Category Archives: Cruises to Cuba

Carnival finally did the right thing!

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.

USA Today

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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.

Carnival’s Cuba cruise discriminates, lawsuit says

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CNN

When Carnival Corp. announced plans for a cruise ship from its Fathom line to sail from Miami to Havana in May, Francisco Marty jumped at the opportunity to surprise his kids with a trip back to their native land.

But Marty, who’s cruised so many times that he’s a Platinum VIP in the company’s rewards program, was shocked when a representative told him he couldn’t go on the inaugural trip because of where he was born: Cuba.
Now, as travelers get their bags ready for the first cruise to Cuba in more than 50 years, Marty is part of a new class-action lawsuit claiming that Carnival is discriminating against Cuban-Americans looking to travel to their homeland.
The lawsuit, filed by Marty and fellow traveler Amparo Sanchez, alleges that the company is violating federal civil rights laws and discriminating against Cubans by denying them tickets.

‘A Cuba decision’

A spokesperson for Carnival responded to the lawsuit in a statement, writing, “This is not a decision by our Fathom brand, but rather a Cuba decision.”
The statement cites a Cold War-era Cuban law that does not allow Cuban-born individuals to enter the country by ships, only via plane.

Carnival said the company requested a change in the regulation and has been working with the Cuban government on the issue for months.
But for Marty, that isn’t enough.

Attorney Robert Rodriguez said his client has health issues that keep him from flying to the island.

Marty took part in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and had been hoping to return to the beach he landed on to take “before” and “after” photos for an exhibit at a Miami museum, Rodriguez said.
Then, he was told he wouldn’t be allowed on board.

“They said, ‘Sorry, you can’t go because you’re Cuban,’ ” Rodriguez said. “That’s just not the American way. You were given permission to sail to Cuba, not break the laws of the U.S.”
Rodriguez said he plans to file an emergency motion early Monday, aiming for an immediate hearing, hoping that a judge will hear the case within the next week.
“I hope that Carnival cooperates, in terms of getting this litigated before the first cruise,” Rodriguez said.

The weeklong cruise is set to sail to Havana on May 1, also making stops in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. Tickets start at $1,800 per person, excluding other costs, such as Cuban visas.

Do similar cases set a precedent?

Rodriguez said he’s confident the suit will succeed. One reason: the U.S. government has weighed in on similar situations in the past.
Miami-based civil rights attorney John de Leon says there are at least two similar cases in recent history.

According to de Leon, Kuwait Airways had a policy banning Israeli citizens from traveling between JFK and London’s Heathrow airport.
“The Department of Transportation came out very strongly. … They said they would not allow discrimination for anybody who is leaving an American port,” said de Leon.
The airline eventually suspended the flight altogether.

In a similar case, Norwegian Cruise Line canceled all port calls into Tunisia after the Tunisian government refused to allow entry to a group of Israeli citizens.
“The cruise ship had to balance its commercial interest verses its interest not to discriminate,” said de Leon, who is Cuban-American.
“If they do the right thing, they are going to say, ‘We are not going to discriminate against the Cubans in Miami, who have been loyal customers for years and generations.’ ”
Kerry: ‘Carnival needs to not discriminate’

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry weighed in on the controversy last week during a visit to Miami-Dade College, telling the Miami Herald: “Carnival needs to not discriminate.”

“The United States government will never support, never condone discrimination. And the Cuban government should not have the right to enforce on us a policy of discrimination against people who have the right to travel,” Kerry told CNN en Español.
“We should not be in a situation where the Cuban government is forcing its discrimination policy on us. So we call on the government of Cuba to change that policy, and to recognize that if they want full relations and a normal relationship with the United States, they have to live by international laws, not exclusively by Cuban laws,” he said.

A spokesman for the State Department later clarified Kerry’s remarks, explaining that Kerry “in no way meant to convey that Carnival is supporting policies that are discriminating against Cuban-American travelers.”

Carnival Launches the ‘Hate Boat’ to Cuba

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Ordinarily taking a cruise to Cuba would not rate high in my house.

Being trapped on a ship packed with “wild and crazy” middle-agers eager to “partay” on a conga line would be my wife’s idea of Hades. As for me, I have vowed not to return to Cuba until it’s free, and have not returned in 44 years.

But I must admit that Carnival Cruises is making it very tempting to try to book passage. Their recently announced discriminatory policy of refusing to take Cuban-Americans to the island of their birth puts a large, neon “Sue Me” sign right next to their company logo.

Oh, and there’s also the added bonus of exposing the fact that Carnival’s policy epitomizes what’s wrong with President Obama’s (sometimes literal) embrace of the Castros. Like all dictators, the Castros are bacterial: Touch them, and you get contaminated.

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Carnival has now caught the Castros’ cooties. The same will happen to that nice company near you if it tries to do business with Cuba. It, too, will find out that it can only do business with Raul Castro’s son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, the man in charge of the Cuban economy.

Carnival’s policy is so stupid even Secretary of State John Kerry tried to distance the administration from the company on Thursday. “They should not embrace a policy that is Cuban, which winds up discriminating against Americans,” Kerry told Miami’s Channel 10.

Bloomberg laid out what’s at stake very well in this story with the telling headline, “Want to Do Business in Cuba? Prepare to Partner With the General.”

If you do, please understand you’re giving the general money to buy more bullets and torture implements. You may still want to go ahead, but consider there might not be enough NyQuil in the world to help you sleep after that.

Just consider the principle here. The Castro regime doesn’t recognize Cuban-Americans as Americans. And Carnival’s okay with that. It has sold out Cuban-Americans and abased itself in exchange for profit.

Let’s be clear here. This is what our “embassy” in Cuba says on its website:

The Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S. nationality of U.S. citizens who are Cuban-born or are the children of Cuban parents. These individuals will be treated solely as Cuban citizens and may be subject to a range of restrictions and obligations, including military service.

Get that? The Cuban regime says it owns you if you or your parents are Cuban-born. It does not recognize your decision to become a naturalized American, nor does it accept that being born in America makes you and American. As far as the Castros and their cronies are concerned, Cubans and their children belong to them and are incapable of ever breaking free.

And for good measure, the Cuban government says that people born in Cuba cannot come in by sea. Carnival will abide with that and will not book any American born in Cuba on any of its Cuba-bound cruises.

Would a suit against Carnival succeed?

It’s unclear whether Carnival is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars American “places of public accommodation” from discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin.”

A federal lawsuit has already been filed in Miami. The issue is whether the act applies overseas, though many say it does as the passengers are embarking here.

But either way, Carnival knows it is violating the spirit of the law, and that what matters here is the court of public opinion. Carnival deserves shunning. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., born in the U.S. to Cuban parents, put it well when he said,

I never could have fathomed an American company could be so blinded by the prospect of profit in Cuba that it would enter into a business deal with the Castros that tramples on the civil rights of our own American citizens. Make no mistake–by discriminating against Cuban-Americans, Carnival is allowing the Castro regime to extend its oppressive reach to our shores.

It’s impossible to know what Carnival’s executives were thinking when they agreed to let the Castros dictate their policy to their company. This “Love Boat” is headed to court.