-even was for the little ship. I suppose we'll never know. I'd like to find a ship that is even somewhat remotely similar in concept, even at a higher price.
You might consider taking long distance ferryboats, such as the Alaska State Ferry, or those of Marine Atlantic. While they are an entirely different experience than EC, there are some similarities.
And the way the mainstream cruiselines are going, in their fiercely competitive marketplace, where they (especially NCL, but others following) are luring passengers aboard with rock-bottom fares, and then try to make as much revenue as possible on board, who knows...the day may be coming when all meals are ala carte? And then what next?
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  #4  
Old March 9th, 2010, 12:49 PM
SaylorGirl SaylorGirl is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,553
Default I will miss you Easycruise

I am so sorry that Easycruise is gone!! Some of my best cruises (and there have been many) were on Easycruise. I loved when they first started they did the Mediterranean we enjoyed sailing into Cannes during the film festival on our lovely orange ship. We had ports in Portofino, Imperia, Monte Carlo, Nice. It was a fantastic experience and we loved the orange ship.

The next year we had two sailings booked one from Brussels and one from Greece. Unfortunately two weeks before our sailing the Brussels cruise was canceled. Easycruise did everything to accommodate us and their customer service, Paul, was incredible. We continued on with our European trip and substituted hotels for ports we spent several weeks in Europe before heading to Athens for our Greece cruse. It was amazing the time in ports and the ship we loved.

The next year we headed back to Europe for a month and spent ten days of our trip on the new Easycruise Life in Greece. Once again we had a wonderful time and enjoyed all the ports and length of time spent there. We did miss our orange boat but the new ship was very nice.

The prices on Easycruise were so incredibly low and you were able to just enjoy being in the ports and dining in wonderful places. I never minded the small cabins or not having daily service, I especially didn't miss the crowds of the large ships or bingo!! I will always hold a special place in our travel memories for Easycruise and am very thankful that we took the opportunity to sail on this line. This summer in Europe it will just be land based I cannot see booking on a large ship to go six hours to a port! In fact since we have sailed on Easycruise I have not booked us on another cruise ship at all!! I think we were terribly spoiled by the concept of the orange boat and have no desire to become one of the masses again. Thank you Paul and good luck to you.

Jessie

  #5  
Old March 12th, 2010, 01:12 AM
sceptic sceptic is offline
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Saylor and others who might wander in here (sort of like people who inadvertently stumble into a stranger's wake): Can you think of any boat, ship, etc. that has an itinerary in the Caribbean remotely similar to easyCruise? I'm really not that interested in the big ships, although the Carnival Victory out of San Juan is 7 ports in 7 nights, which is nice, but I liked the whole Cool Places Day and Night vibe of EC1.

There's a new outfit called islandwindjammers that might be interesting. The Arabella is no longer sailing... Any others? It's a real bummer because right now there are awesome air fares to St. Thomas from denver (like $280 R/T with taxes) into June, and we'd love to find something like the above... but even these ships don't seem to cruise the Caribbean in summer.

So perhaps to segue this thread into something more positive, any ideas for those of us who liked easycruise? (and thanks to the suggestion about the Alaska ferry system.)

  #6  
Old March 14th, 2010, 01:43 PM
ECP ECP is offline
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Location: Ontario Canada
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Default Let me back you up

Quote:
Originally Posted by sceptic View Post
Sirwired: RE your numbered thoughts - All of the above, I imagine. This is a little long, but EC deserves a thoughtful post-mortem


6) NO frills was the concept. IF they couldn't make money, then no frills didn't work. It's really (and sadly) as simple as that. The problem is that I don't think Stelios went into this full-on, like his goal was to tweak the Carnivals. He did that, but Carnival is still around. One small ship might not be enough to validate the concept. If he'd tried 2 or 3 ships in the Carib at once it might have seemed more like a viable business - not just to cruisers, but to the islands themselves. I didn't know this beforehand, but one of the larger markets in the 2nd year for EC1 in the carib was actual residents of the Caribbean! We met many people on board who were using the ship as an opportunity to visit friends on nearby islands, or to visit one place for a few days before heading back to their home on St. Martin or wherever. None of us really know if EC1 ever made a dime in the Caribbean. It might have been a money pit, and if STelios was going to lose his shirt, he might as well do it in his home waters of Greece.
First pricing, my three trips with Carnival:
4 nights Bahamas $349 per person.
7 nights Southern Caribbean $460 per person plus a balcony upgrade.
14 nights East/Western Caribbean $1120 per person.

All these cruises including the third one which is next year come to less than $100 per night, for on-board cruising why would anyone go EasyCruise.

Now if they were not making enough money I personally would gladly pay $50-75 a night to EC if they had extended stays. My Bahamas cruise stayed overnight in dock, it was a pleasure to spend all day on the island not having to worry about getting back to the ship on time.

The Southern Caribbean on the other had us always rushing thru the sights to insure we got back to the ship on time.

Low costs and extended stays was EC's marketing edge, it just needed refining.

  #7  
Old March 14th, 2010, 03:09 PM
sceptic sceptic is offline
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Yep, it was that whole "cool places day and night" vibe that made EC so different. I see the itineraries for ships like the Carnival Victory, where there is one port a day in the S Carib, and think it's pretty interesting...but you have to be back on board at 5 or 6. Criminy - that's when our island time should be about half over! Just our daytime exploring of St. Maarten, Martinique, St. lucia, St. Barts, Anguilla etc. was later than 5, let alone going back ashore for dinner.

Yet that is an alternative that we've seriously considered, just because they're so port-intensive.

I was hoping there'd be a smaller ship somewhere doing the same thing and staying later. Yes, the concept needed refining, or someone with the will to see if it could work. personally, I don't think a single ship made enough of a splash - so to speak! - in the Caribbean to ever be anything other than an oddity. I don't know if there is a niche for this, frankly, but I'd have gladly paid 2X what we did pay, perhaps more, to enjoy those cruises again. A fleet of 3 or 4, with one ship out of Barbados or Grenada, another out of St. Maarten or thereabouts, another out of the VI... now that would be fun.

So if anyone hears or sees of some sort of ship that does the EC thing, let us know!

Oh - the easycruise website is off the air. Wonder if they're revamping, or there's a server issue, or it's gone?

  #8  
Old March 14th, 2010, 10:03 PM
sirwired sirwired is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sceptic View Post
Oh - the easycruise website is off the air. Wonder if they're revamping, or there's a server issue, or it's gone?
They're gone. I suspect their webhost finally noticed the bill hadn't been paid, so they've "turned off the lights."

SirWired

  #9  
Old March 16th, 2010, 03:21 AM
sceptic sceptic is offline
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The easyCruise website is back up!

No dates, though. But it sure is purty.

  #10  
Old March 30th, 2010, 04:28 PM
Driverlady Driverlady is offline
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Default RIP-please come back

My 14-night Easy Cruise 1 trip throught he Greek Islands was one of the best trips ever! The time in port was critical to our enjoyment of the cruise and I would happily pay significantly more for the pleasure of doing it (and other similar trips) again. In the US there was no marketing to speak of. And I agree that it is riduculous to set the price at $648 for two weeks one year and then more than double that for 4 nights the next year. Come back with moderate base prices, , lots of time in port, great tours, regional food and drinks for purchase on board and a good international marketing campaign and I for one will be a loyal repeat cruiser!

 

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