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

Aviation workers hold rallies across Australia to demand access to JobKeeper

The rallies took place as new research revealed that 70 per cent of workers have been stood down, with 40 per cent unable to receive JobKeeper.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hotel Wrap: Langham expands to the Gold Coast, IHG launches domestic recovery campaign + MORE

Keen to convince your clients that hotels really are on the mend? Introduce them to this week’s Hotel Wrap.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Silversea unveils a whopping 86 new itineraries

Got a client who’s keen to get back on the seven seas? Get their attention with this big new offering from Silversea.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Luxperience goes virtual for 2020

Had you lost all hope that the premier luxury travel event was still going ahead this year? Restore it here with this.

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

Road & Rail Wrap: Avis launches subscription service, Rail Europe’s new site and app coming soon + MORE

After stopping off the side of the highway for a quick kip, Travel Weekly’s Road & Rail Wrap is back, all nice and refreshed.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Cyprus offers to pay travellers COVID-19 bills

Cyprus has gone to new lengths to lure travellers back to the Mediterranean by offering to pay costs for anyone whose trip is ruined by COVID-19.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Major Japanese theme parks ask guests not to scream on rollercoasters

As the world begins to reopen, tourism operators have begun rolling out new and creative ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This one is particularly unusual.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Cover-More CEO exits

The global travel insurance provider has waved goodbye to its chief, but not before signing him up to a premium policy.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Afterpay makes online travel play

If COVID-19 wasn’t already enough of a challenge for travel agents, a new OTA has entered the ring.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Tourism Malaysia’s new Aussie director on the destination’s big marketing shift

by Huntley Mitchell

The destination is placing much more of a focus on its digital presence and “smart partnerships”, as it looks to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

How are high flyers dealing with coronavirus? A new jet-to-yacht service seems to be the answer

Are you or your clients keen to avoid cattle class (or any class for that matter) on your first post-coronavirus flight? Start saving your pennies for this new service.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

STUDY: More than half of Aussies are keen to get travelling in the next six months

Find out where, when and how Aussies will hit the road once restrictions are lifted with this handy set of survey results.

Share

CommentComments