The boss and co-founder of Cruise118, James Cole, is leaving the organisation to “pursue other interests”.

Cole set up Cruise118 in 2008 and entered into a partnership with US firm World Travel Holdings two years later, becoming WTH’s UK managing director.

His last day with WTH UK will be tomorrow, Friday March 23.

Product and commercial director Alison Earnshaw will replace Cole as managing director with immediate effect.

It is understood that Cole, a co-owner, will not retain his stake in the company, although it is not yet known to whom it will be/has been sold.

A spokesman for WTH UK said: “WTH UK can confirm that James Cole has made the decision to leave the organisation to pursue other interests and his last day will be Friday 23 March. James founded Cruise118 in 2008 and entered into a partnership with WTH in 2010. Since that time, he has contributed greatly to the growth of the business and under his leadership, Six Star Cruises and River Voyages were launched, and WTH UK has become one of the UK’s fastest-growing retailers.”

WTH added that Earnshaw was “looking forward to building on the business’s achievements and, along with her team, working closely with cruise lines to continue to grow and develop the business”.

Cole set up Chorley-based Cruise118 with Mal Barritt, who is now chief operating officer at the ITC Travel Group, owner of touring brands, Regent Holidays and Rainbow Tours.

It created the concept of one-to-one personalised service ‘the Cruise Concierge’, used by both the Cruise118 and SixStarCruises brands. WTH UK joined UK agency consortium the Travel Network Group in 2015.

Prior to launching his own business, Cole worked at Airtours for 10 years from 1997 to 2007, in various commercial and general management roles.

Earnshaw has been at WTH UK since 2008 and has previously served as head of supplier relations at MyTravel and was a branch manager at Thomas Cook.