Tourism & Cruises

The Florida-to-Cuba cruise competition just got heavier

Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky, the largest vessel traveling to Cuba.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky, the largest vessel traveling to Cuba. Norwegian Cruise Line

The cruise frenzy to Cuba is intensifying.

On Friday, Royal Caribbean International said it was enhancing its commitment in Cuba by eight additional sailings from Tampa through November. Now competitor Norwegian Cruise Line is offering a counter-move: 25 additional voyages, these from Miami, through December.

Norwegian announced the beefed-up 2017 Cuba itinerary on Tuesday, which will feature weekly sailings beginning in June. The trips are four-night voyages from PortMiami aboard the line’s 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky, the largest vessel sailing to Cuba. They’ll also have an added bonus: complimentary drinks.

Voyages include a stop at Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, in the Bahamas and a selection of 15 shore excursions, including trips in Havana in an American classic car and farm-to-table dining experiences. All trips are people-to-people cultural exchanges, one of the 12 categories under which Americans can travel in Cuba.

In December, Norwegian announced — on the same day at Royal Caribbean — that it would begin offering trips to Cuba. The line initially offered five weekly trips, from May 1 to May 29. All are sold out.

Andy Stuart, president and CEO for Norwegian, said in a statement that the line has seen “great demand” for Cuba sailings. Doral-based Carnival Corp., the first American cruise company to travel to the island in half a century aboard its Fathom line, is expected to announce Cuba voyages on another of its cruise lines starting in the summer.

Norwegian’s new Cuba voyages go on sale Feb. 21.

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