Oceania cruises set to arrive in Cuba

Posted: 04-Aug-16 14:57

Oceania Cruises is one of the latest major cruise lines to announce plans to begin sailing to Cuba. The Caribbean island has become a hot cruise destination since the normalization of US-Cuban relations and major cruise lines are eager to dock there. Oceania expects to begin sailing to Cuba as early as the autumn of 2016, with additional ships to be added in 2017.

Oceania cruises set to arrive in Cuba

Frank Del Rio, CEO of Oceania Cruises, recently announced that the company will begin sailing to Cuba as early as November of 2016. The company is currently in negotiations with the Cuban government and Del Rio believes that the company could be sailing two ships to Cuba by early 2017.

Del Rio has a personal connection to the island, as he was born there but left with his family in the years following the Revolution. On his first return to Cuba in 2015, Del Rio was impressed by the island’s natural beauty and believes that its short distance from Miami makes it an ideal cruise destination. Oceania plans to offer cruises which will circumnavigate the island and others -such as the western Caribbean and a Panama Canal cruise- for which Havana will be one of several stops.

With the announcement of the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, cruise operators have scrambled to gain approval for Cuba trips. While non-American cruise lines have been travelling to Cuba for years, the reopening of relations between the two countries has led to a flurry of interest from US-based lines. Carnival became the first major cruise line to arrive in Cuba, docking in May of 2016, making stops in Havana, Cienfeugos, and Santiago de Cuba

Citing the growing interest of American travellers in Cuba, Del Rio stated that the island will appeal to cruise travelers at a variety of price points. Havana, said Del Rio, is a “stellar attraction” and would likely be part of numerous Caribbean itineraries. In fact, Del Rio dreams of the day when he can enter the Bay of Havana at the front of his own ship.

Oceania Cruises is awaiting approval from Havana authorities to begin sailing to Cuba later this year. This comes as the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba has created a surge in the number of American tourists to the island. In the first trimester of 2016, roughly 71,000 American tourists arrived in Cuba, an increase of more than ninety percent over the same period last year. Those numbers are only expected to increase as travel restrictions continue to be eased.


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