After a firestorm of criticism, the threat of boycotts, a federal civil rights lawsuit, ACLU involvement, and potential port side demonstrations, Carnival Cruise Line announced Monday that it would now accept booking for those passengers who were born in Cuba but to this point are banned by Cuban policy from entering the island’s ports by sea. Carnival, which operates the Cuba cruise franchise under the Fathom Travel brand, declared they would not sail on their scheduled departure date of May 1st until the issue with the Cuban government is resolved. Here are excerpts from the PR Wire release:
“Carnival Corporation today announced that the company is continuing discussions with Cuba to allow cruise ships to operate in the same manner as current air charter operations, which transport Cuba-born individuals to and from Cuba.”
“Carnival Corporation also announced that it is accepting bookings on its 10th and newest brand, Fathom, from all travelers to Cuba, regardless of their country of origin, and is looking forward to its historic inaugural voyage to Cuba on May 1, 2016. While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly.”
“Carnival Corporation continues active discussions with Cuba, asking that travel on Fathom be on a level playing field with air charter travel to Cuba and remains confident its discussions with Cuba will result in a positive outcome for everyone who wants to travel to Cuba, including those who are Cuba-born.”
“Fathom has updated its reservations process and all travelers can book its cruises to Cuba, including Cuban-born individuals, in anticipation of Cuba allowing travel on a similar basis as they would if they were traveling by air.”
Cuba has maintained a policy of not allowing those born in Cuba to return to the island via boat or ship a policy that has roots in the 1960’s, after the Bay of Pigs Invasion, when Cuban exiles frequently attempted to land anti-Castro operatives and arms in attempts to overthrow the Communist Government. The ban affects Cuban born citizens of all countries, not just the United States.
Miami travel agents are now faced with booking or rebooking Cuban Americans who were denied reservations but without a rock solid date for the first-ever cruise waiting for a policy change from the Cubans. “A much better approach,” one agent told Examiner. com.