Cuba Cruise Stops Plunge Over 2 Years
Cuba Cruise Visitors Plunge 90 Percent After Castro's Comments, US Buyout
January 23, 2008: 04:28 PM EST
NEW YORK (Associated Press) – The number of cruise ships visiting Cuba
has plummeted nearly 90 percent since 2005, after Fidel Castro
complained that the industry did little more than flood the country with
trash and a U.S. cruise giant bought out a Spanish company that ran
tours to the island.
Jose Antonio Lopez, general director of Cuban cruise concern Aries SA,
said Wednesday that only about 11,000 cruise passengers visited Cuba in
2007, compared to 102,000 two years earlier.
In May 2005, Castro lashed out at cruise ships, saying "floating hotels
come, floating restaurants, floating theaters, floating diversions visit
countries to leave their trash, their empty cans and papers for a few
"We have told (fellow Caribbean states) that Cuba will not accept cruise
ships," Castro said.
Barely two months later, Cuba canceled a contract with an Italian
company that administered the island's cruise terminals in a
joint-venture with a government-run firm since 1998.
But Lopez blamed the sharp drop on cruise traffic on Washington's trade
embargo, which prevents U.S. tourists from visiting the island and
prohibits nearly all trade between both countries. He said that despite
the canceled contract with the Italian company, cruise arrivals to Cuba
declined only about 10 percent until October 2006, when Miami-based
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. bought Spain's Pullmantur Cruises.
Royal Caribbean canceled a route that brought a cruise liner called
"Holiday Dream" to Cuba, he said.
"The cause is the blockade and the (U.S.) Torricelli Law which keeps
cruise ships from reaching the ports of Cuba," Lopez told to reporters
during a tour of the Havana docks. He said officials only expect about a
dozen cruise ships, most operated by British and German firms, to come
to Cuba between January and April of this year.
"Everyone wants to come to Havana but no (company) can because they
penalize them," Lopez said.
Last year, about 7,000 of the 11,000 cruise ship passengers who visited
Cuba docked at the Havana terminal, with the rest arriving at ports in
the eastern city of Santiago and the small Isla de la Juventud south of
the main island, Lopez said.