Cuba About to Lift Boat Travel Ban On Cuban-Americans In Time For First Cruise Sailing

Cuba has lifted a longstanding ban on Cubans and Cuban Americans that almost saw the first U.S. cruise sailing to the island cancelled.

Carnival Freedom

Carnival Cruise will operate the first U.S. cruise to Cuba but saw itself confronted with legal issues as they would have been unable to allow Americans of Cuban descent to board the ship. 

The issue appears to be resolved now with Cuba lifting the ban and making it possible for Cuban Americans to participate in the sailing as well if they so wish.

The Guardian has a news report on the matter yesterday (access here).

Cuba has said it will lift a ban on Cubans and Cuban Americans entering and leaving the Caribbean island by commercial vessels, opening the way for the cruise operator Carnival to set sail for the country next week.

Carnival’s 1 May cruise, the first from the US to the Communist-run country since the 1959 revolution, was thrown into doubt when the company triggered a backlash by refusing Cuban Americans passage due to a cold war-era law.

A statement carried by state-run media said that from Tuesday Cuban citizens would be authorised “independently of their migratory status to enter and leave as passengers and crews of cruise ships”. …

Protests in Miami, where the company is based, a discrimination lawsuit and criticism by the secretary of state, John Kerry, led Carnival to start accepting bookings from Cuban Americans this month.

The company said it would postpone the cruise if necessary, but also expressed confidence that Cuba would rescind the law in time. It is expected to begin sailing to three Cuban cities every fortnight from 1 May.

Cuban-born Americans are free to enter their homeland by air, with about 300,000 arriving every year.

With the matter being resolved Carnival will make a milestone sailing and it can be expected that Cuba will be a very popular cruise destination for Americans just as other caribbean destinations. There is still the ‘Educational Requirement’ involved though which the cruise lines solve by having a few academics on board who will give presentations on Cuba and it’s history.

John wrote about the lifting of the general travel ban earlier last month already (see his article here).


From what it looks like this was an administrative oversight which would have been resolved in advance already would the parties involved have considered the possible impact of this law as long as it stays in place.

Will any of you take a Carnival Cruise to Cuba soon? We’d love to hear about it.