Cruise trips will soon be offered to Cuba from the United States for the first time in a half-century: Carnival Corporation received the go-ahead Monday to sail to Havana from Miami starting in May.
Cuban authorities approved the cruise company's first journey, which will depart May 1, reported the Miami Herald. “This is a historic opportunity, and we know there is pent-up demand amongst Americans who want to experience Cuba,” Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., told the Miami Herald.
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The trips will be offered through the cruise line's cultural-exchange program Fathom, which falls under one of the United States' approved categories of travel. The U.S. approved the cruise line in July to sail into Cuba for "social impact trips," the Miami Herald reported.
The U.S. and Cuban governments have slowly restored diplomatic relations over the last year, including partially lifting travel restrictions. The Carnival Corp. voyages will travel to and from PortMiami in Miami with stops in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. Tickets start at $1,800 per person, but do not include tax and visa expenses.
“We are humbled and honored to offer a one-of-a-kind Cuban experience to our travelers,” Tara Russell, president of Fathom, said.
Carnival Corp.'s announcement comes as President Barack Obama embarked on a historic visit to the Cuba — the first by a U.S. president in 88 years. Obama's three-day visit started Sunday and included a Monday news conference with Cuban President Raúl Castro. "This is a new day — es un nuevo dia — between our two countries," Obama said at the Havana news conference.
Castro fielded a few questions from reporters as well, including one about political prisoners. "We're going to work together so we can all achieve all of the human rights," Castro said.