Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that it has received approval from the government of the Republic of Cuba to operate cruises to Cuba, beginning March 2017.
All three of the company’s brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will offer U.S. travelers the opportunity to visit the culturally and historically rich country on select sailings starting next year.
The company’s first cruise to Cuba will set sail from PortMiami on Oceania Cruises’ Marina on March 7, 2017 with select Caribbean itineraries featuring calls on Havana, including many multiple-day calls to allow guests to explore Havana and its environs.
Seven Seas Mariner, of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, will call on Havana during two cruises in April 2017. Norwegian Sky will also offer a selection of four-day voyages that will overnight in Havana in May 2017.
“We are tremendously excited to have all three of our award-winning brands receive approval from the Cuban authorities to offer cruises to Cuba from the United States,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
Guests sailing on all three brands will have a selection of shore excursions to choose from, all of which offer an authentic Cuban experience that explores the people, art, history and culture of the island, which are in compliance with OFAC regulations.
Full itinerary details and on sale dates for voyages that call on Cuba will be available tomorrow for Oceania Cruises, later this month for Regent Seven Seas Cruises and on December 20 for Norwegian Cruise Line.
Earlier this year, it was history in the making as Carnival’s Fathom cruise brand officially began its first-ever cruise to Cuba, the first cruise by a US company to Cuba in more than a half-century.
Fathom is Carnival’s “social impact” cruise brand, meaning a smaller ship and an itinerary focused on what the company calls a “thoughtful cultural exchange experience.”
It appears Fathom’s experiencial and “voluntourism” ethos didn’t quite strike a nerve. Carival recently announced it will end its cruise to Cuba in May 2017. In its April debut, the Carnival offshoot ran two different weeklong itineraries on the ship Adonia, one to Cuba and one to the Dominican Republic. Cruisers going to Cuba had an on-board book club and mojito-making lessons; travelers going to the DR’s Amber Cove participated in local projects—teaching children how to speak English, working at a women-owned chocolate factory, and helping to install water filtration systems.