May 5, 2006
Stelios signs newbuild LOI with Neorion
Stelios Haji-Ioannou's easyCruise has signed a letter of intent with Neorion Holdings S.A for the construction of two cruiseships with the option for a further two at Neorion Holdings' shipyards in Greece.
Neorion Holdings owns two shipyards, one in Elefsis near Athens and one on the island of Syros, in Greece). According to easyCruise, these 500-passenger capacity cruiseships will allow the introduction of the EasyCruise concept in the Greek islands as well as other parts of Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Florida and the Bahamas and Dubai and the nearby areas.
"I'm delighted that after an international tender that began back in 2005 with participating shipyards from Italy, Spain and Germany, easyCruise selected Neorion shipyards of Greece to enter into a letter of intent", said Stelios Haji-Ioannou. "The competition was intense and the criteria for our choice was both financial and technical. We are confident that technically this yard can build great ships for us. However, there are still specific issues to be resolved within the next two months, in order to finalize the agreement."
"Our company is committed to work really hard within the next few weeks, to ensure that this agreement is finalized and this significant investment, on the part of easyCruise, remains in Greek borders" said Mr. J. Tavoularis.
The Greek market ships will sail from one of the Marinas located in the Faliro area near Athens (avoiding the commercial port of Piraeus that other cruiselines and ferry companies use), offering weekend cruises to Mykonos and Syros, and 4-day cruises to Santorini, with possible visits to Paros, Naxos, Milos or Serifos.
According to Stelios Haji-Ioannou: "We aim to create a new cruise market in Greece, just like we did abroad. easyCruise ships remain in the port during most of the day and overnight, so that the passengers are free to visit the local bars, restaurants and shops, thus strengthening local economy in their ports of call. We target a young, active crowd, with average age 30-35 years, both Greeks and foreign visitors. The advertising campaign that will support our activity in Greece will contribute to the country's promotion abroad. Greece and its destinations will also be promoted through an easyCruise on-board reality TV show that is already on air in European and US channels".
The representatives of the two companies, Stelios Haji-Ioannou (easyCruise Chairman) and Mr. J. Tavoularis (Managing Director of Neorion Holdings S.A.) met today with Greek Minister of Economy & Finance, Mr. George Alogoskoufis, who assured them of government's support in this business venture which is important for the country. Briefing meetings with other related Greek Ministers will follow.