Cruise Lines Awaiting New Cuba Rules, Making No Changes to Current Itineraries

by Daniel McCarthy
Cruise Lines Awaiting New Cuba Rules, Making No Changes to Current Itineraries

Norwegian Cruise line is “closely monitoring recent development with respect to U.S.-Cuba travel,” a spokesperson told TMR. Photo: Danilo Marocchi/Shutterstock.com.


Cruise travel to Cuba seemed up in the air on Wednesday after a statement from National Security Advisor John Bolton in Miami seemed to indicate that the U.S. would be cracking down on Americans traveling to Cuba.

“The Department of the Treasury will implement further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba," Bolton said.

While no concrete rule changes came with the statement, indications were that it will at least become much more difficult for Americans wanting to travel to Cuba for reasons other than family visits to do so.

That could mean cruise travel to Cuba, which has thrived since the U.S. began thawing restrictions with Cuba in 2014, could be in jeopardy.

But cruise lines talking to Travel Market Report made no indications that plans have changed, despite Wednesday’s news, and they are awaiting further announcements.

“We’re reviewing the recent statements to evaluate their impact on our guests and our company. For now, we are sailing our Cuba itineraries as scheduled and will keep our guests updated if anything changes,” Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Director of corporate reputation Melissa Charbonneau told TMR.

Royal is currently sailing Royal Caribbean International ships, including Majesty of the Seas, Empress of the Seas, to Cuban destinations including Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Silversea, one of Royal’s other brands, launched its program of voyages to Cuba in October 2018 aboard Silver Wind, and Azamara, another Royal brand, has Cuba on its schedule for both 2019 and 2020.

The company made its inaugural visit when Empress of the Seas landed in Havana in April 2017.

Norwegian Cruise line is “closely monitoring recent development with respect to U.S.-Cuba travel,” a spokesperson told TMR. “At this time no new regulations have been issued and accordingly, the Company’s itineraries which include Cuba as a destination will continue as scheduled.”

When Norwegian initially began selling its Cuba cruises in 2017, Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings CEO and president Frank Del Rio said “No new destination has had quite the impact of Cuba” and called the sailings “a home run.”

At the moment, Norwegian sails a number of different itineraries to Cuba, including four-day sailings with an overnight in Havana on both Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun.

Virgin Voyages, which is set to debut in 2020, announced during its rollout that its first ship, Scarlet Lady, will call on Cuba during its inaugural season homeporting in Miami in 2020. At the time, Virgin said the decision is based on customer and travel partner research that it conducted in both North America and the United Kingdom.

A Virgin spokesperson told TMR that while “At this time there are no changes to travel policies for cruises sailing to Cuba” the line will continue to monitor Cuba travel policies and we will update our Sailors if there are any changes.”

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