Monday, April 6, 2009

Will You Be Cruising to Cuba Anytime Soon?

Will your cruise ship sailing out of Miami be adding a call at a Cuban port anytime soon? No.

The US news media is reporting that the Obama administration will be relaxing travel restrictions on US citizens traveling to Cuba. Most are barely mentioning that this applies only to people traveling to visit relatives in Cuba, and virtually none are mentioning that the US trade embargo will remain unaffected.

Still travel websites are excitedly discussing the possibilities.

As long as the trade embargo remains in effect the cruise lines can't do business with Cuban businesses, so they won't be calling at any Cuban ports unless the trade embargo is abolished.

Aside from that, there are other issues that have always been there. Cruise lines have commitments to call at ports specified numbers of times in a year, and to suddenly substitute some calls at Cuban ports for even a few ships would have to cause major reshuffling within the fleets. Once Cuban calls are possible, it will have to be a process.

Beyond that, there's a political aspect that's not apparent if you are somewhere outside South Florida. There are a lot of Cuban-Americans in South Florida, many working for the cruise lines in their home offices. The Cuban-American community is about evenly divided on the issue of doing business with Cuba, and both sides are very passionate in their views. With that in mind, until the trade embargo is lifted, the cruise lines would prefer not to even address the issue, because no matter which way they would be leaning, it would be very hurtful to many of their employees.