SC Line can serve the Cuban seaports of Mariel and Santiago every two weeks on a route that circles between Florida, Cuba, Panama and Colombia. It made its first stop in Cuba on Sunday with its Caroline Russ vessel, which can carry shipping containers, vehicles, breakbulk and other varied cargo.
“We’re ready to respond to customer volume. We could add bigger ships, more ships or weekly service if needed,” said Jose Pardo, chief marketing officer from company offices in Panama.
Port Everglades already has shipping service to Cuba from Crowley Maritime, the Jacksonville-based line authorized since 2001 to ship food, humanitarian supplies and other approved items to the island. Crowley typically serves Cuba’s new container port at Mariel weekly.
Shipments to Cuba have been limited under the 5-decades-old U.S. embargo against the island. But trade now is poised to grow, as the Obama administration since Dec. 17 has adopted a new policy of engagement to Cuba that punches more holes in the embargo.
Washington has eased U.S. rules to sell telecom products on the island and also eased trade with Cuba’s growing private sector, which includes more than half a million people deemed “self-employed.”
The administration also has streamlined rules for U.S. travel to Cuba, spurring a surge in arrivals of Americans with no family there. New reports show the number of those Americans visiting through Sept. 2 topped 100,000, similar to the total who visited in all of last year before Obama’s new policy.
Still, many U.S. companies are awaiting authorization from Cuba to start up on the island, including cruise companies and ferry companies that could operate from PortMiami and Port Everglades.
SC Line this winter switched to the bigger, faster and more modern Caroline Russ ship on its route from Port Everglades. The 10,488-gross-ton vessel can carry up to 190 trucks, 470 cars and 120 shipping containers on chassis. It departs every other Friday from the Broward County seaport.
The shipping line has been calling on Port Everglades since 2012. Founded by Spain’s Sola family in 2006, SC Line operates from Panama and aims to expand in the Caribbean Basin region.