|Photo by Joe Pike|
Carnival Corporation has announced that it is accepting bookings on its new social impact travel brand, Fathom, for all travelers to Cuba, regardless of their country of origin. The company said that it is continuing discussions with Cuba to allow cruise ships to operate in the same manner as current air charter operations, which transport Cuban-born individuals to and from Cuba.
The decision follows a lawsuit last week filed in Miami federal court in which two Cuban-born Americans sued the cruise line for denying them a ticket on Fathom's inaugural May 1 sailing after they revealed they were born in Cuba. Under Cuban law, Cuban-born Americans cannot visit the country by sea, although they are allowed to fly there.
In a statement announcing the new policy, Carnival Corp. said that it is "optimistic" that Cuba will treat Fathom travelers the same as air passengers. Should Cuba delay this decision past May 1, however, the company would delay the start of its Cuba voyages accordingly.
"Carnival Corporation continues active discussions with Cuba, asking that travel on Fathom be on a level playing field with air charter travel to Cuba and remains confident its discussions with Cuba will result in a positive outcome for everyone who wants to travel to Cuba, including those who are Cuba-born," the company said in a written release.
Fathom has updated its reservations process so that all travelers, including those born in Cuba, can book.
Fathom will begin sailing its 704-passenger Adonia cruise ship to Cuba every other week starting on May 1. The line will offer seven-day itineraries calling at Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, as well as a lineup of cultural activities both onboard and ashore. Prices start from $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and several on-the ground activities. Prices will vary by season. To secure a spot on future sailings, a $600 per person deposit is required for all cabin categories and occupancy levels. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.