“Today we’ve made history,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, on March 22, during a media call from Havana, Cuba. “It brings me tremendous pleasure to announce that Carnival Corporation has become the first U.S. cruise company in more than 50 years to be granted approval from Cuba to sail from the U.S. to Cuba.”
On May 1, 2016, Carnival’s newest brand, Fathom, will operate the cruise line’s inaugural sailing to Havana, Cuba from the Port of Miami, departing at 4:30 p.m. and arriving in Havana the following morning at 11 a.m. est. As of now, Fathom will be the only Carnival brand to operate Cuba sailings, until further notice. Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation, was also on the call and expressed her excitement at the unique offerings that the brand will be able to offer guests. “When our travelers visit the three ports of call in Cuba (Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos), they’ll have the opportunity to see a really remarkable country known for its music, its food, its culture, its history, its beaches and, really, the lively spirit of its people.” The 7-day sailing will take place on the 704-passenger MV Adonia, which is currently being transformed for its upcoming Caribbean sailings. While on board, guests have the opportunity to experience a variety of culturally immersive activities, from dance classes and food and cocktail lessons to Cuba- and Caribbean-inspired music and film options, geographic-inspired entertainment and Spanish lessons. At each port of call, guests can choose from various shore excursions that will meet the U.S. Department of the Treasury criteria for Cuba travel.
Leading the entire Cuba operations is Rosamaria Caballero Stafford, the senior director of Cuba product at Fathom, a Cuba-born entrepreneur based in New York. Carnival has also partnered with Havana Tours in the creation of its land activities, which include interactions with local artists, musicians, business owners, and families, as well as visits to Cuba’s coastal fortresses and cathedrals, the cannons on San Juan Hill, and Ernest Hemingway’s favorite fishing village. In order to make travel to Cuba as seamless as possible, Carnival is handling the visa and affidavit processes, insurance and a few other travel details for travelers.
“As you can imagine, we are eager to set sail and we’re very much looking forward to helping our travelers create a one-of-a-kind memory in Cuba that will last for the rest of their lives,” said Russell. Rates for Fathom’s inaugural May 1 sailing to Cuba start at $2,662 for an interior cabin; $1,800 for regular weeklong sailings to Cuba from the Port of Miami, operating every other week. Rates include accommodations, cultural exchange activities on the ground, onboard events, meals, ground transportation and the aforementioned required travel documents. For more information, call (855) 932-8466 or visit fathom.org.