Ten days after Fidel Castro’s death, Cuba gets serious with the cruise industry.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. yesterday revealed two of its brands will be sailing to Cuba.
Separately, Norwegian Cruise Line yesterday announced that it has received approval from Cuba to operate cruises to Cuba, beginning March 2017.
Royal Caribbean received approval from Cuba’s government to offer cruises from Florida on Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, in the near future. Further itinerary details and dates are not yet available.
All three of Norwegian’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.
Norwegian’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.
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.