(4:30 p.m. EDT) -- British line Thomson Cruises is shaking things up in winter 2010-2011 with a series of new 14-night Caribbean itineraries -- including Thomson's first-ever calls in Havana, Cuba. The cruises will be operated by the 1,506-passenger, 54,000-tonne Thomson Dream, which will join the fleet in April 2010.
Havana is an exciting choice because not many cruise lines visit the Cuban city, due to U.S. restrictions on travel there. Even U.K.-based Fred. Olsen has only four cruises calling in Havana in 2010; German line Hapag-Lloyd offers just a couple of calls in Cuba, as well. However, when Thomson Dream sails its new two-week cruises from December 2010 to March 2011, it will not only offer a full season of Cuban visits but also will feature two or three days in Havana on each itinerary.
There are three different types of itineraries from which to choose -- Caribbean Experience, Cuban Adventure and Classic Caribbean. What's unusual is that the ship will actually sail a repeating, 21-night route that will be divided into 14-night segments. That means passengers will debark, and new passengers will board halfway through your cruise. Also, because each 14-night segment is a one-way sailing, Thomson will not offer a fly-cruise option. (There is no option to sail three weeks roundtrip from any of the departure points, as many ports of call are repeated from segment to segment.)
Here are the highlights of each:
Caribbean Experience: This cruise sails from Barbados to Havana, visiting multiple Caribbean islands and Central American ports, including Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel. The itinerary features an overnight in Cuba. Departure dates are 23 December 2010; 13 January, 3 and 24 February 2011.
Cuban Adventure: This cruise sails from Montego Bay to Barbados, visiting Central America and Southern and Eastern Caribbean ports. The itinerary features three days and two nights in Cuba, mid-cruise. Departure dates are 30 December 2010; 20 January, 10 February and 3 March 2011.
Classic Caribbean: This cruise sails from Havana to Montego Bay, concentrating on Caribbean islands. The itinerary begins with an overnight in Cuba. Departure dates are 6 and 27 January and 17 February 2011.
In addition to Havana, these Caribbean itineraries include two more new-for-Thomson ports: Santa Marta, Columbia (on Classic Caribbean and Caribbean Experience), and Roatan, Honduras (on Caribbean Experience and Cuban Adventure).
Thomson Dream's Caribbean itineraries will go on sale on 5 November 2009.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor