A spokesman for Cuba Cruises, the Canadian based tour operator which has chartered the Celestyal Cristal for the last two seasons, has confirmed that the Louis Group are now what is described as ‘significant majority shareholders’ in the operation.
The Greek operator has provided the use of the 24,000 ton ship for two years now, allowing Cuba Cruises to operate a very lucrative, weekly programme of voyages around Cuba for a predominantly Canadian and Scandinavaian market. Louis Group has also been active in selling cabins on board the ship for European passengers.
It appears that a joint plan by Louis and Cuba Cruise to extend a third, 2015-16 season by a month fell through, hence the move by Louis Group to take over the run full time. There was speculation last year the the Celestyal brand of Louis might also add a second ship for that season, though nothing so far has been confirmed from the company head office.
It’s a move that makes sense, and a product ideally sized and suited for the embryonic Cuban cruise scene. I’ve sailed on the Celestyal Cristal a couple of times on her summer cruises around the Greek Islands and Turkey, and she is a unique combination of homely intimacy and genuine Greek hospitality- the perfect style of ship for destination intensive cruising, such as around Cuba.
Interesting times, for sure. As ever, stay tuned.
May 8th update:
A Greek source at Louis Group has officially denied that the compnay has bought out Cuba Cruises. What has happened is that the Celestyal Cruises brand will now market the sales of both Cuba Cruises and Celestyal’s sailings in the Adriatic and Aegean areas- a logical bit of symmetry.
The 2015-16 season itself has been extended to include three additional, week long, round Cuba cruises.