Since the Obama Administration began its efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, there’s been a booming interest in visiting the country among American tourists.
After being all but closed to U.S. tourism for decades, the lure of the tropical island has been strong. From sampling famous rum and cigars to experiencing a country that has seemingly been stuck in time since the United States’ embargo, there is a definite draw to visiting Cuba.
Of course, a cruise ship would make an ideal way to visit.
Already Carnival’s Fathom cruise line has begun to make trips to the island. Still, those cruises are a special case. Trips from major cruise ports on a regular basis still aren’t offered.
But that doesn’t mean leaders aren’t pushing for opening Cuba to cruise passengers.
Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards recently went on a trip to Cuba, meeting with leaders and strongly emphasizing his state’s interest in opening up cruises between New Orleans and Cuba.
Right now cruise lines like Fathom can visit, but only if they engage in humanitarian work — not just tourism.
“Obviously, we look forward to the day when people can just come here as tourists,” Edwards said.
He also had extremely positive things to say about his stay and pushing for a potential day where people can set sail from New Orleans to Cuba.
“I would just encourage (Louisiana residents) to look forward to the day when they can come over and visit and take that opportunity, which we hope will be in the near future,” Edwards said.
Of course, it is not up to the Governor alone. Cruise lines have to be on board with opening up Cuban ports. Given the strong interest among many tourists, that’s likely to be a non-issue.
What is a bigger holdup are the rules on tourism to the country given the U.S. embargo, which is still in place. That can only be lifted by an act of Congress.
Whenever the embargo is lifted however, we think it will be a mad dash to open up cruise itineraries with stops in Cuba. New Orleans would make a perfect choice as a port to serve the island.