Salford cruise firm snapped up by German operator

Cruise firm taken over

Salford based holiday firm Cruise 1st has been acquired by German tour operator Dreamlines for an undisclosed amount.

Dreamlines is the fastest growing online cruise portal worldwide with operations in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Russia, Brazil and the USA.

Cruise 1st is one of the UK’s leading cruise specialists with operations in the Australia and Singapore markets.

The firm will bring 180 employees to the 400 strong the Dreamlines group. The acquisition also signals Dreamlines’ entry into the UK cruise market.

The acquisition also means Dreamlines, the market leader in Germany, will become market leader in Australia and Singapore.

In the Australian market Dreamlines will operate two leading brands CruiseAway and Cruise 1st.

The combined GMV of all brands including Cruise 1st in 2017 was over than £280m. In 2018 the Dreamlines group expects a global GMV of more than £400m and will be the largest cruise OTA outside the US market.

Dreamlines and Cruise 1st will pool their expertise and capabilities to create unique new cruise products and experiences for their customers.

Additionally, the companies will streamline their distribution channels, enabling suppliers to target customers more efficiently and with even greater effectiveness.

Felix Schneider, managing director of Dreamlines said: “Entering the UK, the world’s 3rd biggest cruise market by volume, is an important milestone within our global strategy.

“We are expanding our role in the market and will strengthen our position as the cruise OTA with the widest global footprint.

“Cruise 1st enables us to offer our customers even more unique cruise holiday products and will grow our operator business, a key factor for our future success.”

Daniel Townsley, chief executive of Cruise 1stsaid: “The synergies between Cruise 1st and Dreamlines were too great to overlook.

“Combining a hugely successful global OTA with our own proficiency and database of customers in the UK, Australia and Singapore will drive higher sales volumes and margins and deliver huge growth for the business.”

Dentons provided legal due diligence, corporate and tax advice to Dreamlines.

EY provided financial and tax due diligence to Dreamlines. White Hart Associates provided financial, tax and regulatory advice to Cruise 1st.

Stuart Thwaites of EY said: “This deal is a great example of a European headquartered company investing in the UK and it shows that the market continues to be strong, despite talk of Brexit uncertainty.

“The acquisition of Cruise 1st is a smart move for Dreamlines as it will give the company solid brand recognition within the UK marketplace – a great platform for its exciting future growth plans. Being based in Manchester myself, it’s always rewarding to work on a deal with local North West connections, knowing that it will mean more investment into the region.”

Mundays advised the shareholders of Cruise 1st on transaction, corporate, and SPA matters.

Cruise 1st has been operating as a combined web and call centre business in Manchester since 2000 and opened the UK’s first interactive cruise retail store in The Lowry Shopping Centre, MediaCity UK in January this year.

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