Travel group Travelzest has bought Canadian luxury cruise retailer The Cruise Professionals for £6.5 million.

The acquisition, from The Cruise Professionals‘ owner Mary Jean Tully, comprises a £5.75 million cash purchase, plus the issue of 682,000 shares in Travelzest at a price of 110p.

It has been funded by placing 2,222,222 new ordinary shares to an insitutional investor at 90p per share and through an increased debt facility agreed with Barclays Bank. The new debt facility is for £16 million in total and replaces the existing facility. It lasts for four years, expiring in May 2012.

The Cruise Professionals was set up in 1987 and provides luxury cruise holidays, providing customers with bespoke luxury itineraries.

The agency has won many awards, including the number one revenue producing agency worldwide 2002-2008 by Crystal Cruises and Top Luxury Cruise Specialist for eight consecutive years (1999-2007) by Condé Nast Traveler.

Following the acquisition, Tully will remain with the business in her current position as chairman and chief executive of The Cruise Professionals.

Tully said: “The Cruise Professionals has grown in size and reputation every year since inception and has an excellent reputation for providing unforgettable experiences for its customers. 

“We believe that becoming part of Travelzest and working with Chris Mottershead and the team will help the business move beyond the North American market and capitalise on the growing global demand for luxury cruises.”

Travelzest chief executive Chris Mottershead said:  “The reputation of Mary Jean and The Cruise Professionals business speaks for itself.  The market for cruises is one of the fastest-growing in the travel industry and we are delighted to be able to bring such a strong cruise brand into the group.”