US bans cruises to Cuba

The US State Department has banned cruises to Cuba, imposing without notice new restrictions on US travel to Cuba.

The State Department said that the US would no longer permit visits to Cuba on passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, as well as private and corporate aircraft.

The US Commerce Department told Reuters the ban would be effective from Wednesday June 5th, giving cruise lines no notice to change destinations.

The move clearly caught the cruise lines unprepared.

Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that ships sailing Wednesday and Thursday this week would no longer stop in Cuba and that it would be providing updates on future cruise destinations.

Carnival Corp said that it would have additional information in “the very near future”.

Norwegian Cruise Line said that it was monitoring the situation.

Some political analysts have opined that the move was less to do with principle or an attempt to shift Cuba’s support of Venezuela  than it was related to next year’s presidential elections and the key state of Florida, home to many hardline Cuban-American exiles, whose opposition to the current Cuban administration is well known.

National security adviser John Bolton, who has led the US campaign against what he calls the “troika of tyranny” of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, said that “we will continue to take actions to restrict the Cuban regime’s access to US dollars.”

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel fought back in the war of words, writing on Twitter that “they have not been able to asphyxiate us, they will not be able to stop us, we will continue to live and we will conquer”.

The Cuban government has said that 257,500 US citizens, not including those of Cuban origin, visited Cuba from January to March, with 55% arriving on cruise ships