November 8, 2000
The Toronto-based Cuba Cruise Corp., whose much-hyped plan to offer cruises from the Bahamas to Cuba that would be legal for American passengers -- despite this country’s continued embargo on leisure travel there -- has indefinitely canceled the voyages “as a result of potentially violent opposition and recent bomb threats,” according to company owner Sam Blyth. “The threats, including most recently a bomb threat, made it impossible for the company to guarantee the safety and security of the passengers and crew,” he said, in the announcement made Tuesday. Blyth said he was working with Canadian authorities to investigate the threats which had been made, he said, via telephone calls from the U.S. on Cuba Cruise Corp’s toll-free reservation number. The first voyage of the planned twice-weekly itineraries from Nassau to Havana was scheduled to depart Saturday, November 18. The company had claimed that the cruises would have been a new way for U.S. citizens to visit the island without falling afoul of U.S. restrictions, which bar travel by most U.S. residents -- a position that the U.S. Treasury Department, which oversees the embargo, has disputed. But Blyth has maintained that the willingness of a Canadian non-profit foundation, the Centre for Education and Training, to host the Cuba portion of the trip (Treasury Department regulations make it illegal for Americans without special license to travel to Cuba to spend money there), by paying for shore excursions and other on-island expenses, circumvented that rule. Blyth says that passengers -- among them 400 Americans -- who have signed up for the canceled cruises will receive a full refund. It’s worth noting, however, that Blyth also operated the ill-fated World Cruise Company, which promised a moderate-priced alternative to round-the-world cruises and ran into financial difficulties in May, stranding passengers and crew alike in Tahiti.