Transport in Cuba
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Another cruise line announces plans for Cuba voyages

Another cruise line announces plans for Cuba voyages
Gene Sloan, USA TODAY 4:49 p.m. EDT June 28, 2016

Add Grand Circle to the list of cruise lines touting voyages from the USA to Cuba.

The small-ship cruise operator on Tuesday announced plans for 11-night trips to the island nation out of Miami starting in January 2017.

The sailings will take place on Grand Circle’s 89-passenger Clio and feature stops in such small Cuban towns as Matanzas, Caibarien and Remedios as well as the larger cities Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.

After seven nights aboard Clio, passengers will disembark the vessel in Cienfuegos and drive overland to Havana, Cuba’s capital, where they will spend three nights before departing for home by air.

Grand Circle said the trips will be structured as “people-to-people” exchanges that are allowed under the USA’s five-decade-old embargo of Cuba. General leisure travel from the USA to Cuba including traditional cruises still is banned.

The voyages still must be approved by the Cuban government. While Grand Circle is starting to take bookings now for the trips, the company has posted a disclaimer on its website noting it still is finalizing arrangements. Customers will get a full refund if the line fails to receive Cuban government approval and can’t operate the sailings.

The thaw in relations between the USA and Cuba over the past two years has prompted more than half a dozen cruise lines to pursue approval for USA-to-Cuba trips.

Industry giant Carnival Corp.’s new Fathom brand in May became the first cruise line in years to sail from the USA to Cuba. The company received Cuban approval for the trips in March. Small-ship line Ponant also has received Cuban approval for trips from the USA to Cuba but doesn’t plan to start them until 2017.

Other lines planning USA-to-Cuba voyages include small-ship operator Pearl Seas Cruises. The company in 2015 began selling USA-to-Cuba sailings that were supposed to take place earlier this year but had to cancel them on short notice after failing to win Cuban government approval. The company now hopes to start up the voyages in the fall.

Unlike Pearl Seas and Grand Circle, most cruise lines hoping to add Cuba trips from the USA have been waiting for Cuban government approval before announcing itineraries and starting to sell them. Cruise operators that have been pursuing such an approval include the parent companies of Oceania Cruises and Royal Caribbean.

Fares for Grand Circle’s new Cuba trips start at $6,795 per person.

Source: Another cruise line announces plans for Cuba voyages – http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2016/06/28/grand-circle-cuba-cruise/86474798/

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