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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Easyjet founder lands cruise ship
Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Haji-Ioannou: "Low prices and quality operations can go together"
Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has bought the first ship for his latest venture - Easycruise.

Neptune 2 has been registered under the Cypriot flag, in Malacca, Malaysia.

Easygroup is negotiating with Singapore shipyards to have the 1990 ship refurbished to carry 180 passengers. Cabin prices will start at 29 a night.

Easycruise aims to set sail in spring 2005 in the west Mediterranean, with a fleet crewed and managed by marine services group V.Ships.

"We are determined to show the world that low prices and quality operations can go together thanks to innovation," Mr Haji-Ioannou said.

Spokesman James Rothnie told BBC News Online that for the price of a fortnight in the most expensive suite on the luxury liner Queen Mary 2, a passenger could spend two and a half years on an Easycruise.

Cruise ships usually try to keep passengers aboard and milk them for extra revenue in bars, restaurants and casinos
James Rothnie
Easycruise spokesman

"It is quite simply the cheapest way to see a number of western Mediterranean destinations in as many nights," he added.

The ship would set sail late every night allowing passengers to spend every afternoon and evening enjoying a new destination, Mr Rothnie said.

"Cruise ships usually try to keep passengers aboard and milk them for extra revenue in bars, restaurants and casinos.

"We will be doing the exact opposite - encouraging passengers to eat, drink, swim and sunbathe at each new destination."

Entrepreneur Mr Haji-Ioannou began in business in his early 20s - running his father's shipping company.

But the business was hit by tragedy when an ageing oil tanker exploded and five people died.

Mr Haji-Ioannou says it was probably the worst day of his life and the experience was character forming and taught him a lot about safety.

"One of my favourite mottos, the one that probably was born out of that sort of experience was, 'If you think safety is expensive, try an accident'," he told BBC Radio 4's On the Ropes programme last year.

"And you know that is why, ever since then I have been very deeply committed to the safest possible operations in whatever I do, whether it's ships, cars, aeroplanes, the lot."

Mr Haji-Ioannou was charged with manslaughter by an Italian prosecutor on the basis of claims the ship had been inadequately repaired after it was hit by a rocket during the Iraq-Iran war - but after 11 years he was cleared.

Human error

"Of course I'm not proud of what happened - but at the end of the day what counts is the final judgement of the supreme court in Italy that says we didn't do anything wrong," he told the BBC.

"It was human error. It was an accident, a tragic accident, and as I said it has helped focus my mind on the need for safety."

A year later, at the age of 25, Mr Haji-Ioannou started his own shipping company, and from there he moved on to form Easyjet.

He used the profits from Easyjet to start up a string of other companies including Easycar, Easyinternetcafe and Easymoney - an internet bank.

Mr Haji-Ioannou's latest venture plan, Easycruise, comes less than a year after the launch of Easycinema, where tickets start at 20p, and hot on the wheels of Easybus, which is expected to carry passengers between London and Birmingham for 1.




SEE ALSO:
Now Easyjet founder targets buses
23 Nov 03  |  Business
Easyjet sees annual profits drop
18 Nov 03  |  Business
Easycar faces court battle
29 Jul 03  |  Business
Easycinema 'future in doubt'
26 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Big studios snub Stelios
23 May 03  |  Business
Net cafe settles over music rights
09 Apr 03  |  Entertainment


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