Cruise ship shifts home port from Havana to Mexico


Tropicana Cruises, a London-based startup with links to Russia, will begin offering cruises from Puerto Progreso in Yucatán to ports in Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Diario de Yucatán reported.

The first cruise, on the 272-passenger Adriana, is scheduled to leave Progreso July 2.

Tropicana, with offices in London and St. Petersburg, offers a seven-night cruise from Progreso to Havana, Trinidad and Grand Cayman for €720, and a 12-night cruise from Progreso to Grand Cayman, Trinidad, Santiago, Cayo Saetia and Havana for €1,260.

The company bought the 40-year old vessel from a French company and homeported it in Havana for the 2010-11 winter season. The Adriana sailed on 8-night cruises from Havana to Cayo Saetia, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and Nueva Gerona, as well as Ocho Rios in Jamaica through April.

Tropicana is marketing its Cuba cruises in Russia, Britain, Germany and Spain, but — due to U.S. sanctions — not in the United States. A company spokesman said that Tropicana was planning to break down its cruises in a Russian week, an English-speaking week, and a German- or Spanish-speaking week.

Yucatán Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco made the announcement about the cruises from Progreso during a five-day visit of a Cuban business delegation in Mérida. Officials representing 12 Cuban companies met with their counterparts from 40 companies in Yucatán during the visit.

www.cubaluxuryrent.com

Cubans give warm welcome to British cruise liner


Guardian: Cuba has given a warm welcome to a British cruise liner in an effort to boost tourism and step back from Fidel Castro’s remarks that such visitors merely dumped “trash … for a few miserable cents”.

Havanans waved, a salsa band played and showgirls shimmied as the nine-deck Thomson Dream became one of the biggest ships to dock in Cuba for years.

Waiters greeted disembarking passengers with shots of Havana Club rum yesterday in a clear message from the government that the cash-strapped communist island was keen to welcome back cruise liners.

“People were leaning out of windows waving at us and we were waving back. It was really enthusiastic,” Richard Ring, a British passenger, told Reuters.

Shouting over the salsa din, the 40-year-old said it was the warmest greeting of a 14-day Caribbean cruise that included stops at Barbados, Grenada and Curacao.

José Manuel Bisbé, at the tourism ministry, said Cuba had signed deals with European cruise operators to make such visits a regular event. “We think that more than anything, this change reflects the operators’ understanding of all Cuba’s attributes as a destination,” he said.

It also represents a U-turn from Castro’s 2005 broadside that cruises were “floating hotels, floating restaurants, floating theatres, floating diversions” that “visit countries to leave their trash, their empty cans and papers for a few miserable cents”.

The then-president cancelled an Italian firm’s contract to run Cuba’s cruise terminals. A year later, a Spanish ship, Pullmantur, bypassed the island after being bought by an American firm subject to the US embargo. Cruise visitor numbers fell from 102,000 in 2005 to 10,000 last year.

Raúl Castro, who succeeded his brother as president, hopes to ease an economic crisis by boosting tourism – a major revenue source – at the same time as cutting 500,000 state jobs as well as subsidies.

Each passenger spent an average of $50 (£32) to $200 a day in Cuba, Bisbé said, raising hopes that “several million dollars” would be injected into the economy.

Tourism revenues grew by 3.5% in the first nine months of last year and visitor numbers increased by 50,000 to 1.89 million, according to official figures. Most were Canadians and Britons, although the number of Americans rose in response to the US relaxing a travel ban.

www.cubaluxuryrent.com

U.S. cruise lines say return to Cuba would take time


MIAMI (Reuters) – U.S. cruise companies are eager to add Cuba to their itineraries; but even if U.S. policy allowed that, Cuba’s ports would need years of rebuilding to accommodate the ships, industry officials said on Wednesday.

“Our business has grown so much that these ports in Cuba that were (established) in the time of the Spanish conquistadors, that size of ports, they’re going to need a lot of infrastructure improvement,” John Tercek, vice president of commercial development for Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, said at an industry conference in Miami.

The world’s three largest cruise companies — Carnival Corp & Plc, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, which is owned by U.S. private equity firms Apollo Management LP and TPG Capital LP and by Genting Hong Kong Ltd — are all headquartered in Miami.

They are prohibited by the United States from doing business with nearby communist Cuba, under a policy aimed at depriving Cuba of U.S. dollars until it adopts democracy.

The Caribbean region is the top destination for cruise lines because of its year-round mild weather and its proximity to North America, which is the source of more than 70 percent of all cruise passengers globally.

The cruise industry in turn pumped $2.27 billion into the economies of 29 Caribbean destinations last year, according to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association.

When industry officials gather each year at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference, the conversation inevitably turns to when U.S.-Cuba relations might thaw enough for U.S.-operated ships to call on Cuban ports.

“The moment Cuba comes into the market, I think it’s another star,” said St. Lucia Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet.

Because Cuba would be a novelty to most American passengers, it could draw traffic away from other Caribbean ports, industry officials said. But they said it would be likely that the attention focused on a newly opened Cuba would generate more interest in the Caribbean overall, creating a bigger tourism pie for all to share.

“When Cuba opens up, it’s going to be great for everybody,” Royal Caribbean’s Tercek said. “We’ll all find interesting ways to grow with it.”

But no one expects overnight changes.

“The general assumption — that if the U.S. administration dropped their restrictions, there’s going to be a mass exodus of all the ships to Cuba — is clearly not going to happen,” said Colin Murphy, vice president for destination and strategic development for Norwegian Cruise Line.

“No one knows what the government of Cuba will do. So if there’s a change in policy from the U.S. administration, it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to be welcomed with open arms there.”

If U.S.-Cuba relations thawed, the first U.S. cruise ships to call on Cuba would likely be the smaller ones, cruise officials said. It could take four or five years to refit Cuba’s ports to accommodate the 150,000-plus-ton megaships that now ply the Caribbean waters and carry thousands of passengers, they said.

“Nothing’s going to happen super-quick,” Murphy said. “The ports are antiquated.”

www.cubaluxuryrent.com – Cuba luxury travel

Cuba is not the “end all, be all” for the cruise industry


Summary

1.  Cuba will create a boom for the cruise industry….not really.
2.  If passed if will be several years before implemented.
3.  Cuba needs a lot of infrastructure work to support this potential move.
4. Benefits other than cruise lines…entire Cuban economy, local hotels and building  industry will have the biggest positive impact…could also lead to the demise of Castro and socialism.

Analysis 

Cruise industry

Cruise industry

No impact in the short term for the cruise industry and is not  a “Market Maker”
The impact on cruise industry, should The US/Cuban(CVE:US) rules change, while somewhat significant,  won’t happen in the short term and will benefit other industries more than the cruise industry.  The cruise industry will do well, whether or not Cuban access is granted because the industry still has significant upside in growth, since only about 17% of the population in North America has even been on a cruise vacation.
Cuba’s infrastructure today could not accommodate a change in the rules
Moreover, Cuba needs to invest heavy in its infrastructure in order to accommodate any significant growth in tourism and unless that starts tomorrow, (which is unlikely), it is years away from when people will go to Cuba for reasons other than just a passing curiosity.  Thus the building and hotel industries will be the biggest benefactors in “opening up Cuba” to US travelers.
What we have done in the past has not worked but their is a model to emulate.
The reason the US should push for the change in restrictions is because  the strategy that we (the US Government) has used since the early 60’s, simply has been effective.  Yet if you look at the return of Hong Kong (HKG) to China from the British, you will see a model that could be used in Cuba.  Since HKG had a viable growth oriented economy, when the Chinese took it back from the Brits that were smart enough to realize that they should “not  fix what is not broken” .  As a result, HKG continued to grow and prosper..and did not become a true “Socialist/Communist” society.  In fact the Chinese took what they learned there and applied it to other cities on the mainland like Shanghai.  While there is obviously still communism socialism in China, because of the free trade, pro business and reasonably open markets in HKG, China is no longer as isolated like Cuba is today.  The same will happen (only more quickly than in China)  should the US/Cuba lessen the restrictions on visitation. (Reuters.com)
www.particularcuba.com – Travel to Cuba

Cruise companies rise on sector’s surge, U.S.-Cuba talks


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cruise companies leapt alongside a broad rise in consumer discretionary stocks on Wednesday, partly boosted by news that U.S. and Cuban officials began their first talks on Cuban migration this week.

The milestone talks between U.S. and Cuban officials have raised some hopes for unrestricted travel to Cuban ports, a move that could invigorate the popular Caribbean market. Still analysts caution the development of Cuban ports could take years.

“It’s going to take a while, between one to three years, but when it does it should be very positive for the cruise industry,” said Wachovia analyst Tim Condor.

But Condor also stressed that the jump in consumer discretionary stocks was propelling cruise stocks forward. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index tracking those shares was up more than 2 percent.

Carnival Corp plc CCL.N> jumped more than 5.7 percent, its highest one-day percentage jump in nearly a month. Royal Caribbean saw its largest one-day increase in about two months.

Shares of Royal Caribbean were up 8.27 percent, or $1.05, at $13.74, while Carnival were up 6.6 percent or $1.53 at $27.02.

Analysts have argued that the opening of Cuban ports would be a boost for the industry and would invigorate the popular Caribbean market.

Still infrastructure issues could post a stumbling block for rapid development, analysts said.

“Cuba is a wonderful destination,” Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Richard Fain, said in an interview last month. “It’s going to help the industry. It’s not going to transform the industry.”

www.particularcuba.com – Flights to Cuba from Europe and USA