(1 p.m. EDT) — During a press conference onboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas’ inaugural sailing this morning, President and CEO Michael Bayley indicated that the cruise line could move into the Cuban market as early as late July.
“We are looking forward to being able to sail to Cuba, and we are in the process of talking to the various authorities to get the various permissions that are required. Once we get them, we will announce deployment of one of our ships, and there is a very strong likelihood it will be Empress of the Seas.
“The ship is currently going through a refit, coming out May 28. As it’s currently on sale until the end of July, we wouldn’t be going [to Cuba] until the end of July / beginning of August, assuming we get the correct permission from the Cuban Government.”
Cruise Critic’s message boards have been speculating for months about when Royal Caribbean will move into the Cuban market and which ship will be deployed there.
Empress of the Seas recently re-joined the Royal Caribbean fleet and entered into a dry dock refurbishment in February. The ship was scheduled to sail under Royal Caribbean again from March 30, but the refurbishment turned out to be more complicated than the line anticipated. A total of 13 sailings, scheduled between March 30 and May 23, were cancelled by the line as a result.