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A travel website headed by Irishman Seamus Conlon is to create Europe’s biggest cruise travel agency with the purchase of a German operator.

Cruise.co, which operates Britain’s largest cruise website, is to acquire German cruise travel agency Kreuzfahrtberater.de, in a transaction totalling €25m. The deal will result in the company having operations in the two largest cruise markets in Europe, with cruise sales of €250m.

The company’s websites, Cruise.co.uk, Cruises.uk, Kreuzfahrtberater.de and Seascanner.com, will have a combined annual traffic of over 37.5m visits and feature over 260,000 customer reviews.

Seamus Conlon, CEO of Cruise.co

Tipperary-born Seamus Conlon, Cruise.co CEO, said: “Both companies share a passion for the sector, have great staff and the technology required to deliver great service. This transaction allows us to diversify our business by moving into a new large cruising market and represents a major step forward in Cruise.co achieving its strategic aim of becoming the leading pan-European cruise online travel agency.”

Conlon has over 25 years experience in travel, and said his ambition was to run his own business and grow it into “something special”. Before cruise-co he worked with the TV TravelShop, Airtours Holidays and Sunworld Holidays.

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Kreuzfahrtberater.de, based in Ahrensburg, was founded 12 years ago by Friedrich Koester, Malte Koester and Andreas Koester-Clobes and today has over 60 staff and is the technology leader in online cruise sales. The founders of Kreuzfahrtberater.de will reinvest significantly in the combined business and will remain a key part of the management team.

The British and Irish ocean cruise market totalled 1.89m passengers in 2016 and the German market was slightly ahead at 2.02m. The major market – the US – had 11.52m passengers last year.

Cruise.co was formed 10 years ago when Seamus Conlon led a management buyout  from Carnival Corporation in 2007, when its turnover was £18m. Funding company Bridgepoint Development Capital subsequently acquired Cruise.co in 2016 in a transaction totalling £52m.

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