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Norwegian: Cuba cruises from Port Canaveral in 2019

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Norwegian Cruise Line is set to finish up its first summer season of sailings from Port Canaveral on board the Norwegian Sun, but will be back with more in 2019.

The ship’s first season came as it debuted from a dry-dock overhaul, sailing on four-night voyages with overnight stops in Havana, as well as Key West, and three-night itineraries to the Bahamas. The 15 sailings to Cuba since May saw more than 30,000 passengers, according to the cruise line.

Its final cruise of the season departs Sept. 3. The line plans to return in 2019 and said it will offer more sailings to the island nation.

“We’re very proud of the success of the Norwegian Sun sailings from Port Canaveral and thrilled that Norwegian Cruise Line has chosen to continue its very popular Cuba itineraries from here,” said port CEO John Murray in a press relesae. “This important decision by Norwegian to bring Norwegian Sun ‘back home’ to our port validates our commitment to meeting the needs and expectations of our valued cruise partners.”

The summer service form Port Canaveral was a first for Norwegian, having only sailed during the fall and winter months previously. That service will continue when Norwegian Epic returns Nov. 17 with sailings through May 2019. The newer Norwegian Breakaway will take over winter service for the 2019-2020 season.

For summer 2019, though, Norwegian Sun will return. The 78,309-gross-ton ship, which was built in 2001, had its 968 staterooms upgraded during a three-week dry dock earlier this year as well as adding new venues Mexican restaurant Los Lobos Cantina, Bliss Ultra Lounge and the Spinnaker Lounge.

“Since we first sailed to Cuba in 2017 from Miami, it has become one of our most popular destinations,” said Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Andy Stuart. “Norwegian Sun last homeported in Port Canaveral in the 2011/2012 fall/winter season and we were excited to return and showcase her latest enhancements and offer a new itinerary in the region.”

It will once again offer 4-night service to Havana and 3-night Bahamas cruises starting April 15, 2019. For next season, though, the Cuba visits will increase from 16 to 18. Some will make stops in Key West while others have a day at sea. All have an overnight stay in the Cuban capital.

Travel to the communist island, which under the Obama administration had been allowed for individual “people-to-people” visits, had been dialed back because of tighter Trump administration regulations, but cruise lines have benefited and continue to increase sailings to the island nation as part of those regulations. Now, these mostly educational and cultural visits must be done as part of a group, something the cruise lines have banked on.

Carnival Corp. was the first U.S.-based cruise line to visit Cuba on a regular basis in nearly 50 years when it sailed on May 1, 2016, on its Fathom brand. Since then several cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Norwegian have scheduled Cuban stops while sailing from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.

Norwegian is the only line to sail to Cuba from Port Canaveral.  Summer 2019 sailings are available to book now.

By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
For more cruise news and articles go to https://www.cruisecrazies.com

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We are also very interested to cruise to Cuba and actually would prefer to do it now before it gets so "commercialized" -  it's not long after the US$$$$'s start flowing in to these islands before the Diamonds International and the likes will pop up everywhere.  The only deterrent for me right now is the $70 visa that Americans have to buy.

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