In its inaugural season, easyCruise got it very right and very wrong. Its Europe cruises were right on the money, combining cheap cruise fares with low-cost airline routes and otherwise expensive cities to create an itinerary that was attractive to the young traveling crowd. Its Caribbean cruises, on the other hand, seemed misguided—expensive airfares and early departure times defeated the “spend little to party all night” mindset of the new cruise line.
Now, easyCruise is trying to redeem its Caribbean season with a brand-new itinerary. Beginning December 8, easyCruiseOne will sail between St. Maarten, St. Barts, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua. Cabins on the newly renovated ship will start at £9 per person per night (about $17, see xe.com for the latest exchange rates). With the correct codes, you can access the line’s promotional offers. Three-night weekend cruises (Friday to Monday) start at £99 with code smac31, four-night weekday cruises (Monday to Friday) start at £89 with code smac41, and seven-night cruises (departing on Friday, Monday, or Wednesday) start from £179 with code smac71. Prices are per person based on double occupancy in a cabin with a window.
What does easyCruise have to say about its new direction? “Some of the reasons for this decision are that we felt that a new set of islands has more appeal to our repeat customers who are already following us from season to season,” said easyCruise founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, in a recent press release. “As well as this, the St Maarten/Antigua itinerary not only takes in some of the most exclusive and fascinating destinations in the Caribbean, it also offers good international airlift (Antigua has nonstop flights from London and St. Maarten is well connected from the U.S., France, and Holland).”
Well-connected, maybe, but are the flights cheap? I did an Orbitz search for a flight from Miami to St. Maarten departing on December 8 and returning December 15. The cheapest fares started at $543, including taxes and fees. I have a hunch that prices from more northern cities during the peak winter travel months of January through March will only go up. Meaning that easyCruise hasn’t fixed the problem of combining a cheap, low-frills cruise with high-priced flights. Is anyone willing to deal with expensive plane tickets in order to get cheap accommodations and transportation between ritzy islands? We’ll have to wait and see.