Cruising to Cuba
New U.S. travel restrictions may be a boon to the cruise industry.
In November 2017, the White House imposed new restrictions on travel to Cuba: Americans are prohibited from patronizing hotels, restaurants, stores and other businesses tied to the Cuban military and can visit the island only with an approved U.S. organization. Although these rules put timeshare development on hold, they work in the cruise industry’s favor.
“Cruise lines perhaps provide the easiest way to visit Cuba by packaging up and handling all the bureaucratic necessities for the traveler,” says Noriye Oto, VP of Cruise and Tour Product Management at International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. Ships can manage the visa process for passengers and organize excursions to the island that meet the new requirements. The policy banning U.S. citizens from certain businesses gives cruise lines another edge: Because ships provide both accommodations and dining options, passengers don’t need to worry about running afoul of any restrictions.
“The change in the travel restrictions has opened new, highly desirable itineraries and port content for the cruise industry,” Oto says. “We’re now seeing a good number of cruises with Cuba as the primary focus of the itinerary from a variety of cruise lines, and others featuring new Cuban ports of call to explore as part of a Caribbean cruise itinerary.”
Image credit: courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line