Yesterday, the Treasury Department announced a ban on cruise ships sailing to Cuba. As we explained in our article here, the Trump Administration ended the “person to person” travel exemption that allowed Americans to travel to Cuba legally if there was a personal cultural exchange.
Many cruise passengers were able to meet this requirement through excursions offered by the cruise line.
However, the administration effectively curbed this exemption for most people. In addition, it placed a specific ban on “passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft…”
As you might expect, the change has left cruise lines scrambling. Technically those who have already booked tickets by June 5, 2019 are grandfathered in and still allowed to travel to Cuba. On a cruise ship that represents a major problem.
For instance, if a ship sailed to Cuba next month then it’s likely many passengers booked before the June 5 deadline. However it’s also likely that many people would book later, leaving a ship that has passengers that are both grandfathered in and those that are not.
Carnival Ending Cuban Stops
Today, we received word that Carnival Corporation — which includes Carnival, Holland America, and Seabourn cruise lines — is ending stops in Cuba immediately.
Here is a statement from the company:
“Carnival Corporation confirmed today that due to changes in U.S. policy, the company will no longer be permitted to sail to Cuba effective immediately. Currently, Carnival Corporation is sailing to Cuba on Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, and Seabourn has been scheduled to begin sailing in November to Cuba. Additional details for currently booked cruises will be provided by the cruise lines.”
That’s a drastic move to have to make on very short notice, but it appears to be what’s needed to be in compliance with U.S. laws.
What to Do If You Have a Cuban Cruise Booked
There is no word yet on what will happen with cruises originally scheduled to sail to Cuba. In our opinion it’s most likely that a different route is put in effect. Instead of docking in Cuba, another nearby port may be substituted.
Update: Many passengers online are reporting that their trips to Cuban ports have in fact substituted other ports instead.
Due to the cost and disruption to thousands of passengers, we think it’s unlikely that cruises will be cancelled. If you have an upcoming cruise to Cuba booked with the company, then you can either call the cruise line or wait to hear word on what will happen.
There is no information yet on what happens if you decide to cancel your trip due to the change in U.S. policy.
For more on the Cuban cruise situation and how cruise lines are responding, you can read our article here.