MSC Cruises set the tone earlier this month by announcing it is homeporting the MSC Opera in Havana for the winter season (see related article, “MSC Opera Finds A Home in Cuba for the Winter”). Now, Carnival Corp. is exploring its own opportunities for cruising to Cuba.
Ever since the historic thawing of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States late last year, and the consequent rise of potentially lucrative opportunities for travel here, Cuba is becoming bigger and bigger news in the cruising world lately. Also big news in the cruising scene? Carnival Corp.’s recent announcement about a new brand, “fathom,” which will be focusing on volunteer vacations starting April, 2016 (see “Cruise for a Cause? Carnival Corp.’s “Social Impact” Travel”). Put these two big news items together though, and what do you have?
One of cruising’s hottest new brands, backed by a cruise industry power player, headed to a long-awaited destination: fathom is on the way to Cuba!
Due to the standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, there are heavy limits on trade with the country, and only a few categories of travel is considered as falling within a legal visit. ‘Cruising’ as it is envisioned by Carnival’s fathom, however, may be considered as educational, people-to-people travel – which in effect paves the way for traveling to Cuba. The company has reportedly already secured approvals from the U.S. Department of Treasury and U.S. Department of Commerce, but approval from the side of Cuban authorities is still pending.
If all necessary approvals are secured, plans are for the 710-passenger Adonia to operate 7-day, culture-heavy Cuban itineraries beginning in May, 2016, shortly after the fathom brand’s initial, “voluntourism” offerings to the Dominican Republic rolls out in April. Specific details on where the ship will call in Cuba are still being ironed out.
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^ “Carnival Corp. receives approval for cruises to Cuba.” Trade Only Today, 10 Jul 2015. Web. 17 Jul 2015. http://www.tradeonlytoday.com/2015/07/carnival-corp-receives-approval-cruises-cuba/
^ Faust, Chris Gray. “Carnival Corp.’s fathom Line to Offer Volunteer Cruises in Cuba.” Cruise Critic, 07 Jul 2015. Web. 17 Jul 2015. http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=6436
^ Richinick, Michele. “Carnival Will Cruise to Cuba In May.” Newsweek, 09 Jul 2015. Web. 17 Jul 2015. http://www.newsweek.com/carnival-expects-be-cruising-cuba-may-351676
^ Sampson, Hannah. “With U.S. approval, Carnival Corp. is bound for Cuba.” Miami Herald, 07 Jul 2015. Web. 17 Jul 2015. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/tourism-cruises/article26631376.html
^ Sloan, Gene. “Cruise giant Carnival Corp. to launch sailings to Cuba.” USA Today, 07 Jul 2015. Web. 17 Jul 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2015/07/07/carnival-cruise-fathom-cuba/29805319/