In a major cruise breakthrough that will appeal to Australian cruisers and those from around the world, Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest travel and leisure company, has received official US approval to cruise to Cuba.
Cuba is one of the world’s most desirable destinations, hitherto impeded by a trade embargo imposed by the US on the Caribbean island nation.
Carnival Corporation intends to take travellers to Cuba in small-ship style, beginning in May 2016 via its newly launched fathom brand – a new “social impact travel brand” providing “purpose-oriented, social impact experiences”, initially in the Dominican Republic.
That indicates Carnival will be taking a responsible tourism line, perhaps to allay fears that massive tourism could swamp Cuba and change it forever.
It’s important to note that while Carnival has US approval, it does not yet have Cuban approval, although that’s expected before long.
Carnival Corporation says it intends to operate fathom travel itineraries directly to Cuba “for the purpose of providing cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges between American and Cuban citizens”.
Authorised under current US-to-Cuba travel guidelines, the new Cuban itineraries on fathom will strictly comply with US Department of Treasury rules that allow licenced travel companies to transport approved travellers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people, Carnival stated.
Launched on 4 June 2015 as Carnival Corporation’s 10th global brand, fathom is designed as a purpose-driven brand to enrich the lives of its travellers and in the case of the Dominican Republic, drive sustainable social impact on a significant scale.
“The brand expects to attract 37,000 annual travellers who collectively could spend a total of more than 100,000 days a year either volunteering or immersing in educational and cultural exchanges in local communities,” a Carnival statement said.
Beginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on weekly seven-day voyages from Port Miami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation’s P&O Cruises (UK) brand. Fathom’s first destination will be the northern region of the Dominican Republic, where Carnival Corporation’s new port of call, Amber Cove, will serve as home base.
Following the inaugural April month of voyages to the Dominican Republic, fathom intends to offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries “on a systematic and regular basis”, Carnival said, giving travellers the opportunity to choose from two destinations and a range of activities from social impact in the Dominican Republic and educational and cultural exchanges in both countries designed to have a positive, transformative effect on the lives of the travellers.
Prices for the seven-day trip to the Dominican Republic start at USD 1540 per person, which includes an outside cabin with a view, all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences, three on-shore social impact activities and related supplies, taxes, fees, and port expenses. Prices will vary by season.
Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at USD 2990 per person, excluding taxes, port and other government and related fees, and including all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences and certain on-the-ground cultural immersion activities.
Edited by Peter Needham