With the announcement earlier this month that Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise ship company, has received approval from the US government to operate cruises to Cuba as a provider of ‘cultural exchange programs’, we’ve been getting a lot of calls from clients. Many want to go to Cuba soon, before it completely opens up and becomes too touristy.
It’s important to note that, even with the normalization of relations with Cuba, US citizen travel to the largest island in the Caribbean must still fall within 12 categories of authorized travel. These include educational activities, humanitarian projects, or ‘people to people’ programs. Travel just for tourism is still off-limits to Americans – so no lounging on the beach with your mojito allowed quite yet.
Carnival‘s approval falls under the ‘people to people’ program section. It’s cruises won’t begin until May, 2016 and will not use Carnival ships. Instead, it’s ‘fathom‘ brand will launch one cruise every-other week with a 710-passenger ship called Adonis, currently operated by P&O Cruises.
Other operating details, such as specific sailing dates, have not yet been finalized. Prices for the 7-day Cuba cruise start at $2,990 per person. This fare includes meals on the ship, and some cultural immersion activities on land. Reservations are being taken for this cruise now. Because details of the cruise are not yet finalized, deposits are (for the moment) fully refundable.
Can’t wait till next May to see Cuba? One option is International Expeditions, which has a long-standing ‘people to people’ ground tour. They have already added a new, small ship cruise itinerary to their program. The Panorama, a 48-guest, three-masted yacht, will sail Cuba’s Western coast on 10-day sailings scheduled for December 17, 2015, January 28, March 10 and April 7, 2016.
International Expeditions’ 48-passenger yacht has 10 day sailings around Cuba’s Western coast
Another possibility is sailing with long-time Cuba expert Alexander+Roberts. Their 210-passenger ms Saint Laurent sails completely around the island on a 10-day, round-trip Miami voyage. Sailings already have detailed itineraries, and are scheduled and being booked now for 2016 cruises on February 29, April 5, April 15 and a special, New Year’s voyage on December 30.
Passengers on the ms Saint Laurent will explore 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, plus rarely visited ports.
If you’d like more information about any of these cruise sailings, ground tours with a wide variety of themes, or even biking expeditions around Cuba, give us a call at Santa Barbara Travel Bureau.