Expanding EasyCruise

River cruising on the Dutch-Belgian waterways

By: David Wishart

The good ship EasyCruiseTwo is not everyone’s idea of a vacation afloat, but as one British passenger said on the inaugural voyage, it’s a step up from EasyCruiseOne, currently sailing in the Mediterranean.

That vessel took some criticism in Europe for its lack of windows and excess of orange paint but not in the U.S., where, according to EasyCruise founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou (known as Stelios), it was well received.

EasyCruiseTwo, which is more a river cruiser than a traditional ship, is now in service between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels. Passengers can book a minimum of two nights and maximum of two weeks. It has capacity of 112 in 44 twin cabins, four two-bunk cabins and four four-berth cabins. The minimum age for guests is 14. Fares are as low as $15 a night per cabin, although on the inaugural most appeared to have paid around $30.

Stelios, (who also founded the low-fare, UK-based air carrier, EasyJet) has up to now been somewhat cool toward travel agents. But the launch of this second vessel found him in a more positive frame of mind. He pays 10 percent commissions for cruise bookings, stressing that travel agents also get a new, younger clientele to whom they can also sell flights, hotel rooms, insurance and other add-ons.

He might have a point. One passenger, a young lawyer from Los Angeles, was on the vessel as part of a solo, month-long trip around Europe. And several other young Americans were also onboard.

Several passengers commented on the attractive decor of the 25-year-old boat, newly refurbished and the work of celebrity Dutch designer Jan des Bouvrie. The combined bar/lounge/restaurant area is a stark white offset with furniture in complementary textures, plus a little orange here and there and a large tulip mural.

The open upper deck is handsomely done with planters, lounge chairs, two hot tubs and a bar with big orange candles. Other facilities include a small room with two fitness machines and two computers with a satellite server.

Cabins are all white with just a shelf painted orange, but all have windows. There are no beds as such, merely a raised platform with two mattresses and duvets, but they are quite comfortable. Also absent are chairs, carpets, bedside tables and reading lights. Bathrooms include adequate amenities, and my shower worked well.

If clients want their cabins cleaned or towels changed, they must pay extra. The same applies to meals. Food onboard is fairly good, but if the inaugural cruise is any guide, most passengers will eat on shore most of the time.

EasyCruise vessels spend few hours at sea the idea is to offer cheap transportation and accommodation between ports that are not far apart. The cities in this historic, thriving part of Europe have a wealth of attractions, such as galleries and museums, superb restaurants and a lively bar and club scene. A typical departure time was 3 a.m., but still there were revelers barely making it back onboard in time.

The boat always tied up in a good location, usually the middle of the city. I spent a pre-cruise night in Amsterdam at the Canal House (a luxurious 17th-century merchant’s house run by an Irish couple), which was a comfortable walking distance from the boat.

EasyCruiseTwo proved to be a good viewing platform for timeless scenes, such as a skyline of 80 windmills built in the 17th century and (when the season is right) the glorious tulips Holland is famous for.


EasyCruiseTwo will sail its Holland-Belgium itineraries until Nov. 4, and again from April 5-July 6.