Having received approval from the Cuban government this week, Holland America Line will begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale in time for the Christmas holidays.
The first sailing, on Dec. 22, will be for 12 days aboard the 1,350-guest ms Veendam, with stops in Havana and Cienfuegos. That will be followed by nine seven-day sailings with stops in Havana, most of them extended calls, and three sailings with a second stop in Cienfuegos.
The itineraries also will include various combinations of Amber Cove, Belize City, Costa Maya, George Town, Grand Turk, Key West and Montego Bay.
HAL president Orlando Ashford called Cuba "one of the most sought-after new destinations for many of our guests” and noted his “travel partners have been anxiously awaiting a premium cruise experience to this relatively undiscovered Caribbean treasure.”
The sailings will give Holland America the chance to showcase its Explorations Central (EXC) program, which is being expanded to include tours in and near Havana and Cienfuegos, including one in Trinidad, one of Cuba’s most historic towns. EXC Guides will hold talks about Cuba onboard and have EXC Port Maps for the two cities.
Bookings will open on May 26; fares begin at $899 per person.
Any guest who had booked a previously scheduled ms Veendam sailing prior to the Cuba announcement will get a full refund and an opportunity to book another Holland America voyage.
At the moment, the Cuba program is scheduled to end with ms Veendam’s last Cuba sailing on April 18, 2018.
The announcement makes Holland America the third Carnival Corp. brand to sail to Cuba; it joins Fathom and Carnival Cruise Line. Other cruise lines including Norwegian Cruise Line, Azamara Club Cruises and Royal Caribbean have also entered the market.