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Havana, Cuba (Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

Cruises to Cuba Continue as Scheduled, Despite New Government Restrictions

Havana, Cuba (Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

October 10, 2019

Brittany Chrusciel

(11:28 a.m. EDT) -- A recent wave of new government regulations regarding travel to Cuba led many to question how cruises to the island nation might be affected.

In the three weeks since the April 17 announcement, little clarity has been provided by the U.S. government pertaining to how the policies would (or wouldn't) affect the cruise industry. Reports of unprecedented lawsuits against Carnival Cruise Line for using 'seized' terminal facilities in Havana also have elevated concerns about the future of Cuba cruises.

However, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) -- the world's largest cruise industry trade association -- released a statement saying cruises will continue as scheduled, at least for now.

"Cruising to Cuba falls under the 'lawful travel exemption' under Title III of the Helms Burton Act," according to the statement.

"Our member cruise lines have been and are now engaged in lawful travel to Cuba as expressly authorized by the United States federal government … Cruises to Cuba have delivered important social and cultural exchange between the people of the United States and the people of Cuba."

The statement goes on to say "Cruises have also provided much-needed entrepreneurial opportunities that provide important economic benefit directly to the Cuban people."

In Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings' 2019 first quarter earnings call, the company's president and CEO Frank Del Rio also addressed the issue.

"It's business as usual until it's not," Del Rio said. "This is government at work; it's not business, so we'll just have to wait and see."

He added: "We as an industry are together … We're all working together to try and maintain what we have. We think it's good for the industry."

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