U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (June 5, 2019) - Following the U.S. government's renewed restrictions on travel to Cuba, the U.S. Virgin Islands government is working closely with the cruise lines to help them as they race to rework their itineraries.
The State Department announced this week that the United States will no longer permit visits to Cuba via passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, nor on private and corporate aircraft.
Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism Designee, said that since news of the policy shift, the Ports of the Virgin Islands has reached out to the cruise lines to offer inconvenienced passengers the opportunity to visit the Territory, including the less busy cruise destination of St. Croix.
"We have been in contact with the lines about making calls to both St. Croix and St. Thomas," said Commissioner Designee Boschulte, who let executives know that the Territory's ports can accommodate diverted vessels on short notice.
"We have the capacity and are encouraging the lines to experience St. Croix especially - an emerging tourism destination steeped in rich culture and heritage and whose stakeholders are prepared to provide a welcoming experience for cruise ship passengers," he said.
Commissioner Designee Boschulte said the Ports of the Virgin Islands will closely monitor the impact of the new policy and explore solutions with cruise lines at next week's Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association's Platinum Associate Member Advisory Council Conference, taking place in St. Maarten.
(Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)