Fathom Granted Approval to Cruise to Cuba | Cruise News – Mar. 21, 2016

Carnival Corporation’s Fathom Granted Approval to Cruise from the U.S. to Cuba

Cruise News – Mar. 21, 2016

Carnival Corporation announced that it has received approval from the Cuban government to begin travel there beginning May 1, 2016, when its new cruise brand, Fathom, sets sail from Miami to Cuba.

During a media call this evening, Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, and Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation spoke from Havana, where they were representing Carnival Corporation during President Obama’s historic trip there. (It was the first time in 88 years a U.S. president has visited Cuba.)

“Today, we’ve made history,” said Donald, stressing how historic, enriching, and exclusive of an opportunity this will be for travelers, as it’ll mark the first time in more than 50 years a U.S. cruise company is approved to sail from the United States directly to Cuba.

Launched June 4 as Carnival Corporation’s 10th global brand, Fathom is designed for “social impact travel” — enriching the lives of its travelers while driving large-scale, sustainable social improvements. Weekly itineraries will alternate between its already-planned Cuba itinerary, which will call on three Cuban ports (Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba) with a weeklong itinerary to the Dominican Republic (which launches in April) where the ship (P&O Cruises’ 704-passenger Adonia) will dock at Carnival Corporation’s new Amber Cove, allowing travelers to select from a variety of on-ground activities to help within the community.

In July 2015, Carnival Corporation was granted the American licenses it needs to operate direct U.S.-to-Cuba travel for the purpose of providing cultural exchange. The company has since been awaiting approval from the Cuban government — until today.

“There’s just never going to be a chance like this again,” said Russell, emphasizing the wonder and magic of Cuba and the benefit of visiting three ports in one week. “It’s been a great victory to share this news with the world.”

And while Fathom will be the first Carnival Corporation cruise brand to visit the country, Donald doesn’t hold back about future plans to bring ships from its other nine brands — Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (UK) — to Cuba.

Itineraries are already planned, so it’s not easy, noted Donald, adding that’ll it’ll be at least months before it would even be a possibility. But, he stressed, “there’s no question” that the company will bring other lines to Cuba in time and that the Cuban government is open to other brands coming.

Photo: Christopher Michel

Sign up for weekly cruise news, fun contests, and exclusive offers delivered right to your inbox!

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!