- Inaugural trip is still scheduled to depart on May 1
- Company says cruising should be on level field as air travel
Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise operator, may delay the start of trips to Cuba as it continues negotiations with the Cuban government over whether people born in that country can travel there by sea.
The company had planned a May 1 inaugural voyage through its new Fathom brand, which would mark the first U.S. cruise line to arrive in Cuba in 50 years. While it’s still accepting bookings, Carnival said it is continuing “active discussions” with the government, according to a statement Monday.
“While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly,” the company said.
On March 21, Miami-based Carnival said company executives and officials from various Cuban agencies signed agreements authorizing the trips and that it was cleared to take the 704-passenger MV Adonia to Cuba through its Fathom brand. Cuba would open a new territory for Carnival in the Caribbean, the world’s biggest geographic market for cruises.
While the country lets Cubans travel by air, government regulations prevent any Cuba-born person from coming and going by sea, Carnival Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald said in an interview with Bloomberg TV last week. As a result the company wasn’t accepting reservations from those passengers. The policy provoked widespread criticism of Carnival and protests outside its corporate headquarters last week.
Carnival said Monday it had updated its reservations process so that all travelers could book cruises to Cuba, “including Cuban-born individuals in anticipation of Cuba allowing travel on a similar basis as they would if they were traveling by air.”
“We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us,” Donald said in the statement.
Carnival dropped as much as 1.6 percent to $50.20 in New York trading, and was down 1.1 percent to $50.47 at 12:47 p.m.