Up to 800,000 passengers have been impacted by the US government’s decision to ban cruise lines from sailing to Cuba.

The figure is detailed in a statement from CLIA, which added: “Without warning, CLIA cruise line members are forced to eliminate all Cuba destinations from itineraries effective immediately.

“Passenger bookings had been made under a general license previously issued by the US government that authorised ‘people to people’ travel to Cuba. These travel restrictions effectively make it illegal to cruise to Cuba from the United States.”

CLIA chairman Adam Goldstein said the association was “genuinely sorry for all cruise line guests who were looking forward to their previously booked itineraries to Cuba”.

A vintage car in a Cuban street
The ban has affected close to one million passengers, planning to sail to the Caribbean island

 

The sudden announcement by the Trump administration is a reversal of moves made by former President Barack Obama, who attempted to improve relations between the two countries.

In a statement, US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep US dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services.”

A whole host of cruise lines have had to adjust itineraries and bookings, including Virgin Voyages. The line had planned to visit Havana during the inaugural season for Scarlet Lady. However, it will now be “announcing and opening sales on adjusted voyages featuring a new destination early next week”.

Meanwhile, Carnival Corporation said: “Carnival Corporation confirmed that due to changes in US policy, the company will no longer be permitted to sail to Cuba effective immediately. Currently, Carnival Corporation is sailing to Cuba on Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, and Seabourn has been scheduled to begin sailing in November to Cuba. Additional details will be provided for currently booked cruises by the cruise lines.

Norwegian Sky
Norwegian Cruise Lines is just one of the lines that sails to Cuba

 

“Guests currently aboard Carnival Sensation’s June 3 sailing will be calling on Cozumel this Thursday instead of Havana.”

Royal Caribbean stated: “For all 2019 sailings on both Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas, we have secured alternative ports and we are in the process of communicating the new itineraries to our guests and travel partners. For these guests, they will have the option of remaining on their sailing with the new itinerary and receiving a 50 per cent refund or they may cancel their cruise and receive a full refund.

“For 2020 sailings on both Majesty and Empress of the Seas, we are working to secure alternative itineraries and expect to be able to communicate to our guests and travel partners within the next week.”

MSC Cruises explained: “In connection with the US administration changes to regulations regarding travel to Cuba, which eliminate as of 5 June the prior authorisation permitting cruise ships to travel from the US to Cuba, MSC Cruises will modify effective immediately all its cruise itineraries previously scheduled to call that country.

Cadillac on the beach - Cuba
The move was to ‘keep US dollars out of the hands of Cuban military’

 

MSC Armonia is no longer authorised to call the port of Havana, Cuba, as part of her current Caribbean sailings. The alternative ports of either Key West, Florida; Costa Maya, Mexico; George Town, Cayman Islands; or Cozumel, Mexico, will replace Havana. The remainder of MSC Armonia’s itinerary will remain as originally planned. Guests currently on board MSC Armonia and their travel agents have already been informed and have been offered the following options:

  • $400 per cabin as onboard credit. If this credit is not fully used during the cruise, MSC Cruises will refund the difference upon check-out from the ship. Any shore excursions in Havana that were pre-purchased before the cruise, or which are included in the ticket, will be automatically refunded to the guest’s onboard account
  • The possibility to change ship and itinerary. MSC Cruises will waive cancellation fees and transfer already paid funds to the new booking

Viking Ocean Cruises: “Viking has one remaining call in late December 2019 and is currently reviewing our options for it and early 2020 sailings. Once confirmed, guests and travel partners will be notified directly.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (including Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania) said: “We are closely monitoring these recent developments and any resulting impact to cruise travel to Cuba. We will communicate to our guests and travel partners as additional information becomes available.”