Carnival Says Cuba Cruises To Move Ahead As Planned After Policy Shift

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

Carnival Cruise Line’s Adonia ship will depart the Port of Miami as planned on May 1 with Cuban-Americans on board after the company reached an agreement with the government of the island nation. 

Earlier this week, Carnival announced that its maiden voyage to Cuba could be delayed unless the destination country doesn’t change a policy that prohibits nationals from returning to the island by sea.

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said on Friday that the company had worked closely with Cuba to allow cruise ships to operate in a similar manner as current air charter operations to the island.

“We made history in March, and we are a part of making history again today,” Donald said. “More importantly, we are contributing to a positive future. This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased.”

The policy change comes a day after a Miami judge said he would consider a lawsuit against Carnival.

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.

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.”