Oceania's Riviera is one of the line's 684-passenger R-class ships
Norwegian Cruise Lines' Oceania Cruises brand, like Carnival's Fathom, has plans to join the growing interest in travel to Cuba from the U.S., but it's taking a radically different tack, preparing for unrestricted actual tourism.
Carnival's Fathom sailings to Cuba are based on "voluntourism," with elements of a people-to-people service program built in. That's because the present rules permit travel for purposes like that, but not for tourism. Those sailings will begin next year.
Oceania's strategy is to get ahead of the game by applying now, to both Cuba and the U.S., for licenses from the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments, hoping they will already be processed and ready when (and if) the rules change. They've also been in touch with Cuba. CEO Frank Del Rio told financial analysts in a conference call "We believe that once Cuba opens up totally, it's going to be a real windfall for the industry."
If the licenses are granted, Oceania's cruises will use one of its small-to-midsize ships, with a capacity of about 700 passengers; Cuba's port facilities are not set up for the megaships used by Norwegian.