Travel between Cuba and The United States has been restricted for decades, but now that things have changed it was only a matter of time before cruise companies got in on the excitement of taking tourists to new and exotic ports of call. The good news: the first trip to Cuba will launch on May 1; the bad news: The cruise line sending everyone on this fantastic voyage is Carnival, meaning that if you want to take part, you’d better be prepared for families, frat boys, and the antics of teenagers who’d rather be anywhere else than on this vacation. But hey: Cuba! Cigars! Beautiful scenery everywhere. What’s not to love?
According to The Daily Mail, Carnival will send the MV Adonia from Miami to Cuba for three pre-approved stops aboard a ship that’s filled to the brim with “cultural enrichment activities.” That’s not just a euphemism for picky travelers, by the way. Because Carnival had to get special permission, and because just regular old tourism isn’t allowed (it has to be educational!) the ship will stop in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba where passengers will learn all about the country’s history and/or complain that there isn’t a Senor Frog’s to hang out in like the last time they took a Carnival cruise to Ensenada.
USA Today reports now that the cruise (don’t worry if you can’t get on the first one, more are coming!) has been approved by both the U.S. and the Cuban government, travel agents will have an easier time selling spaces on the ship and that there are still spaces available for the voyage that’s approximately 40 days away. If you’re looking for something historic to do this summer, being on the first cruise from Miami to Cuba in 50 years could be a contender for your top 10 list.
But don’t expect all ships to begin sailing to Cuba immediately.
[Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold] Donald suggested the Cuban government approval that Carnival Corp. received Monday would allow for other Carnival brands besides Fathom to sail from the USA to Cuba. But that doesn’t mean more Carnival brands will begin cruising there immediately. Donald said obstacles to a quick deployment of more ship include the limited number of berths at Cuban ports and limited infrastructure. Plus the other Carnival brands already have itineraries set for the coming year, with customers booked on the sailings.
Seven-day cruises, branded under Carnival’s new “social impact” line “Fathom” start at $1,800 before any extras and taxes. Of course, there are some things to consider when booking your ticket. While Cruise Critic points out that the country is beautiful and “like nowhere else on earth,” it may be hard to justify a luxury cruise when the people you’ve visiting are struggling amidst poverty, a lack of personal autonomy, and major problems with human rights. There’s also no internet handy, which could be one of the biggest deterrents for constantly connected American travelers.