Ferry service to Cuba could be set to return for the first time in over half a century after the United States government approved new services between the two countries. The Obama administration last approved some reputable companies to provide transport and Travel services between Cuba and United States. The decision comes months after President Obama announced an end to diplomatic rows with Cuba and lifted most travel restrictions to the Nation.
Ferries between Florida and Havana stopped when the US imposed an embargo on Cuba In 1960. However Whitehouse announced restoration of diplomatic ties between the two nations in December 2014.Washington has lifted the ban and several ferry companies say they have been licensed to ply the route. Some of the companies licensed to operate between the two destinations include: Baja Ferries of Miami, Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, United Caribbean Lines of Greater Orlando and Airline Brokers Co. of Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The Cuban Authorities must also grant these companies approval in order for the services to proceed.
New Ferries to Cuba
However, this does not mean that ferries will start launching for Cuban waters straight away as there are some bureaucratic hurdles for Ferry services to Cuba companies to overcome. Nevertheless it is a clear indication of the US government’s desire to put the policies that isolate Cuba behind and begin a new era of friendship and cooperation. Traveling by Ferry between Cuba and US is expected to be a cheaper choice than flying, and most travellers will be able to transport large amounts of luggage. The new Ferry service will allow travellers to board their vehicles in Miami and arrive in Cuba (Havana) within 10 hours.
Some of the licensed companies say they could start operating within weeks but others say plans are still in development. Among the main departure points being considered are: Miami, Tampa-area, Key West and Port Everglades. Before the Cuban Revolution IN THE 50’s ferries used to ply the waters between Key West, Miami beach, Miami and Havana carrying Americans on getaways to explore Havana’s night life and Cubans on shopping excursions. Today Cuba is interested in enhancing access to the country for its rapidly growing tourism industry. Before any of the Ferry services can start operations the US coast guard must also approve the Ports of entry in Cuba and the service providers must negotiate and agree on matters such as like dock access the government of Cuba.
However just because the firms have been given the green light by Treasury’s OFAC( Office of Foreign Assets Control) and the Commerce Department it does not necessarily mean that the Cuban government must strike deals with them. The US still does not allow its citizens to go on the Island for vacations but it allows family visits, professional, educational and other purposeful visits as long as it falls into the 12 approved categories.
Commerce with Cuba
When President Obama announced the new terms of engagement with Cuba in December and plans to resume friendly diplomatic relations, he also outlined various plans for increased commerce and expanded travel to Cuba. Under the plans, US exports headed to only private entrepreneurs are allowed as well as small imports of the products that they produce. Seeds, Farm equipment and other related items like construction tools and materials are also allowed by the US as long as they are headed for private hands.
Can Americans Travel to Cuba?
Ferries to Cuba will be allowed to transport both passengers and cargo to Cuba which is about 90 miles(150km) from Florida. Additionally a new chapter flight service from New York to Cuba operated by JetBlue has also been announced. The service was agreed upon during a trade delegation of New York based cities companies to Cuba, led by the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo. However despite the new ferry services and new flights, a travel ban on Cuba is still active for all US nationals, only individuals who have the required paperwork in 12 different groups are allowed to visit the Island.