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Friday,  April 12, 2024 8:41 PM 

U.S. government bans cruise travel to Cuba

U.S. government bans cruise travel to Cuba
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

The U.S. government has imposed a series of new sanctions on Cuba prohibiting travel via cruise ship and rescinding certain categories of authorized travel, which previously allowed U.S./Canadians citizens to visit Cuba under the people-to-people program. The major announcement came yesterday (June 4).

READ MORE: New U.S. sanctions on Cuba to further restrict travel

According to CNN, the U.S is seeking to prohibit Americans from visiting Cuba altogether, under the previous people-to-people program, which was one of 12 authorized categories that allowed Americans to visit in the first place.

The previous 12 categories were as follows:

  • Family visits
  • Official business for the US government, foreign government and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalism
  • Professional research
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation or transmission of information or informational materials
  • Certain export transactions
  • Educational activities and people to people travel

With the new sanctions put forth by the U.S. government, Americans can no longer take advantage of travel to Cuba via the people-to-people category, and all cruises are prohibited.

Why the ban?

Back in April, it was announced that the new policies would aim to restrict non-family travel to Cuba. 

Nicaragua and Venezuela were also targeted.

CNN states that "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement that the restrictions are a result of Cuba continuing "to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up US adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes."

Despite Obama's efforts in office,  under the Trump administration, certain policies have been overturned, including a 2017 declaration banning U.S. citizens from doing business with companies that are owned by the Cuban government, such as those owned or operated by Cuba’s government-owned Gaviota Group, as well as the group’s tour operator division.

Cruise lines speak out

Carnival Cruise Line has issued a statement on the matter, saying that "Effective immediately, cruise ship travel is no longer allowed and we are required to cancel our visit to Havana. We have replaced our call to Havana with a replacement port to provide our guests with the best experience ashore."

Carnival noted that it's working quickly to secure alternative itineraries for the remainder of its Cuba voyages and expects to have information for sailings further out in the next two to three days. In the meantime, travellers are encouraged to visit the website for further updates. 

In a statement posted via Twitter, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line said: "We're aware of the announcement and are analyzing the details to understand the impact on our itineraries. For now, we're adjusting the 6/5 and 6/6 sailing itineraries, which will no longer stop in Cuba. We are communicating the changes with our guests."

CLIA also issued a statment following yesterday's news:

"Without warning, CLIA Cruise Line Members are forced to eliminate all Cuba destinations from itineraries effective immediately. This affects nearly 800,000 passenger bookings that are currently scheduled or already underway. Passenger bookings had been made under a general license previously issued by the United States Government that authorized “people to people” travel to Cuba. These travel restrictions effectively make it illegal to cruise to Cuba from the United States. While this situation is completely beyond our control, we are genuinely sorry for all cruise line guests who were looking forward to their previously booked itineraries to Cuba.

“We are disappointed that cruises will no longer be operating to Cuba,” said Adam Goldstein, Chairman of Cruise Lines International Association. “While out of our control, we are genuinely sorry for all cruise line guests who were looking forward to their previously booked itineraries to Cuba.”

According to CNN, the United States will no longer permit visits to Cuba via passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, and private and corporate aircraft.

This is a developing story. More details to follow.

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