Cruise ship executives want US and Cuba to ‘work out their differences’

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Island is top popular destination despite countries’ icy relations

By Hatzel Vela – Reporter, ABC News – Nov 28

HAVANA – Several CEOs of major cruise lines traveled to Havana this week to talk to the Cuban government about business.

The companies – many of them based in the United States — continue to bring visitors to Cuba despite the icy US-Cuba relations.

The Cruise Lines International Association and the Cuban government hosted the two-day event, which started Monday.

Frank Del Rio, the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said the cruise industry continues to be supportive of keeping Cuba open as a destination.

“We’re hopeful that the governments can work out their differences.”

Recently, the Trump administration issued new regulations that bans Americans from doing business with 180 entities tied to the Cuban military.

It is also makes it harder for Americans to travel to Cuba, but airlines and cruise ships continue to come.

“Before the regulations were changed, the ships were full and they continue to be full so we see the minimal impact on our business because of the new regulations,” Del Rio said.

According to the US-Cuba trade and economic council, in the next two years the cruise ship industry could deliver close to half a million passengers to Cuba.

“The good news is that we’re still here. Guests are happy coming to Cuba. Of all the 500 or so destinations that my cruise lines visit around the world, Havana is ranked number one in customer satisfaction.”

Del Río who is Cuban American and founded Oceania Cruise Lines says he wants better relations between both countries. And in the future he would like them to be fully normalized.

“We do business with China; we do business with Russia, mortal enemies of the United States. Cuba deserves better than that.”

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