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Montevideo, February 20th 2019 - 18:16 UTC

Cruise lines are preparing for the Cuban rush of US tourists

Monday, March 30th 2015 - 06:20 UTC
Full article 3 comments
European and Canadian-owned cruise lines often make stops in Havana. Tourism is already a major part of the Cuban economy European and Canadian-owned cruise lines often make stops in Havana. Tourism is already a major part of the Cuban economy
“Once the rules allow us to go legally, once the embargo is lifted, the main restriction ... yes, we're ready,” said Frank Del Rio, NCLH president and CEO “Once the rules allow us to go legally, once the embargo is lifted, the main restriction ... yes, we're ready,” said Frank Del Rio, NCLH president and CEO

Although U.S. tourists are still technically banned from visiting the Caribbean country, one of the world's last remaining authoritarian regimes, the process of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba has the cruise industry ready to pounce, according to Maritime Link.

 “Once the rules allow us to go legally, once the embargo is lifted, which is the main restriction ... yes, we're ready,” Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) told the Sun-Sentinel at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference last week. “And I would bet that all of us in this town are ready to move at a drop of a hat.”

Despite the restrictions, thousands of American citizens travel to Cuba annually, CBS News reports. European and Canadian-owned cruise lines often make port stops in Havana.

Tourism is already a major part of the Cuban economy, with or without American cruise lines. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba found itself economically isolated, and one response was to turn to tourism.
Since 1994 there has been a two-currency system in place in Cuba. One currency is used by tourists (the convertible peso) that is pegged to the US dollar.

The other currency (the national peso) is less valuable and is what the government uses to pay its workers. The government announced in late 2013 that the two currency system would be gradually phased out.

“There are a number of factors for consideration before a cruise line would commit to adding a destination to an itinerary,” Elinore Boeke, CLIA's public affairs director, told CBS MoneyWatch. “With Cuba, these include infrastructure and port facilities, and regulatory and policy considerations. The industry continues to closely monitor developments regarding U.S.-Cuba relations.”

These considerations are easily overcome once the government gives the go ahead, however, when there is money to be made.

“My unfulfilled dream is to be on the bridge of one of my ships coming into Havana harbor,” Norwegian Cruise Line's Del Rio, whose family left Cuba when he was a child, told CBS station WFOR-TV last month.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • ChrisR

    Shipping the 'unwanted ones' (Fidel claims) back would be a good idea.

    At least they have had experience of a capital market and can assist the two old commie bastards make a few MORE millions for themselves.

    Mar 30th, 2015 - 11:35 am 0
  • Hepatia

    I'm perplexed how Cuba has become “one of the world's last remaining authoritarian regimes”. What has happened to the PRC, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belorussia, the KSA, Vietnam, .... It appears that Cuba is one among many.

    Mar 31st, 2015 - 02:40 am 0
  • Philippe

    A rush to visit the Island-Gulag? Indeed, the stupidity of some people has no limits!

    Philippe

    Mar 31st, 2015 - 07:52 am 0
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