By Vivian Bustamante Molina, Granma International
More than 800,000 cruise passengers visited Cuba last year, a figure that reaffirms the sustained growth of this sector. A total of 17 international cruise lines, with some 25 ships, currently operate in the country, including some of the most recognized worldwide, such as Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
The exponential growth of this type of tourism is synonymous with its popularity, as was highlighted at the end of the third quarter of 2018 by Cruise Critic, the leading website for online cruise reviews, which for the first time reported Havana as the top-rated Western Caribbean and Riviera Maya destination, based on consumer reviews.
Repeated press reports indicate that representatives of several cruise companies worldwide appreciate Cuba’s exceptional character as a tourist destination, a very important basis for its increased inclusion in their itineraries.
Thus, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the only U.S. luxury cruise line authorized to offer trips to this archipelago, announced more visits during 2019 and 2020.
In the same period, Carnival Cruise Line announced it had added 23 more routes with stops in Havana, and revealed that next year it would open routes from New York, Norfolk, Virginia, and Port Canaveral, Florida.
Likewise, Silversea Cruises is set to include a route from the United States before the end of February.
Many cruise passengers come from the United States, and the number could be higher, if it weren’t for the measures adopted by their government last June, which make travel between the two countries difficult and reinforce the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.
Among the recognized attributes of the island are its cultural, patrimonial and environmental riches, as well as its safety.
The investments being made to support the development of the cruise industry in Cuba include the construction of four cruise terminals in Havana by 2024.
MARITIME ADMINISTRATION REPORT ON CRUISE SHIP NOT AUTHORIZED TO DOCK
Since the afternoon of February 15, international media and social networks have been circulating speculations regarding a cruise ship that was not authorized to dock in the port of Havana.
The Maritime Administration of Cuba clarifies that the Grand Classica ship, operated by the Bahamas Paradise company, did not dock in the port of Havana on its first visit to Cuba because it had unilaterally modified the initially agreed activity, and did not meet the established information accuracy requirements and procedural deadlines. Authorities regret this incident and hold the operators responsible for the consequences.
Tens of thousands of passengers arrive every year to Cuba without difficulties, aboard ships of the world’s leading cruise companies and the United States, showing preferences for Cuban destinations.