Cruising: now international and US tourists can enjoy Cuba by sea

Posted: 02-Mar-15 13:57

Thanks to recently relaxed, but not fully rolled-back travel restrictions, American tourists can join their UK and international counterparts in enjoying cruises to and around Cuba. Interestingly, the fastest fingers first are based in Canada, which already has a long-established tourism presence and good relationship with Cuba.

Cruising: now international and US tourists can enjoy Cuba by sea

According to the International Business (IB) Times:

"Cuba Cruise, a Canadian tour company based in Calgary, Alberta, launched in 2013, is the first cruise line to offer Americans a chance to legally book trips themselves or through travel agents to sail around the Caribbean island nation that has been closed to U.S. citizens since 1962.

"In the past, American travellers seeking to visit Cuba would have had to go through a sanctioned U.S. tour operator that offered cultural-exchange tours. None of the major cruise lines, such as those run by the Carnival Corp., have similar offerings yet."

The Daily Telegraph reports on a cruise around Cuba on the Star Flyer, taking in stops in Trinidad's Valley of the Sugar Mills, Cayo Rico, and George Town on Grand Cayman, the capital of the Cayman Islands. The article notes:

"President Obama's recent overtures to Cuba – seeking to re-establish political relations with America's historic foe after 54 years, and relaxing travel regulations – could eventually see American tourists cruising there. However, until the full trade embargo against the country is lifted by Congress, holiday tourism is not permitted; US travellers can currently only cruise around the island on educational trips offered by companies such as Insight Cuba."

Now they have the option to do just that, and to book their holidays directly. The IB Times continues:

"Since Cuba Cruise began offering Americans the option of booking through its website [recently], the company has seen an explosion in interest. Representative Melissa Medeiros told International Business Times that site traffic has tripled, while phone inquiries have doubled."

As for getting around the travel restriction, the article adds:

"After Americans book their cruises - costing between USD $480 and $1,600, depending on the sizes of the staterooms - they must register with the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a people-to-people program that is partnered with Cuba Cruise. The cost of registration is $75. The non-profit organisation then issues travelers letters that authorise their passage to Cuba...

"Cuba Cruise operates the cruises between December and March every year. Travellers can book air packages with the company that depart from Toronto, or they can find charter flights on their own to Havana. The cruises departing from Montego Bay are particularly easy for Americans, as there are plenty of direct flights to the Jamaican city from the US."


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