Mumbai, November 20: The Essel Group has exited its fledgeling cruise business and sold the cruise line brand Jalesh Cruises to Waterways Leisure for an undisclosed sum. Essel Group was running the business under Zen Cruises, which in fact was the India's general sales agent for Jalesh Cruises of Mauritius, according to a statement.

Like hotels, airlines and cinemas, cruise shipping has also been shut since the coronavirus pandemic hit the world early February. On top of that, the Essel group has been facing liquidity problems at some of the group entities. Waterways Leisure is part of the US-based NRI Sant Chatwal-promoted Dreams Hotel Group. Cuba Lowers Tourism Target 15% After US Cruise Ban.

The deal also includes the sale of Jalesh's entire digital interface and technology backend, the software developed for customer acquisition, and the database of customers, travel agents and partner network.

Waterways has also hired existing executives and employees of Zen and Jurgen Bailom will continue as the president & chief executive.

Vijay Kher, country head of Dream Hotel Group and the spokesperson for Waterways Leisure, said they are excited to capitalise on the Jalesh brand, which was India's first premium cruise brand.

The Essel Group in September 2018 announced its entry into the cruise business with a potential investment of USD 100 million. The shipping line made its maiden sail to Goa in April 2019.