This Week in Cruise: Major Cruise Lines Head for Cuba

Oceania Marina in Havana
Oceania's Marina in Havana, Cuba

This week in the cruise industry a new round of approvals has seen major cruise lines announce new cruises to Cuba

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NLCH) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. received approval from the Cuban government to operate Cuba cruises this week, allowing Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises to offer Cuba itineraries. 

“Having Cuba open up to more mass market cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian is definitely going to make it more affordable to cruise to Cuba,” Uf Tukel, president of WMPH Vacations, said in a statement provided to Travel Agent at the time of the announcement. “Additionally, past passengers of these cruise lines, especially those who live in Palm Beach County and South Florida will appreciate a new destination and alternative to the Bahamas.”

Oceania Cruises will be the first of the NLCH brands to begin Cuba cruises, kicking things off 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. All three are available for booking. 

Further itinerary details will be available later this month for Regent Seven Seas Cruises and on December 20 for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Royal Caribbean International has opened bookings for its Cuba cruises, which will begin with a five-night itinerary onboard the newly renovated Empress of the Seas before the ship repositions to Tampa, where it will offer two itineraries with calls to Havana on April 30 (seven-night sailing) and May 20 (five-night sailing). 

Bookings are available for one Azamara Club Cruises itinerary that will call in Havana, a voyage that sails roundtrip from Miami onboard the Azamara Quest on March 21, 2017. The 13-night Azaleas, Bourbon Street and Havana itinerary will include visits to Key West, Florida, Tampa, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana (2 overnights), Cozumel, Mexico and an overnight stay in Havana. Azamara said that it looks to add additional ports of call in Cuba to several of its itineraries in time. 

Also this week Pearl Seas Cruises received approval for cruises to Cuba. Pearl Seas will launch its Cuba itineraries from Florida starting in January 2017 with a 10-night cruise scheduled to depart Fort Lauderdale on January 17. The trip will circumnavigate the island, visiting Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba on the 210 passenger Pearl Mist. In all, the company has 11 cruises planned during January through May next year, each of which will be 10 nights in length and will sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. 

Finally, Celestyal Cruises announced its fourth year of cruise operations in Cuba. This season the line will sail year-round to the country, offering a people-to-people itinerary for U.S. passengers. The cruises include two days in Havana, with calls also at Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. 

In Case You Missed It…

Also in the cruise industry this week, three cruise lines announced plans to cancel Turkey calls for 2017 following the attempted military coup and series of terrorist attacks in the country earlier this year. 

Cunard Line and P&O Cruises will replace Turkish ports with either stops in Greece or Sarande, Albania

Holland America Line will cancel Turkey calls that were planned for itineraries onboard the Amsterdam, Prisendam and Koningsdam. The line is expected to reroute to Greece or Albania, although this remains unconfirmed. 

Finally, in rewards news, this week Celebrity Cruises launched a new loyalty program for North American travel agents. Dubbed Celebrity Rewards, agents who enroll in the program and register their Celebrity bookings can earn points and redeem the points for a reloadable gift card. For every qualified booking made on or after January 1, 2017, agents will receive 500 points, when travel agents have 2,500 points, they can redeem them for $25 placed on the reloadable gift card.

Additionally, all of Celebrity’s ChoiceAir bookings during January and February 2017 will earn 500 bonus points. Travel agents may enroll in the program soft-launching now at

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