Carnival Gets Green Light for Cuban Cruises
The U.S. Government has authorized Carnival Corporation to operate between U.S. ports and Cuba beginning in 2016. Currently, the U.S. Department of Treasury allows licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba provided they engage in activities that support the Cuban people.
Carnival is expected to begin service May 2016 using its Fathom brand. Fathom provides travelers the experience of working with nationals to assist in the development of regional areas. The Fathom brand is expected to see about 40,000 travelers annually that will volunteer and engage in educational and cultural exchanges in local Cuban communities.
In April 2016 Carnival will begin inaugural voyages to the Dominican Republic as well, and Fathom will offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries on a regular basis.
"We’re very interested in exploring the prospects of expanding our partnership with fathom to include Cuba, building new impact programs and lending our assistance to strengthen existing initiatives that will help educational, cultural and humanitarian efforts already going on in Cuba,” said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI, a non-profit organization with the mission to help alleviate poverty in rural and urban areas in the Caribbean.
Over the last year, the Obama administration has taken major steps to improve relations with Cuba. It eliminated the need for US travelers to obtain a license from the Treasury Department to travel to the island nation. And, last week the administration announced it would restore diplomatic ties between the two countries by reopening the U.S. embassy in Havana and a Cuban embassy in Washington D.C.
The cruise industry has welcomed the possibility for U.S. tourism in Cuba. Arnold Donald president and CEO of Carnival Corp said in a press release that Fathom represents Carnival’s first efforts in Cuba, which will pave the way for the company when the embargo is lifted. Fathom’s seven day Cuba cruises will accommodate 710 passengers.