Carnival sends first ship from Tampa to Havana, optimistic about future trips

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (WFLA) — Carole Kaminsky is excited for her first trip to Cuba. The Pennsylvania native boarded the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Paradise on Thursday to sail to Havana.

Her parents had their honeymoon in Havana in 1935.

“It means it was a beginning and if it was a beginning for them, I’ll be 77 on Sunday, it’ll be a beginning for me,” said Kaminsky.

She’s not alone on the trip, her family is traveling with her and 2,400 other passengers for Carnival’s first trip from Tampa to Havana.

Angelica Thomas is traveling with 20 members of her family. 

Whey they first booked the trip, Cuba was not on the itinerary, but they were all excited when they found Havana had been added to the trip.

“We were all excited to go to Cuba cause we’ve never been there and this is a great opportunity before anything changes and we can’t go back,” said Thomas.

Carnival is optimistic about future trips to Cuba from Tampa and has scheduled 12 trips to the island nation so far.

“We’re seeing very strong demand. The bookings are performing well above expectations. We’re very happy with how our guests are responding and we don’t foresee a change in that,” said Gus Antorcha with Carnival.

The cruise line maintains they are not concerned with recent travel restrictions to Cuba announced by President Trump.

“We have a very varied and extensive tour program on board and we work very hard to make sure that tour program abides by the regulations and the rules and so we make it very easy for guests on board. They can book a shore excursion and be confident they will abide by all of the relevant regulations,” said Antorcha.

Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson says he believes the travel restrictions announced by the president will help the cruise industry and help Tampa.

“The cost of a cruise is very affordable, it structures your visit to Cuba to one of the 12 approved methods for going to Cuba. So we believe it’s actually going to help us. We are very excited about that,” said Anderson.

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