Thursday, November 24, 2016

Carnival’s Adonia, the ship that took Americans to Cuba, will leave the island in June

Carnival's Adonia, the ship that took Americans to Cuba, will leave the
island in June

When Carnival Corp's 704-passenger Adonia entered Havana Harbor on May
2, spectators waved Cuban and American flags in a salute to history. The
ship's cruise line, Fathom, was the first to take U.S. passengers across
the Florida Straits in half a century.

Come June, Cubans will see that ship enter port for the last time.

Carnival Corp. said Wednesday that the Adonia, a former P&O Cruises
ship, will return to its parent line in the United Kingdom next summer.
By then, the Doral-based cruise giant expects to be taking Americans to
Caribbean island on another of its 10 cruise lines — although Cuba
hasn't signed on the dotted line yet, said Carnival Corp. spokesman
Roger Frizzell.

"We feel comfortable that we will be sailing to Cuba on a different
line," Frizzell said.

The Fathom brand will offer social impact shore excursions on Carnival
Corp. sailings.

Currently, Fathom has only a single ship that alternates sailings
between Cuba and the Dominican Republic on "voluntourism" trips. It is
the only line approved for itineraries between Miami and Cuba.

Earlier this month, Fathom announced that its volunteering excursions,
which include teaching English and pouring concrete in local homes, will
be available on six other lines across its fleet: AIDA Cruises, Carnival
Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Fathom, Holland America Line, Princess
Cruises and P&O Cruises (UK).

"Fathom continues to receive some of the highest ratings in the company
based on guest surveys, and we hope to expand the Fathom experience to
other markets in the future," Frizzell said.

The cruise line got mixed reviews when it started sailing to Cuba and
the Dominican Republic this summer. While the pent-up demand from
American travelers to visit Cuba translated into robust bookings,
sailings to the Dominican Republic were less popular despite cruise
fares that were less than one-third the price that of the Cuba voyages.

Two voyages to the Dominican Republic in October and November were
replaced with Cuba sailings due to demand, the company said in September.

"We are committed to Cuba for the long term, especially based on the
success we've had in Cuba with Fathom," Frizzell said.

But the journey to Cuba wasn't easy. Initially, the cruise line declined
to sell passage to island-born Cuban Americans in accordance with Cuban
regulations that prohibited them from returning by sea. Protests and
several lawsuits followed, and the line said it would not launch its
itineraries until the prohibition was lifted.

Less than two weeks before the ship was scheduled to leave PortMiami for
a seven-day Havana-Cienfuegos-Santiago de Cuba voyage, the Cuban
government reversed its decades-old policy, allowing Cubans to join in
on the inaugural voyage.

Fathom has since tweaked its offerings, adding more people-to-people
opportunities in Cuba and more island flavor to its ship, contracting
Cuban bands and adding Old Havana local design store Clandestina to its
roster of on-board shops.

Carnival Corp. was the first American cruise company to gain the coveted
approval from the Cuban government to sail to the island after President
Barrack Obama announced a more open approach to its former Cold War
enemy in December 2014.

Other lines, including Miami-based giants Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
and Royal Caribbean Cruises, have also applied to sail from the U.S. to
the island but have not yet been approved.

On a media preview sailing of Royal Caribbean International's Harmony of
the Seas early this month, the line's president and CEO, Michael Bayley,
said everything was ready for Cuba. Its 2,020-passenger Empress of the
Seas was pulled from sister brand Pullmantur Cruises to be retrofitted
for Cuba voyages.

But the island hasn't called yet.

"We've been waiting for a long time and we'll keep waiting," Bayley said.

Source: Carnival's Adonia, the ship that took Americans to Cuba, will
leave the island in June | Miami Herald -

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