U.S. travel agents can now book Cuba cruises, Canadian operator says
By Arlene Satchell
A Canadian cruise operator wants to see more Americans aboard its Cuba
On Monday, Cuba Cruise announced that Americans can now legally book its
Cuba around-the-island cruises that depart Havana or Montego Bay,
Jamaica, through a U.S. travel agent in addition to directly through the
company or an approved U.S. tour operator partner.
The move comes in the wake of the U.S. government’s recent loosening of
travel restrictions to Cuba that introduced new general licenses for 12
categories of authorized travel to the Communist-led country.
These licenses no longer require a formal application, prior permission
or post trip report to a U.S. official, making it easier for Americans
to travel to Cuba to visit family, participate in educational and
religious activities and humanitarian projects, among other qualified
Cuba Cruise’s people-to-people cruise program, offered in partnership
with the nonprofit Fund for Reconciliation and Development, qualifies as
an educational opportunity under these new general licenses, the Calgary
cruise operator said.
“Participants in our educational program have a unique opportunity to
move comfortably and efficiently between four distinct regions of Cuba
aboard the Louis Cristal cruise vessel,” John McAuliff, the nonprofit’s
executive director and coordinator of the Cuba/US People to People
partnership, said in a statement. “We’re proud to provide Americans with
a new way to visit Cuba … during an exciting time of opening between our
Once the U.S. travel agent books the Cuba Cruise trips, customers have
to register directly with the New York-based nonprofit agency.
Passengers then will receive letters from the nonprofit advising them
that they qualify for travel to Cuba under its general license.
The cruise program departs from Havana on Mondays and from Montego Bay,
Jamaica, on Fridays through March 30. Cruise-only rates for the
seven-night sailings start at $660 per person double occupancy, plus a
$75 registration fee.
Passengers sail aboard the 1,200-passeger Louis Cristal cruise ship,
which offers 480 staterooms and suites, multiple restaurants and bars, a
disco, casino, fitness center and beauty salon, among other amenities
Americans who choose a “cruise only” package have to purchase airfare to
Havana through an approved charter service departing select U.S. cities
such as Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa. Or they can book scheduled
flights to and from Montego Bay to catch the cruise there. A “cruise and
air” package provides flights to and from Toronto to Havana, but airfare
between the U.S. and Canada is additional.
Some European operators like Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, Thomson Cruises
and Noble Caledonia also offer port calls to Cuba on Caribbean
itineraries, but American-owned cruise lines are still prohibited from
doing this because of the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo and general tourist
travel restrictions that remain in place.
Cuba Cruise launched in January 2013 to offer travelers a unique
opportunity to experience Cuba’s history and culture. The company said
it’s seeing a surge in interest from the U.S. and expects to sell out
its remaining 2015 departures soon.
For information, go to yourcubacruise.com or call 1-855-364-4999.
Source: U.S. travel agents can now book Cuba cruises, Canadian operator
says – Sun Sentinel –