Carnival Corporation & plc today (March 21, 2016) made history, announcing that Cuba has granted approval for the company to begin travel to Cuba starting on May 1, 2016. Following U.S. authorization granted in July 2015, Carnival Corporation is now cleared to operate the 704-passenger MV Adonia to Cuba through its newest brand Fathom.
This marks the first time in over 50 years a cruise ship is approved to sail from the United States to Cuba.
Cuban authorities from Havanatur Celimar, various other agencies and Carnival Corporation today signed agreements enabling cruising by Carnival Corporation to Cuba.
Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, and Tara Russell, president of Carnival Corporation’s new Fathom brand, made the announcement in a media conference call from Havana, Cuba, this evening.
Arnold and Russell were among the business leaders accompanying President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years.
“Today we’ve made history. Carnival Corp. has become the first US cruise company in more than 50 years to be granted approval – from Cuba– to sail from the US to Cuba. This is an extraordinary day, it’s historic, it’s exciting,” said Donald in his opening remarks.
“Our cruise will provide our guests with an exclusive opportunity to be one of the first to participate in what is certain to be an unforgettable experience,” said Arnold.
“I want to thank the U.S. and all the relevant Cuban officials who have worked with us over the past months to create this historic opportunity, who worked to develop the land program and finalize the agreement and we look forward to a long and successful relationship that brings very special rewarding and enriching experience to travelers.
“I also want to thank all of my colleagues at Carnival Corporation from all ten of our brands for their commitment to develop our Cuban personnel to make this a reality. It has truly been a remarkable team effort.
“This is such an exciting historic day, what an honor to be here,” added Tara Russell, president of Carnival Corporation’s new Fathom brand. “President Obama is the first U.S. President to visit Cuba in 88 years and I believe that the last time a president visited, it was on a ship. So we are honored to be the first ship that will be coming bringing Americans to Cuba.
“Our Carnival Corporation and Fathom brand teams have worked closely with Cuba throughout this process and we are thrilled to begin regular sailings to Cuba from Miami starting on May 1. We have been told that we will be the first cruise line to sail from the U.S. to Cuba with our historic inaugural sailing,” she said.
Fathom Cuban itineraries feature three ports of call
Carnival will sail to Cuba through its Fathom brand — a pioneer in “social impact” cruising, where its passengers have the opportunity to work alongside locals on community needs. Passengers will sail aboard the 704-passenger MV Adonia – which was redeployed from Carnival Corporation’s P&O Cruises (UK).
The MV Adonia will initially visit three ports of call — Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. At each stop travelers will have the opportunity to engage in on the ground activates that will allow them to enjoy Cuba in an “up close and personal way”, will provide travelers the opportunity to interact with the artists, musicians, business owners, and families who make up the fabric of Cuban society.
The cruise will offer Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired music and film options, as well as Cuban-inspired menus.
Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation to Cuba’s history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, to conversational Spanish lessons, to guided sessions with the Fathom team.
“We are humbled and honored to offer a one-of-a-kind Cuban experience to our travelers,” said Russell.
Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. The MV Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time Sunday.
Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and several on-the ground activities. Prices will vary by season. This is double the price of the alternate week sailings to the Dominican Republic, but cruises are expected to sell out.
Arnold and Russell said that Carnival will take care of obtaining visas and meeting the requirements necessary for Americans to travel to Cuba, as well as the necessary paperwork.
Although they said that they eventually expect the other Carnival cruise brands to sail to Cuba, they do not see that happening any time soon.