Since the historic thawing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba started late in 2014, so many people are becoming excited about the leisure and business opportunities that could arise from increased ties between the two nations. Among the changes that could one day be seen are the relaxing of travel restrictions and an eventual end to the embargo.
Tourism is one of the segments that can be seen as benefiting from the Cuba situation sooner. Travel-related businesses are exploring cruise stops here, and some are even moving towards a revival of the ferry that once traversed the Florida-Cuba route decades ago.
This December, however, major cruise player MSC is set to do a statement-making play: their recently-upgraded MSC Opera, a 2,120-guest cruise ship, will start sailing from Havana on Caribbean cruise offerings. This makes MSC the first of the major cruise players to homeport a vessel in Cuba – though not the first to make cruise stops in Havana, which is already being done by a number of European ships. They will be partnering with local firm Cubanacan for services on the ground and for shore excursions.
The development is an exciting one, but U.S. sanctions still present a number of considerable limitations when it comes to hiring American staff, in dollar transactions on board, and in taking on Cuban and American guests. American citizens, after all, need particular travel licenses in order to make trips to Cuba.
It must be noted that MSC is a European company with its U.S. counterpart, MSC Cruises USA, considered as a separate company.
The company’s plans for the MSC Opera in Cuba necessitated changes in their original plans for the vessel this winter, but they provided refunds and transfer options for passengers who had already booked sailings for the cancelled trips.
Kemplon Engineering has been keeping tabs on interesting developments for the maritime industry when it comes to opportunities in Cuba (see related articles “Monthly Maritime News Roundup, January 2015” and “Monthly Maritime News Roundup, March 2015”). These are just a few of the stories we follow and share in our blog, which is frequently updated.
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^ Coulter, Adam. “MSC Cruises to Become First Mainstream Cruise Line to Base Cruise Ship in Havana, Cuba.” Cruise Hive, 03 Jul 2015. Web. 11 Jul 2015. http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=6434
^ Fiske, David. “MSC Cruises to home-port MSC Opera in Havana, Cuba, in December 2015.” World of Cruising, 03 Jul 2015. Web. 11 Jul 2015. http://www.worldofcruising.co.uk/msc-cruises-to-home-port-msc-opera-in-havana-cuba-in-december-2015/
^ Masek, Theresa Norton. “MSC Cruises to Base Ship in Cuba This Winter.” Travel Pulse, 03 Jul 2015. Web. 11 Jul 2015. http://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/msc-cruises-to-base-ship-in-cuba-this-winter.html
^ Moore, Malcolm. “MSC Cruises to base ship in Cuba.” FT.com, 03 Jul 2015. Web. 11 Jul 2015. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b9d80b5e-2192-11e5-ab0f-6bb9974f25d0.html#axzz3ewZt0c1e
^ “MSC Opera Finds New Home in Cuba.” World Maritime News, 03 Jul 2015. Web. 11 Jul 2015. http://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/165557/msc-opera-finds-new-home-in-cuba/
^ Thakkar, Emrys. “MSC Cruise Ship To Homeport In Havana, Cuba From Winter 2015.” Cruise Hive, 03 Jul 2015. Web. 11 Jul 2015. http://www.cruisehive.com/msc-cruise-ship-to-homeport-in-havana-cuba-from-winter-2015/7269