Cuba has opened up for two major cruise operators in 2017
One of the most anticipated holiday destinations for next year, the Caribbean island has just become even more accessible.
Royal Caribbean Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd have been given the green light by the Cuban government.
Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas and Azamara Club Cruises will operate their first cruises from Florida.
Norwegian will become the first US cruise operator with all three of its brands operating in Cuba.
Norwegian Sky will cruise to Cuba in March next year
Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises will all set sail there in 2017.
The first Norwegian cruise will depart from Miami on Oceania Cruises in March.
Royal Caribbean is yet to release its schedule.
Cuba has been off limits to American passengers for more than 50 years.
But a landmark political decision this year has secured the paradisiacal destination a place on 2017’s world stage.
Cuba has opened up in 2016 after being closed off to US tourists for half a century
In September the country received its first commercial flights from the US in more than half a century after tensions pervading from the Cold War.
The opening of the US-Cuba relationship has opened Cuba to the rest of the world – as the island nation reports a spike in tourist numbers.
Some 4.1m visitors are expected in 2017, one million more than its predecessor, according to the Cuban Tourism Ministry.
This recent cruise operator approval means all three of the largest cruise companies in the world can now serve the Cuban market.
Cuba is one of the most hotly anticipated destinations for 2017
Carnival Corp – the biggest operator in the industry – already sails to Cuba under the socially conscious Fathom brand.
It began sailing there in May and the company will open up more routes to Cuba on its other lines next summer.
Officials in Cuba have only approved a “very short season” for the cruise lines, so the operators will have just a month’s window over the course of the year.
Itineraries will provide people-to-people exchanges, to comply with U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations.