Source: Trade Winds
Reports circulating within the cruise industry this week suggest that Cypriot-Greek cruise operator Celestyal Cruises is courting a Chinese investor to help with its ambitious growth plans.
The as-yet unnamed investor could potentially acquire a 51% stake in the Piraeus-headquartered cruise line.
Celestyal confirmed to TradeWinds that negotiations with a potential investor were at an advanced stage, but declined to reveal the identity, nor release any details on what was being discussed.
The company said in a written response: “Over the past year, Celestyal Cruises has enjoyed dynamic growth. The company has entered a new phase of its development as it continues to grow its brand and receive global recognition for its efforts.
“In this context Celestyal Cruises plans to renew its fleet with modern ships and, for this reason, the company has been gauging investor interest.
“At this time we can confirm that discussions with a potential investor are at an advanced stage. Once these discussions have concluded, Celestyal Cruises will issue an official announcement,” the company added.
Celestyal is owned by Cyprus-listed Louis Plc, a veteran name in cruising that previously operated its cruiseships under the Louis Cruises brand out of Cyprus.
Last year, Celestyal indicated that it was interested in ordering a pair of newbuildings to kick-start its plans to upgrade its fleet, which comprises smaller ships acquired on the secondhand market.
The company operates five ships. Four are directly owned and one is chartered in. It operates two of the ships on a seasonal basis in the Eastern Mediterranean while a third is permanently deployed out of Cuba.
Two others are on charter to UK-based Thomson Cruises, which is part of the TUI Group. These are scheduled to revert to Celestyal’s control over the next two years and will be used to expand the company’s global cruise offerings.
Louis also owns another ship, the 15,800-gt Louis Aura (built 1968). It was not brought under the Celestyal umbrella when the company was formed and was instead deployed in the charter market. The ship is currently laid up near Piraeus awaiting further charters or disposal.
Louis is a major operator of Cypriot resort hotels and travel agencies. Investment relations manager Costas Hadjimarkos said that any investor buy-in would involve only Celestyal and not any other part of the business.