Major Lines Begin Cruises to Cubaby Danielle Contray | December 08, 2016
Cuba was the most exciting new cruise destination for Americans in 2016 and now there are even more options for travelers who can't wait to go now that the restrictions have been lifted. Multiple lines announced that they have been given approval to begin cruising to the island nation from ports in southern Florida.
Ships from Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line (all owned by parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings) will begin adding port stops in Havana to Caribbean itineraries as early as March 2017. Oceania Marina will be first, starting with the ship's March 7 cruise out of Miami. Two April 2017 cruises on Seven Seas Mariner will include Havana, and Norwegian Sky will begin four-day cruises in May that include an overnight in Havana, giving passengers even more time to explore the island's capital.
Royal Caribbean Cruises also announced that they have been given approval to sail both Royal Caribbean and Azamara Club Cruises ships to Cuba. Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas will be the first to visit Havana during a five-night Caribbean itinerary that departs from Miami on April 19. Other spring sailings out of Miami will dock in Havana, and those visits will continue after the ship relocates to Tampa for the summer season. Azamara Quest's first trip to Cuba will be during a 13-night cruise that departs from Miami on March 21. The itinerary will include an overnight sty in Havana.
Smaller lines are getting into the action, too. In January, the 210-passenger Pearl Mist, part of the Pearl Seas Cruises fleet, will depart from Fort Lauderdale for 10-day cruises roundtrip itinerary that include multiple ports in Cuba. The company announced plans for 10 additional cruises between January and May of next year.
Right now, there is only one ship departing from a U.S. port for Cuba cruises, and it won't be operating for long. Fathom’s Adonia began cruises to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Cienfuegos in summer 2016, but it was announced last month that the line will be ceasing operations by summer 2017. The line is owned by the Carnival Corporation, and while Carnival has plans to offer Cuba itineraries on alternative ships, nothing has been announced. There are other options for Americans who want to cruise in Cuba. Celestyal Crystal offers the necessary people-to-people programs on roundtrip cruises from Montego Bay, Jamaica, to Cuba, and National Geographic Expeditions launched a new charter trip in December 2016 that includes a flight from Miami to Havana and a seven-day cruise around the island.
Danielle Contray is the Brooklyn-based managing editor of ShermansCruise.