Could Cuba Be a Cruise Destination Once Again?

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A cruise to Cuba with cigars, rum, salsa, daiquiri’s, and Hemingway. For years and years, Cuba was a closed and ultimately unreachable destination for cruise ships.

In 2016, Fathom cruise ship Adonia became the first cruise ship since the 70’s to call in Havana. While Adonia is now the Azamara Pursuit and Fathom Cruises is no more, the same is true for cruises to Cuba after the ban was re-instated in 2019. But could this change?

Cuba remains one of those cruising destinations that has kept the feel and look you would expect of it. The Spanish architecture has that slightly run-down feel, and poverty is undoubtedly an issue that cannot be denied, but there is also no denying that walking the streets of Havana makes you want to come back for more every time.

So what is the situation right now with cruises to the island, which is only 110 miles from Florida? According to a statement from Joe Biden last year and Carnival Corporation CEO Donald Arnold this week, Cuba cruises could be closer than ever.

Cuba By Cruise Is Still The Best Way

Carnival Corporation had a conference call this week with investors. While most of the talk was financial or COVID-related, there was one question from an analyst regarding Cuban Cruises and whether Arnold Donald thinks the company will be returning to Cuba under the new administration. Donald reacted as follows:

“Cuba was a focal point for the Obama administration, opening up Cuba, etc. We’ll see what happens with the incoming administration.

We obviously will be well prepared. We were very active and the first ones to sail to Cuba. And we’ll be well prepared to operate in whatever the guidelines and rules and regulations are. But we’ll be prepared to help people who want to go to Cuba to see it in the best possible way. Which is arriving via cruise and then experiencing what Cuba has to offer when it opens.”

So far, that’s a lot of if’s. But if we take Joe Biden’s comments and previous actions into account, we could very well be looking at Cuban cruises once again. Joe Biden was instrumental during the Obama administration for the thawing of relations with the Island nation.

As Cruise Hive reported late last year while being interviewed by a Miami Radio Station, the President-elect was asked if he would consider going back to the Cuba-policies put in place during the Obama-era; Biden said:

“Yes, I would, in large part, I would go back. I would still insist they keep the commitments they said they would make when we set the policy in place,” and while there was no specific mention about cruising, Biden added: “There’s no reason to continue the policy that this President has put in place.”

Carnival Paradise In Havana, Cuba
Photo By: Carnival Cruise Line

Who Will Sail To Cuba?

Carnival Cruise line was one of the first to sail to Cuba a few years ago. Amongst others, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Paradise made calls in Havana, while Royal Caribbean had both Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas sailing to the Cuban capital.

The same cruise lines will surely sail to Havana again if they have the chance. Other cruise lines that have experience with or plans for Cuba are Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Viking Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Oceania Cruises.

It looks unlikely that cruise lines will be able to sail to Cuba immediately, though. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) shared in November that Joe Biden’s election would see Cuba opening up, but it would be a slow process.

A top Biden foreign policy adviser reported that Biden would reverse the policies from the current administration. Still, it won’t happen right away: “Given all that will be on President-elect Biden’s plate, we expect action on Cuba to come slowly,” according to ASTA.

So, positive noises all around for Cuban Cruises to resume. Whether it’s this year or next year, one thing is sure. We can’t wait to walk around in old Havana and have a Daiquiri in El Floridita.

Main Photo Credit: Arodel / Shutterstock.com

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Cruise Ships Near Havana, Cuba
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