President Donald Trump’s administration has decided to inflict further restrictions to the country of Cuba, with the newest measures aiming to toughen up on the Cuban regime. On Tuesday, June 4, the White House announced that they would instate a ban on cruises, fishing vessels, and private yachts visiting the Pearl of the Antilles. The ban became effective immediately.
As a result, Carnival Corporation, the first cruise company from the United States that offer trips to Cuba since the 1959 revolution, has pulled their Cuban cruises off the market. A day later, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have joined Carnival, having announced that they will also no longer offer journeys to the island.
Many travelers were directly affected by this decision, many of which heard about it on their way to Havana, the capital of Cuba. Some of them took it to Twitter to voice their frustrations.
An industry group Cruise Lines International Association came out with research showing that around 800,000 have booked a trip to Cuba. These bookings have been either scheduled or already underway when the ban came in. Namely, the new regulations mean that ‘people to people’ traveling from the United States to Cuba is no longer available. The previous arrangement allowed for cruise lines to offer licensed trips to the island.
Cruise Lines Offer Refunds
In a statement following the changes of rules, the Association expressed their compassion towards the guests who have already made their plans to visit Cuba. However, in their own words, the newly-emerged situation is out of their hands, and there’s nothing they can do to combat it.
Norweigan Cruise Line also released a statement today, announcing that its Norweigan Sun cruise will still take place, albeit with a rerouted itinerary. They also addressed the guests of the cruise, thanking them for understanding and patience. Vivian Ewart, Norweigan’s senior vice president for passenger services, offered guests on the Norwegian Sun a refund for shore excursions.
Travelers will receive 50% credit for a future cruise and a 50% money refund for the cruise. Other customers of the Norwegian were left in the dark whether this applies only to the Norwegian Sun or to all cruises. However, Norweigan responded that they will share information as soon as they have any further details.
The new ban has also affected the Royal Caribbean’s business. Their Majesty of the Seas cruises were meant to arrive on Thursday in Havana. However, since that’s no longer an option, one of the cruises was rerouted to land at Costa Maya in Mexico, while the other one will spend a whole day at the open sea.
Royal Caribbean, in its statement, ensured that all cruises which planned on landing in Cuba will still be carried out, although with a different route. The Majesty of the Seas and the Empress of the Seas will have to find different ports across the Caribbean to dock in. Travelers who have already paid for the Cuba trip will have two options. Either a full refund, or keeping their bookings for the same trip (with different destinations) and getting a 50% refund.
Carnival Corporation also laments these new measures, as they find Havana to be a unique destination and a major reason for people selecting those specific cruises. Since Wednesday, Carnival changed their cruises’ routes to land in Cozumel, instead of Havana. Carnival encouraged its customers to stick with the Cuba-less cruises, offering them a refund for shore excursions and a $100 onboard credit.
Those unsatisfied with the new itinerary can ask for a change of cruises, getting a $50 onboard credit. Alternatively, they can cancel the trip entirely and receive the full refund.