After many months of anticipation, and subsequent to Carnival Corporations' approval for Fathom, Royal Caribbean International, Azamara Club Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas have gained approval from the Cuban authorities to travel to Cuba.
Royal Caribbean has anticipated this announcement for some time, and earlier this year even moved Empress of the Seas back into her fleet from Pullmantur (RCL's Spanish brand), refreshing her with a distinctly Cuban style so she may soon visit Cuba, a destination long popular for Canadian and European holiday-goers, but off limits to US citizens until recent policy changes by the Obama administration.
Norwegian Cruise Holdings received approval just minutes after Royal Caribbean today, revealing the Oceania Marina will sail to Cuba this season, kicking off with its March 7th sailing out of Port Miami. Regent Seven Seas Mariner will follow in April, and the Norwegian Sky will sail 4 night trips to Havana this coming May.
"As a Cuban-American and founder of Oceania Cruises, I am incredibly proud that one of Oceania's vessels will be our company's first to sail to Cuba," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
In 2015 Carnival Corporation spun up subsidiary Fathom with the purpose of offering "impact travel" to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and non-US based lines, such as MSC, have been visiting Cuban ports for years. Currently, US law requires citizens visiting Cuba do so for one of a specific set of reasons (including cultural exploration and volunteer efforts offered by Fathom), though many industry analysts see the door as essentially being open to US tourists.
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