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 four-night service to Havana and three-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.