The International Association of Cruise Lines issued last June a statement to the declaration on the new restrictions of the US government so that cruise ships can travel to Cuba. The news has surprised everyone equally, both shipping and cruise.
The US government communicated the immediate implementation of new regulations that would ban travel on cruise lines that had previously approved their stops in Cuba. The announcement was made without prior notice, so the members of the Cruise Line CLIA (International Cruise Lines Association) have been forced to eliminate all destinations to Cuba in their itineraries with immediate validity.
With the data on the table, we find almost 800,000 affected reserves. Passengers who had these destinations on their next routes and who can no longer visit this destination. Passenger reservations had been made under a general license previously issued by the US government that authorized people to travel to Cuba. These new travel restrictions make it illegal to bequeath Cuba from the United States.
The news is out of the control of cruise lines, something that they greatly regret. There are many that have been affected. Many companies that offered stops in Havana on their different itineraries through the Caribbean. Thus, we find Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Virgin Cruises, among others, which had routes with stopovers in Cuba. The reactions have not been expected; and it is that the warning has been so immediate that it has partially disrupted all the activity of these shipping companies.
Proposed scales in exchange for Havana, Cuba
In the case of Carnival , it changed its scale in Havana to Cozumel. From the moment the announcement came out, in addition to diverting the route to Cozumel, the company offered each customer a credit on board $ 100 for the stopover canceled in Havana. They are aware that it was a unique destination and that many times people chose certain routes along this scale. However, from Carnival they say they can do nothing but apologize and offer this credit on board.
MSC and its MSC Harmony have decided to include alternative ports such as Key West, Florida, or Costa Maya, Mexico, as well as George Town, Cayman Islands or Cozumel in Mexico in all their most recent itineraries. Likewise, all of its passengers have been previously informed of what happened and have been offered various options so that they can decide freely. The first, about $ 400 of credit on board. If this credit is not fully used, MSC will refund the difference upon check-out of the ship. In addition, any excursion booked in Havana will be automatically reimbursed in the passenger’s account.
The second option of this shipping company is to give the possibility to change ship and itinerary. The shipping company will pay the cancellation fees and transfer the money paid to a new reservation.
Norwegian Cruise Line says that this news will have a direct impact of around 25% in terms of capacity days attributable to the combination of departures for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, NCL brands. Departures that included stopovers in Cuba represented approximately 3% of the total in 2019.
NCL has also offered discounts and cancellations, changes that will have an impact on the benefit of the shipping company. Even so, they are aware, like the rest of the shipping companies, that the passenger must be compensated for this setback, so they have also offered generous compensation programs for their clients.
Virgin Cruises has also been affected by this drastic decision. From the company, they are very disappointed with the restrictions, however, they assure that they have very interesting options, and that their crew is working to make the necessary adjustments to any affected navigation during the next year.