Taking a cruise to Cuba is off the table for American tourists. The United States just imposed a travel ban that will impact hundreds of thousands of travelers. The decision that was just made by the Trump administration is a complete reversal of Obama-era changes that opened up travel between the United States and Cuba.
American officials say that the ban is being put in place as a way to keep American dollars out of the hands of Cuban military and intelligence members. The State Department has stated that those with existing travel plans will be grandfathered in. In addition, people traveling to Cuba with faith-group trips or as part of humanitarian projects will still be able to enter. Many questions still remain for both travelers and cruise operators.
The cruise industry jumped at the chance to begin offering Cuban itineraries once travel restrictions were eased back in 2016. Big cruise brands like Carnival and Royal Caribbean have been allowing tourists to experience Cuba for several years. However, all of those itineraries are now in limbo and customers must now wait to see what will happen next. It does not appear at the moment that airline travel is being impacted by the new travel ban. However, roughly 30,000 more people visited Cuba via cruise than using air travel last year. Personal yachts are also being included in the ban.
Cruise operators are collectively going to take a big hit as a result of the Cuban travel ban. Norwegian announced at the end of last week that it would offer substantial discounts to customers who keep their reservations. The cruise operator may be hoping that the ban is only temporary. However, other cruise operators aren't quite so optimistic. Rival Royal Caribbean Cruises has already adjusted its earnings estimates for the year based on the ban.