The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce has granted approval for Carnival Corporation & plc to begin travel to Cuba, according to a statement released on Tuesday.
Carnival Corporation is scheduled to bring travelers to Cuba starting in May 2016 as part of its newly-launched fathom brand. Initial voyages will bring travelers to the Dominican Republic. The corporation intends to operate fathom travel itineraries directly to Cuba for "the purpose of providing cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges between American and Cuban citizens," according to the statement.
Based on current authorized U.S.-to-Cuba travel guidelines, the Cuban itineraries on fathom will strictly comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people. Carnival Corporation is in active discussions and plans to work with the appropriate authorities in Cuba so that Cuban approval is granted.
Carnival Corporation's 10th global brand, fathom, launched on June 4, is designed as a purpose-driven brand to enrich the lives of its travelers and in the case of the Dominican Republic, drive sustainable social impact on a significant scale. The brand projects to gather 37,000 annual travelers who collectively could spend a total of more than 100,000 days a year either volunteering or immersing in educational and cultural exchanges in local communities.
Beginning in April 2016, fathom will offer weekly seven-day voyages aboard the MV Adonia from Port Miami and its first "impact destination" will be the new port of call, Amber Cove, in the northern region of the Dominican Republic, which will serve as home base for fathom.
Following the inaugural April month of voyages to the Dominican Republic, fathom plans to offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries on a systematic and regular basis, giving travelers the opportunity to choose from two destinations and a range of activities from social impact in the Dominican Republic and educational and cultural exchanges in both countries designed to have a positive, transformative effect on the lives of the travelers.
"We are excited about receiving U.S. approval as the very important first step to ultimately take travelers to Cuba under the existing 12 criteria for authorized travel," said Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between U.S. citizens and the people of Cuba a reality. We know there is strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society. It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to Cuba to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the Dominican Republic beginning in the spring of 2016."
"We're incredibly excited and humbled by this potential opportunity to help travelers experience the amazing beauty and culture of Cuba, while being able to provide educational and cultural exchange activities that will benefit both the traveler and the Cuban people," said Tara Russell, president of fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "After establishing the Dominican Republic as our first partner destination, Cuba represents an important step for us to expand our ability to offer meaningful and enriching experiences to purpose-driven travelers. Our goal remains the same for both destinations – to enable travelers to immerse, learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis. We are looking forward to building what we intend to be a beautiful and lasting friendship with the Cuban people."
"We're very interested in exploring the prospects of expanding our partnership with fathom to include Cuba, building new impact programs and lending our assistance to strengthen existing initiatives that will help educational, cultural and humanitarian efforts already going on in Cuba," said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI, a non-profit organization with the mission to help alleviate poverty in rural and urban areas in the Caribbean. "IDDI has long-standing relationships in Cuba and more than a decade of experience working on the ground side-by-side with local officials to make a positive impact in Cuban communities. Nothing else like fathom exists to bring hundreds of like-minded travelers a week to communities of people who need ongoing support. With fathom and its travelers, the potential for making a lasting impact in people's lives is tremendous. We look forward to partnering closely with fathom to take our programs to the next level, and support growth and prosperity for the citizens of Cuba."
Travelers may start booking reservations for future fathom voyages.
Prices for the seven-day trip to the Dominican Republic start at $1,540 per person, which includes an exterior cabin with a view, all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences, three on-shore social impact activities and related supplies, taxes, fees, and port expenses. Prices will vary by season.
Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at $2,990 per person, excluding taxes, port and other government and related fees, and including all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences and certain on-the-ground cultural immersion activities.