Cuba Cruises are Officially on the Way in May from Fathom
Photo courtesy of Fathom
Fathom, Carnival Corporation’s latest cruise brand, is officially headed to Cuba on May 1, 2016 after receiving final government approval from the Caribbean island nation. The cruise line had previously set out to embark on voluntourism sailings to the Dominican Republic (beginning in April 2016) before announcing Cuban cruises, and now the line is set to make both destinations part of its official program.
I was just at Seatrade Cruise Global 2016 last week and had the chance to speak to Tara Russell, President of Fathom, who was optimistic that they would receive the approval, and Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., who was heading down to Cuba at the time U.S. President Barack Obama was. The U.S. government had already granted travel access under new regulations that allow person-to-person exchanges, excluding outright tourism. The new permissions fit perfectly in line with Fathom, as cultural immersion was already a large part of its Dominican Republic plans in addition to service projects scheduled there.
“Today we made history,” said Donald. "It brings me tremendous pleasure to announce that Carnival Corporation has become the first U.S. cruise company in more than 50 years to be granted approval from Cuba to sail from the U.S. to Cuba.” Fathom will be the first brand in the corporation to visit, with potential for its other brands to follow.
Russell added, "our Carnival Corporation and Fathom brand teams have worked closely with Cuba throughout this process and we are thrilled to begin regular sailings to Cuba from Miami starting on May 1, 2016. We have been told that we will be the first cruise line to sail from the U.S. to Cuba with our historic inaugural sailing."
Fathom’s ports-of-call in Cuba are set to include Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba during seven-day cruises roundtrip from Miami, Florida. Cultural exchanges will include interactions with local artists, musicians, health workers and entrepreneurs, and back onboard, the education will continue with everything from regional dining and entertainment to language lessons and shopping opportunities.
P&O Cruises’ Adonia is being repurposed for Fathom’s voyages and is receiving a minor overhaul to bring it online for Cuba and the Dominican Republic. New features will include display photography, mural art and unique discovery boxes positioned throughout the ship for additional cultural experiences.
Fathom’s Cuban cruises will start at $1,800 per person, and the Dominican Republic ones will begin at $974 per person. There will even be the chance to book back-to-back cruises to experience both destinations in a row.
Cyprus-based Celestyal Cruises has already been sailing to Cuba with international clientele and just recently began taking U.S. citizens to the foreign country as a previously established company in the region operating under the new U.S. regulations. Pearl Seas Cruises is another line that was awaiting final government approval to sail to Cuba, and Haimark Line also had sailings scheduled that are up in the air during the company’s bankruptcy struggles. Meanwhile, also sailing to Cuba currently is MSC Cruises, but only with non-U.S. passengers at this time.
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