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Cruises to Cuba Are Abruptly Canceled, After New Travel Ban

A day after the Trump administration revised its travel regulations to Cuba, prohibiting cruises, companies began canceling sailings.

Cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Norwegian said on Wednesday that they will no longer sail to Cuba, joining Carnival Corporation, which announced earlier in the day that it will no longer operate cruises to the island, effective immediately.

The companies’ decision, came one day after the Trump administration banned cruises, private yachts and fishing vessels from visiting Cuba, and left many travelers frustrated and confused, especially those currently en route to Havana.

“I’m one of hundreds of very angry passengers aboard a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean,” wrote Cindy Hamilton on Twitter. “We all planned this cruise anticipating our stop in Cuba. Very upset!”

The new regulations affect nearly 800,000 bookings that are scheduled or already underway, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, an industry group. These bookings were made under a license issued by the United States government that allowed “people to people” travel to Cuba. This category has been banned by the new regulations.

 “The new rules effectively make it illegal to cruise to Cuba from the United States,” C.L.I.A. said in its statement. “While this situation is completely beyond our control, we are genuinely sorry for all cruise line guests who were looking forward to their previously booked itineraries to Cuba.”

Norwegian Cruise Line rerouted its Norwegian Sun cruise to the Bahamas and, in a statement, thanked guests for their “patience as we navigate this unexpected, last-minute change.”

In a letter to passengers who were on the Norwegian Sun, Vivian Ewart, the company’s senior vice president for passenger services, wrote that shore excursions purchased through Norwegian and visa fees would be refunded. A 50 percent refund for the cruise and a 50 percent credit toward a future cruise would be given to passengers.But it wasn’t clear from the letter if this refund policy would apply to other Norwegian cruises or just the Norwegian Sun, which frustrated some guests.

“@RoyalCaribbean & @CarnivalCruise are responsive to their passengers,” Heather Francisco wrote on Twitter. “@CruiseNorwegian is radio silent & avoiding all Cuba-related tweets #disappointed.” Ms. Francisco was booked on a Norwegian cruise from Cape Canaveral to Havana in mid-June.

Norwegian said in its statement that it would share information with passengers “as soon as additional details become available.”

Royal Caribbean rerouted its Majesty of the Seas cruises, which were scheduled to arrive in Havana on Thursday and Friday. One cruise will now go to Costa Maya, Mexico, and the other will stay at sea for a day of cruising.

“All 2019 sailings on the Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas will have alternative ports in the Caribbean,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement. Guests will have the option of canceling for a full refund or keeping their bookings, but going to a new destination and receiving a 50 percent refund.

When Carnival made its announcement, at least one of its ships, the Carnival Sensation, had been rerouted to Cozumel instead of Havana. It set sail from Miami on Monday. In 2016, Carnival was the first U.S. cruise company to sail to Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

“We recognize Havana is a unique destination and may have been the reason for the selection of this itinerary,” the company said on its website. Guests have been offered a $100 on-board credit and excursions in Cuba that had been paid for would be automatically refunded.

For other travelers with cruise plans through July, Carnival has issued a travel alert explaining their choices. Travelers may remain on their original cruise, which will now sail to another destination. These travelers will receive $100 on-board credit. Or they may select to travel on another cruise (receiving a $50 on-board credit) or cancel their trip and receive a full refund.

Content Courtesy: The New York Times