Cruise companies cancel visits to Havana

Havana, Cuba. – We are obliged to cancel our visits to Havana… we apologize to our guests for this unexpected change, Carnival warns its clients today. So does Royal Caribbean Cruises: We are adjusting the itineraries of our June 5 and June 6 departures, which will no longer stop in Cuba.

In the meantime, the Norwegian Cruise Line website now disables the “Cuba” option from its list of offers.

This is how three of the four U.S. companies operating on the island until May 5 responded to the decision of their country’s Treasury Department to ban cruise ship trips to this Caribbean destination.

Carnival’s alerts have already affected, for example, customers who were on board the Carnival Sensation, which began a tour two days ago. This Thursday, instead of stopping in the Cuban capital, they should go to Cozumel (Mexico).

We recognize that Havana is a unique destination and that may have been the reason for the selection of this itinerary, the company lamented, while offering “a full refund” to those who decide to cancel the journey.

However, the restrictions that came into force today included a “waiver” provision, which states that certain previously authorized “person-to-person” group educational trips will continue to have permission where the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or booking accommodation) by June 5.

In a statement released Wednesday, the International Association of Cruise Lines (CLIA) reported that these changes affect “nearly 800,000 passenger reservations that are currently scheduled or already underway.

“Without prior notice, members of CLIA Cruise Line are forced to remove all destinations in Cuba from the itineraries with immediate effect. Passenger reservations were made under a general license previously issued by the U.S. government authorizing people to travel to Cuba. These travel restrictions effectively make it illegal to cross into Cuba from the United States.

We are disappointed that cruise ships no longer operate in Cuba, said Adam Goldstein, president of CLIA.

According to data provided by Cuban expert José Luis Perelló, at the close of last May the demand for ships to dock in Cuba was higher than existing capacity, evidence of the growing interest of cruise companies to sail to the Island, particularly those from the U.S.

The Caribbean nation became the forbidden destination, since until 2016, when the thaw of bilateral relations took place, it had been excluded from cruise routes in the Caribbean.

So far this year, said Perelló, this type of tourism reports an increase of 2%, with a total of 409,000 visitors (cruisers and crew).

Generally speaking (including by air), by the fifth month 335,350 Americans had arrived in Cuba, representing an increase of 18.8%. This market is positioned as the second – after Canada – in the list of emitters of travelers to the island, said the analyst.

According to Perelló, the withdrawal of U.S. companies will have an effect on the image of the destination and its number of visitors, as this modality does not provide considerable dividends in terms of income.

Those who received the most income were precisely the cruise lines, accentuated Perello. The U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council estimates that the gross revenue of the main U.S. cruise companies for their trips to Cuba between 2017 and 2019 is $761 million.

We are fascinated with returning to Havana, one of the most sought-after destinations in the world,” Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, said in December 2017 after stepping off the ship Veendam, the third Carnival brand to arrive on the island at the time.

The U.S.-Cuba Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce referred to the damages in its recent statement: The new restrictions will interrupt commercial operations in the tourism sector, which is out of tune with the administration’s stated efforts to protect U.S. companies doing legal business with Cuba. The incipient Cuban businessmen and people, the same groups the U.S. government claims to support through the Presidential Memorandum in Cuba, will soon be harmed by these changes.

Last August Havana was selected as the best destination and port in the western Caribbean by the specialized site Cruise Critic, based on the opinion of customers, including Americans. The city of Cienfuegos took second place in this classification.

The page Cruise Week diffuses

(Taken from Radio Reloj in Spanish)

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