US cruise companies and airlines have been spared from a clampdown by president Donald Trump on relations with Cuba.
Trump is due to outline a tougher stance on dealings with the Caribbean island in a speech in Miami today.
His new Cuba policy will roll back parts of former president Barack Obama’s opening to the communist-ruled island after a 2014 diplomatic breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes.
However, Trump will leave in place some measures implemented by his Democratic predecessor, including the resumption of direct US-Cuba commercial flights, though Trump’s more restrictive policy seems certain to dampen new economic ties overall, Reuters reported.
The Trump administration does not intend to “disrupt” existing business deals such as one struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels, which is owned by Marriott International, to manage a historic Havana hotel.
Under the revised travel policy, tighter enforcement is expected to make sure Americans legally fit the 12 authorised categories they claim to be travelling under.
While tourism to Cuba is banned by US law, the Obama administration had been allowing travel to Cuba as part of “people to people” educational trips for visitors, a classification that a White House official said was “ripe for abuse” by those looking for beach vacations.
Trump’s new policy will eliminate such visits by individuals while still allowing them to be done as group tours, and also retaining individual travel under other authorised categories such as religious, artistic and journalistic activities.
Carnival Corporation led the return of US cruise companies to Cuba last year after a gap of more than half a century, using the social impact brand Fathom whose ship Adonia returns to P&O Cruises in Southampton today. The Fathom experience is now being offered on other ships.
The world’s largest cruise group said it was “pleased that the policy changes announced by the Trump administration will allow our ships to continue to sail to Cuba”.
Carnival Corporation added: “We will review the extent of the tightening of the travel rules, but our guests have already been travelling under the 12 approved forms of travel to Cuba since we undertook our historic first cruise to Cuba more than a year ago.
“Our experience in Cuba this past year has been extremely positive.
“We 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.
“Travel brings people and cultures together, so we are excited about the upcoming cruises to Cuba for our guests.”
Other US lines to have started serving Havana and other Cuban ports include Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings brands and Royal Caribbean International.
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