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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is applying to serve Cuba after rival Carnival Corporation struck a deal for a ban to be lifted to allow Cuban-born Americans to sail on its new ‘social impact’ brand Fathom.
Norwegian is in talks with Cuban officials to allow wholly-owned Oceania Cruises to start operating to the island from the US later this year.
That would be followed by Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises “in the near future”.
Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, was born in Cuba and immigrated to the US in 1961.
He said: “I am extremely pleased with the announcement that all Americans, regardless of their place of birth, will be able to travel to Cuba aboard cruise ships,
“Our Oceania Cruises brand continues discussions with Cuban officials seeking approval to commence cruises to Cuba later this year.
“I had every confidence that the Cuban government would allow its natural born citizens to visit the island nation by cruise ship as they have allowed Cuban Americans to travel by air for years.
“I am encouraged to see that the governments of both Cuba and the United States continue to institute constructive resolutions to issues across a wide spectrum, including the lifting of remaining restrictions on travel for American citizens.”
He added: “I am very much looking forward to sailing to Cuba soon aboard one of our ships in the company of many fellow Cuban Americans and other fellow Americans who wish to share in the excitement and passion that cruising to Cuba brings.”
Norwegian’s move follows Carnival Corporation winning the right for Fathom to become the first US-based cruise line to operate to Cuba from the US in more than 50 years carrying Cuban Americans.
P&O Cruises’ specially adapted small ship Adonia is to make the first cruise from Miami to Havana and two other ports in Cuba from May 1, alternating with seven-night sailings to the Dominican Republic.
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