Ferries Lie Waiting in the Wings, as Cruise Travel to Cuba Increases
Date: 09 Feb 2017 10:00
Some things are destined to happen. Sometimes you can only keep things under wraps for so long. Maritime travel between the USA and Cuba has long been outlawed. However, due to developments over the previous years, cruise liners managed to get their foot in the door in 2016. Since the inaugural Fathom sailings in May 2016, the numbers of cruises to Cuba has increased.
The competition has proved a catalyst for growth. Friday, Royal Caribbean announced that it was adding another 8 sailings from Tampa up until November. This expansion led a countermeasure from competitor Norwegian Cruise Lines. In an attempt to quash the competition, Norwegian announced a further 25 sailings from South Florida to Cuba. The expansion will feature weekly sailings from June-December on the company’s massive 2000+ seat cruise liner, Norwegian Sky, with a great offer of complimentary drinks to pull in thirsty tourists.
To think that not even a year ago, a passenger ship had not sailed between the USA and Cuba in over 50 years is rather incredible. The cruise liners financial muscle has allowed them to open the door, demonstrating the lucrativeness of the maritime passenger travel market to legislators in the USA and Cuba. At the moment, the resistance to ferry passenger travel is bending, the only thing holding back ferry travel at the moment is the logistics of accommodating the automobiles and cargo traffic that would come with ferry passengers if the prospective route were to open. For now, ferry companies lie waiting in the wings ready to pounce.
Date: 20 March 2017
Contrary to the popular belief that nothing has changed in Cuba since the Thaw, The Port of Mariel Special Development Zone has approved another 5 projects, taking the total to over 20 projects, from a dozen countries, with investments totaling over $900m. The Special Development Zone was built only a few years ago by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, and is reputedly one of the “most modern container ports in the Americas”.
Date: 20 February 2017
Cuban emissaries recently traveled to the Florida port cities of Palm Beach and Tampa to negotiate trade deals between Cuba and the two ports in question, as recent demand has continued to increase. There was much acclaim about such possibilities. A hype that was quickly shut down by menacing threats to “withhold funds for port improvements to any ports that expand trade with Cuba”, from Florida Governor, Rick Scott.
Date: 02 January 2017
Although it concluded the year, one must start with the death of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s totalitarian leader for the last half a century. It is never good to wish harm upon anyone. But, sometimes when people become used to a way of life, only a drastic event, a shock to their system, will cause a spark that can lead to a blaze of change. Will it be out with the old and in with the new? Only time will tell. But, this has been a year of firsts. Leading to the belief that Cuba could turn the page on the 1950s once and for all and progress into the 21st Century. All else will follow.
Date: 14 December 2016
A new wave of cruise companies, a total of five, working under either the Royal Caribbean & Norwegian Cruise Lines holdings umbrellas are entering the South Florida – Cuba ferry market. Norwegian will become the only operator headquartered in the USA that will have the entirety of its brands sailing to the once-forbidden island. The three brands, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent 7 Seas and Oceania Cruises, will sail to the island while acting in accordance with US Department of Treasury regulations. In addition to these three, Azamea Club Cruises and Royal Caribbean will also begin operations from Florida to Cuba. Under the regulations as classified by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), passengers would engage in ‘people-to-people activities’.
Date: 06 December 2016
Hardly more could have changed in the US/Cuba dynamic in the last month. With the surprise election of Donald Trump, everything seemed to be reverting to the Cold War period. But after breaking campaign promise after campaign promise, the threats seem less and less viable. Compound that with the recent death of Cuban, Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, Fidel Castro and everything seems up in the air. With the more moderate Raúl Castro now pulling the strings, without any interference from his brother to moderate any advances in economic policy, the possibility for change is there.
Date: 29 November 2016
The leader of the Cuban Revolution is dead. Now all the backlog of change, 50 years’ worth of it, can slowly start. Until he passed the baton to his brother Raul Castro (2008), Cuba had resisted change for almost half a century. After Raul took over, the country started changing slowly but surely. The automatic ‘no’ answers, to anything and everything that involved change, became ‘maybes’ and ‘under certain conditions’. This gave way to laws that permitted private businesses and private property, previously outlawed in Cuba.
Date: 22 November 2016
A collection of big multi-nationals who started planning for life after the embargo will attempt to pander to president-elect Trump’s self-proclaimed superior business acumen. Dozens of companies are either planning to, or have started expanding into Cuba already. Trump threatened to shut the doors on the newly re-opened American embassy in Havana, as well as flirting with reverting to previous Cold War economic relations and travel agreements. However, the Chamber of Commerce will be pushing to maintain the current status quo after Obama’s reform created loads of promising commercial prospects. The strategy is trying to pull at strings that are key pieces to the Trump persona. If an opportunity makes good business sense, then why would a proficient businessman turn it down?