Declining Interest in Cuba Hasn't Stopped Cruise Ships From Sailing

Despite a recent study by Allianz Global Assistance that showed a declining interest in Cuba from last year to this year, suppliers continue to pump out new Cuba products and offerings.

According to the study, 40 percent of Americans would be interested in taking a trip to Cuba (two percent fewer than in 2016) while the easing of travel restrictions made just 26 percent of Americans more interested in visiting the country (nine percent fewer than 2016). Seventy-six percent reported being unlikely to plan a trip to Cuba (six percent more than 2016).

While safety concerns (38 percent in 2017/ six percent lower than in 2016) and fear of communist government (12 percent in 2017/ three percent lower than in 2016) were major anxieties for Americans in 2016, those worries appear to be weakening this year, according to the study.  Instead, lack of information on Cuba’s travel experiences (22 percent in 2017/ four percent higher than in 2016), travel infrastructure (13 percent in 2017/ one percent higher than in 2016) and Internet/mobile connectivity (nine percent in 2017/ two percent higher than in 2016) are the factors making Americans less interested and likely to travel to Cuba.

But that hasn't stopped cruise companies like Azamara Club Cruises, which recently announced four new sailings to its lineup of Cuba itineraries, from continuing to churn out new offering to the once-forbidden destination at a rapid pace.

Read on to learn more about Azamara's new sailings as well as other new offerings to the destination as Travel Agent breaks down the latest batch of Cuba news and notes. 

Azamara Club Cruises Adds Four New Cuba Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises has announced the addition of four new sailings to its lineup of Cuba itineraries. Departing from Miami, the new sailings will overnight in Havana and call at new maiden ports Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

In Cuba guests will have the chance to participate in people-to-people cultural exchanges, including chances to experience the destination at night. Experiences will include a visit to the open air cabaret, Tropicana, a Nelson Dominguez art gallery tour, Havana by classic car along the Malecón waterfront and Hemingway’s Havana, with more coming soon. All tour programs offered by Azamara are designed to meet U.S. requirements for travel to Cuba, the cruise line said.

Azamara’s full list of Cuba itineraries for 2017 and 2018 is as follows:

  • Havana Discovery Voyage: Departing on November 20, 2017 (10-Night Miami to Miami)
  • Havana Getaway Voyage: Departing November 27, 2017 (4-Night Miami to Miami)
  • Panama Canal & Costa Rica Voyage: Departing January 4, 2018 (11-Night Miami to Costa Rica)
  • Cuba Intensive Voyage: Departing March 9, 2018 (10-Night Miami to Havana); Features two overnights in Havana
  • Cuba & Grand Cayman Voyage: Departing March 19, 2018 (7-Night Miami to Miami)
  • Cuba Intensive Voyage: Departing March 28, 2018 (10-Night Miami to Miami); Features two overnights in Havana


Norwegian Sky Makes Inaugural Call in Havana, Cuba

Norwegian SkyNorwegian Cruise Line’s first ship to sail to Cuba, made its inaugural call in Havana earlier this week. Norwegian Cruise Line executives were onboard to celebrate the voyage, including Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President & CEO Frank Del Rio and Norwegian Cruise Line President & CEO Andy Stuart.  

The call was the first of Norwegian Sky's weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba. The ship will sail a total of 53 four-day voyages to Cuba, with 52 including an overnight stay in the capital city of Havana. Norwegian Sky will bring guests to the very heart of the city, offering them the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view art and listen to the local music scene; and visit with Cuba’s residents through people-to-people exchanges.

The all-inclusive Norwegian Sky will also call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas, during its four-day cruises to Cuba. Great Stirrup Cay was recently enhanced to offer guests exciting new ways to enjoy the island with additional pathways, seating and shaded lounge areas, with additional amenities still to come, including a private luxury lagoon enclave for suite guests and guests of The Haven

Refurbished in 2013, Norwegian Sky offers accommodations for 2,004 guests with 10 dining options, an onboard spa and casino. Guests sailing on Norwegian Sky can also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages at one of 12 bars and lounges as part of the ship's all-inclusive program. 

Book any four-day cruise from Miami to Cuba and get $50 for onboard spending on all staterooms on Norwegian Sky , plus reserve cruises with 50 percent reduced deposits.


Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas Makes First Visit to Cuba

Royal Caribbean International recently made its inaugural visit to Cuba on the newly revitalized Empress of the Seas as part of a five-night sailing from Miami. In the new port of call, cruisers participated in curated excursions throughout Havana, including rides in 1950's classic American cars to some of the city's famous stops, like the Old Quarter and the Havana Club Museum

Onboard, a set of activities have been curated to bring the spirit of the island to the entire voyage. Guests will be able to enjoy cortaditos and café con leche in Cafe Royal and salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin Lounge

After returning to Miami, Empress of the Seas will reposition to TampaFlorida, for the summer season - the cruise line's first ever summer program from the port - offering a series of four, five, and six-night sailings with day and overnight visits to Havana and stops in Key West, Florida; Belize CityBelize, Costa Maya; and CozumelMexico. Sailings from Tampa are available through November 4, 2017, when Empress returns to Miami for the winter season, adding calls to CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas. 

Empress of the Seas spans 11 guest decks and accommodates 1,602 guests at double occupancy in 795 staterooms. The also ship offers five bars and lounges, complimentary entertainment and lie music, daily brunch with a complimentary Mimosa or Blood Mary and a full-service spa.

For a limited time, guests can take advantage of the extended 'royal refund' sale with up to $300 back to spend at sea. 

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