MIAMI — More shiploads of American cruise passengers will be arriving in Cuban ports starting in spring 2017 now that both Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean International have received permission to operate sailings to the island.
All three of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will offer Cuba on select sailings starting next year.
The company’s first cruise to Cuba will set sail from PortMiami on Oceania Cruises’ Marina on March 7, 2017 with select Caribbean itineraries featuring calls on Havana. Seven Seas Mariner, of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, will call on Havana during two cruises in April 2017. Norwegian Sky will also offer a selection of four-day voyages that will overnight in Havana in May 2017.
“We are tremendously excited to have all three of our award-winning brands receive approval from the Cuban authorities to offer cruises to Cuba from the United States,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “As a Cuban-American and founder of Oceania Cruises, I am incredibly proud that one of Oceania’s vessels will be our company’s first to sail to Cuba. This is truly a dream come true for me, and I cannot wait for our loyal guests to experience the sights and sounds of my hometown of Havana and get to know its rich culture and its warm and welcoming residents.”
Full itinerary details and on sale dates for voyages that call on Cuba will be available Dec. 8 for Oceania Cruises, later this month for Regent Seven Seas Cruises and on Dec. 20 for Norwegian Cruise Line.
Meanwhile Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is also on its way to Cuba after getting approval from the Cuban government for Cuba cruises on Royal Caribbean and Azamara Club Cruises. The company said it plans to announce its first Florida-Cuba itineraries in the near future.
“Our guests have expressed real interest in having the opportunity to experience Cuba, and we look forward to bringing them there,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Two RCL lines, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, will provide guests with travel directly to Cuba for the purpose of providing people-to-people exchanges between guests and Cuban citizens and other travel permitted by current U.S. regulations.
In other Cuba cruise news, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald told agents at a recent cruise industry conference that his company’s permission to sail to Cuba is due to expire in May 2017. “Nobody has approval, including us, for sailing to Cuba past May,” said Donald. Another cruise line, Celestyal Cruises has embarked on its fourth year of operations in Cuba with year-round sailings.