As forecast several months ago, Cuba is set to become one of the hottest new cruise destinations with two international lines already announcing plans to sail there.

MSC Cruises will be first into port with MSC Opera to be based in Cuba’s capital Havana for five months from December this year. From there the 2100-passenger cruise ship  will offer a choice of 16 Caribbean cruises. The big bonus is that all  the cruise itineraries include a two-night stay in Havana, which has to be one of the world’s most interesting capitals.

Vegetables for sale in colourful Cuba which is now a hot cruise destination. Picture: Veronica Matheson.
Vegetables for sale in colourful Cuba which is now a hot cruise destination. Picture: Veronica Matheson.

The newly renovated MSC Opera will sail to  Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Mexico on itineraries from Havana, before sailing to Europe in mid-April next year.

The CEO of MSC Cruises, Gianni Onorato, says, “The move shows our commitment to offer guests the best and most sought-after destinations as soon as they become accessible.”

As a European registered company, MSC Cruises is not subject to the US embargo on Cuba,

The giant Carnival Corporation – it has 10 cruise lines under its wing – will also take travellers to Cuba from May next year on its newly launched fathom cruise line that has a focus on voluntourism. The US Government has granted the cruise company access under guidelines allowing travellers to visit Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people.

In April next year, fathom will take cruisers on volunteer-style experiences in the Dominican Republic on the 710-passenger MV Adonia. A month later the Cuban itineraries will also be offered on her sailings from Miami.

Tara Russell, the president of fathom says “We’re incredibly excited and humbled to help travellers experience the amazing beauty and culture of Cuba, with educational and cultural exchange activities that will benefit travellers and the Cuban people”,


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