International News

Carnival Plans Cruises to Cuba Starting Next Spring

As commerce and tourism to Cuba open up amid President Obama's big thaw of relations between the neighboring nations, Miami's largest cruise line is ready to get in on the action.

Carnival announced this morning that — barring a red-tape holdup on the Cuban end of the deal — passengers will be able to cruise to Cuba as early as next spring.

The news comes via Fathom, Carnival's newest brand, which fashions itself an "impact travel" company that aims at tourists who want community connection and cultural experience over endless margaritas in the top-deck pool.
"Beginning in 2016, fathom intends to offer cultural exchange voyages to multiple locations in Cuba in order to enable more people to experience Cuban society," the company says in a release. "As a fathom traveler, you would have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Cuban culture."

The trip is slated to depart Miami on the Adonia, a 710-passenger ship that's among the smallest in Carnival's fleet. The trip won't be cheap; the starting price is $2,990 per person, excluding fees on the Cuban end. 

But the real concern is whether this cruise is legal in the shifting framework of the embargo. On the U.S. end, Carnival says yes, it is: The company obtained a license this month from the feds to operate the cruise. According to the Miami Herald, though, Carnival is still finalizing permission from Cuban authorities and checking out available ports to sort out an exact game plan on the island.

Still, the news is a reminder of just how quickly things are changing in U.S.-Cuban relations. In less than six months, passengers may well be queueing up at PortMiami with Havana as their destination.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink