Norwegian Cruise Line’s first cruises to Cuba are now open for bookings.
The Miami-based line on Tuesday began taking reservations for the recently announced, four-day sailings from Miami to the island nation, which will kick off on May 1.
The trips will take place on the 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky, which will become the biggest vessel traveling between the USA and Cuba.
Five of the voyages are planned for May. They’ll include an overnight stay in Havana and a stop at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.
Norwegian is one of six lines that received approval from the Cuban government this month to begin sailing to Cuba early next year. Also receiving approval were Norwegian’s two sister lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, as well as Royal Caribbean, Azamara Club Cruises and Pearl Seas Cruises.
The Cuba calls planned by the lines will provide an opportunity for “people-to-people” exchanges between Americans and Cubans as allowed by U.S. rules governing visits to Cuba, the companies have said.
While the Obama administration has loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba over the past year, U.S. visitors still are limited in the activities they are allowed to do in the country by the terms of the USA’s five-decade-old embargo. The embargo specifies that activities fall within one of 12 approved categories. The categories include educational pursuits such as people-to-people exchanges.
The only cruise vessel now sailing from the USA to Cuba is the 704-passenger Adonia, which flies the flag of Fathom, a little-known, one-ship brand launched earlier this year by Carnival Corp. (CCL).
Adonia began bi-weekly voyages to Cuba in May but soon will end the trips. Fathom has struggled to gain traction with consumers, and Carnival Corp. announced last month that the brand would shut down its cruise operations next spring.
Fares for the Norwegian sailings to Cuba start at $699 per person, including unlimited beverages.
Gene Sloan, USA TODAY