Norwegian cruises from Port Canaveral to Cuba begin

Cruises will include stops in Havana

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The first regularly scheduled cruises from Port Canaveral to Cuba begin Monday, when the Norwegian Sun departs on a four-night cruise there.

The cruises to Cuba will include stops in the Cuban capital of Havana, as well as in Key West. They will depart from Port Canaveral every Monday during the summer 2018 cruise season, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

"The challenge, of course, is there's still the restrictions and travel to Cuba and you have to have certain cultural reasons for visiting. And what the cruise lines do is deliver that cultural experience and they can put that whole package together and so it's in full compliance with U.S. laws," Port Canaveral CEO Captain John Murray said. 

In addition to the four-night sailings to Cuba, Norwegian Sun will operate three-night cruises out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas that will sail every Friday. Those cruises will call at either Nassau or Freeport, as well as at Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private beach island.

The plans to offer cruises to Havana from Port Canaveral were first announced last July.

Florida native, John Stone, said as soon as he heard the announcement, he jumped on the opportunity. 

"I have been to Cuba several times and I really enjoyed the country and the people and I thought this was an opportunity to share this with Holly and let her go down. So convenient because it's right here at the port," Stone said.

The 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun will be berthed at Port Canaveral's Cruise Terminal 10, where the port invested more than $35 million in renovations in 2016.

The ship is scheduled to arrive at Port Canaveral at 7 a.m. Monday and set sail at 4 p.m.

The ship's itinerary includes a call on Key West on Tuesdays, followed by an early-morning arrival in Havana on Wednesdays, allowing passengers the opportunity to experience a full day and night there.

Miami-based Norwegian said fares on the new Cuba and Bahamas cruises on the Norwegian Sun will include unlimited beverages, including alcoholic drinks.

When Norwegian announced plans last July to begin sailing from Port Canaveral to Cuba this month, the cruise line said the Norwegian Sun's four-day cruises to Cuba "will transport guests to the heart of the action in both Key West and Havana, calling in Key West's Old Town district and Havana Harbor, located in the heart of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Norwegian Sun will offer guests the opportunity to experience the wonderful culture and incredible history of Cuba, along with the warmth and friendliness of the Cuban people during shore excursions" that will comply with travel guidelines for U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba.

Norwegian Sun underwent a 2½-week dry dock in April as a part of the the cruise line's "Norwegian Edge" ship revitalization program.

The Norwegian Sun will be one of four cruise ships at Port Canaveral on Monday. It will be joined by the Port Canaveral-based Disney Dream and Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas. Also, the Norwegian Gem will be there for a port-of-call stop.

Norwegian is one of four cruise lines with ships based at Port Canaveral, the others being Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean.

Port Canaveral is the world's second-busiest cruise port in terms of passenger volume, behind the Port of Miami.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced in January that it will base its Norwegian Breakaway at Port Canaveral for the 2019-20 fall and winter season.

The Breakaway will replace the slightly older and slightly larger Norwegian Epic at Port Canaveral. The Epic has been based at Port Canaveral for three consecutive fall/winter sailing seasons.

Norwegian Breakaway during the 2019-20 season will sail seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, departing from Port Canaveral every Saturday, starting Nov. 23, 2019.

The ship's Eastern Caribbean sailings will offer stops at St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Norwegian's private island, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Its Western Caribbean cruises have stops at Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

The Breakaway was built in 2013, and has a passenger capacity of 3,963, based on double-occupancy of its cabins. In comparison, the Epic was built in 2010 and refurbished in 2015, and has a double-occupancy capacity of 4,100.