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Frank Del Rio envisions Cuba featuring on various itineraries

Cuban-born Frank Del Rio calls the island 'an incredible place. I cried more than once when I went there' (Photo: Anne Kalosh)
When it comes to sending ships to Cuba, Frank Del Rio said he's 'literally just waiting for the phone to ring.'

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has tentative approval to send Oceania Cruises' Regatta before the year is over, and Marina in early 2017, ceo Del Rio said Sunday aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises' new Seven Seas Explorer in Europe.

Another ship, from Norwegian Cruise Line, is expected to be approved for 2017, he added. Though Del Rio didn't disclose which that is, a possibility may be Norwegian Sky, currently sailing to the Bahamas year-round from Miami.

Cuba will figure in a variety of itineraries, Del Rio said. One ship will be dedicated to circumnavigating the island. Others that are currently going to the Western Caribbean and those on Panama Canal itineraries will add Havana as a stop.

'I'm excited about going to Cuba,' Del Rio said. 'It's an incredible place. I cried there more than once when I went there in September.'

The Cuban-born Del Rio, who moved to Miami as a boy, went to the island with family members including his wife and daughter.

They visited Havana and Cienfuegos where, he said, cruises will also call. He didn't get to Santiago de Cuba but plans to visit on a return trip this September.

It's a big country, Del Rio noted, with nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites; French, Italian and Spanish heritage; and valleys, mountains, rivers and lakes.