The Canadian who conceived and co-founded Cuba Cruise, the cruise
program offering circumnavigations of Cuba for the past 2 winters, is no longer
running the company.
Open Jaw has learned that Dugald Wells is out and the Canadian office of
Cuba Cruise will close tomorrow. One insider described the circumstances as a
'coup' by Wells' partner in the venture, Cyprus-based Celestyal Cruises,
formerly Louis Cruises. Sources say that Wells remains a shareholder in the
Wells approached Louis Cruises in 2011, with the concept of Cuba
circumnavigations. The complicated program finally set sail in winter 2013/2014
and ran again this past winter, using the 1,200 pax
Louis Cristal, originally
built in 1980 as the
MS Viking Saga and which later sailed as MS
for Norwegian Cruise Line.
Celestyal Cruises is a Cyprus-based line that operates
cruises from Cyprus, France, Italy, India and Greece. The company also charters
ships to Thomson Cruises.
Cuba Cruise, which targeted Canadian and European
travellers, enjoyed plenty of attention in its 1
st 2 seasons, especially
after the December,
2014 announcement of a rapprochement between Cuba and the U.S. Just a few
weeks ago, Cuba Cruise announced details of its 3
rd season and Wells
enthused about the prospects to U.S. travel trade publication TravelPulse.
“Since December, when the 1st big announcement was made, our
web traffic from American locations has gone up 1,200%, just a huge increase.
Initially it seemed to be a curiosity and we got a lot of phone calls with
general questions, but after the 2
nd announcement came in January,
our call centre traffic and our daily web traffic both doubled. We had to put
extra people on the phones, and we started taking bookings."