Thursday Briefing: Oceania’s First 3 Cuba Cruises, More Turkey Calls Cancelled

Major cruise news and air travel updates are on tap today in the travel industry. 

Major Cruise Lines Approved for Cuba

As we reported yesterday afternoon, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. have received approval for Cuba cruises from the Cuban government. The move means Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises will all be able to offer cruises to the country under the people-to-people travel rules laid down by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

This morning Oceania, the first of the NCLH brands slated to begin Cuba cruises, released details on its planned itineraries. The line will kick off its Cuba calls with one 14-day and two 10-day Caribbean cruises from Miami aboard Marina. Each of these voyages will call at Havana with two of the voyages staying overnight and offering guests two full days in the destination.

Shore excursions available in Havana will include experiences that explore the people, music, art, history and culture of the island in compliance with OFAC regulations. Additionally, guest scholars and expert lecturers on board the ship will deliver presentations about Cuba's past, present and future.  

Here’s a rundown of Oceania’s itineraries, which are currently open for booking:

March 7, 2017 | 14 Days
Miami | Key West | Havana | Cozumel | Costa Maya | Harvest Caye | Puerto Limon | Colón | Cartagena | George Town | Miami

March 21, 2017 | 10 Days
Miami | Havana (2 Days) | Santo Tomas | Harvest Caye | Costa Maya | George Town | Miami

March 31, 2017 | 10 Days
Miami | Costa Maya | Harvest Caye | Roatan | Havana (2 Days) | Nassau | Miami

Further details on itineraries planned for Regent Seven Seas Cruises will be available later this month and for December 20 for Norwegian Cruise Line, NCLH said. 

Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand is continuing to offer cruises in Cuba through the late spring, and that company has also applied to sail to the country with its other cruise brands. 

Holland America Line Drops Turkey Calls for 2017

In other cruise news, Holland America Line has cancelled all calls to Turkey in 2017, Cruise Critic reports. Other Carnival Corp. brands Cunard and P&O Cruises had already announced plans to cancel calls to the country in 2017 earlier this week following this summer’s attempted military coup and terrorist attacks. 

"Ten departures in 2017 are affected and booked guests and travel professionals on these sailings will be notified,” Holland America told Cruise Critic. “Shore excursions booked in affected ports through Holland America Line will be refunded and taxes, fees and port expenses will be adjusted accordingly.” The line is expected to reroute affected itineraries on Amsterdam, Prisendam and Koningsdam to Greece or Albania, although this remains unconfirmed. 

United Airlines Plans Overhead Bin-Free Fare Type

In air travel news, United Airlines has announced a new fare type, Basic Economy, that will allow only one personal item that must fit under a seat, barring customers using that fare from using overhead bin space, The Denver Post reports. Customers in the new fare type will also not be assigned seats until the day of departure, meaning that people traveling together on the same ticket could be separated. Critics of the move have cast it as a fee to use the overhead bin, with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., calling the overhead bin “one of the last sacred conveniences of air travel.”

Lawsuit Settled in Alaska Airlines, Virgin America Merger

Finally, the merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America has cleared another hurdle with a settlement for a lawsuit brought by private plaintiffs opposing the proposed deal. 

"We are pleased to confirm that we have agreed to settle the lawsuit filed by private plaintiffs in U.S. District Court in San Francisco,” the Alaska Airlines said in a joint statement. “Terms of the settlement are confidential. We look forward to closing the transaction in the very near future."

The move follows the merger’s approval by the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ)

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