Last updated: 10:50 AM ET, Tue July 07 2015

Carnival Brand Granted US Approval for Cuba Cruises

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Carnival Cruise Line | Theresa Norton | July 07, 2015

Carnival Brand Granted US Approval for Cuba Cruises

PHOTO: Carnival Corp.'s fathom brand hopes to start sailing to Cuba in May 2016. (Photo by David Cogswell)

Carnival Corp. has been granted U.S. approval to operate cruises to Cuba with its new fathom brand starting in May 2016.

The fathom cruises to Cuba will be designed to “provide cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges between American and Cuban citizens,” the company said in an announcement.

Authorized under current U.S.-to-Cuba travel guidelines, the Cuban itineraries will comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people. Carnival Corp. said it is in active discussions and plans to work with the appropriate authorities in Cuba so that Cuban approval is granted.

Carnival announced its new “social impact” cruise brand fathom on June 4. It will launch operations with weekly cruises from Miami aboard the Adonia, a 710-passenger ship now operating for Carnival Corp.’s P&O Cruises. The fathom brand will operate independently as Carnival Corp.’s 10th cruise brand.

Passengers on the first itineraries will head to the Dominican Republic to volunteer with local charities from a base at Amber Cove, Carnival’s new $85 million cruise facility set to open in October.

Following the inaugural voyages to the Dominican Republic, fathom intends to offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries.

“We are excited about receiving U.S. approval as the very important first step to ultimately take travelers to Cuba under the existing 12 criteria for authorized travel. We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between U.S. citizens and the people of Cuba a reality,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp. “We know there is strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society. It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to Cuba to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the Dominican Republic beginning in the spring of 2016.”

Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba will start at $2,990 per person, excluding taxes, port and other government and related fees. Fares will include onboard social impact experiences and certain on-the-ground cultural immersion activities.

“Our goal remains the same for both destinations — to enable travelers to immerse, learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis,” said Tara Russell, president of fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corp. “We are looking forward to building what we intend to be a beautiful and lasting friendship with the Cuban people.”

Prices for the seven-day cruises to the Dominican Republic start at $1,540 per person for an exterior cabin, all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences, three on-shore social impact activities and related supplies, taxes, fees, and port expenses. Prices will vary by season.

The fathom brand expects to attract 37,000 annual travelers who collectively could spend a total of more than 100,000 days a year either volunteering or immersing in educational and cultural exchanges in local communities.


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