The slow thaw in diplomatic rleations between the United States and Cuba has heated up, with the news that no less than four ferry companies are to be allowed to begin services between the mainland USA and the long isolated Caribbean island in the not too distant future.
The quartet are cited as being Airline Brokers, an operator based in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Second up is Havana Ferry Partners, another Fort Lauderdale concern. Baja Ferries is a Miami based operation and last, but by no menas least, comes United Caribbean Lines, based in Orlando and headed up by veteran cruise honcho, Bruce Nierenburg.
For the present, all four companies will only be allowed to carry all those allowed to travel to Cuba under existing American law. The still outstanding US embargo on Cuba precludes general passenger transport, but for how much longer? I would guess not much.
Of this breathlessly poised quartet, it seems to be United Caribbean Lines that is straining at the leash the most. With 1500 passenger vessels capable of embarking on overnight sailings, the line is expected to begin operations in the autumn from a variety of ports including Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. A provisional schedule lists a daily 1800 sailing from Florida, arriving in Havana at 0700 next morning. Evening departures will be at 1800 from Havana, arriving in Florida at 0700 the next day.
If nothing else, this news will have an already hugely interested cruise industry straining at the leash. The days of Cuba’s pre-eminence as one of the Caribbean’s most popular, vibrant and sought after hot spots seem set for an imminent return.
Exciting times for sure. As ever, stay tuned.