U.S. approves Carnival cruises to Cuba

By Tomas Monzon  |  July 7, 2015 at 11:34 AM
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DORAL, Fla., July 7 (UPI) -- Carnival Corporation announced Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments approved the company's plan to offer cruise ship travel to Cuba.

Beginning May 2016, Carnival will ferry travelers to Cuba aboard the "fathom" brand of cruises, which aims to provide "purpose-oriented, social impact experiences." This fits one of the the Obama administration's 12 approved categories for U.S. travelers going to Cuba, which is people-to-people exchanges.

Leisure travel to Cuba is still banned under the U.S.-Cuba embargo.

The cruises will depart bi-weekly out of Miami, following the inauguration of the "fathom" brand in April 2016 with travel to the Dominican Republic. Although itineraries for the Cuba voyages have yet to be released pending approval from Cuban government, U.S. travelers can secure a place on the cruises today by putting down a $600 deposit. The trips will have a starting cost of $2,990 per person plus taxes and port fees, which will include all activities aboard the ship and some in Cuba.

Carnival's announcement accompanies tour giant Apple Vacations' decision to begin offering people-to-people tours in Cuba. However, Carnival Corporation representatives argue that the company's voyages will be unique.

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