U.S. blockade negatively impacts cruise ship visits

Cuban cruise activities, important to the development of tourism on the island, have been visibly affected from April 2013 through April 2014, with reported losses of 149,520,280 dollars stated Norberto Pérez del Toro, director-general of Aries Transportes S.A., responsible for maritime and port cruise ship operations. Since 1995 various cruise facilities have been constructed in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and Pla­ya Punta Francés, on the Isle of Youth.

“These facilities enable 21 cruise ships to dock weekly, eight in Havana as it has two berths, four in Cienfuegos, four in Santiago de Cuba and five in Punta Francés,” said Norberto Pérez.

However, these facilities are not utilized to their full potential given the consequences of the blockade, which restricts U.S. citizens from traveling to the island, in addition to the Torricelli Act which prohibits U.S. ships from entering Cuban ports, and requires vessels from other countries which have docked in Cuba to wait 180 days before being allowed to touch U.S. ports.

“This, of course affects their schedules and makes if difficult for them to dock in our country,” explained the director, which is why the facilities – which can receive up to 1,090 cruise ships per year – have only been used to 10% of their capacity, he added.

2005 saw substantial cruise ship activity, with 122 stops and 102,440 passengers passing through Cuba’s port terminals. But in 2009, only 20 stops were made with 6,368 passengers.

“The number of stops is currently growing. We should end 2014 with around 141, and an average of 35,000 passengers, this however is still a negligible percentage of the installations’ capacities,” he explained.

Furthermore, the fact that facilities do not generate income in accordance with their potential and the need carry out regular maintenance in order to continue operations, generates an annual expense of almost 140,000 dollars.

“If we consider the impact from 1995 when the facilities were constructed, through April 2013, we can say that total losses from cruise activities have reached 2.2 billion dollars,” added Norberto Pérez.

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