For travelers with hopes of cruising to sunny Havana, Cuba, it’s best to start making preparations for a change of plans. On June 4, 2019, the Trump administration announced plans to end all recreational and organized group travel, which unfortunately affects cruise lines with Cuba on their routes. The orders were finalized on Wednesday, June 5. This short notice about changes to Cuban travel allowances has forced cruise lines to reroute upcoming trips and future trips booked to Cuba, which is bad for business and disappointing for eager travelers.
Cruise Lines Rerouting
In the aftermath of the new Cuba travel ban, cruise ship lines have had to scramble to come up with alternative routes for upcoming cruises. This puts a damper on travelers who booked specifically to cruise to Cuba.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) told HuffPost that the ban has affected nearly 800,000 passenger bookings that are either scheduled to happen soon or already in progress.
The chairman of CLIA, Adam Goldstein, made a statement that was posted on the association’s Twitter page directly following the ban on June 5: “We are disappointed that cruises will no longer be operating to Cuba. While out of our control, we are genuinely sorry for all cruise line guests who were looking forward to their previously booked itineraries to Cuba.”
Social Media Statements And Refunds In The Works
This new and unexpected change has prompted cruise ships to release statements to customers updating them on new routes.
Carnival Cruise Line released a statement on its website addressing plans for compensating travelers in response to the ban. Guests will be given the option of cancelling their trip for a full refund, or remaining on their currently booked route, which will be rerouted, and receiving a $100 credit per person. If the new route doesn’t excite guests, however, they will be given a $50 credit and are allowed to move to another itinerary.
(1/3) Cuba Travel Policy Update: Effective immediately, the U.S. government has implemented new regulations that prohibit travel from the U.S. to Cuba by cruise ship. This change requires us to immediately replace all Cuban ports.— Royal Caribbean (@RoyalCaribbean) June 5, 2019
Please see below for a Cuba Travel Policy Update: pic.twitter.com/g08ixOkH8L— Cruise Norwegian (@CruiseNorwegian) June 5, 2019
Royal Caribbean International released a statement on Twitter addressing the new travel ban, stating that they will be “immediately replacing all Cuban ports.” Norweigen Cruise Line (NCL), has also released a statement on Twitter explaining the consequences of the travel ban and promising that “detailed communication will be sent to booked guests shortly.”
According to NBC News, Norwegian Cruise Line informed passengers they would be refunded 50 percent of the money spent on the trip and also receive a future cruise credit equivalent to 50 percent of their cruise investment. Visa fees, along with shore excursions were to be refunded as well. Alexis Henshaw, who had a cruise with Cuba on the itinerary scheduled for the week of the ban, told NBC News that despite the clear disorganization on the ship, the company handled the circumstances well.
In light of the recent ban, cruise lines are still looking for ways to serve their customers as best as they can. Although cruise travel to Cuba is currently under lock and key, there are still cruises to take and destinations to enjoy — travel doesn’t end here!
For further information on the Cuba ban, check out our exploration of why it just got harder to travel to Cuba.