Twelve Carnival Cruise Line sailings are getting the Cuba treatment: an overnight stay in Havana.
Doral-based Carnival Cruise Line announced Tuesday it had received approval to sail to the island from Tampa beginning in June, making it the third major line to announce sailings to the Cuban capital since December. The others, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line, also have Cuba voyages planned starting this spring.
Carnival’s Cuba trips will kick off on June 29 for a series of four- and five-night sailings from the Port of Tampa aboard the 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise. That will make it the largest American ship in terms of passenger capacity sailing to Cuba, just edging out the 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky, which is the largest ship in size.
The four-night itineraries — leaving June 29, July 13, Aug. 24, Sept. 7 and 21, Oct. 5 and 19, and May 3, 2018 — will only call on Havana for an overnight stay. The five-night trips also include a stop in either Key West or Cozumel, Mexico. Those depart Aug. 14 and 28, Sept.25 and Oct. 9.
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Carnival said in a news release that passengers will have a choice of daytime and nighttime cultural exchange excursions, one of the 12 categories of travel approved for Americans visiting Cuba.
“Cuba is an island jewel unique from anywhere else in the Caribbean and we are thrilled to have this rare opportunity to take our guests to this fascinating destination,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, in a statement.
Carnival’s parent company Carnival Corp. made history in May 2016 when it sailed to Cuba aboard its social impact Fathom line, marking the first time in five decades that an American cruise company made the voyage to the Caribbean island. But Carnival Corp. announced in November that it was discontinuing trips on Fathom and its 704-passenger Adonia. The cruise company expected to instead get approval for another cruise line to start visiting the island in June.