Carnival Cruise Ship Sailing Toward Cuba Next Spring

If visiting the Dominican Republic on Carnival’s latest Fathom cruise line for a few days of volunteer work didn’t seem like the right fit for you, there’s now another island option: Cuba.

Carnival announced Tuesday that it was one of six passenger vessels to receive a license from the Treasury Department back in May to ferry people back and forth between the U.S. and Cuba, The Associated Press reports.

The world’s largest cruise company said that starting in May 2016 it will offer trips through its Fathom line from Miami to the island.

Now that diplomatic ties with Cuba have been restored and the government has eased up on trade between the two countries, airlines and other travel companies like Airbnb have been working on providing services for travelers heading to Cuba.

Carnival says it will be the first cruise line to offer trips to the Caribbean island since the 1960s.

“This is an important first step for our company and the cruise industry,” CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement. “It begins our efforts to shape a long sustained industry experience in Cuba.”

The new weeklong cruises will carry up to 710 passengers on the Adonia. The company, which expects high demand for the new route, says prices will start at $2,990 per person plus taxes and port fees.

Because Cuba remains closed for general tourism by Americans — unless they travel to the country as part of a humanitarian trip or to visit family living on the island — Carnival’s trips will mostly focus on volunteerism in the country, much like its newly announced Dominican Republic Fathom trips.

The AP reports that Carnival is still finalizing its itinerary while it waits for the official approval of the Cuban government. So far, the plan is for the ship to visit several ports. Passengers will sleep onboard the vessel each night.

While the details of the Cuba trip are still being worked out, we can imagine it would be similar to the Dominican trips announced in June. At that time Carnival said the Fathom trips wouldn’t have the traditional casino or Broadway-style aspects that many mega-ships offer. Instead, passengers will be offered training and education in preparation for their volunteer work.

Passengers would then spend about three days in the region helping to cultivate cacao plants and organic fertilizer at a woman’s cooperative, working with English-language learners or helping in the production of clay water filters.

When the Treasury Department announced it had awarded several licenses for travel services between Florida and Cuba back in May it didn’t specify exactly which companies received the go-ahead for travel to the country, only that at least four were ferry companies, the AP reports.

As part of those licenses, vessels are not allowed to stop in other countries, so it’s fairly safe to say that the Carnival cruises will be making a beeline for Cuba and then going directly back home again.

Carnival Aims to Launch Miami to Cuba Cruises in May [The Associated Press]

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