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Changes to US Regulations on Cuba Travel Impact Cruising - What We Know So Far *With Updates*

On June 4 2019, the US released details of changes to various regulations that look to impact cruises to Cuba from the United States, and how US citizens can travel to the island nation in general.  While we prefer to wait to share information until things are more clear, we've received many questions about this and will share what we know, when we know it, below.

Cruising to Cuba?

In the last couple of years cruise lines have been allowed to sail from the US to Cuba and Americans were allowed to visit under an OFAC (office of foreign assets control) provision that allowed “people to people educational travel” – in other words, where you’re there to meet people rather than be a tourist at the beach.  Tomorrow, changes will hit the federal register that essentially remove the previously used "people to people" provision, making it much more difficult for most Americans to visit Cuba, and preventing companies, like cruise lines, from easily providing passage as they'd done in the past.  These changes are being made by an amendment to Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), in line with the US President’s updated Cuba policies.

There is a "granfathering" provision though, that allows trips booked before June 5th 2019 to continue as planned.  This doesn't mean that all scheduled sailings will continue however, lines may not want to continue sailings if not all passengers can disembark, and the grandfathering provision isn't clear on whether it applies only to individuals or the companies offering passage to Cuba[see updates below]

This is a developing story that will of course impact travelers, but may cause interesting challenges for lines like Virgin Voyages who have a significant portion of their scheduled sailings set to visit Cuba.  

6/4/19 Update: is reporting that Royal Caribbean has modified itineraries for June 5 and June 6 sailings, and those sailings will no longer be visiting Cuba.  They also note that they expect to know more in the next 24 hours.

6/5/19 Update: Reddit user u/Eagles157 provided a photo of a letter received aboard Carnival Sensation today, explaining that they'd no longer be calling on Cuba.

6/5/19 Update: NCL has sent an email to guests explaining that all sailings scheduled to call on Cuba are being modified and will no longer visit there.

6/5/19 Update: Virgin Voyages has said they're currently replacing calls on Cuba to another port which they'll announce soon.