At the end of November, the Cuban government hosted an unusual meeting. Then, the presidents of nine of the world’s leading cruise companies, plus significant figures from three others, met with Cuban ministers and senior officials in Havana.
The meeting was in part to discuss how the cruise lines might respond to Washington’s new restrictions on individual travel to Cuba by US citizens. Other conversations centred on the expansion of cruise operations around Cuba, the country’s plans to develop port infrastructure and facilities around the island, the US government’s new administrative requirements for shore visits, and Cuban interest in the possibility of home porting.
The encounter was a pragmatic response to the legal uncertainties created for the average US traveller to Cuba, who perhaps understandably, may now prefer to stay in a US environment on board a ship while undertaking permitted shore visits. It also reflected the fact that Cuba, the region’s largest island, is strategically placed at the cruising gateway to the Caribbean, is near the US, and according to at least one cruise line CEO, has become the most highly valued destination in the Caribbean…..