An easyCruise Review: Who Said Cruising is for the Over 60s?

Ever since easyCruise started, I’ve been interested as to just what they’re like. Sailing on the easyCruise Life, two of my friends Lindsay Pratt and Louise Aldridge took a week’s break around Greece. They wrote an easyCruise review below and you can see their easyCruise photo gallery on Flickr.

Having just enjoyed a week’s cruise around the Greek Islands with easyCruise, we have to say that if you are thinking of taking your first cruise or want a great value way to see the Greek Islands, give easyCruise a try. You won’t enjoy the same level as luxury as a Cunard cruise but you will have a great time. We spent everyday at a different beach and partied until the early hours in seven different destinations; it’s a really great way to go island hopping in Greece.

easyCruise Life at port

Together we (both in our mid 20s) set out on the seven night Greek Island and Turkey itinerary on the new ship easyCruise Life last week. Our expectations were low and we were somewhat sceptical of what we might get on this “no frills” cruise, having paid just £100 pp for the week’s accommodation. We arrived with expectations of a bright orange ship and staff dressed in orange polyester, but once onboard we soon ate our words.

The ship was modest (but not orange at all) and was kept spotlessly clean. The facilities were all very modern with a swimming pool, three hot tubs and cosy sun loungers, plus a gym, restaurant and bar. The cabins are quite small but unlike other cruises, you only really sleep on the ship, so it really isn’t a problem at all.

As we set sail out of Piraeus, we enjoyed a drink on deck in the sunshine and met some of our fellow ship mates. The passengers onboard were very mixed with but we’d say that half were made up of young groups under 30. The other half comprised of smaller groups, couples, as well as a few families. There were a lot of South African and North American people as it works out to be an affordable way for them to holiday in Greece. That night, we enjoyed some Greek dishes at the ship’s modern restaurant, followed by a boogie on the dance floor.

The next morning we arrived at our first port of call – Kalymnos, where we took the local bus and explored the island. We spent the afternoon lying on the beach with our new found friends. That evening we dined ashore and discovered our first delicious taste of souvlaki, a popular chicken kebab wrap with tzatziki sauce and a bargain at just €1.80.

Beach Party in Greece

We asked our waiter for the best place to go and he recommended a beach bar a short drive away. We hopped in a taxi (the driver’s family also in tow) and headed to the Dolmus bar in Kantouni which is situated just 5 meters from the shore line. We enjoyed a drink looking out to sea with the moon shimmering down and waves crashing around us. Being out of season, it was fairly quiet, but in the peak summer time this place would be an amazing place to party. By midnight, it had filled up with locals and after a few free shots from the friendly manager we realised it was 4am. We hurried back to the ship as it was due to sail at 6am and were told by security that we were the last onboard!

After sleeping until 2pm, we arrived at Bodrum in Turkey only to find that most of the museums and sites were closed on a Monday, so back to the beach to enjoy a bit more sun. Being a popular resort with the Dutch, the town was covered in orange flags and people wearing orange shirts as Holland was playing Italy in the Euro2008 football. Everyone got into the spirit of things with flares going off at the end of the game when Holland won. The party started at midnight at a lively disco bar called The White House, where we danced on the window sill to RnB and Funky House with the local waiters. There was also an incredible dancer dressed as spider man who jumped from building to building and hung off the roof whilst body popping and strutting some very funky moves. – impressive!

Kos has some great walks along the mountain range, but due to sleeping until midday we missed the last buses to any of these places, so make your way out early if you want to explore. We headed to a pleasant beach near the marina instead but the more pristine sandy beaches can be found on other parts of the island. Again, in the evening there were no shortages of places to party, with friendly locals offering a warm welcome and yet more free shots.

Duckies taking a walk down the beach

Next was Paros, our favourite island on the trip. It has lots of white washed buildings and little fishing villages along the coast and gave you a true representation of a traditional Greek island. The local bus service runs frequently and you could easily do a full circle around the island. It didn’t have as much night-life as the other islands but after three nights of non-stop partying, it was nice to take it easy even though we still made it back to the ship at 3am.

The next day everyone on the ship was ready to spend a full day in Mykonos. We spent the morning getting lost around the town, taking numerous wrong turns around its maze like streets. We eventually found the south bus terminal and headed on the busy local bus to Paradise Beach with half of the easyCruise people in tow. The beach is a hot spot for the gay community and nudism isn’t frowned upon. We soon discovered that that the right hand side of the beach was a lot more naked than the left – these guys really don’t want any strap marks at all. There are three major bars on the beach and by 4pm, the music was pumping and most people were on the bar dancing. We stayed till about 9pm as things were dying down, but in the height of summer, the party continues until the sun comes up. We also missed the Ministry of Sound evening by one day which we’re sure would have been pretty impressive. We headed back to Mykonos Town and found the famous Scandinavia bar along with all the easyCruise people. It seemed the place to be.

At our final destination of Syros we decided to escape from the other tourists and headed to a deserted beach on the other side of the island. A quiet time sunbathing before an early dinner as the ship was leaving at 10pm. We rocked the ship with a party on deck, but the ship was soon rocking us as the waves got a little choppy. We had to dance from one side of the ship to the other in order to keep standing upright –(honestly due to the waves, not the alcohol).

A few sore heads in the morning but we still had a full day of sightseeing to do around Athens before our flight home. We decided the heat was too much and took a little train around the ancient sites to save our aching legs. We wondered around the Acropolis and eventually found the Temple of Zeus. We spent more time in cafes drinking water that day, than on any of the islands. We guess our farewell party was paying the price.

Would we go on this holiday again? – definitely!

Getting to the Champions League Final in Moscow

This is what is all comes down to. The Champions League Final is being hosted at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, and for the first time in history, the two participating teams are both English. Manchester United and Chelsea will duke it out for the ultimate European accolade on May 21st 2008. With it being such a historic landmark for English football, it’s an event any football fan will be desperate to attend. So exactly what will you need to get sorted before jetting off?

Champions League Final

Champions League Final Tickets

It’s highly recommended to only get final tickets through official channels. Unofficial sites, eBay listings and touts could result in you paying excessively. However you end up getting a ticket, just make sure it’s real! The last thing you want is paying huge amounts of money for a fake ticket, worse than not being able to see the match – you won’t be able to use it as a visa!

They’ll be a fans’ park with a screen close to the stadium in Moscow showing the match for anyone who didn’t manage to get in. Though it’s strongly advised not to travel if you don’t have a ticket since you’ll end up paying loads for virtually nothing. And let’s face it, if you’re going to watch it on a screen, it’s better to do it here with all the other fans that didn’t manage to go.

Russian Visa

Providing you have a match ticket, it will act as your visa. This will be valid from 17th to 25th of May 2008. Yet you still need a few other things to get into the country.

  • Your Passport (Needs to be valid for a minimum of six months. after you intend the Russian visa to expire. And it must have at least two blank pages).
  • Champions League Final Ticket (Which you need to keep hold of so that you can leave!).
  • Completed Russian Migration Card (These can be obtained from your club).

If you’re visiting without a ticket, then you’ll need to go through the standard procedure to gain a Russian tourist visa. The Russian National Tourist Office has all the information you need for obtaining one.

You have to apply before travelling, as a Russian visa cannot be obtained on arrival. When applying, you will need to post your original passport to them, so in order to give it time to arrive and be returned to you with the visa, your must get this done quickly. A run down of what you will need:

  • Your Passport (Needs to be valid for a minimum of six months. after you intend the Russian visa to expire. And it must have at least two blank pages).
  • Russian Visa booking form (Print out and fill in from the site).
  • A passport-sized photograph (Glued to the appropriate place on the booking form.
  • Completed consulate questionnaire (Must be done online, you can do that here.)
  • Application fee (Only accepted via credit/debit card or Postal Order).

Moscow Hotels

Hotels are being booked up quickly as around 70,000 fans are about to invade the city. Your best bet is to get a hotel as close to Moscow centre and to Luzhniki Stadium as possible, to save you having to travel before and after the match.

Search for Moscow hotel sites and check availability, you’ll find lots of them are full but some still have a few places and there’s always the option of staying a little bit further out. Call travel agents too, to get the most up to date information on availability. It can get expensive and some fans are considering just doing a round trip and starting the journey home after the game finishes, rather than staying the night.

Flights to Moscow

Chartered flights for each club are expected to split fans between Moscow’s two closest airports, so that the teams are separated. However, many fans are looking for alternate routes into Moscow to cut down on costs. Rather than a direct flight into Russia, fans are booking cheap airlines to nearby countries and then getting trains over the border.

Be aware that going to these measures means increasing your travelling time significantly. And you’re also much more likely to find delays and risk being late to the match. Be sure to leave plenty of time however you travel and make sure you plan your route properly.

Where is Luzhniki Stadium?

City Life

The Luzhniki Stadium is on the red line (line 1) of the MosMetro and you can get off at Sportivnaya or Vorobyevy Gory to reach the stadium. This is considered the best way to reach the final upon arrival in Moscow as taxi fares are likely to seriously escalate on the day.

There’s due to be a festival-like atmosphere around the stadium on the day, as many outdoor food and craft stores open up their doors to the thousands of incoming fans. Police are going to have a large presence, as you’d expect, so have your passport and ticket on you at all times – ready for any possible inspection.

Red Square is the main tourist area and is a great way to spend the day – it’ll have plenty of going on. Bars won’t be difficult to find at all and will all come alive during the day. Your best bet is to arrive as early as possible and spend a bit of time wandering around and learning the area. Pick up a Moscow travel guide from your local book shop to get a better idea.

Useful Links

Official Manchester United Site
Official Chelsea Site
Russian National Tourist Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice
Russian Embassy (London)