Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd gets Cuba approval

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd gets Cuba approval
Guests sailing with Royal Caribbean and Azamara will be able to experience the sights and sounds of Cuba in 2017

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) has received approval to start operating cruises from Florida, US to Cuba in 2017.

Two RCL cruise lines, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, will offer itineraries to Cuba.

“Our guests have expressed real interest in having the opportunity to experience Cuba, and we look forward to bringing them there," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of RCCL. “Our discussions with our travel partners indicate that Cuba is a destination that appeals to a new generation of travellers.”

Guests sailing onboard Empress of the Seas will enjoy curated people-to-people experiences and explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Havana, a local artisan market, Havana's rum museum as well as Hemingway's former residence and favourite haunts. Local experts will immerse guests in the history, culture and people of Cuba.

Royal Caribbean International’s newly refurbished Empress of the Seas will make her maiden five-night cruise from Miami to Cuba on 19 April 2017. The ship, which will be the largest vessel to sail from the US to Cuba, will then reposition to Tampa and offer two itineraries with calls to Havana, Cuba on 30 April and 20 May. From her Tampa homeport, Empress of the Seas will offer a series of four- and five-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba.

“Royal Caribbean is the world's most exciting adventure company, and we're thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travellers to Cuba,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO at Royal Caribbean International. “As the unrivalled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination.”

Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Quest will sail a 13-night ‘Azaleas, Bourbon Street and Havana’ roundtrip from Miami on 21 March 2017, which will include calls in the US, Caribbean and an overnight in Havana.

The line has developed land tours for Havana, including a four-hour ‘Hemingway's Havana’ excursion to enable guests to see where late American novelist Ernest Hemingway lived, fished and dined. Another is the ‘Old Havana City Sightseeing’ tour, which will take guests to Morro Castle, La Cabaña, El Capitolio and more. The third tour, ‘Best of Havana’, enables guests to spend eight hours exploring the city's cemetery, square, artisan neighbourhood and market, and enjoy an authentic Cuban meal.

“Cuba has been a destination on our radar for years and being one of the first cruise lines to bring American guests to this amazing country, is an important offering that will resonate in a real way with our loyal guests,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Wednesday, December 14, 2016