By Si Liberman, Special to Tribune Newspapers
2:12 p.m. CDT, July 20, 2010
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Even if the U.S. lifts the travel ban to Cuba,
don't expect Havana to be a port of call for American cruise lines any
time soon, says Richard Sasso, board chairman of the Cruise Lines
International Association. The organization is the trade group for 25
cruise lines serving North America.
Heartened by news reports that Cuba had agreed to release 52 political
prisoners and by increasing congressional support for ending the
American travel ban, Sasso foresees the day when Cuba will be on the
Caribbean itinerary of every major cruise line.
"Right now, though, they lack the infrastructure and facilities to
handle the huge influx of vessels and visitors," he said. "It'll
probably take one, two or maybe three years before the necessary
developments are completed. Lots of work has to be done. We also have to
be sure there'll be no political backlash."
The association chairman, one of Celebrity Cruise line's founders, came
out of retirement several years ago to serve as president of the
Mediterranean Shipping Co.'s North American section.