It's "the perfect holiday for independently minded people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s," boasts the easyCruise website. The cabins may be small and the frills nonexistent, but the base price is low and the cruise ship will drop you off at a different island each day with plenty of time to see the sights and enjoy the nightlife. And when the ship sails, the outdoor bar on Deck 5 is supposed to be hopping with a hot-tubbing, drinking, and dancing young crowd.
Sound good? I thought so, so I signed up for seven days of sailing the Caribbean during easyCruise's first ever winter season. But when I stepped into the sports bar on my first day onboard and saw a sea of white hair, and then paid almost $20 for a disappointing meal, I began to have some doubts. Was the Caribbean easyCruise experience as cheap, easy, and fun as the website promised?
What they promised and what I got
For a very low per-day rate, easyCruise offers a place to sleep, access to the ship's onboard amenities, and transportation between Barbados, St. Vincent, Martinique, Bequia (a Grenadine island), Grenada, and St. Lucia for a minimum of two and a maximum of 14 days. Onboard amenities include a coffee shop, a sundries shop, a sports-themed restaurant, an outdoor bar with hot tub, a sun deck (though I never saw anyone up there), and a gym (ditto for the gym). The cruise line also operates a couple of shore excursions in each port for an additional charge, and these occasionally get canceled, mostly due to lack of interest.
From all that I read about other travelers' experiences on easyCruise, I was expecting a minimalist cabin, long days on shore, and nonstop partying on Deck 5 (the outdoor bar) in the evenings. My expectations were only somewhat correct. Here's a rundown of what easyCruise promises on its website, and what I found on my Caribbean cruise.
'easyCruiseOne features a unique minimalist chic orange colored cabin design with frosted glass fittings.'
The cruise line's description is pretty much accurate. Most cabins feature two twin mattresses on a raised platform with about a hand's width of space in between them, two hooks and eight hangers for clothing and towels, a high shelf, and a ledge along the headboard. Luggage must be stored on the shelf (for small bags) and along the narrow hallway (for suitcases). The mattresses and duvets are relatively comfortable, though the pillows are flat. And, of course, some of the walls, the headboard, and the platform are bright orange. Most rooms have no window, but you can pay more for doubles with a window, windowless quads, or suites with balconies.
An en suite bathroom is enclosed in mostly translucent glass (the tops and bottoms are transparent so you can see your roommate's feet when she showers) and hold a towel rack, a toilet, sink, mirror, and shower with no curtain. When you shower, most of the bathroom gets wet, and any noise you make in the bathroom can be heard throughout the cabin. Clearly, easyCruise is not the place for modest people.
I found the bathrooms frustrating, especially as ours had a stick instead of a lock and our toilet stopped working on two separate occasions. But, I've stayed in hostels that offered much less. In the end, the cabins were more or less as expected, though a few design modifications could make them more user-friendly.