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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: The Return of Cruise Ships

The Cuban archipelago, a tourist destination per excellence in the Caribbean, supports its development in the island´s natural, cultural and historical richness, which is also supported by the warm waters bathing its coasts and provide a unique alternative for nautical recreational options.

Apart from the traditional sun and beach offers, Cuba aims at recuperating cruise tourism taking into account the country´s potential in keys and ports to facilitate access to such vessels.

In addition, the geographic position of the country in the center of the main marine routes in the area (the Yucatan Channel, the Old Bahama Channel and the Windward Passage) favors the increase of this tourist option.

According to sources from the sector, the Spanish company Sol Meliá opened this option in Cuba back in 1996 when the Meliá-Don Juan vessel, with capacity for 840 passengers, sailed from the central province of Cienfuegos in a program which lasted until late 1997.

Meanwhile, the Adriana ship, operated by a Russian company and with capacity for 300 passengers, sailed around the island at least four times in 2011.

In this sense, the country has a port capacity capable of catering in its four terminals one million passengers and 600 vessels a year.

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The latest actions show a recuperation of the activity taking into account that ports in central and southern Cuba catered 34 stopovers during the peak tourist season, the highest number since this tourist option started in the country in 1996.

In this sense, eight pleasure ships transported tourists to the ports of Casilda, in Sancti Spíritus, and to Cienfuegos, in the province by the same name, such as the Louis Cristal with 15 stopovers.

The abovementioned ship was rented by Cuba Cruise which has its headquarters in Calgary, Canada, to pick up passengers in Havana or Montego Bay, Jamaica, to circumnavigate the island in seven-day voyages.

The ship, with capacity for 1,200 passengers, sailed around Cuba with stopovers in Holguín, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and Punta Francés, in the Isle of Youth.

Apart from the voyage, the option included tours on beaches and visits to nightclubs, fortresses and architectural jewels of colonial time.

These actions are combined with the increase of nautical activities such as sport fishing, diving, kite-surfing and life-on-board options in certain areas of the country.

The abovementioned recreational option is supported by about a dozen marines, which can be found across the archipelago, with more than 320 vessels ready for vacationers who wish to enjoy this tourist option.

These facilities include nine marines with the necessary conditions for dispatching foreign vessels and six of them: Gaviota Los Morros, Hemingway, Gaviota Varadero, Dársena Varadero, Cayo Guillermo and Gaviota Puerto Vita, are located in the northern coast of the island.

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