Cruise

Cuba announces 5-fold spike in cruises

Peter Orsi - AP

Cruise ship tourism to Cuba has spiked more than five-fold over the past three years and is up even higher so far in 2015, government officials say.

In a statement published on the state-run website Cubadebate on Thursday, the Transportation Ministry said the number of cruise ship port calls rose from 24 in 2012 to 139 in 2014, while visits by cruise passengers saw a similar jump from 6,770 to 37,519 during the same period.

Already in 2015, there have been 174 port calls and 62,183 passenger visits through May, according to the ministry’s statistics.

The statement called the cruise industry an “important element of tourism development for the country,” and said further growth was expected.

The report comes two days after US cruise company Carnival announced a plan to begin running ships to the Caribbean island through its new brand, Fathom, which focuses on trips in which passengers sail to a destination in order to volunteer there.

Amid a gradual thaw between Cold War foes Washington and Havana, Carnival has secured permission from the US Treasury Department but is still awaiting approval from the Cuban government.

The Cuban Transportation Ministry said growth during the past three years “could have been even greater if not for the inhuman measures imposed on us by the US blockade (embargo) which substantially hurts maritime activity” – a signal that Havana may look favourably on Carnival’s proposal and US cruise ships in general.

Carnival hopes to begin the trips in May and says it would be the first American cruise company to visit Cuba since the advent of the embargo, which went into full effect in 1962.

Cruise ships dock regularly in the port of Havana during the winter high season, disgorging hundreds of travellers at a time into the adjacent colonial quarter.

The Transportation Ministry also cited Cienfuegos, Santiago and other coastal points as centres of cruise tourism, and highlighted the Isle of Youth as an opportunity for possible future expansion of the sector.

American tourism to Cuba remains illegal under US law, although Washington has relaxed rules in recent years to allow ever-greater numbers of US visitors on cultural, academic, religious and other types of exchanges considered “purposeful travel”.

Most Cuban ports are not able to accommodate larger vessels that can hold tens of thousands of people. In Havana, an vehicle tunnel that traverses the mouth of the bay prevents the city from dredging deeper to receive lower-drafting ships.

A recently completed upgrade at Mariel, an industrial port about a 45-minute drive west of Havana, could be a possibility if Cuba ever looks to receive the bigger cruise vessels.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Aviation

Strong winds force flight cancellations at Sydney Airport

by Huntley Mitchell

The wild weather has also seen Sydney blanketed with pollen and chemists inundated with hayfever sufferers.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Luxury hotel to be built on top of old Nazi bunker

A former Nazi bunker is going to the next level – literally – with a luxury hotel to be built on top of it.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Could this be the world’s greenest cruise ship?

This new build is set to be sleek and luxurious, and use clean LNG fuel. Oh, and did we mention that you can live on it?

Share

CommentComments

Events

Tourism

Have you secured your spot at The Travel Awards?

Wanna be a part of the glitz and glam that is The Travel Awards? Secure your spot now before tickets sell out!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Qantas finds most passengers aren’t tackling jet lag the best way

Think you know how to beat jet leg effectively? Well, don’t be so sure, suggests this new Qantas research.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Flavour of the Week: Norwegian’s big reshuffle, Singapore Tourism welcomes new staff + MORE!

Our Flavour of the Week is bursting with the tang of executive reshuffles and zesty fresh faces, best enjoyed with a dollop of sour cream and a few corn chips.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Agent Wrap: Excite’s award win, Change Makers returns, agents take on India + MORE!

Judging by the length of this Agent Wrap, it’s been a slow week for the trade. Well, slow for a bunch of globe-trotting socialites, that is.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Aloha Friday Wrap: Island of Hawaii update, Hawaiian Airlines’ starring TV role + MORE

Looking to brush up on your knowledge of all things Hawaii? Go from novice to expert with this…

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

How Hawaiian Airlines is flying cleaner

Hawaiian Airlines is intent on lowering fuel burn and reducing carbon emissions before, during and after each flight.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

HTO showcases Hawaiian Islands during MICE famil

Last week, Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania (HTO) hosted a group of professional meeting planners for a MICE famil on Oahu and the Island of Hawaii.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Hawaiian Airlines to star in new season of Seven’s ‘Step Outside with Paul Burt’

Every weekly episode of the show’s second season will feature one to two Hawaiian destination stories, along with the chance to win a Hawaiian holiday.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Island of Hawaii update: what’s new, and things you probably don’t know

With an abundance of culture and history to share, the island is full of unique experiences and intriguing facts that inspire first-time and returning visitors.

Share

CommentComments