Depending on how you look at it, cruising to Cuba is either expanding or becoming more limited than initially expected, all while future relations between the U.S. and the island nation are up in the air regarding president-elect Donald Trump’s stance.
As far as sailing to Cuba roundtrip from the U.S. is concerned, Fathom remains the only regular option, that is at least until in May 2017 when its license to cruise there expires and its only ship, the Adonia, is soon expected to transfer out of the fleet. At least six of the line’s Dominican Republic voyages, offered on weeks in between exclusive Cuban sailings, until that point will now feature an added call at Santiago de Cuba.
Beyond Fathom, many other cruise lines also received approval recently to sail to Cuba roundtrip, but the quantity of departures is considerably more limited than anticipated, with the exception of Pearl Seas Cruises.
Seeking approval for a long while since 2015, Pearl Seas will begin deploying its 210-guest Pearl Mist from Florida beginning this January 17, 2017. It too will sail regularly like Fathom but again only through May on 11 voyages as scheduled at this time. Making it more ideal than Fathom, however, will be its four Cuban stops at Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, as well as Trinidad, not visited by the Adonia.
Among more mainstream brands, the remaining approved companies will merely skirt the surface of Cuba by visiting only Havana on a handful of itineraries. Next up will be Oceania Cruises on March 7, 21 and 31, 2017 when the 1,252-guest Marina heads to the Caribbean on three consecutive voyages visiting the capital city for one or two days each.
Also on March 21, 2017 will be Azamara Club Cruises’ singular 13-night roundtrip from Miami on the 686-guest Azamara Quest, an existing voyage modified to now include an overnight stay in Havana.
Come April 11 and 18, 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will send its 700-guest Seven Seas Mariner to overnight in Havana, departing twice from Miami on weeklong Caribbean outings.
Royal Caribbean International will shortly follow on April 19, 2017 by sailing its 1,840-guest Empress of the Seas to the Cuban port from Miami on April 19, 2017 and then again from Tampa on April 30 and May 20, 2017.
Rounding out the new approvals will be Norwegian Cruise Line when its 2,004-guest Norwegian Sky will first go to Havana from Miami on five 4-day cruises scheduled on May 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2017.
Notably, no cruise line has approval to sail to Cuba roundtrip from the States beyond May 2017. There are, of course, several smaller operations that can take American guests legally to Cuban ports from within the Caribbean, but the ability to do so conveniently from a U.S. homeport beyond then, and potentially up until then, will likely be dependent on the political climate under the Trump administration following his inauguration on January 20, 2017.
- Originally published in Travel Pulse News by JASON LEPPERT JANUARY 10, 2017
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