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  • Writer's pictureJason Leppert

Carnival Cruise Line Calls on Cuba

PHOTO: Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Paradise sailing past El Morro in Havana, Cuba. (photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

Add Carnival Cruise Line to the list of cruise brands now heading to Cuba.

On June 30, 2017, the Carnival Paradise officially arrived in Havana for the first time after departing from Port Tampa Bay the day previously.

“Carnival is the only cruise line with a year-round ship in Tampa and we have a long-standing partnership with the local community, so it is exciting that we are inaugurating our cruises featuring Havana from this city with its very large Cuban population and strong affinity for Cuban culture,” said Carnival Cruise Line Executive Vice President of Guest Shipboard Operations Gus Antorcha, in a press release.

“Cruising is a fantastic and convenient way to visit Cuba and we are seeing tremendous demand for these cruises from consumers as well as our travel agent partners who are sharing this exciting new vacation option with their clients.”

In celebration, Carnival held a bon voyage reception at the embarkation port featuring Cuban culture, music, food and drinks. A $25,000 charity donation was also made to Tampa’s Ybor City Museum Society, a nonprofit organization with a goal to preserve, promote and celebrate the distinct cultural heritage of Ybor City, as well as support the Ybor City Museum State Park.

Among the cuisine showcased onboard was the “World’s Largest Cuban Sandwich at Sea” in the form of a 10-foot-long representing both Miami and Tampa Cuban cultures.

Ingredients included white bread, five pounds of ham, 50 pounds of pork, six pounds of Swiss cheese, one gallon of dill pickles and mustard and mayonnaise, plus eight pounds of Genoa salami for Tampa.

Paul Anderson, president & CEO, Port Tampa Bay, added in the press release, “We are extremely honored that Carnival has selected Port Tampa Bay to offer cruises to Havana, Cuba and excited for the travel community that this fantastic new destination is now available.

“Carnival’s commitment to serving our market for nearly a quarter of a century is a testament to the strong support they receive from our community. And, in return, the economic impact of their Tampa operation is substantial considering a single call from an average size cruise ship generates more than $350,000 in direct economic contribution to our community.”

The inaugural voyage to Cuba was the first of a dozen four- and five-day sailings overnighting in Havana. The five-day cruises additionally stop at either Cozumel, Mexico or Key West, Florida. Future dates depart on July 13; August 14, 24 and 28; September 7, 21 and 25; and October 5, 9 and 19 in 2017; as well as May 3 in 2018.

Besides the allure of Cuba, the 2,052-guest Carnival Paradise itself sports a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival wellness facility, a Serenity adults-only retreat, family-friendly Seuss at Sea programming—such as the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends—four swimming pools and a 115-foot-long water slide.

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