It may take another six months before EasyCruise will be able to sign a newbuilding contract, according to its chairman, Stelios Hajiloaimou, who attributed the delay to the inexperience of the Greek yards. "Greek yards have never done this (building new cruise ships) before, and they need to get their act together because things are so new," he explained.

This past May, EasyCruise signed a letter of intent with Neorion Holdings shipyards in Greece for the construction of two 500-passenger, 7,500-ton ships, with an option for two more. At the time, Haji-Ioaimou said he expected to announce a contract within two to three months.

Meanwhile, by September, EasyCruise entered into a franchise agreement with Louis Cruises, and the letter of intent was expanded to three ships and three options, with EasyCruise owning up to four ships and Louis two.

EasyCruise is also moving its operating office from Monaco to Athens, and Gwyn Hughes, who was CEO, based in the U.K., has left the company.

2007 Season

Next summer, the EasyCruiseOne will sail in the Greek islands, following two summers in the Western Mediterranean. Operating from Piraeus, the company will call at 11 islands on three-, four- and alternating seven day programs. EasyCruiseTwo will continue her river program in Holland and Belgium.

Looking forward, Haji-Ioaimou said that he sees the line sailing out of Barcelona, Rome and from Malaga to Northern frica. He also noted that there is "a lot of opportunity" in Miami and that he has been "straggling with the Bahamas as a destination because the gov't is not quick in making decisions."

San Juan could also be a homeport, because of its airlift capacity, according to Hajiloannou.

Product Changes

Since its launch, the company has toned down the ever-present orange color. The ship's hull - at least on the outside - is now graphite grey.

Windows have also been put back in the cabins where they had previously been removed to facilitate the new configuration.

Other changes include the transformation of the sports bar into a restaurant specializing in fusion cuisine.

"(On the ship) it's about dining and music," Hajiloannou said, although there is no live music onboard (except in some Caribbean ports), but a disk jockey. "If a passenger wants a floating Las Vegas, he should go to Vegas - or Carnival Cruises Lines," he said.

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