Carnival Cruises has been granted permission by Cuba to hold cruise ship trips from the U.S. to Cuba starting in May.
Carnival has previously announced in July that it was given permission by the U.S. government to hold cruises to the Caribbean island nation, arguably one of the most popular geographic destinations for cruise trips, but this was not a done-deal yet since the final OK is still contingent on Cuba's approval.
Following President Obama's recent historic trip to Cuba, the Cuban government has agreed to lessen the economic and travel restrictions which stem from Cuba's long-running U.S. trade embargo which is still currently in effect but has allowed "people-to-people" travel.
"This is a historic opportunity, and we know there is pent-up demand amongst Americans who want to experience Cuba," says Carnival CEO Arnold Donald. Carnival is one of the several U.S. based companies lining up for the much-awaited Caribbean nation's opening to U.S. tourists.
The Fathom line of the cruise giant, Carnival's Florida-based division which specializes in round-trip voyages from Miami to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, announced that it is "proud to be the first cruise ship company to be granted U.S. approval for round-trip travel between the U.S. and multiple destinations in Cuba" which include port cities of Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. These trips are authorized under current people-to-people travel guidelines as set forth by the American government.
Fathom now accepts bookings for the upcoming cruises. According to Donald, other Carnival brands besides Fathom are also given permission to sail. However, it is going to take some time before the other brands can follow suit because Cuban ports have a limited number of berths and current port infrastructures might not adequately accommodate a large number of other ships.
Fathom is set to have weekly trips to the Dominican Republic starting in April. Carnival plans to alternate cruise travels between the two countries.