Cruise leaders meet with Cuban officials in Havana

Tour buses approach the Havana cruise terminal to take passengers on organized excursions Tour buses approach the Havana cruise terminal to take passengers on organized excursions (Photo: Anne Kalosh)

Leaders of US-based cruise companies that currently have agreements to sail to Cuba are in Havana for meetings hosted by the Cuban government, Cruise Lines International Association and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association.

The discussions are covering permissible categories of travel under current US regulations, infrastructure and operational needs, according to a CLIA spokeswoman who added: 'We are pleased to have this opportunity to support social, cultural and educational exchange between the American and Cuban people.'

Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp. & plc, is participating on behalf of his company and as CLIA chairman. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s delegation is led by president and COO Adam Goldstein, who also serves as FCCA chairman, and includes 10 other RCL senior executives across a range of areas including government relations, tour operations, itinerary planning, marine operations, safety, security and stragic sourcing.

In Havana, Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, told WPLG, the ABC affiliate in Miami, that the cruise industry continues to be supportive of keeping Cuba open as a destination.  

'We're hopeful that the governments can work out their differences,' he told the station, adding that the US does business with China and Russia, 'mortal enemies of the United States. Cuba deserves better than that.'

As earlier reported here, the recently instituted Trump administration's Cuba travel restrictions don't change the authorized group travel the cruise lines provide, where passengers take part in organized, educational excursions of the type sanctioned by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

According to the New York-based US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, the Big Three US-based cruise companies are marketing sailings that would carry about 455,000 passengers to Cuba on 286 departures from now until 2019. The Council estimates this would bring $623m in gross revenues to the companies, while passengers would spend $64m in Cuba and the lines would pay $19m in port fees.

The Council estimates that transporting, housing and feeding those potential passengers could mean an additional $125m to US airlines and $55m to hotels and restaurants in South Florida, where the cruise ships turn around.

Earlier this month Del Rio said that despite the US policy change and a travel warning for Cuba, the destination 'remains the star of the show' for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, adding that the new rules are going to be beneficial since 'going on a cruise will be the easiest and most hassle-free way to visit the island.'

Del Rio said demand for Cuba is 'substantial' and NCLH is doubling the number of its sailings there in 2018, to account for 4% of the company's overall capacity.


Posted 29 November 2017

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade UBM (UK) Ltd. Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade UBM (UK) Ltd.

Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review