Friday, December 9, 2016

More Cruise Lines are Cuba Bound

That's right, the mystique of a visit to Cuba is becoming more of a reality with the announcements this week by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. that they have received approval from the government of the Republic of Cuba to operate cruises to the island nation.

The cruise itineraries will comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that permit travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in people-to-people activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
All three of the company’s brands—Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises—will offer U.S. travelers the opportunity to visit Cuba on select sailings starting next year. The voyages will provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover not only the rich culture, history and natural beauty of Cuba, but more importantly experience the warmth and hospitality of its people.

The company’s first 14-day cruise to Cuba will set sail from PortMiami on Oceania Cruises’ Marina on March 7, 2017, followed by two 10-day sailings scheduled to depart on March 21 and March 31. Itineraries feature calls on Havana, including multiple-day calls to allow guests to explore the city and its environs. Seven Seas Mariner, of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, will call on Havana during two cruises in April 2017. Norwegian Sky will also offer a selection of 4-day voyages that will overnight in Havana in May 2017.

“We are tremendously excited to have all three of our brands receive approval from the Cuban authorities to offer cruises to Cuba from the United States,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “As a Cuban-American and founder of Oceania Cruises, I am incredibly proud that one of Oceania’s vessels will be our company’s first to sail to Cuba. This is truly a dream come true for me, and I cannot wait for our loyal guests to experience the sights and sounds of my hometown of Havana and get to know its rich culture and its warm and welcoming residents.”

Guests sailing on all three brands will have a selection of shore excursions to choose from, all of which offer an authentic Cuban experience that explores the people, art, history and culture of the island. Full itinerary details and on sale dates for voyages that call on Cuba are now available for Oceania Cruises, later this month for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and on Dec 20 for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Brands
Two RCCL lines, Royal Caribbean Intl and Azamara Club Cruises, will provide guests with travel directly to Cuba for the purpose of providing people-to-people exchanges between guests and Cuban citizens and other travel permitted by current U.S. regulations. RCCL released fewer details, however, Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.

"Our guests have expressed real interest in having the opportunity to experience Cuba, and we look forward to bringing them there," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Our discussions with our travel partners indicate that Cuba is a destination that appeals to a new generation of travelers."

Marina Image Courtesy Oceania Cruises

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