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Book now with new easyCruise ship and itineraries September 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
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easyCruise is back and better than ever. The no-frills, budget cruise line has just announced their new Greece’s itineraries for 2008 and the launch of a new easyCruise vessel.

The easyCruise Life will be double the size of easyCruiseOne and carry more than 500 passengers. The ship will feature the fusion On6 restaurant and bar, the Apivita spa and wellness zone, a chillout zone for hanging out and watching TV, and a store for buying easyCruise logo items and everyday necessities. The new ship also features the first easyCruise pool, in addition to the infamous hot tub.

Both easyCruise Life and easyCruiseOne will spend 2008 in Greece. The easyCruiseLife will sail seven-night itineraries from Athens to the Greek islands of Syros, Samos, Kalymnos, Kos, Paros, and Mykonos, beginning in April 2008. Guests can join the cruise in Athens on Sundays.

The easyCruiseOne will continue to sail weekend Aegean Escape voyages from Athens to Poros, Mykonos, Paros, and Sifnos islands. It will also begin a new 10-night around the Ionian Sea itinerary with calls at Ithaki, Paxos, Corfu, Kefallonia, Zakynothos, Corinth, Itea for Delphi and Preveza.

Related Links > http://www.easycruise.com

Harboring tourism August 1, 2007

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Passengers arriving at Greek ports in the last quarter of 2006 increased by 35.5 percent year-on-year, as they reached 247,000 people, the Merchant Marine Ministry announced yesterday.

Those departing from the country’s ports were 198,000, or 10.1 percent more than the same period in 2005. Passenger numbers aboard coastal ships rose by 15.8 percent annually, although vehicles traveling by ferries decreased by 3.4 percent.

Greece > wind-powered island-hopping June 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece, News Cruises, Tourism.
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Tradition says it was down to Scylla, Circe and a cyclops. But we say Odysseus spent 10 years getting home from Troy because he was having such a cracking time.

Ever since Homer first picked up a lyre, there has been something ineffably romantic about sailing the Greek islands. It’s that profound feeling of contentment as you point your prow towards a speckle of green and a sliver of gold on the big blue horizon, and settle back to enjoy the dazzle of the sun, the creak of the rigging and the plink-plink of ice tinkling in your next island hopping.

What’s more, anyone can savour this, from beginner to bareboater, whether you have sturdy sea legs or you’re wet behind the ears. You just need to pick the right spot. Most holiday yachts, whether attached to a shore base or beach club, part of a flotilla or available for independent charter, are harboured in Greece. But even in that corner, the sailing conditions can vary wildly, so it’s important to choose your destination carefully.

Check out our guide, pick your paradise and cast off with your cossie and a smile. The Sirens are calling…

More than half of the Mediterranean charter fleet is in Greece, and that’s because of its islands. There are scores of them, and they inspire a sense of maritime adventure you just can’t get from pootling along by the coast.

Each Greek archipelago has its distinct boaty profile. The islands of the Ionian, for example, are nautical nursery slopes, with sheltered waters and lighter winds than the Aegean. You can access them either from island bases, on Corfu or Lefkas, for example, or from the mainland at Vounaki, near the airport at Preveza. Handily, there are umpteen charter flights to Ionian airports from all over the UK.

Of course, light winds can sometimes mean no winds at all, so you may end up motoring, a prospect that can turn the most placid old salt into a raging demon. And Ionian ports tend to get busy, especially in August when the islands heave with Italians.

Another option is the Sporades, where Skiathos, the main hub, has a line of waiting yachts just a five-minute taxi ride from the airport. Neighbouring Skopelos and Alonnisos are green and pretty, or you can sail to a cluster of castaway islands, including Kyra Panagia, Skantzoura and Gioura, which are entirely people-free. More ambitious itineraries could even take in the sheltered Gulf of Volos, where Jason cast off in the Argo to find the Golden Fleece. Sporades sailing is fairly straightforward, although conditions can be gusty in July and August.

Then there’s the Dodecanese, accessed by flying either to Kos or Rhodes, or occasionally Samos. These are the Greek equivalent of the Grenadines, a straightish line of islands that cry out to be sailed from end to end. This means some lengthy passages, up to 48 miles, and coupled with the meltemi winds that whoosh down from the northwest, it makes the Dodecanese an excellent prospect for the more experienced sailor. Others should think twice. Either way, charters heading from south to north, with your nose on the wind, are best avoided.

Finally, don’t forget the Greek mainland. Sailing from Athens is a bit like casting off into a maritime spaghetti junction, but point your prow in the right direction and you’ll soon be in the sheltered Saronic Gulf, with its islands of Poros, Aegina, famed for its pistachios, and Hydra, still trendy after all these years. Next door lies the Argolic Gulf, mainly a mainland experience: Nafplion and Tolon in the north, a long stretch of Peloponnese, and medieval Monemvasia, the Gibraltar of the eastern Mediterranean, in the south.

For beginners: Sunvil, www.sunvil.co.uk packages learn-to-sail weeks at Nidri, on Lefkas, for singles, couples, groups and families, suitable for children aged nine and above. You have two options: learn aboard a yacht, sharing with between four and six other students; or sleep ashore, dividing your week between instruction and relaxation. The former starts from £495pp, plus £70 kitty to cover refreshments, yacht damage waiver, mooring fees, certification and so on; the latter from £428, room-only, with two-day sailing modules adding £80 each, plus £20 to cover certification, log books and yacht fuel. Those prices include flights from Gatwick to Preveza, transfers and tuition.

For flotilla sailors: Neilson, www.neilson.co.uk has a classic two-week flotilla holiday exploring the Peloponnese and the peaceful waters of the Argolic and Saronic gulfs, including visits to Monemvasia, the ancient Venetian site of Nafplion and the island of Spetses. The base is at Porto Heli, and four people sharing a 32ft boat in August pay £1,025pp, including flights from Heathrow to Athens and transfers.

For bareboaters: Sunsail, www.sunsail.co.uk with its bases in Vounaki in the Ionian and Milina in the Sporades, caters for both bareboat charters and flotillas. Four sharing a 34ft boat in July pay from £596pp, including flights from Gatwick to Preveza or Skiathos and transfers.

EasyCruise > the new way to cruise the Greek islands June 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
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Cruise the Greek islands for less than $50 a night

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the man behind the low-cost successes of Europe’s easyJet and easyHotel, has been experimenting with a new concept in cruising: easyCruise. This summer, after several seasons of sailing the French and Italian Rivieras, Sir Stelios is repositioning his cost-conscious cruise ship to the waters of his homeland, Greece.

With so many cruise operators plying the Aegean and Mediterranean, why waste time focusing on a single company with only one ship? EasyCruise offers three distinct advantages over its competitors: unique itineraries, incredibly low prices and a daily schedule that allows passengers to spend the bulk of their time ashore rather than at boring buffet dinners aboard the ship.

Sir Stelios, the son of a Greek Cypriot shipping magnate, explains that he has spent a lifetime ”visiting many smaller, unknown Greek islands, ones with no tourists.” Now he’s ready to share these little-visited gems with the public. Some of the islands on easyCruise’s itineraries are famous, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos, but others, Spetses, Milos, Amorgos, Folegandros, Serifos and Sifnos, are known better to insiders and less to foreign visitors.

These islands are strung together in three different loops, each leaving out of the Athens port of Piraeus and lasting three, four and seven nights, respectively. This cycle repeats every 14 days, so you could string together a two-week cruise visiting 11 islands by booking all three loops back-to-back.

Essentially, easyCruise offers the opportunity to go island-hopping without the discomfort of milk-run ferries, but almost as inexpensively. Rates for a two-person interior cabin start around 102 euros ($139 USD) for the three-night, midweek cruise; from 168 euros ($228) for the four-night, long-weekend cruise; and from 294 euros ($400) for the seven-night itinerary.

Cabins with a window cost a bit more, while suites with balconies often double the per-night rates. These low prices are more common at the end of the season, in September and October, with June to August dates ranging more along the lines of 42 euros to 120 euros ($57 to $163) per cabin per night.

The easyCruise difference goes well beyond unknown islands and laughably low prices. Sir Stelios himself describes easyCruise as ”a cruise for people who hate cruising.” It’s designed for those who’d rather spend their time exploring the islands than aboard the ship. Only one-third of the stops on the full itinerary require a tender boat to get back and forth from the ship; all other stops allow the ship to dock at port, so guests are free to wander on and off.

More importantly, the daily cruising schedule is designed to let passengers tour each destination in full, by day and by night. You arrive at each new port by noon, with plenty of time to get off the ship and explore, while the ship offers a variety of adventures ashore. Then, rather than setting sail at 5 p.m., as on most ships, easyCruise doesn’t leave until between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. the next morning. This allows you to relax all evening on shore and have dinner in a local taverna or restaurant, though there is an a la carte restaurant on board the ship that serves fusion cuisine.

It also means that passengers are free to party the night away at local nightclubs, part of the fabled attraction on some Greek islands, but one that most cruisers miss out on, or simply stroll the sands in the moonlight. The actual sailing from island to island is done during the morning hours while, presumably, most passengers are sleeping off a night of revelry.

Take the note about nightclubs to heart. EasyCruise does tend to a much younger age, by some 20 years, than your average cruise ship, with most passengers in their 30s and early 40s. Neither is this a cruise for families: There are no facilities for children, and the minimum age is 14.

You can get more information or make a booking at www.easycruise.com. The Greek islands itineraries run through November 11.

The new way to cruise the Greek islands May 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
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Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the man behind the low-cost successes of Europe’s easyJet and easyHotel, has been experimenting with a new concept in cruising: easyCruise. This summer, after several seasons of sailing the French and Italian Rivieras, Stelios is repositioning his cost-conscious cruise ship to the waters of his homeland, Greece.

With so many cruise operators plying the Aegean and Mediterranean, why waste time focusing on a single company with only one ship? EasyCruise offers three distinct advantages over its competitors: unique itineraries, incredibly low prices and a daily schedule that allows passengers to spend the bulk of their time ashore rather than at boring buffet dinners aboard the ship.

Stelios, the son of a GreekCypriot shipping magnate, explains that he has spent a lifetime “visiting many smaller, unknown Greek Islands, ones with no tourists.” Now he’s ready to share these little-visited gems with the public.

Some of the islands on easyCruise’s itineraries are famous, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos, but others, Spetses, Milos, Amorgos, Folegandros, Serifos and Sifnos, are known only to insiders or less known to travellers. These islands are strung together in three different loops, each leaving out of the Athens port of Piraeus and lasting three, four and seven nights, respectively. This cycle repeats every 14 days, so you could string together a two-week cruise visiting 11 islands by booking all three loops back-to-back.

Essentially, easyCruise offers the opportunity to go island-hopping without the discomfort of milk-run ferries, but almost as inexpensively. Rates for a two-person interior cabin start around 102 euros ($139 USD) for the three-night, midweek cruise; from 168 euros ($228) for the four-night, long-weekend cruise; and from 294 euros ($400) for the seven-night itinerary.

Cabins with a window cost a bit more, while suites with balconies often double the per-night rates. These low prices are more common at the end of the season, in September and October, with June to August dates ranging more along the lines of 42 euros to 120 euros ($57 to $163) per cabin per night.

The easyCruise difference goes well beyond unknown islands and laughably low prices. Stelios himself describes easyCruise as “a cruise for people who hate cruising.” It’s designed for those who’d rather spend their time exploring the islands than aboard the ship. Only one-third of the stops on the full itinerary require a tender boat to get back and forth from the ship; all other stops allow the ship to dock at port, so guests are free to wander on and off.

More importantly, the daily cruising schedule is designed to let passengers tour each destination in full, by day and by night. You arrive at each new port by noon, with plenty of time to get off the ship and explore, the ship offers a variety of adventures ashore. Then, rather than setting sail at 5 p.m., as on most ships, easyCruise doesn’t leave until between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. the next morning. This allows you to relax all evening on shore and have dinner in a local taverna or restaurant, though there is an a la carte restaurant on board the ship that serves fusion cuisine.

It also means that passengers are free to party the night away at local nightclubs, part of the fabled attraction on some Greek islands, but one that most cruisers miss out on, or simply stroll the sands in the moonlight. The actual sailing from island to island is done during the morning hours while, presumably, most passengers are sleeping off a night of revelry.

Take the note about nightclubs to heart. EasyCruise does tend to a much younger age, by some 20 years, than your average cruise ship, with most passengers in their 30s and early 40s. Neither is this a cruise for families: There are no facilities for children, and the minimum age is 14.

You can get more information or make a booking at www.easycruise.com. The Greek islands itineraries run from May 18 through November 11.

easyCruiseOne on cruise in Greece May 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
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easyCruiseOne set sail on its maiden cruise from Piraeus, Athens on Friday 18th May. It is the first time that easyCruise has sailed in the Aegean but it is an itinerary which has proved to be easyCruise’s most popular yet.

The new Greek itineraries take in Athens and the cosmopolitan islands of Mykonos, Paros and Ios as well as the undiscovered islands of Milos, Amorgos, Naxos, Folegandros, Sifnos and Serifos. The itineraries, which allows passengers to take anything from a weekend break to a two-week holiday, start from as little as £35 per person for a three night midweek break, based on two people sharing a standard inside cabin departing in October.

The cruises have been specifically tailored to offer customers the choice of holiday pace. The four-day weekend cruise, combines a mixture of lively islands where you can enjoy the nightlife as well as the stunning beaches.

On the seven day, ‘Alternative Aegean’ cruise, you visit six off-the-beaten-track islands giving you the chance to explore some of the most beautiful destinations in the Aegean Sea. While the ‘Classical Greece’ itinerary is perfect for those interested in, or studying classics and history.

The seven day itinerary takes you on a cultural tour of Greece, including such delights as the splendour of the Acropolis, ancient Corinth, the spectacular remains at Mycenae and Nemea, Ithaki, the island home of the hero Odysseus, the ruins of the Temple of Zeus and the origins of the Olympic Games at Olympia and the mountain serenity of Delphi with its Temple of Apollo. This is a voyage of discovery and there’s no easier way to explore so many ancient treasures in just seven days.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, easyCruise founder commented: “It has always been my plan to offer a Greek itinerary for easyCruise customers as I know personally how fantastic Athens and the surrounding islands are, both for their cultural background but also for their diversity. One day you can be totally relaxed on a beach on a tranquil island, the next you can be immersed in the bustle of city life. We have been overwhelmed by the interest in our itineraries and are very pleased with how well it has booked. We plan to announce our 2008 season in Greece very soon.”

If you tire of sightseeing, there’s plenty to enjoy back on board. Passengers can take advantage of the new Apivita spa, de-stress in the sauna, relax in the hot tub, enjoy a leisurely meal or drink, sunbathe on one of the two sundecks, work out at the open air wellness zone or listen to the sounds of the resident dj well in to the early hours before heading back their cabins, available in twins/doubles, quads and suites.

easyCruiseOne’s Greek itineraries are now on sale for departures from 18th May – 30th March 2008. To book, visit www.easyCruise.com or see your travel agent.

Princess Cruises christened its newest ship in Greece May 16, 2007

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On Mother’s Day Princess Cruises officially christened its newest ship, Emerald Princess. In celebration of Mother’s Day, Princess united some of television’s most famous mothers and daughters to serve as the christeners and chose Greece, the birthplace of Mother’s Day, as the site for the naming festivities.

The ship’s godmothers are Florence Henderson, best known as “Carol Brady” on The Brady Bunch, and her TV daughter, Susan Olsen, aka “Cindy Brady,” as well as Marion Ross, the beloved “Marion Cunningham” from the international hit, Happy Days, and her TV daughter, Erin Moran, aka “Joanie Cunningham.”

The christeners were joined by Gavin MacLeod, former captain of The Love Boat and Princess spokesperson, who emceed the naming ceremony, as well as Princess Cruises and Greek officials. Traditional Greek dancers performed as part of the festivities.

“What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day and the launch of our beautiful new ship than to have this pair of iconic television mothers and daughters as christeners,” said Alan Buckelew, President of Princess Cruises. “We’re thrilled to have them as godmothers. It’s also quite fitting to be hosting the naming ceremony in Athens, the birthplace of Mother’s Day.”

Florence Henderson is known worldwide as America’s favorite mom, “Carol Brady.” The Brady Bunch aired for five seasons, from 1969-1974, has never been off the air in the U.S., and currently airs in 122 countries around the world. Ms. Henderson recreated her popular role in several Brady-related shows including the recent VH1 reality show, My Fair Brady, which starred her TV son, Peter Knight. She is one of the most respected and beloved performers of our time and The Wall Street Journal rated her number five out of 10 top television endorsers, based on consumer appeal and a career built on trust and talent.

Marion Ross, the “best known matriarch on television” has played a variety of motherly roles over the years. She portrayed Mrs. Cunningham, on the classic television show Happy Days, for 11 seasons, from 1974-1984. According to TV Land, if there was a “Sitcom Hall of Fame,” Happy Days would have a cherished spot. The show was a regular in the Nielsen top-10 while airing and has been called one of America’s favorite family shows. Marion Ross was called “a classic mom” by About.com. In addition to her role on Happy Days, she played a mother on The Drew Carey Show, That ’70s Show, The Gilmore Girls, Brooklyn Bridge, and most recently, as Sally Fields’ mother on ABC’s hit, Brothers & Sisters.

Susan Olsen started her acting career while still in kindergarten. She reprised her famous role in several Brady Bunch reunion movies and the short- lived series, The Bradys. Expanding her role as one of the best-known daughters and little sisters ever on television, she also created and was the executive producer for Brady Bunch Home Movies, a CBS prime-time special, and is currently working on a book, which offers a humorous look at The Brady

Bunch Variety Show. She is also serving as one of the editors on an upcoming Travel Channel special, The Bradys Back in Hawaii.

Erin Moran also started her acting career at the young age of five, appearing in several television commercials and then feature films before landing her most famous role as Joanie “Shortcakes” Cunningham on Happy Days, at the age of 12. In the show’s tenth season, America’s then-favorite daughter left the show to star in a series spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi.

Florence Henderson, Marion Ross and Erin Moran also share the distinction of guest-starring in episodes of The Love Boat, which was set on Princess Cruises’ original Pacific Princess.

The 113,000-ton Emerald Princess, a sister ship to the Crown Princess, is currently sailing to the most sought-after ports in the Mediterranean and Greek Isles, featuring the region’s most popular and historic destinations. Emerald Princess was line’s first ship to begin its life cruising from Rome’s seaport, the town of Civitavecchia on April 11. The ship will continue cruising in Europe throughout the summer before repositioning to Ft. Lauderdale for Caribbean sailings in the fall.

The new vessel includes many of the enthusiastically received design elements and amenities that debuted last year on sister ship Crown Princess, including a dramatic piazza-style atrium, a multitude of casual dining venues and an adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary.