Cuba Cruise’s operation is picking up steam, and will continue for the 2015-2016 cruise season, according to Dugald Wells, president of Cuba Cruise, which sails the Louis Cristal seasonally on a charter agreement with Louis Group.
“The first year exceeded our expectations in terms of how smoothly it went,” he said. “Being Cuba, we expected all kinds of issues and it went like clockwork.”
Wells, however, called bookings for 2013-2014 soft, but said it picked up during the season. By September of 2014, the line had already taken more reservations than it had for the entire 2013-2014 campaign.
“We committed to the second year, and we are sure glad we did,” Wells said.
The main source market for Wells is Canada, which he referred to as a late-booking market.
Sailing week-long cruises to Cuban ports, with a Friday call in Montego Bay for fuel and provisions, guests board in either Montego Bay or Havana. More and more bookings are coming from Europe and America, Wells added.
Making life easier for Canadians for the 2014-2015 season, Wells and his group chartered a plane for weekly flights to Havana from Toronto.
The itinerary remained roughly the same for the 2014-2015 season, but some port calls were tweaked in terms of hours.
“We stayed fairly late in a few ports the first year, and people would still come back to the ship early,” Wells said, crediting the onboard entertainment he has put together with a theater in Havana.
While the onboard currency is Canadian dollars, euros are also accepted, and Wells called it a deep and rich experience.
“In Cuba every port is like going to another country,” he added.
Corrections: A previous version of this article reported the season would extend through April of 2016. While that was the plan at the time of an interview with Cruise Industry News, it has since been decided by Cuba Cruise not to extend the season.