Carnival Corporation may have to delay the start of Fathom cruises to Cuba unless it is allowed to carry Cuban-born passengers on the trips.
The cruise giant has been facing strong local criticism for not allowing Cuban Americans to book Fathom’s ‘social impact’ sailings from Miami to Cuba under rules laid down by the Cuban government.
The first departure by a US cruise line from Miami to Havana in more than 50 years is due to be run by Fathom using converted 704-passenger P&O Cruises ship Adonia on May 1.
Carnival Corporation today disclosed that it is continuing discussions with Cuba to allow cruise ships to operate in the same manner as air charter operations from the US, which transport Cuban-born people to and from Cuba.
Carnival Corporation also announced that it is now accepting Fathom bookings from all travellers to Cuba, regardless of their country of origin.
“While optimistic that Cuba will treat travellers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly,” the company said.
“Carnival Corporation continues active discussions with Cuba, asking that travel on Fathom be on a level playing field with air charter travel to Cuba and remains confident its discussions with Cuba will result in a positive outcome for everyone who wants to travel to Cuba, including those who are Cuba-born.”
Fathom has updated its reservations process and all travellers can book its cruises to Cuba, including Cuban-born individuals, in anticipation of Cuba allowing travel on a similar basis as they would if they were travelling by air.
Carnival Corporation chief executive, Arnold Donald, said: "We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us. We remain excited about this historic opportunity to give our guests an extraordinary vacation experience in Cuba."
He was speaking after Adonia set off to the Dominican Republic after gaining clearance from the US Coast Guard which prevented the ship’s first sailing a week ago due to concerns over its fire doors.
Fathom plans to run alternate seven-night cruises to Cuba and Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic.
Fathom president, Tara Russell, added: "We have already seen tremendous consumer interest in the incredible Cuba journey we have put together.”
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