At least four Florida companies approved for ferry service to Cuba
By Doreen Hemlock and Arlene Satchell
– Havana Ferry partners, United Americas approved for Florida-Cuba ferry
– The U.S. government approves the first ferry services to Cuba in five
For the first time in five decades, the U.S. is allowing ferry service
between Florida and Cuba.
At least four companies said they were notified Tuesday of approvals by
the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments, the first since Washington
imposed a trade embargo on Cuba.
Licensed were Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, Baja Ferries of
Miami, United Caribbean Lines Florida of Greater Orlando and Airline
Brokers Co. of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Cuban stilt dancers entertain tourists and residents on a street in Old
Havana. (Doreen Hemlock / Sun Sentinel)
A Treasury spokeswoman confirmed approval of ferry licenses but would
not say how many were approved. Cuba also must approve the operations.
“I’m very excited, because this is a historical event in U.S.-Cuba
relations,” said Havana Ferry’s managing partner, Leonard Moecklin Sr.
The ferry companies plan to offer trips that would be less expensive
than charter flights, while allowing more luggage free. Many
Cuban-Americans haul down hefty supplies for family homes and new
President Obama since Dec. 17 has moved to re-establish diplomatic ties
with Cuba and has eased travel and trade. The passenger ferries will be
able to carry only authorized U.S. travelers to Cuba, including people
in 12 categories who no longer need a license in advance to visit. Those
categories include family visits as well as religious and educational
activities, among others.
Americans still are not allowed to travel to Cuba for general tourism
under the terms of the U.S. embargo, which remains in place. Only
Congress can lift the embargo.
Here’s what companies are planning:
• Havana Ferry Partners hopes to launch its ferry service between Key
West and Havana within weeks, possibly with a 200-passenger vessel,
JetBlue to offer flights between New York and Cuba
It also plans to add overnight ferry service later from Fort Lauderdale
and Miami to Havana using a larger vessel that could carry 300 to 500
passengers, Moecklin said. Plus, it’s eyeing Port Manatee on Tampa Bay
as a gateway with Cuba.
Prices are not set, but Moecklin said Havana Ferry aims to charge
passengers roughly $300 to $350 roundtrip, less than the roughly $400 to
$500 price for charter flights to Cuba. Passengers could be allowed up
to 200 pounds of luggage free.
“We don’t know the costs yet, because we don’t know the costs on the
Cuban side,” Moecklin said. “I’m booking my flight to Cuba now” for
talks with Cuban officials, he said.
@aliyanajery 76/hr cheap for trix; she bring spurs?
AT 9:24 AM MAY 06, 2015
• Baja Ferries USA, an affiliate of United Americas of Miami, is looking
to launch overnight service to Cuba possibly three times a week. It has
held meetings with Port Everglades, Port Manatee and other Florida
seaports to offer service.
“We’ve been waiting for this,” Baja Ferries executive Joe Hinson said of
the license. The company already has ferry services in Mexico and
between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
•United Caribbean Lines Florida, an Orlando area business, plans to
“provide a comprehensive service from several ports,” said president
Bruce Nierenberg, a long-time cruise ship executive. He sees
opportunities for passenger service to Cuba from Miami, Fort Lauderdale,
the Tampa area and even from Port Canaveral in Central Florida.
• Airline Brokers Co., a veteran company licensed to provide travel
services to Cuba since 1982, is now developing its ferry plans,
president Vivian Mannerud said. She is looking at Port Everglades as a
potential departure site to Havana, among other alternatives.
To date, at least five companies have applied for licenses to operate
passenger ferry service between Florida and Cuba.
CubaKat, based in the Jacksonville area, expects to receive its license
in the next month or so, president Brian Hall said Tuesday. The business
applied for its license later than others.
CubaKat plans to start service from the Florida Keys this fall using a
200-passenger catamaran that can carry lots of baggage below deck. It
has looked at serving Marathon Key but found problems with too few
customs officials available there. It may operate instead from Key West,
The catamaran ferries aim to offer passenger service for $169 each way,
“We applaud everyone getting their ferry license, because we know ours
is coming,” Hall said. He said there’s plenty of business for all of the
companies applying for licenses and even more.
“One ferry company can’t pull this off by itself, he said. “There’s so
many people who want to go to Cuba.”
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Source: US approves ferry service to Cuba by four Florida companies –
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