(7:45 a.m. EDT) — As of April 26, 2016 Cuba will lift a ban on Cuban-born people entering and leaving the country by cruise ship, clearing the way for Fathom to begin sailing as scheduled on May 1.
A statement aired on state-run media, and confirmed by Carnival Corporation, said that Cuban citizens would be authorized “independently of their migratory status to enter and leave as passengers and crews of cruise ships.”
“This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We want to extend our sincere appreciation to Cuba and to our team who worked so hard to help make this happen.”
Carnival Corporation, which owns and operates the Fathom brand, last week began taking bookings from Cuban-born cruisers despite the ban still being in place and had said it would delay its Cuba cruises until Cuba lifted the ban.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) also chimed in with its own statement: “[The company] welcomes the Cuban government’s positive and fair decision to allow all American citizens equal opportunity to visit Cuba. The cruise industry understands the power that travel has to bring learning and understanding between nations and cultures. Further, CLIA fully supports the rights of all people to travel freely and have the opportunity to experience a wide range of destinations. Every step that nations take towards open access and free interchange between citizens is a step in the right direction.”
Speaking onboard Adonia, sailing a weeklong sailing from Miami to the Dominican Republic, Fathom President Tara Russell said, “It’s a very exciting development, and we’re extremely proud to have played a small role.”
Fathom will become the first cruise line to travel from the United States to the country since the 1959 revolution when it departs for Cuba on May 1.
During each sailing, Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained docking approval.