Carnival Corp. is waiting on the Cubans, again. The mega-company’s newest travel brand, Fathom, which hopes to operate “social impact” cruises to the island nation from Miami starting May 1, came under fire in recent weeks for turning away cruisers who are Cuban born. Fathom was following Cuba’s policy that Cuban-born tourists cannot travel by sea to the country.
The action caused protests at Carnival’s offices in Miami, and two Cuban-born customers who were refused a booking with Fathom filed a class action lawsuit last week.
On April 18, Carnival Corp. issued this statement: “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 said it 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. Fathom is scheduled to begin sailing its 704-passenger Adonia luxury cruise ship to Cuba in just two weeks, marking the first time in over 50 years that a cruise ship has sailed from the U.S. to Cuba.
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.
“We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We remain excited about this historic opportunity to give our guests an extraordinary vacation experience in Cuba.”
“We have already seen tremendous consumer interest in the incredible Cuba journey we have put together,” said Tara Russell, president of Fathom. “Our guests will visit three beautiful and unique destinations on the island all in one week, with the convenience of only having to unpack once while we sail on the Fathom Adonia, our premium small ship with its excellent and diverse dining, service and accommodations.”
The prospect of having to cancel its Cuba program until the Cuban government loosens its arrivals policy could be problematic for Fathom and its non-Cuban-born customers who are already booked to travel. It took close to a year before Fathom received approval from the Cuban government to operate cruises to the country. Now Fathom has permission to visit three ports of call: Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
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, along with conversational Spanish lessons.
Seven-day itineraries on the cruise ship Adonia 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.