The Cuban government announced the end of a longstanding ban on see travel for Cubans, who will now be able to travel to the country in cruise ships.
The measure will be effective on April 26, 5 days before the departure of the Adonia –the first cruise ship to connect the two countries in over half a century- from PortMiami.
Cubans will be allowed to travel as passengers or crew in cruise ships and merchant ships to the island, according to the official announcement published in the Granma newspaper, which also informed that travel in other kinds of vessels, such as yachts, would be approved in the future.
Cuban residents, on the other hand, will have to have a visa for the country or countries they to where they will be travelling.
The announcement, published in the newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party, also explained the origin of the prohibition: “It’s important to continue to advance in the design and operation of bilateral cooperation mechanisms in these areas to prevent and counteract terrorist actions against Cuba, which was the reason why it was established that Cubans living abroad could only travel to our country by plane, to prevent the use of vessels in these kinds of terrorist attacks, perpetrated against Cuba more than once since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.”
The note also highlights that the new measure is contrasting with US regulations that prohibit American citizens to freely travel to Cuba.
The new measures have been prompted by the deal signed with Carnival Cruises, which otherwise wouldn’t have been able to have its Cuban customers land in Cuba.
The initial refusal to sell tickets to Cuban born customers gain the company criticism and threats of law suits for discrimination, following which it announced that its new line, Fathom, would accept bookings from customers regardless of their place of birth.
“We made history in March, and we are a part of making history again today,” Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement from the company. “More importantly, we are contributing to a positive future. This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased. We want to extend our sincere appreciation to Cuba and to our team who worked so hard to help make this happen.”
With capacity for 704 passengers, Fathom will travel to Cuba every other week. This is the first time in more than 50 years that a cruise is authorized to travel from Cuba to the United States, and the first time in decade that people born in Cuba will be able to travel to and from Cuba by sea.
Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, the three ports where Carnival Corporation has secured permits to dock.
The price of the 7-day trip to Cuba start at 1,800 dollars, which does not include the cost of the Cuban visa.