Carnival Might Delay First Trips To Cuba

Less than a month after Carnival Cruise Line received the official go-ahead for crises from the United States to Cuba, the company’s May start date could be delayed. 

Carnival says it could push back scheduled trips from Miami to Cuba unless the destination country doesn’t change a policy that prohibits nationals from returning to the island by sea, the Associated Press reports.

The cruise line’s announcement that it might delay its maiden voyage to Cuba was made during a status hearing for a lawsuit filed against the company by two Cuban-Americans. A Miami judge on Thursday said he would consider the lawsuit.

The lawsuit challenged Carnival’s refusal to allow Cuban-born consumers to book trips on the upcoming voyages, calling the policy discriminatory. The company had said at the time that it had to adhere to Cuban law.

Carnival reversed that stance earlier this week, announcing it would begin accepting reservations from people born in Cuba in hopes that the Cuban government would overturn the prohibition on travel by ship before May 1.

If that doesn’t happen, the company says it is prepared to delay its trips.

“We remain confident that we will reach a positive outcome and we continue to work full speed ahead in preparing for our every-other-week sailings from Port Miami to Cuba,” Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said in an email to employees, the New York Times reports.

Last month, Cuban authorities said they’d granted permission to Carnival for the 740-passenger Adonia’s inaugural voyage from Miami to Havana departing May 1.

The trips will be the first time in more than 50 years that a cruise ship has traveled from the U.S. to the island nation.

Travelers will set sail on seven-day cruises with Carnival’s Fathom brand, which offers cultural exchange programs. That’s one of the approved categories of travel to the island nation under new rules which allow for “people-to-people educational travel.”

Judge to consider Cuban exile lawsuit against Carnival [The Associated Press]

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