Rain could not dampen the enthusiasm of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou back in 2005 when the Greek serial entrepreneur showed off the first what was intended to be the first of many cruise ships for his EasyCruise venture that applied the principles of his EasyJet low cost airline to bring ultra-cheap cruising to the masses.
Today that cruise ship, the 4,100-gt EasyCruiseOne (built 1990, renamed Cruise One) is being cut down for scrap on the dry berth it has been sitting on for over decade waiting for its conversion into a luxury mega-yacht.
Another long abandoned partly converted mega-yacht sitting next to the Cruise One, the former 3,400-gt former Greek cruise ship Maria Kosmas (1981) has already been dismantled, Dubai shipyard sources told TradeWinds.
Sir Stelios’ big cruise ambitions did not last long.
The EasyCruiseOne, which was built for high-end operator Renaissance Cruises, had spent several years in Asian waters as a run-down casino ship before Sir Stelios became its owner.
Stripped of its faded luxury trappings for 140 passengers, the ship was fitted with bare-bones accommodation for double that number. Always intended as a pathfinder vessel, it was replaced by a larger ship within three years, although the EasyCruise venture did not last much longer.
The EasyCruiseOne was sold in 2008 to a shipowning vehicle linked to Platinum Yacht Management, a company best known for looking after the yachts belonging to Dubai’s ruling family.
The plan was to strip out the EasyCruise orange decor and fill the ship with all the luxury trappings required by royalty. But, with the world in a financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, the project stalled before it began.
According to cruise brokers, the untouched ship was put back on the sales market, but buyers baulked at the high asking price, especially since they would need to spend huge amounts of cash to rebuild the interior of the ship to an acceptable standard for the cruising public. EasyCruise passengers had made do with matrasses on the floor of their miniscule cabins.
And so the Cruise One sat baking in the hot sun as the years passed.
Keeping the ship company on the dry berth at Dubai Maritime City’s common user shipyard facility was the former Vergina Cruises ship Maria Kosmas.
A former Australian navy hydrographic survey vessel, it was converted into a cruise vessel by the Greek cruise operator in 1993. The Maria Kosmas was not a successful ship for Vergina. It had been laid up near Piraeus for several years by the time was it purchased by a Middle Eastern buyer in 2002.
Soon after it was moved to Dubai for conversion into the yacht Cosmos. Extensive steel work was done, and all that was left was for the interior to be installed.
But then the project was called off and the partially rebuilt ship was shunted off into lay-up.
Rumours circulated by yachting industry sources at the time the project stalled suggested that the owner’s eye had turned to another mega-yacht that he decided to buy instead.