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Before the annual conference for Cruises Inc. Cruise One and Dream Vacations set sail Saturday from Miami on Carnival Vista, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald was on hand to talk with the audience of almost 1,000 cruise travel professionals, many who are getting their first looks at the new flagship for Carnival Cruise Line.
Donald called these times "the Golden Age of Cruising" and delivered a talk praising line's travel partners for the role they play in the success of the Carnival brands and the industry in general.
During a question-and-answer session following his presentation, Donald addressed the complicated matter of Cuba, which remains a key destination of interest for cruisers and would-be cruisers. And Cuba remaining on cruise itineraries for passengers on Carnival brands - and other mainstream brands in the future - certainly would add further shine to this Golden Age.
Travel professionals report their clients continue to express major interest in sailing to the largest Caribbean island. But the situation in Cuba is precarious, as it always seems to be, so Donald says we'll have to wait and see whether Carnival Corp. will be able to sail to Cuba past May, when its license to operate there expires.
[READMORE]READ MORE: Fathom Cruise Line to Cease Operations By Summer of 2017[/READMORE]
"Nobody has approval, including us," Donald said about sailing past May 2017. Carnival Corp. already announced that its Fathom brand, which in May became the first American cruise line to sail to Cuba in decades, would return the 710-passenger Adonia to the P&O fleet next summer. (Fathom's impact shore excursions in the Dominican Republic will be offered on other Carnival Corp. ships visiting Amber Cove.)
Carnival says it has applied for a license to sail to Cuba with multiple cruise lines across its 10-brand fleet starting in June, 2017, but the company is still awaiting word. Donald is optimistic, saying Cuba will be a wonderful place to develop the cruise industry and he has no doubt it will happen.
But the immediate future remains unpredictable. He alluded to how the island, its people, government and infrastructure probably remains a bit cautious when it comes to cruise ships.
"They are an island," Donald said. "They have sensitivities. Planes come in with 200 people at a time and go through a single entry point. It's pretty easy to monitor." But the larger ships "bringing 4,000 or 5,000 people at a time; that's a little unnerving."
John Roberts is a perpetually restless soul with a home base in Central New Jersey. He loves to share his adventures and...
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