Thanks to everyone who got involved and asked the company to stop following discriminatory orders from the Castro dictatorship against US citizens who were born in Cuba.
Cruise giant Carnival Corp. on Monday said it would delay the launch of new Cuba voyages if the island nation sticks to a rule barring Cuban-born Americans from the trips.
Carnival has come under fire in recent days for not allowing Cuban-born Americans to book the voyages, which will be operated by the company’s new Fathom brand and are scheduled to begin May 1. The line had said it was complying with a longstanding Cuban rule forbidding Cuban-born Americans from traveling to Cuba by ship.
In a statement issued Monday, Carnival said it was continuing discussions with the Cuban government to change the rule to allow Cuban-born Americans to sail on the cruises. The voyages will be the first cruises from the USA to Cuba in more than 50 years.
Carnival Corp. also said that, effective immediately, it is accepting bookings for the voyages from passengers born in any country, including Cuba.
The change of policy at Carnival Corp. comes less than a week after the company was sued in federal court by two Cuban-born Americans who were turned down when they tried to book one of the Cuba sailings. The lawsuit claimed the inability of a group of Americans to participate in a public activity violates the Civil Rights Act. It asked for the May 1 cruise to Cuba to be stopped.
Carnival Corp. also faced protests and heavy criticism in its home town of Miami. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez requested an official opinion to see whether the Fathom brand would be violating county code by banning passengers based solely on their national origin. Fathom operates out of PortMiami, which is in Miami-Dade County, and Gimenez asked if the restrictions on Cuban-born Americans would represent a breach of contract or warrant penalties.
Pressure on Carnival to change its policy grew on Thursday after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN en Espanol that “Carnival needs to not discriminate.” Kerry had been asked whether the Fathom trips should be postponed until Cuban-born Americans were allowed to travel to the island by sea.
Carnival on Monday said it was confident the Cuban government would change its policy, noting the country already allows Cuba-born Americans to travel to Cuba on chartered aircraft.
“While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly,” the company said in the statement.