Last updated: 10:47 AM ET, Thu July 02 2015

Celestyal Increases Stake in Cuba Cruise

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Celestyal Cruises | Theresa Norton | May 19, 2015

Celestyal Increases Stake in Cuba Cruise

PHOTO: The Cuba Cruise itinerary includes an overnight in Havana. (Courtesy of Cuba Cruise)

Celestyal Cruises, the Athens-based line that is part of Louis Group, has upped its stake in Cuba Cruise and is expanding the sales and marketing operation headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

Cuba Cruise started with the 2013-14 winter season as a joint venture between Louis and Canadian travel entrepreneur Dugald Wells. The company operates the 1,200-passenger Louis Cristal, now called the Celestyal Crystal.

“We gradually increased our stake over the past two years to where we are now the significant majority shareholder,” Celestyal said in a statement. “Our intention is to support the venture’s continued growth and further commit to this unique product.”

Celestyal said it would take on “an even larger, primary role” in the promotion, marketing and sales of Cuba Cruise throughout Canada and the U.S. from Toronto. The staff will be expanded with three new team members.

“Celestyal Cruises would like to thank Dugald Wells, who led this joint venture over the past two years,” the company said. “It was a fruitful cooperation and, thanks to our combined efforts, Cuba is now part of the conversation when the people of Canada consider where they would like to spend their holidays, and Cuba Cruise, a unique and impeccable product, has become a recognizable, esteemed brand in the Canadian travel marketplace.”

The sales network in Canada also will now market Celestyal’s Eastern Mediterranean program as well as Cuba Cruise.

Additionally, the upcoming Cuba Cruise season will be slightly lengthened, operating from Dec. 18 to April 11, with weekly departures from both Havana and Montego Bay, Jamaica. A new port of call — Maria La Gorda, billed as a top dive spot — has been added to the itinerary, which also includes an overnight in Havana and visits to Cienfuegos and Santiago.

The new 2015-16 Cuba Cruise brochure is hot off the presses and can be accessed here.

The company said it is seeing skyrocketing interest from Americans as the U.S. moves to normalize relations with Cuba. Cuba Cruise says U.S. citizens can legally visit Cuba by booking a comprehensive program with a tour operator such as Road Scholar and InsightCuba, or book directly with Cuba Cruise and register for a People-to-People program through the non-profit Fund for Reconciliation and Development.


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