Livin' On Easy Street

ANDREW THOMPSON for TIME

SIMPLE LIFE: Adam Smith, our man on easyCruiseOne, relaxes in his minimalist, if colorful, cabin

Phil South relaxes on the deck as twilight descends on the French Riviera. The 22-year-old technician from Chelmsford, England, and his girlfriend, Gillian Fell, 26, are aboard easyCruiseOne, a no-frills, budget liner on its maiden voyage from Nice, the start of a tour of the French and Italian coasts that stretches between St. Tropez and Portofino. "There's no way we could have gone on a cruise [before easyCruise]," says South. "This has opened barriers for people like us."

Great; just as long as nobody expects luxury at low prices. Forget deck quoits, pink gins and white-jacketed stewards. The...

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