It is a full color, full page, and on the 5th page of one of the world’s best known news magazines. “Discover Cuba” in blazing pink bold letters announces that in 2016 Pearl Seas Cruises will set sail from Miami for a 10-day luxury trip visiting ports around The Island Nation. The Time Magazine advertisement promotes “The Pearl Mist” the cruise lines newest 210 passenger ship. The marketing move is an attempt to get into the top-of-the-mind of potential Cuba travelers. “We coordinated the advertisement with the announcement we had been approved for Cuba cruises by the U.S. government,” said Nicole Sturgess from Pearl Seas Cruises.
“The Pearl Mist” is typical of the type of small cruise ship that will be sailing the Straits of Florida and the Caribbean as the first American cruise companies enter the Cuban travel market. The small-to-midsize ships can be easily accommodated by the Cuban ports, including Havana which are not yet equipped to handle the typical mega passenger liners that sail out of Miami. At least a dozen cruise ship and ferry companies have announced plans to set sail to Cuba.
Pearl Seas joins cruise lines and tour companies that are proposing Cuba cruise ship travel based on the “people-to-people” exchanges that are allowed under current U.S. law. What is called “general leisure travel” is not allowed because of the existing Cuban Embargo. The cruise ship tours will visit many of the same Cuban cities that are featured on the popular ground excursions that have been available for American affinity groups but with the comfort and price tag that is far different from bus tours.
Passengers will shell out each for a 7 day cruise ranges, depending on accommodations, $7,500 to $10,235 for the opportunity to visit some of the Island’s historical significant cities. “Throughout your experience, an on board Cuban educator will provide rich stories and fact that highlight the proud heritage and history of the Cuban people,” promises the cruise line’s website.
Stewart Chiron, “The Cruise Guy,” who helped pioneer the U.S. national cruise sales and marketing industry reminds all interested that the Cuban Government has yet to approve any of the U.S. cruise company plans. Pearl Seas has an announced schedule that begins March 6th. “I am going to the Dominican Republic in a week to work on that countries news port and later work on the Cuba cruise issue, Chiron says. Pearl Seas is waiting for the Cuban Government approval. They are taking reservations, but do tell passengers they will get a full refund if Cuban authorities reject their plans. “It is amazing the number of people who want to go to Cuba says Nicole Sturgess, “we are happy we are approved by the U.S. government and hoping for the best from the Cubans.”
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