Cuba Relents In Carnival Corp. Negotiations, Allows Cuban-Born Americans to Cruise to Cuba
Photo by Barry Kaufman
The Carnival Corporation announced Friday that after weeks of negotiations, Cuban officials have relented and will now allow Cuban-born Americans to travel on all cruise line ships traveling between the United States and Cuba.
The decision not only impacts the company's Fathom brand cruises to Cuba, but all U.S. cruise lines travelling to Cuba.
“We made history in March, and we are a part of making history again today," said Carnival Corp. Carnival CEO Arnold Donald in a statement today. "More importantly, we are contributing to a positive future. This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased. We want to extend our sincere appreciation to Cuba and to our team who worked so hard to help make this happen.”
The company received official permission to travel to Cuba during President Obama's visit to Cuba in late March. Carnival Corp. then announced that their bi-weekly cruises on their new volunteerism-focused brand, Fathom, would begin on May 1.
A sticking point arose when Cuban-born Americans protested that they were not allowed to book on the cruise due to decades-old Cuban laws. Donald and Carnival Corp. officials reacted to the protests of the last few weeks asking for patience as negotiations continue.
On Monday, Donald announced that Fathom would not sail to Cuba without being able to allow Cuban-born Americans to sail, and that the company would delay cruises until Cuban officials changed their policy. Donald said they were pointing toward existing Cuban law that already allowed Cuban-born Americans to fly in to Cuba, and hoped Cuba would agree to level the playing field.
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The 704-passenger Fathom Adonia luxury cruise ship will be assigned to Cuban itineraries, making the trip from the U.S to Cuba bi-weekly. The first voyage of the ship will mark the first time in 50 years that a cruise ship has been permitted to sail from America to Cuba.
Cuban-born Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez applauded the Cuban policy change as "the right thing to do" and congratulated Carnival on impacting the decision.
"This is probably one of the very few times that a corporation has successfully negotiated the changing of a policy with the Cuban government," said Cuba-born Gimenez in a statement.
During the voyages aboard the Adonia cruise ship to Cuba, passengers will be treated to stops at three ports of call in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. The ship’s activities will also be based around the Cuban culture, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired food and films, music, dancing and more.
As far as onboard programming, passengers will be treated to an orientation of Cuba's history, customs and culture, as well as geographic-inspired entertainment, Spanish lessons and personal enrichment activities.
Fathom’s Adonia will depart from Miami on Sundays for seven-day itineraries, and prices for the voyages will start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses. The price will include all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and several ground activities.
Booking is extremely limited at this point for the inaugural cruise, according to Fathom officials. For booking information and more details about the Cuban itineraries, check out the Fathom cruise brand’s official website.
TravelPulse writer Donald Wood contributed to this report.
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