Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, Baja Ferries of Miami, United Caribbean Lines Florida of Greater Orlando and Airline Brokers Co. of Miami and Fort Lauderdale were reportedly all notified on Tuesday that they are approved by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments to provide ferry service between Florida and Cuba. As reported by the Sun Sentinel, this is the “first time in five decades, the U.S. is allowing ferry service between Florida and Cuba.” Apparently, Cuba must also approve these services.
Approved! Ferry Service Between FL and Cuba
“Here’s what companies are planning, as reported by the article:
• Havana Ferry Partners hopes to launch its ferry service between Key West and Havana within weeks, possibly with a 200-passenger vessel, Moecklin said.
It also plans to add overnight ferry service later from Fort Lauderdale and Miami to Havana using a larger vessel that could carry 300 to 500 passengers, Moecklin said. Plus, it’s eyeing Port Manatee on Tampa Bay as a gateway with Cuba.
Prices are not set, but Moecklin said Havana Ferry aims to charge passengers roughly $300 to $350 roundtrip, less than the roughly $400 to $500 price for charter flights to Cuba. Passengers could be allowed up to 200 pounds of luggage free.
“We don’t know the costs yet, because we don’t know the costs on the Cuban side,” Moecklin said. “I’m booking my flight to Cuba now” for talks with Cuban officials, he said.
• Baja Ferries USA, an affiliate of United Americas of Miami, is looking to launch overnight service to Cuba possibly three times a week. It has held meetings with Port Everglades, Port Manatee and other Florida seaports to offer service.
United Caribbean Lines Florida, an Orlando area business, plans to “provide a comprehensive service from several ports,” said president Bruce Nierenberg, a long-time cruise ship executive. He sees opportunities for passenger service to Cuba from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, the Tampa area and even from Port Canaveral in Central Florida.
• Airline Brokers Co., a veteran company licensed to provide travel services to Cuba since 1982, is now developing its ferry plans, president Vivian Mannerud said. She is looking at Port Everglades as a potential departure site to Havana, among other alternatives.
CubaKat, based in the Jacksonville area, expects to receive its license in the next month or so, president Brian Hall said Tuesday. The business applied for its license later than others.
CubaKat plans to start service from the Florida Keys this fall using a 200-passenger catamaran that can carry lots of baggage below deck. It has looked at serving Marathon Key but found problems with too few customs officials available there. It may operate instead from Key West, Hall said.
The catamaran ferries aim to offer passenger service for $169 each way, Hall said.”
This is a big development as Obama has moved to open the embargo between the US and Cuba. Looks like this is a step toward citizens being able to legally visit family in Cuba. “Americans still are not allowed to travel to Cuba for general tourism under the terms of the U.S. embargo, which remains in place.” You can read the full article for more info.