HAVANA, May 2th Norwegian Cruise Line makes inaugural call in Havana and marked Norwegian Cruise Line’s very first call on the Caribbean nation.
The Norwegian Sky arrived in Havana Harbor this morning to moor alongside Terminal Sierra Maestra just across from Plaza de San Francisco, and the ship will overnight as its nearly 2,004 passengers visit the capital city.
At 77,104 gross tons, the Norwegian Sky is the largest cruise ship to currently visit Cuba, and it represents the third Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Limited brand to now make its way to Havana. Previously, corporate cousins Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have also stopped over, and the parent company’s president and CEO Frank Del Rio, himself having been born in Cuba, has been onboard each for the inaugural occasions.
As the Sky departed Miami, Florida, Del Rio remarked, “Norwegian is 50 years old this year, and it’s about a little over 50 years that…a ship from America had sailed to Cuba, so it’s only fitting that Norwegian Sky [is] going back to Cuba this year on our 50th anniversary. … Our two other brands have also gone to Havana recently.
Oceania Cruises’ Marina went for the first time on March 11th, and we were onboard for that. And that was a very emotional day for me.
“It was the first time I sailed into Havana Harbor. I had been to Cuba twice before after a 55-year absence. I left Cuba right before my seventh birthday, and then 55 years later I popped in to say ‘hello’ and then got the opportunity to cruise onboard on Marina on March 11. And then on April 18th—April 11, it ended April 18th—we went back on the Regent [Seven Seas] Mariner and so now this is our third ship and our third brand, our biggest brand and our most important brand.
And so I’m honored that you’re all here to share this occasion with us.”
The inaugural arrival this morning was celebrated with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and commemorative plaque exchange. Frank Del Rio and a local representative collectively snipped the red streamer, and then the captain and port officials exchanged traditionally dated markers—one from the destination, like those often on display in ship hallways, and one from the vessel itself. If you ever find yourself roaming the ship wondering exactly what those signify, now you’ll know.
From today on, Norwegian’s guests have the opportunity to explore Cuba under new US government permissions extending to available shore excursions that can be reserved through the cruise line.