TTC Service.- The US cruise companies have no plans to backtrack on their plans to keep Cuba on their itineraries despite Washington’s new tough policy toward the island.
The newspaper Tampa Bay Times announced this month that Royal Caribbean International launched a new larger ship, the 880-foot-long Majesty of the Seas, in response to increased demand for sailings to Havana.
According to the giant cruiser company through October, Majesty of the Seas will offer four- and five-night cruises from Tampa to Havana that include day or overnight stays.
The Majesty of the Seas can carry more than 2,700 passengers. By comparison, last summer Royal Caribbean used its smallest cruise ship, the 1,602-passenger Empress of the Seas, for its first summer of Tampa-to-Cuba cruises.
Capt. Trym Selvag said to Tampa Bay Times before the ship put to sea for a five-day cruise that “We saw a demand and we took advantage of that, and here we are today with the Majesty of the Seas”.
Selvag added that Majesty is not nearly the biggest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The Oasis of the Seas, for example, is about 1,200 feet long, and is also much wider and much taller, with room for more than 6,000 passengers and 2,200 crew members. But even with smokestacks that can retract 21 feet, it couldn’t fit under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa.
Meanwhile, Carnival Cruise Line also announced recently it is adding another Tampa-to-Havana cruise to its schedule next year. On Nov. 18, 2019, the Carnival Paradise will leave for a five-day voyage with an overnight call in Havana and a stop in Key West. That comes on top of 31 other cruises from Tampa to Cuba during 2019 that Carnival previously announced.
Not only have the large American cruise companies contradicted the policy of their country’s government on the island. Also the smallest ones cruise firms.
The American cruise ship Victory made its first commercial stopover in Havana last month after touching several cities of Cuba. The Havana arrival of the Victory ship was totally unexpected by ordinary people, caused discreet notes in the press of both nations.
The cruise ship arrived to the Sierra Maestra terminal in the Havana bay. One Cuban newspaper commented that the arrival was “a sample of the growing favorable image of the island as a safe destination”.
The Victory appears rather fluvial and recalls in its silhouette those who sailed for decades in the Mississippi. The ship brought only 200 passengers.
Victory Cruise Lines is the fifth company in the United States that opened tourist routes with Cuba. the Victory cruises has an itinerary to the island of almost 10 days and in its program pretends to show its passengers the culture, the history and the Cuban meals.
The president of the company, Bruce Nierenberg, confessed to the local press that since the founding of the shipping company, at the end of 2015, “We always had the intention of contemplating Cuba as a destination.”