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Holland America Line’s ms Veendam to Sail to Cuba Beginning in December 2017

Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard ms Veendam. Holland America Line becomes Carnival Corporation’s third cruise line to be approved to sail to Cuba following the company’s historic inaugural sailings to the island last year.

The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos, known as the model of early 19th century urban planning in Cuba. The 12-day holiday cruise showcases both Cuban ports. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports as well as a combination of Caribbean ports including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“For many, travel is about seeking new places to explore and discovering meaningful new cultural opportunities, and Cuba is one of the most sought-after new destinations for many of our guests,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We are excited to finally be able to include Cuba in our itineraries, and our guests and travel partners have been anxiously awaiting a premium cruise experience to this relatively undiscovered Caribbean treasure.”

Cuba taxi.

As leaders in destination immersion and experiential travel, Holland America Line adds Cuba to its itineraries in order to provide guests with a thoughtful cultural exchange experience. Most itineraries include an extended call at Havana, allowing guests the time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse themselves in a wide array of historical and cultural adventures. Additionally, a stop at Cienfuegos presents the opportunity for a special visit to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cuba’s province of Sancti Spíritus.

The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

Onboard, the Cuba experience will be enhanced through the line’s Explorations Central, or EXC, program, featuring EXC Guides who will bring the destination to life through presentations and EXC Talks that will enable guests to deepen their understanding of the Caribbean’s largest island. Also enriching the Cuba experience for guests are EXC Port Maps created for the Cuban calls, EXC Encounters that will showcase the culture and history of Cuba to guests before they visit the ports, and much more. In addition, educational and cultural EXC Tours are being developed in and near Havana and Cienfuegos with a highlight being Trinidad, one of the best-preserved historic towns in the Caribbean.

Bookings for Holland America Line’s cruises to Cuba will open May 26, 2017. Guests booked on Veendam’s previous deployment will be given a full refund and opportunity to book on another Holland America Line voyage. Fares for Cuba cruises begin at $899 per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional.

Cuba painting

The visits to Havana and Cienfuegos comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control. All information about special requirements for travel to Cuba is available at hollandamerica.com.

The deployment of the 1,350-guest Veendam to Cuba adds Holland America Line to the historic launch of cruises to the island nation from the U.S. by Carnival Corporation sister brands Fathom and, more recently, Carnival Cruise Line.

34 Comments
  • Isabel Vierk

    Wonderful News! Looking forward to booking our cruise to Cuba with our favorite line. Cuba here we go!!!!!

  • Melissa

    So how are we to book the holiday booking for the veendam for Dec 2017 if the booking doesn’t open untilMay of 2018?

  • Raymond Smiley

    Send details on 11 day March Cuba cruise.

  • Julie

    Hi Raymond, at the blog we don’t have the ability to send detailed information on the cruise beyond itineraries. Please contact your travel agent or HAL’s reservations department: hal_reservations@hollandamerica.com.

  • Julie

    Hi Melissa, bookings opened May 2017. They are open to book now.

  • Peter Brody

    I understand that travelers going to Cuba are required to take an 8 hour tour in Cuba, and that a list of choices is available. I have not found such a list.
    Please also comment on the conditions in Cuba re uneven cobblestone walks and other factors considered for disabled passengers.

  • Julie

    Hi Peter, all of our tours comply with Cuban requirements. However, I don’t have info about the state of the streets. Please contact reservation for more info: HAL_reservations@hollandamerica.com.

  • Michael M. Maziasz

    Has HAL analyzed the most recent declaration by President Trump about U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba, and what impact that might have on the cruises outlined. I have a booking for the 7-day cruise starting on February 7, 2018. Is that still possible?

  • Julie

    Holland America Line is pleased that the policy changes announced by the Trump administration will allow our ships to continue to sail to Cuba. We will review the extent of the tightening of the travel rules, but guests on our sister brands in the Carnival Corporation family have already been traveling under the 12 approved forms of travel to Cuba for more than a year. The experiences in Cuba this past year for guests on our sister brands have been extremely positive. olland America Line looks forward to sailing to Cuba in 2017 and 2018.

  • Michael M. Maziasz

    Hi Julie,
    Will the excursions offered for Havana, like the 7-hour tour, be within the approved list of non military benefit excursions.

  • Julie

    Hi Michael, absolutely. Holland America will offer a wide range of optional shore excursion programs that will fully comply with all the requirements for people-to-people programs.

  • Melanie Keane

    Hi I am looking for a family cruise to Cuba in October 2018. Our child is aged 7 – do you have a kids club?
    Thanks

  • Lauren M.

    Hi Melanie! We have tons of great itineraries to choose from in 2018 and yes, we do have a kids club. If you’d like further details, or have any other questions please contact our Reservations Department at 1–877–932–4259, Mon-Fri 5am-7pm.

  • Erika Gamboa

    Hi,

    Do you have any special activities or celebrations planed on board for Christmas and New Years? since the departing date is December 22 and returning on January 3th.
    Thanks in advance! Looking forward!!

  • Julie

    Hi Erika, we do have holiday festivities onboard. The ships are decorated, there are special dinners, a gingerbread village, for New Year’s Eve there is a gala ball, etc…you’ll find it a very festive time to be onboard!

  • Jan cook

    Iam seeing the 12 day cruise for dec. 2017 is sold out. Is this true? What about 11 day cruise?

  • Julie

    The Dec. 22 cruise to Cuba is not sold out. Just the Neptune Suite. Please call reservations or your travel professional to join us!

  • Cyndi

    My daughter and I are booked on the Dec. 22nd cruise. Will there be other single people on a holiday cruise like this, or is it mostly couples and families?

  • Julie

    We get a mix during the holidays. It’s a lot of families, couples, friends and singles. We’re sure you’ll have a great time!

  • Brenda

    Looking at the 7 ngt
    Cuba cruise on Veendam 7th Feb 2018. We are Australian citizens and wondered can we get visa for Cuba on board the ship or on embarkation . I did read Americans can get one on board for $75.00 USD so wondering is it the same for Australians or do we need to get Cuba visa our self before cruise.

  • Julie

    To make sure you get accurate information since the blog is U.S.-based, please contact the local Australian HAL office. If you are based in the U.S., please call toll-free 1–877–932–4259.

  • David Beasley

    My wife and I are booked on the 28th February 7-day cruise to Cuba from Ft. Lauderdale. As UK citizens can we also buy our visas on board for $75

    And is it compulsory to take a Holland America organised excursion in Cuba to satisfy entry regulations, or can we just get off the ship and do what we like in Havana and Cienfuegos? At the moment our intention is to book a local and have a six hour car tour.

  • laurie

    Hi we are Canadian citizens sailing on the veendam we can visit cuba anytime without a visa from Canada do we need to buy your $75 visa for American?
    Thanks Laurie

  • Julie

    Hi Laurie, you need to contact your travel agent or Holland America Line directly to be sure you get the right answer. HAL_reservations@hollandamerica.com.

  • Julie

    David, please contact Holland America Line in the UK to confirm. You are entering the country with a US-based company, and the rules might be different than if you were entering on your own.

  • Pat

    1, Is there a website that shows the different tours you have for Cuba and the cost?

    2. The itinerary says there are 2 days in Cuba can I take a tour both days

  • Julie

    If you go here and select Cuba as the destination and Havana and Cienfuegos as the ports you can see the tours. You can take tours each day! https://www.hollandamerica.com/cruise-destinations/ShoreExcursions.action

  • IZAK RUBENSTEIN

    HI:
    I wanted to know If I would take a cruise to Cuba, where I can buy the visa to Cuba and If this visa good for all enter of the ship and if is required to purchase together something else.
    the ship is MS VEENDAM Holland America .
    THANKS:
    Izak

  • Julie

    Visa and passport requests can be made directly to the Cuban Embassy (1-202-797-8518) or through the use of third-party providers that are authorized to process these types of applications. ABC Charters (1-877-817-1160) and VisaCentral (1-877-535-0688) are two examples of such companies. If you have further questions, please call Holland America Line at 1–877–932–4259.

  • Larry Herdman

    Sailing on Veendam on June 23, 2018 do I have to book an excursion or can I just get off the ship and explore Havana

  • Julie

    You must participate in an organized tour. It’s legal ordinance.

  • Larry Herdman

    thank you for the responce

  • Phyllis

    Now I’m confused. We are booked on a Veerdom cruise with a stop in Cuba. I talked to an agent today and asked if we needed to apply for a visa on our own in advance. I was told no, that the visa would be taken care of embarkation with a $75 fee. That would be great, but the above comments don’t seem to confirm that. It would be good if the website had a clear statement concerning the visa. Help!

  • Julie

    Hi Phyllis, you are correct, in most cases it is done onboard. Here is the info from the HAL website: Cuba Issued Visa – For most guests a tourist visa will be required which Holland America will facilitate at a cost of $75 (this will be added to your onboard account). You will receive your visa at embarkation. Please review the Q&A and our Cuba travel checklist before your scheduled departure. Here is the Q&A: https://www.hollandamerica.com/content/dam/hal/marketing-assets/manage-my-cruise-already-booked/Holland-America-Line-Cuba-Checklist.pdf

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