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Cuba – cruise industry takes advantage of new political climate

The thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba after half a century of US-imposed trade embargo is opening up many new possibilities for trade and tourism for both countries.

In recent months several announcements have been made regarding plans for new cruise and ferry services.

In August the luxury yacht ‘Still Water’ was reported to be the first US vessel to legally transport passengers to Cuba. It docked at the Hemingway Marina in Havana after the four-hour crossing.

In May 2015 the US Treasury Department began granting licenses to ferry services from its south-western ports for the first time in 50 years. News is scant, but the long-awaited services were expected to commence this fall.

In the cruise sector, MSC Cruises has announced it will homeport in Havana from December 2015 after moving the ‘MSC Opera’ from Europe. It will offer 16 cruises over the 2015-16 winter season calling Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Mexico as well as two and a half days in Havana.

Carnival Corporation has also announced that it will be the first US-based cruise operator to sail to Cuba. Cruises will begin May 2016 with its recently launched Fathom brand, which focuses on ‘social impact’ travel, one of the approved categories for legal travel to Cuba. Carnival will offer seven-day voyages from PortMiami on the 710-passenger ‘Adonia’.