Two more companies announce Cuba cruises

Add package tour giant Globus and small-ship line Haimark to the list of companies selling Cuba cruises.

Colorado-based Globus on Wednesday announced it would begin nine-night cruise tours to Cuba out of Miami in January that use a ship operated by Greece-based Celestyal Cruises.

Just hours later, Chicago-based Haimark said it would begin offering nine-night cruises to Cuba out of Miami starting in February on its 210-passenger Saint Laurent.

Both of the offerings will be structured as “people-to-people” exchanges that are allowed under the USA’s five-decade-old embargo of Cuba. General leisure travel from the USA to Cuba including traditional cruises still is banned.

The announcements come just a week after cruise giant Carnival Corp. announced plans to begin people-to-people tours to Cuba via ship in May with the company’s new social impact-focused brand fathom.

The new Globus cruises will feature port stops in Havana, Maria La Gorda, Pinar del Río, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, with fares starting at $3,249 per person. The trips will take place on the 960-passenger Celestyal Crystal, which tourgoers will board in Havana after flying as a group from Miami.

The Haimark trips will feature stops in Havana, Maria La Gorda, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt and Holguin, with fares starting at $4,599 per person.

Globus holds a license from the U.S. Treasury to operate trips to Cuba under the U.S. embargo. Haimark says it plans to operate its trips in partnership with United Caribbean Lines, one of several ferry operations that received a license from the U.S. Treasury in May to sail to Cuba. Haimark says the trips are contingent on government approvals.

Globus and Haimark are entering an increasingly crowded field of companies offering people-to-people tours to Cuba. Just last month, package tour giant Apple Vacations announced it would add such trips this fall, joining a growing number of land-based tour companies offering Cuba tours.

For a deck-by-deck tour of the Celestyal Crystal, formerly known as the Louis Cristal, click through the carousel below.

By Gene Sloan, USA Today

July 16, 2015

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