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Saturday,  May 25, 2024 1:08 PM 

Cuba Cruise looks ahead to 2014-15 season

  • Air
  •   12-04-2014  9:01 am

Cuba Cruise looks ahead to 2014-15 season

Cuba Cruise marked the end of its first year sailing the Caribbean, looking back on the inaugural season and ahead to what 2015 will bring.

At a lunch event held at Toronto’s Gusto 101, Cuba Cruise President Dugald Wells recapped the company’s first season, which ran from December 2013 to March of this year, taking place after a few delays pushed back the launch from its original December 2011 date.

Dugald said that booking projections for the coming season are close to triple those figures from season one.

The new cruise season launches Dec. 22, sailing every Friday and Monday until March 23. The company offers seven-day cruise packages which circle the island, with several stops in popular ports such as Santiago, Holguin, as well as Montego Bay, Jamaica – an alternate embarkation point to Havana for travellers boarding the ship. Short excursions at every port - such as treks to beaches, nature reserves and art galleries - are also featured on the cruise itinerary, said Wells.

“People who go on this trip tend to have vastly different experiences,” said Wells, citing the various excursions offered in the itinerary. “In year one, a lot of travellers also stayed on for a second week or went home and came back.”

Wells explained that outside of the island’s resorts, the condition of Cuba’s infrastructure may make a tour of the island difficult for the average traveller, making a cruise package a great alternative. The 1,200-capacity Louis Cristal was described by Wells as a "floating resort" offering a mix of a traditional cruise (albeit on a somewhat smaller scale) and the resort experience, complete with restaurants and entertainment, including a nightly show featuring performers from both Cirque du Soleil and the National Theater of Cuba. And with the state of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations not likely to thaw anytime soon, Wells said that Cuba Cruise is enjoying its niche in the Caribbean cruise marketplace (a predominantly U.S.-based industry), travelling to a destination visited by approximately one million Canadian travellers annually.

“We’re something of a square peg in a round hole,” Wells joked. “No one else is doing this; for the most part, all of the cruise ships in the Caribbean are American and can’t visit Cuba because of the embargo.”

More about Cuba Cruise

- This year, Cuba Cruise has partnered with Air Transat to offer charter flights to the island, making it easier for travellers to board the ship and begin their vacation with a Sky-to-Sea vacation package.

- Travellers range from adults to families, Wells said, with as many as five beds available for a family in a single cabin.

- In addition to Canadian travellers, Wells said that Cuba Cruise is also being sold in Europe, particularly German and Scandinavian tour operators.

Photo: Of Cuba Cruise: Dugald Wells, president; Melissa Medeiros, account manager, media & marketing, Bannikin; and Craig Marshall, CFO.