Cruises to Cuba Are Abruptly Canceled, After New Travel Ban

Carnival Corporation will no longer operate cruises to Cuba, effective immediately, the travel company announced Wednesday. The decision, coming one day after the Trump administration banned cruises, private yachts and fishing vessels from visiting Cuba, has left many travelers frustrated and confused, especially those currently en route to the island nation.

“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, with Carnival and other cruise companies, like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, 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.”

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.

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.

“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 onboard credit and excursions in Cuba that had been paid for would be automatically refunded.

In 2016, Carnival was the first U.S. cruise company to sail to Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

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 onboard credit. Or they may select to travel on another cruise (receiving a $50 onboard credit) or cancel their trip and receive a full refund.

Of course, many travelers went to social media to post questions about the new developments and express grievances. One traveler did some simple math while venting his frustration with Carnival's policy:

Tariro Mzezewa is a travel reporter at The New York Times.  @tariro

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