April 7, 2016
(2:40 p.m. EDT) -- Ponant, a French-flagged luxury cruise line, will open its Cuba sailings to cruisers from the United States starting in 2017. It is the second cruise line in the past month to get permission from the Cuban government to do so; Carnival Corp's Fathom brand received permission March 21.
Ponant's "People-to-People Cultural Exchange" cruises will run seven or eight nights on Le Ponant. The sailings will operate roundtrip out of Miami from early January 2017 through April 2017 (and again in 2018). Full itinerary details are forthcoming, but the ship will be making port calls in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.
"Ponant has been introducing Europeans to Cuba in the past and we are now delighted to offer Americans this enriching opportunity," said Navin Sawhney, CEO of the Americas for Ponant.
A third cruise line, Pearl Seas Cruises, is also selling cruises to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, but has not yet announced approval from the Cuban government and had to cancel its first two planned voyages. Americans can currently book voyages on Cuba Cruise, a Canadian company that sails from Havana and Montego Bay. International Expeditions, an American-owned company, also runs people-to-people cruises for Americans out of Havana.
MSC has had a ship homeported in Havana, and will add another one in late 2016. Those cruises are not open to Americans, however.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor