Cruise history is on the cusp of being made, with Carnival Corp announcing that Cuban authorities have just given their seal of approval on plans to sail from the US to the communist Caribbean island nation, starting May 1st.
The voyage will mark the first Cuba bound cruise ship in over 50 years, with Carnival Corp’s brand new Fathom brand pioneering the venture. “It’s been an extraordinary day. It’s historic and exciting,” said Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald.
New doors open for Cuban tourism
The approval came just days after President Obama’s recent visit to the island, a call that took place 15 months after talks with Cuban President Raul Castro. The pair agreed to soften relations between the two countries, and the arrival of Carnival Corp’s cruise ship is a fantastic example of the progress that’s already being made.
Back to basics
Smaller than most cruise ships, Fathom’s MV Adonia shuns casinos and stage shows in favour of culturally enriching experiences. Think Spanish classes, history lessons, Cuban literature readings and insight into local culture. On land, passengers will be invited to take part in a myriad of immersive shore excursions, with a focus on artistic, educational and humanitarian pursuits.
From touring organic farms and getting creative with local artists to exploring Old Havana on foot and chatting with home-grown authors, MV Adonia offers passengers experiences that are just as unique as the nation they’re visiting. “This is a historic opportunity, and we know there is pent-up demand amongst Americans who want to experience Cuba,” added Donald.
Shining the spotlight on Cuban culture
So why the exclusive focus on cultural experiences? While the trade embargo has been lifted, it still bans all leisure tourism to Cuba. This means that in order to set foot in the communist led nation, visitors must meet one of 12 approved categories, including educational, religious, family and humanitarian pursuits.
For now, Fathom has exclusive access to Cuba. However in the future, the line has revealed that it envisions featuring Cuban itineraries across its other brands. With Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Cunard and P&O Cruises all on board, Cuba could soon emerge as one of the world’s most coveted cruise destinations.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Photo credits: Angelo Domini