Cuba Cruise Chaos
The United States has changed travel regulations and no longer allows cruises to Cuba by US-based vessels – this includes cruise ships, yachts, and even fishing boats.
The ban was put into effect on 5 June, taking many travellers and cruise operators by surprise. According to the New York Times, around 800,000 bookings have been affected.
Cruises which had already departed have been re-routed and are calling at other Caribbean ports instead of Havana.
The Mirror reassured readers that cruise ships not based in the USA, such as TUI’s Marella Discovery 2, will not be affected by the ban. Commercial flights between the USA and Cuba seem to still be operating, but private flights are banned.
Who is affected?
Already booked a cruise to Cuba? The beauty of cruises is that it’s easy to update itineraries with alternative ports, but some travellers may have had their hearts set on Cuba specifically. There are a number of different offers and solutions, and it’s worth noting that this can happen with many types of travel and cruise disruption – cruise lines can choose what to offer when there are itinerary changes (see our explanation of major vs. minor changes here) and it’s important to know what you can expect, and what your cruise insurance can cover.
Here’s what some affected cruise lines are saying:
- 2019 sailings on Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas will have alternative ports in the Caribbean.
- Guests will have the option of cancelling for a full refund or keeping their bookings but going to a new destination and receiving a 50% refund.
Plans are being made for alternate 2020 itineraries and passengers who have already booked “will be contacted soon.”
“We are replacing our calls to Havana with an alternative port to provide our guests with the best experience ashore,” says Carnival.
Passengers who already have 2019 cruise reservations can choose to:
- Remain on the sailing: receive US$100, per person onboard credit – no need to call if you are continuing with your plans
- Move to another itinerary: receive US$50, per person, onboard credit
- Cancel booking: receive a full refund
Passengers who have already booked 2020 sailings to Cuba can also choose to remain on their booked sailing, choose a different itinerary, or cancel and receive a full refund, but will not receive onboard credit.
The cruise line has ceased all calls to Cuba.
Passengers who have booked cruises that include Cuba up to 2 September 2019 can choose to:
- Sail the revised itinerary and receive a 50% refund of the cruise fare paid as well as a 50% future cruise credit valid through December 31, 2020.
- Cancel the booking and receive a full refund. If guests choose this option, the cruise line must be notified no later than June 11, 2019, midnight EST.
“Sailings beyond September 2, 2019 will be automatically cancelled and refunds will be applied to the original form of payment. Guests impacted by these cancellations are offered a 20% discount off current cruise fares on any new voyages booked by August 5, 2019 for sailings no later than December 31, 2020.”
There’s not much about Cuba on the MSC website, but the Mirror reports that, “Those already on the ship (which was scheduled to visit Cuba) have been informed of the changes by MSC, as have their travel agents and been offered the choice to either change their ship or itinerary, or claim $400 per cabin as onboard credit.”
The Scarlet Lady’s maiden voyage was going to include Havana, but Virgin Voyages has said it is “making necessary adjustments.”
Please note, there are many other cruise lines which are not featured here, and which may not have announced their plans since the ban.
If you have booked a cruise that includes any Cuban port in its itinerary, or a holiday to Cuba, you should contact your agent or the cruise company directly to confirm how this affects your cruise.
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