Canadian Line to Launch Round-Cuba Cruises
15 August, 2011
(12:00 p.m. EDT) — In a new chapter of the on-off love affair between
cruise lines and Cuba, a Canadian tour operator has announced that it
will launch week-long voyages out of Havana for the winter season.
Toronto-based Cuba Cruise will start service December 4 and use the
1,200-passenger Louis Cristal, which was built in 1980.
This announcement comes a year after the launch of Belize-registered
Tropicana Cruises, which also offers round-Cuba holidays, although
mainly to Russian guests. The new service helps fill the void left by
British line Thomson Cruises, which pulled out of its planned Cuban
operation for 2012 for logistical reasons.
A Cuba Cruise spokesman told Cruise Critic that Cristal will have fresh
Canadian food shipped in weekly as well as Canadian beer and
Cuban/international beverages, thus alleviating the problem of
unreliable food provisioning that any cruise line in Cuba could face.
Entertainment and front-office crew will, however, be Cuban.
Cuba has always been tricky for cruise lines to offer, as it's difficult
for American citizens to get visas to travel there on vacation. Lines
carrying American passengers therefore avoid the island altogether,
leaving Cuba to European companies, including Fred. Olsen, Compagnie du
Ponant, Sea Cloud and Noble Caledonia.
Cuba Cruise, however, is being sold as an in-depth exploration of the
island for English-speaking guests, rather than just a single port of
call. The ship will call at Bahia Nipe, Cayo Guillermo, Santiago de
Cuba, Cayo Caguama (a private island), Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Isla de
la Juventud. In addition, it will feature six UNESCO World Heritage
Sites and four national parks.
Voyages will be priced as cruise-only from Havana (starting at a
reasonable CAD $586, or around £364 per person) and are open to anybody
who can legally enter Cuba. Flight-inclusive packages are being offered
by various Canadian tour operators, as well as Thomas Cook in Germany,
and shortly, the Holiday Place in the U.K.
–By Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor