Royal Caribbean and Norwegian can now
set sail from Florida to Cuba.
The parent companies of cruise giants
Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line
announced they had received Cuban
government approval for the brands to operate
voyages to the country from Florida.
December 10, 2016
You may be wondering what the trip will be like to the communist country with restrictions for tourists.
Royal Caribbean says you have to have your passport and a $75 Cuba tourist visa arranged by the cruise line. Plus, more forms to fill out: You have to explain why you’re in Cuba and keep a log of your activity while on the island. U.S. visitors still are limited in the activities they are allowed to do in the country by the terms of the USA’s five-decade-old embargo. The embargo specifies that activities fall within one of 12 approved categories. The categories include educational pursuits such as people-to-people exchanges. Travelers won’t have the ability to get off the ship and leisurely wander around on your own. Royal Caribbean says shore excursions are restricted and have to be booked onboard. There are options like guided tours through old Havana with specific photo stops.
If you’re looking to bring back Cuban cigars or rum, that’s okay, as long as it’s for personal use. But how will you pay? Credit cards most likely won’t be accepted by shops and vendors who don’t have the technology. You can exchange the dollar for the Cuban Convertible Peso.
A WORD OF CAUTION
Keep in mind that while the Obama administration loosened travel restrictions to Cuba over the past year, it could all change once President Elect Trump takes office in January. He has recently tweeted, “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate the deal.”
The ships will be the first from established cruise brands to sail from the USA to Cuba in decades. The only other cruise vessel sailing from the USA to Cuba is the 704-passenger Adonia, which flies the flag of Fathom, a little-known, one-ship brand launched earlier this year by Carnival Corp. (CCL). Adonia began bi-weekly voyages to Cuba in May but soon will end the trips. Fathom has struggled to gain traction with consumers, and Carnival Corp. announced last month that the brand would shut down its cruise operations next spring.
The newly announce voyages by major brands are likely to be a bigger hit than the Fathom sailings as they appear to be focused on the Cuban capital of Havana, which is the key draw in the country for most Americans, and they’re not too drawn out, said longtime industry watcher Mike Driscoll, editor of Cruise Week. The Fathom trips include stops in the secondary Cuban cities of Santiego de Cuba and Cienfuegos, which have less appeal to Americans, and last a full week.
to obtain the most current information regarding travel to Cuba.