After a 3-year slump cruise passengers return to Cuba holidays
For the first time ever after 3 years, Cuba has received a significant numbers of cruising tourists arriving to their shores as Spain's Happy Cruises ocean liner made Havana a pit stop destination.
Even when only 220 tourists got off the cruise ship 'Gemini' in Havana last Friday, for Cuban officials it signalled the end of a three-year slump in a key sector of the Cuba holidays market crippled by a US company's duty to comply with Washington's economic embargo.
"Cruise line operations were extremely limited by the US blockade, and it's been three years practically since the country's seen regular business," Lester Oliva, Cubatur travel agency president told AFP as he welcomed Spain's Happy Cruises ocean liner.
Oliva added that the cruise ship's arrival with 220 passengers from 11 countries, including 183 from Spain, signalled a significant improvent to the cruise industry in Cuba and a boost to the Cuba holidays market in general; since the Gemini alone will be bringing "800 tourists a week" until the end of the first quarter of 2011. By 2012, the head of state-run Cubatur revealed that 'Gemini" will be doing "regular business" with Cuba and bringing a steady amount of passengers to holidays in Cuba.
The news that Cuba is back in the cruise ship business was welcomed by all. "In Spain we were really eager to see cruise ships return to Cuba, because it's been four years since we've last taken a cruise to the island. It's wonderful to travel here again," said Manuela Rojo, who paid 1,200 euros for her trip to Cuba.
Tourism is Cuba's second largest source of foreign revenue after medical services and cruise tours were a major component until they fell 89 percent from 2005-2007, with visitors plummeting from 102,440 a year to a meager 11,000.
The chief cause of the slump was US Royal Caribbean's purchase of Spain's Pullmantur company and with it the Holiday Dream cruise ship, which alone brought in more than 15 million dollars a year in tourist revenues to Cuba. The first measure Royal Caribbean took was to suspend operations in Cuba," a cruise company executive said at the time. The economic embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba since 1962 includes a travel ban for all Americans to Cuba. Royal Caribbean was merely complying with the law when it struck Cuba from its list of ports. Oliva said Cuba over the past three years has only reported rather small cruise ship operations of one, two or three stops at most. After spending a week aboard the ship, these clients spend the next seven days on shore in Cuba, which has a very important impact on tourism.
Oliva went on to add taht Gemini will be joined next year by two other cruise ships, from Britain and Russia and that Cuba can perfectly manage a number of cruise ships, with three other port facilities in addition to Havana's, in central Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, in the southeast, and opposite a beach in the resort island: Isla de la Juventud.
Together, the facilities can handle up to 600 ships and 1.2 million tourists, which would bring in more than 125 million dollars a year, according to official estimates and were it not for the blockade, Mintur said 15 % of the 13 million Americans who visit the Caribbean would travel to Cuba.
Cuban authorities unveiled a new five-year plan on Tuesday that calls for cuts in social spending while attracting private capital and boosting tourism. 2010 AFP.
Talk to a specialist
Call 020 7644 1770 to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.
Opening hours 09:00 - 21:00 GMT
Popular Holidays In Cuba Browse all
Enjoy the long list of fun options for all the family or bask on Varadero's pure white sands
- Sample a host of activities including snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing, golf and more.
- Located on a gorgeous stretch of Varadero beach.
- Enjoy 24-hour all-inclusive service.
Ideal for trendy couples - stay at a chic and sleek hotel in the heart of vibrant Havana and then move on the shores of Cuba's most famous beach
- Get the honeymoon package with late check out, turn down service, special room upgrade and other services
- Full range of spa treatments for a more relaxing break at Blau Varadero, or a selection of water and land sports to choose from for the more active traveller
- Be swept away by the amazing panoramic views of Havana from the NH Capri's rooftop swimming pool
Combine colourful and vibrant Havana, staying in the residence of the 'stars', with a relaxing beach holiday in Cuba's world famous resort, Varadero
- Nacional De Cuba hotel is considered a symbol of history, culture and Cuban identity
- Iberostar Laguna Azul offers 15 bars and restaurants, and worldwide cuisines
- Enjoy watersports including windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, paddleboats, and snorkelling
The unlimited heaven of tranquillity in a perfect setting
- The luxurious 5 star accommodation ensures a comfortable adventure.
- Iberostar Parque Central Hotel is a great base to discover Havana's historic Old Town.
- Activities throughout the day at Iberostar Varadero Hotel , including aerobics, archery, basketball, beach volleyball, football, kayaking and more.
Start your Cuban experience at the NH Capri Hotel, one of Havana’s most historically popular mafia-run hotels of the...
Your Cuban experience begins at the memories miramar havana, a 4-star hotel located right at the heart of the classy...
The Iberostar Parque Central Hotel is the perfect place to feel Cuba's beating heart and pulsating rhythms, and will...
Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...
Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...
This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...