No smooth sailing yet for U.S.-to-Cuba cruises

 

U.S.-to-Cuba cruises, all with a people-to-people theme to meet U.S. travel restrictions, are having a difficult time getting started. One operator, Pearl Seas Cruises, has already been forced to cancel two of its planned six sailings due to licensing delays, and other lines are facing the same problem.

Pearl Seas had to cancel its March 6 sailing from Fort Lauderdale, and has told passengers the March 16 sailing is also a no-go. Passengers will receive either a refund or booking on a future date. The holdup is the result of the Cuban government's postponement of a meeting that would have ironed out final details.

Carnival's Fathom line, which plans similar trips starting in May, is also awaiting licensing. The process is new; Cuba hasn't dealt before with licensing American cruise ships under the new U.S. rules. One U.S. company, International Expeditions, has operated similar cruises before, and is not affected. One other U.S. company, Haimark, received approval, but went bankrupt before starting.

It's still possible to cruise to Cuba; international companies such as MSC sail there regularly, but not from U.S. ports. There is conflicting information as to whether U.S.-based passengers are able to sail on those.

Photo: Havana street scene...not yet a destination for U.S. cruisers

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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