Cuba Cruises

Cruises To Cuba Could Become Restrictive Under New Trump Policy

Posted: June 17, 2017

Cruises have recently just started to cruise from the United States to Cuba, and avid cruisers are quickly getting onboard to see the enchanting and captivating Cuban Capital Havana.

But, under the new President Trump administraton cruises to Cuba could become more restrictive.

Guests onboard cruise ships sailing to may no longer be able to disembark the ship in Cuban ports such as Havana to see the sights on their own, says John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, an organisation that supported the Obama administration’s reconciliation with the island nation.

While final rules won’t be written for several months, it is likely that “only group tours will be permitted for passengers on the vessels,” Kavulich says.

The new policy, which Trump announce at an event in Miami, will end individual “people-to-people” travel from the USA to Cuba, which has been permitted for the past year under rules executed by the Obama administration. Tourists on “people-to-people” trips to Cuba once again will be required to be part of a licensed group.

The new policy also could have an effect on the shore tours that are accessible to guests onboard cruise ships. The policy will limit U.S. businesses from dealing with entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence services, which govern a substantial sum of the tourism infrastructure in the country.

Kavulich notes that many U.S.-based travel agencies and tour operators contract for tours with Havanatur, which is a subsidiary of Cimex, which is controlled by the FAR, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba.

Under the new President Trump administraton cruises to Cuba could become more restrictive

Still, the degree of the effect on cruise companies, if any, from the limit on dealing with such entities is uncertain. A U.S. Treasury FAQ on the topic said U.S. businesses that already have a affiliation with such entities before the new rules take effect will be permitted to continue with the relationship.

Many in the cruise industry don’t expect the new policy to have a major effect on cruises to Cuba, says long-time industry watcher Mike Driscoll, editor of Cruise Week.

“The belief is ultimately Trump is pro-business, and he (is doing) nothing here to undermine the cruise line business,” Driscoll says. “Expectations are (for) cruise business as usual, once the media spotlight fades away.”

Both Kavulich and Driscoll note the new policy’s group-tour condition should, if anything, benefit the cruise industry to draw more business.

Demand for Cuba cruises has been “impacted by individuals using airlines for independent travel” to Cuba, which now will be prohibited, Kavulich says.

In a statement, industry giant Carnival Corp. said it was “pleased that the policy changes announced by the Trump administration will allow our ships to continue to sail to Cuba.”

Carnival Corp. became the first cruise company to offer voyages from the USA to Cuba in decades when it’s now debunked Fathom brand began trips from Miami in May 2016.

While Fathom has stopped sailing to the island nation, Carnival Corp.’s much bigger Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line brands are scheduled to start Cuba cruises in the coming months.

“Our experience in Cuba this pWe ast year has been extremely positive,” Carnival said in its statement. look forward to the new cruises being planned for Cuba with Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We also have requested approval for our other brands to travel to Cuba.”

Also releasing a statement saying it was pleased that cruises to Cuba could continue was Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. All three of the brands have started Cuba cruises in the last three months.

Norwegian said it would work with the Trump administration to comply with any changes to regulations that are implemented.

“We were very concerned about any potential changes, given how popular Cuba itineraries have proven to be with our guests, and we view this as a win for the cruise industry, our valued guests and travel partners,” Norwegian said in its statement, which was released after Trump spoke. “Across our three brands, there are 70,000 guests booked to sail to Cuba who would have been very disappointed if they were unable to experience this spectacular destination.”

Passengers on cruises to Cuba leaving in the next few weeks will not be affected by the new policy, which won’t take effect until official guidelines are written over the next 90 days.

More than half a dozen cruise lines have launched Cuba voyages from the USA over the past year.

The companies have said that cruises to Cuba offer an prospect for “people-to-people” connections between Americans and Cubans as permissible by U.S. rules governing visits to Cuba.

While the Obama administration loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba in 2016, U.S. visitors still are restricted in the activities they are permitted to do in the country by the terms of the USA’s five-decade-old embargo.

The embargo stipulates that activities fall within one of 12 approved categories. The categories include educational pursuits such as people-to-people exchanges.

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