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Much-traveled Cristal chartered to new venture Cuba Cruise

Cuba Cruise, a new company set up in Toronto, Canada, will employ Louis Cruises’ 25,611 gross ton Cristal on seven night cruises from Havana, with calls at Bahia Nipe, Cayo Guillermo, Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Caguama (a private island), Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Isla de la Juventud. In addition, it will feature six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and four national parks, Cruise Critic reports on its website.

A Cuba Cruise spokesman told Cruise Critic that Cristal will have fresh Canadian food shipped in weekly as well as Canadian beer and Cuban/international beverages, thus alleviating the problem of unreliable food provisioning that any cruise line in Cuba could face. Entertainment and front-office crew will, however, be Cuban, the report said.

The first cruise is scheduled to sail on 4 December.

Cristal was built in Finland in 1980 as cruise ferry Viking Saga and converted for short cruise service in the Baltic in 1985. A major fire devastated the ship five years later and it was completely rebuilt. The ship re-entered service in 1992 after the rebuilding had been completed as Sally Albatross, but only two years later it ran hard aground and was beached to prevent it from sinking. The ship again required extensive repairs.

Since the mid-1990s, it has traded as Leeward (NCL), SuperStar Taurus (Star cruises) and Silja Opera (Silja Line) before being sold to Louis Cruises in Cyprus in 2008 as replacement of their 22,090 gross ton Sea Diamond that sank after grounding off Santorini in Greece.

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