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Cruises To Cuba – Is Cuba Open To American Tourism?

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Cruising to Cuba was an immensely popular industry in the US. Be it the northern or Southern Caribbean cruises lines, they were making millions in cash by taking cruises to Cuba. But companies and tourists had to face a huge disappointment when the cruises were banned from Cuba. Wanna know why? We’re going to have a detailed look in a bit.

Officially known as the Republic of Cuba, it’s a small country comprising an island in the Caribbean sea. With its mesmerizing beaches, the country attracts a pool of tourists every year from all across the globe. People love cruising to this island. Sadly, for Americans, restrictions were imposed by the government.

But you may still wanna know whether you can go to Cuba or not. You may be looking for the best cruises to Cuba from Florida or other parts of the US. I am going to let you know about everything in a bit. But let’s first know:

Why Did Cruises Stop Going To Cuba?

Cruises to Cuba started in 2016. It was the first time in 50 years that the cruises to Cuba from the USA were sailed. It started with a lot of fanfare. In three years cruises to Cuba island became a marquee destination. It was so popular that nearly 20 cruise lines were operating and they were offering luxury cruises to Cuba. These cruise lines were carrying over 800,000 passengers there annually. The companies were making hundreds of millions of dollars by offering their best cruises to Cuba.

But the question is: why did these cruises stop going to Cuba?

They didn’t do it willingly. It was the US government that had banned all person-to-person travel to Cuba. However, the Trump government reversed all the rules during the June of 2019. The cruising business came to a standstill. The ban was so abrupt that the scheduled cruises were also banned from going to Cuba. Not only this but cruises en route to Cuba were also ordered to immediately return.

It affected the cruise lines so severely that they had lost millions of dollars in business. For reference, Royal Caribbean Cruise lines had lost $73 million of business. Another popular company, Norwegian Cruise Line, had to suffer a loss of around $47 million.

Can You Still Cruise To Cuba?

You may be thinking about some sneaky way to cruise to Cuba from the US. Yes, there are some ways you can still go to this beautiful Island. While most popular cruises like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian said they have canceled all bookings and they are not going to travel to Cuba from now on. There are still some Non-American companies that are operating.

According to US policies, traveling to Cuba from the US is prohibited for any kind of tourism. However, there are 13 possible reasons you can travel to Cuba. They include

1) Family visits
2) Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
3) Journalistic activities
4) Professional research or professional meetings
5) Educational academic activities
6) People-to-people exchanges (for travel-related transactions purchased beforesome small-scale cruises are June 5, 2019)
7) Religious activities
8) Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions, and exhibitions
9) Support for the Cuban people
10) Humanitarian projects
11) Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
12) Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
13) Travel related to certain authorized export transactions

Other than these 13 reasons, it’s not allowed for anyone to visit that Island. There are also two other ways you can enter Cuba even if you aren’t traveling for any of the above-mentioned reasons.

  • You can get a license issued by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and use it to enter the Island.
  • As a Cuban National returning home. It means that if you are a Cuban citizen and want to return to your own country, then you can travel as well.

Is Cuba Going To Be Open to American Tourism?

As mentioned earlier, there are some allowances but they are related to work-related reasons. For instance, athletes and performance can enter Cuba. Journalists are also permitted. There is a special type of Visa that’s referred to as a “People to People” license. With this license, you can go for a cultural and educational experience.

Which Cruise Line Goes To Cuba?

Before the ban was imposed, there were a lot of cruise lines that were operating in Cuba. The most prominent ones include Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line. These cruise lines offered sails to Havana. They also offered itineraries to secondary cities such as Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos.

Best Cruises To Cuba

Before the American government banned Cruises to Cuba, several famous companies were operating in the country. Here are the most famous ones.

1) Royal Caribbean Cruise

Royal Caribbean Cruise was indeed one of the most cruise lines in the entire world. From Havana to Nassau and Cozumel, the cruise line offers itineraries to a lot of destinations in the Caribbean. From Kayaking to swimming, playing on the water trampoline, there are a lot of worth-trying activities when on a trip with this cruise.

2) Carnival Cruise Line

The Caribbean was made for cruising. That’s what you can experience when on a cruise to Cuba on the Carnival Cruise Line. The Carnival Caribbean cruise brings you to some of the best little hotspots you won’t ever forget in your life.

3) Norwegian Cruise Line

This American cruise line is also among the best ones in its industry. The Caribbean is the most popular itinerary the NCL goes to. It was also among the most popular cruise lines visiting Cuba where you could enjoy fascinating history, natural beauty, or just Caribbean rum.

Cheap Cruises To Cuba

Besides the above-mentioned juggernauts, there are also some small-scale cruises that are super easy to afford. If you are looking for the cheapest options in cruises to Cuba, you should know about some of these. Let’s have a look at some of the most affordable cruises to Cuba.

1) Sea Dream

The luxury SeaDream Mega Yachts series launched in Cuba in early 2019 and included eight Cuban Collection travel portfolios aboard the SeaDream II, carrying 112 passengers. The route provided eight additional flights to Cuba in 2020 for 112 passengers aboard the Sea Dream I.

Sail between Havana and Cienfuegos (and vice versa) on an enchanting 7-9 nights route focused exclusively on Cuban ports on the west side of the island. Coastline with less-visited places such as Trinidad, Cayo Largo, Isla de Juventud, and Maria la Gorda. Tourist attractions include a Cuban Cabaret ride in Havana (classic car ride) and a snorkeling trip to the pristine coral reefs of Bahia de Corrientes.

2) Virgin Voyages

The most famous new cruise line on the horizon was Virgin Cruzes, inspired by Richard Branson. It has carved out a niche in the industry of sophisticated models for adult-only parties. The boat offered a 5-day 4-night seasonal trip to Cuba from Miami, a 1-day stay in the Cuban capital, and a stopover in Bimini, Bahamas. The ship welcomed you with great features such as over 20 restaurants, waterfront cabanas, a vinyl store, and the world’s first tattoo studio.

3) Seabourn Cruise Line

Swank Seaborn paved the way for Cuba’s arrival season in late 2019. People could book one of five roundtrip flights to Miami (or between Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico) for 11-25 nights at Seaborn for 458 passengers. It also included accommodation in Havana, Cienfuegos, and in some cases Santiago de Cuba. Stopped in Isla de la Juventud and the Antilles, and had other scattered stops in the Caribbean (Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Dominica, etc.)

4) Oceania Cruises

Luxe Oceania offered a variety of itineraries, including Cuba. On a 7-11 night round trip from Miami with 684 passengers aboard the newly refurbished Insignia or Sirena. Routes varied slightly but usually included overnight in Havana and accommodation in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. Both are better for longer routes; there are only a few industrial sites in the same city. Choose from an artistic visit to colonial Cienfuegos or a food tour of Havana.

5) Pearl Seas Cruises

Pearl Seeds Cruise offered an 11-day Cuba cruise at 210 Mist Pearl Mist from Fort Lauderdale. The itinerary included overnight stops in Havana and Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and the less-visited port city of Casilda. It also offered tours along the way (drive to Havana in a vintage car, then drive to Hemingway on steel drums).

Bottom-Line

Cruises to Cuba offered a range of activities for families. Though the American government has banned traveling to Cuba for tourism, Joe Biden had said before the election that the government would loosen these restrictions. But no significant change has been made yet.

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