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Haimark plans Cuba circumnavigations with Saint Laurent

As a small coastal ship, Saint Laurent could reach additional regions of Cuba and increase the people-to-people connection, Bruce Nierenberg said (Photo: Anne Kalosh)
Haimark Line hopes to circumnavigate Cuba on nine-night cruises aboard Saint Laurent from Miami starting in late February.

These people-to-people cruises would operate in conjunction with veteran senior cruise executive Bruce Nierenberg's Florida-based United Caribbean Lines, one of several ferry operations that got approval from the US in May to serve Cuba.

'We are very excited to be able to offer guests this highly coveted opportunity to experience the rich culture of Cuba in accordance with the 12 approved categories of travel approved by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of Treasury and the Cuban government,' said Nierenberg, president and managing partner of United Caribbean Lines, in a Haimark release.

It appears that Cuba approval is still needed, and Nierenberg told Travel Pulse he has filed with OFAC to amend his US license for ferry operations to extend to overnight cruises.

Nierenberg said US approval for Carnival Corp.'s new fathom brand to operate US-Cuba people-to-people cruises suggests other operators ought to be authorized, and the process for United Caribbean Lines to do so with Haimark has begun.

Coastal ship Saint Laurent has just resumed service following repairs to damage when the vessel struck a lock in the St. Lawrence Seaway on June 18.

One of several advantages of small ship travel to Cuba right now is that Saint Laurent is able to reach additional regions and increase the people-to-people connection between US citizens and Cubans, Nierenberg said.

'In keeping with our Haimark destination-driven style of experiential cruising, we expect our distinctive 10-day people-to-people cultural itinerary to sail completely around the country, providing guests with a unique chance to see much of the country with visits to five of Cuba's seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites,' added Tom Markwell, Haimark Line's managing partner, sales and marketing.

Fifteen departures are planned. Cruises would start Feb. 20 and are priced starting at $4,599 per person, double occupancy, plus applicable fees and taxes.