Norwegian Cruises applies for licence to operate sailings to Cuba

Posted: 12-Aug-15 11:01

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has applied for licences from the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce to start operating cruises to Cuba. The president and CEO Frank Del Rio of Norwegian said that if successful the first sailings would be via its Oceania brand that offers smaller ships carrying approximately 700 people.

Norwegian Cruises applies for licence to operate sailings to Cuba

As more cruise companies prepare to offer sailing journeys to Cuba, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is the latest to apply for licences from the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The cruise company is looking to operate its first cruises to Cuba via its Oceania brand, which has smaller vessels carrying about 700 passengers.

If successful, Norwegian will offer cruises through people to people or educational programmes that are permitted under the five-decade-long travel embargo that was enforced by the United States.

"I don't know the timeline for any of those three licenses to come through, but I am hopeful that they will happen before the year is out," commented Del Rio.

He added:

"We believe that once Cuba opens up totally, it's going to be a real windfall for the industry."

Cuba has become the travel hotspot over recent months after the communist country and United States resumed diplomatic relations following more than 50 years of hostilities.

The Caribbean island is on the gold list for cruise companies and tour operators who are looking to offer trips valid licences. General tourism to the island for Americans is still prohibited.

Pearl Seas recently announced plans to offer people-to-people cruises on a 210-passenger vessel to Cuba next spring, and Globus is also looking to launch sailings to the island in January, 2016 via its small-ship line Haimark.

The people to people programmes must be operated under U.S government rules and have to include educational and cultural exchanges with Cubans that include interactions with Cuban musicians, artists, chefs, and locals.

Cuba boasts an array of breathtaking landscapes such as Varadero’s white sand beaches and the tropical ocean waters of Jardines del Rey that are thriving with colourful marine species. The crumbling architecture of Havana and its vibrant nightlife attracts thousands of holidaymakers every year, while cities such as Santa Clara and Holguin are emerging as new tourist destinations.


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