Carnival Paradise passing historic El Morro en route to Havana, Cuba (Image: Carnival Cruise Line)
Carnival Cruise Line made its maiden call in Havana, Cuba on 30 June 2017.
Departing from Port Tampa Bay on 29 June, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise became the largest cruise ship ever to call at Havana in what is the first of 12 four- and five-day cruises to Cuba.
All 12 itineraries will include a daytime and overnight call in Havana to enable travellers to fully immerse themselves in the destination. Five-day voyages add a stop in either Cozumel, Mexico, or Key West, Florida. The 2017 cruises will depart Tampa Bay on 13 July; 14, 24 and 38 August; 7, 21 and 25 September; 5,9 and 19 October. Another cruise will take place on 3 May 2018.
“Carnival is the only cruise line with a year-round ship in Tampa and we have a long-standing partnership with the local community, so it is exciting that we are inaugurating our cruises featuring Havana from this city with its very large Cuban population and strong affinity for Cuban culture,” said Gus Antorcha, executive vice president of Guest Shipboard Operations at Carnival. “Cruising is a fantastic and convenient way to visit Cuba and we are seeing tremendous demand for these cruises from consumers as well as our travel agent partners who are sharing this exciting new holiday option with their clients.”
To mark the inaugural sailing, Port Tampa Bay hosted a reception at the cruise terminal, which featured a celebration of Cuban culture, music, cuisine and libations. As part of this, there was a 10-foot-long Cuban sandwich – the largest at sea – and a US$25,000 charity donation to Tampa’s Ybor City Museum Society.
“We are extremely honoured that Carnival has selected Port Tampa Bay to offer cruises to Havana, Cuba and excited for the travel community that this fantastic new destination is now available,” said Paul Anderson, president and CEO at Port Tampa Bay. “Carnival’s commitment to serving our market for nearly a quarter of a century is a testament to the strong support they receive from our community. And, in return, the economic impact of the company’s Tampa operation is substantial considering a single call from an average size cruise ship generates more than US$350,000 in direct economic contribution to our community.”