Above: the MV Adonia
By Alexander Britell
MIAMI — Carnival Corporation is heading to Cuba.
The cruise ship giant will become the first US-based cruise line to sail to Cuba, following approval by the US Department of the Treasury and the US Department of Commerce.
The company will begin Cuba cruises in May 2016 on its recently-launched fathom [sic] brand, which focuses on “social-impact” travel and therefore falls under one of the approved categories for legal travel to Cuba.
“The new Cuban itineraries on fathom will strictly comply with US Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people,” the company said in a release. “Carnival Corporation is in active discussions and plans to work with the appropriate authorities in Cuba so that Cuban approval is granted.”
Carnival launched the fathom brand at the beginning of June, aiming to sail initially to the Dominican Republic.
“We know there is strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society,” said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald. “It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to Cuba to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the Dominican Republic beginning in the spring of 2016.”
The company’s Cuba cruises will sail seven-day voyages from PortMiami on the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger ship redeployed from Carnival Corporation’s P&O Cruises brand.
“We are excited about receiving US approval as the very important first step to ultimately take travelers to Cuba under the existing 12 criteria for authorized travel,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between US citizens and the people of Cuba a reality.”
Carnival will be working with Caribbean nonprofit IDDI, which fights poverty in rural and urban areas in the region, including Cuba.
“Nothing else like fathom exists to bring hundreds of like-minded travelers a week to communities of people who need ongoing support. With fathom and its travelers, the potential for making a lasting impact in people’s lives is tremendous,” said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI. “We look forward to partnering closely with fathom to take our programs to the next level, and support growth and prosperity for the citizens of Cuba.”
Prices for the seven-day Cuba trips will start at $2,990 per person, excluding other taxes and fees.