Cruise Ship Tourism Is Back to Cuba
The Arrival of Cruise ship ‘Marella Discovery 2’ Restarts Cruise Operations in Cuba
HAVANA TIMES – With the arrival of the British cruise ship Marella Discovery 2 in Havana, the operations of the cruise industry in Cuba have restarted. Her landing has led the Cuban authorities to celebrate a “successful” high season, an incentive after the small numbers of visitors forced the reduction of official projections for the end of this year.
The ship, flying the flag of the Bahamas and owned by the German-British tourist group TUI UK, arrived this Friday at the Havana cruise terminal with 1,600 passengers of different nationalities, who stayed on the Island for 27 hours before continuing their tour of the Caribbean. Some of the travelers toured the historic center of Old Havana, while the rest took an excursion to Pinar del Río, to do nature tourism and visit the tobacco facilities that remain standing after the passage of Hurricane Ian.
The cruiser attracted many curious people, but the police forced them to withdraw when the vacationers returned to the ship, as reported by a 14ymedio journalist.
The director of the western branch of Cubatur, Carlos Alberto Rivera, told the official press that the cruise company brought the vessel Marella Explorer 2 in March 2022 and announced that, together with Marella Discovery 2, regular trips will be maintained every 15 days in Cuban ports during the high season, from November 2022 to April 2023.
According to the Cruise Mapper page, the boat departed on November 15 from the port of Montego Bay, Jamaica. Her first stop was on the island of Grand Cayman and the second in Havana, from where she will leave for Cozumel, Mexico. Finally, on November 22, she returns to Jamaica.
The cruise industry, which was booming in Cuba, slowed down in 2018 when the Trump Administration tightened economic sanctions against the Island, in addition to the effects of the 2020 mobility restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Rivera assured that for the rest of the year the arrival of other ships is expected, and thus will begin “a successful season for tourism” in January 2023.
The Government states that Cuba received 123,588 tourists in October alone, the fifth best data in the 10 months of 2022. The result, however, is below the initial projections and the number recorded in 2019, before COVID-19.
From January to October, 1,198,402 international tourists were received, a figure that exceeds by 540% the same measure in 2021, but that year restrictions on the entry of foreigners were still maintained due to the pandemic. Last month, the Government had to recognize that it will not reach the goal set at the beginning of the year of receiving 2.5 million visitors, and it lowered its forecast to 1.7 million.
Although November and December are two of the best months in tourism, it’s unlikely that the goal will be reached, since 250,000 tourists would have to enter the country in each of the last two months of the year. Even if this is achieved, the sector will have recovered only 40% of the levels recorded in 2019, when a little more than 4.2 million travelers arrived on the Island.
Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba