Cruise Lines Chart a Course for Cuba

Carnival's Fathom ships set sail for Cuba
••• Carnival's Fathom ships set sail for Cuba. Carnival Cruise Lines

Hoping to visit Cuba with your kids? Consider a cruise.

Recent changes for travel to Cuba

In early 2015, the U.S. and Cuba resumed diplomatic ties and reopened embassies for the first time in more than 50 years. One key change was the opening up of travel for Americans. While the kind of allowable trips is still limited to specific categories of travel, you no longer have to apply for a visa.

Also, you can now theoretically use U.S. credit and debit cards in Cuba, though it's a good idea to check with your credit card provider and bank to make sure their systems are up-to-date on this change.

It's smart to bring some cash or traveler's checks to convert.

While Americans can now legally travel to Cuba, there are restrictions. You need to book a tour through a company that has won special approval from the U.S. State Department to run "people to people" cultural-exchange trips to Cuba.

Cruises to Cuba

Since the U.S. opened up relations with Cuba, several cruise lines have been lining up their ducks to offer sailings to Cuba. So far, the most kid-friendly of the bunch include:

Carnival Cruise Line's new voluntourism-minded Fathom brand launched its first full-week sailings to Cuba in May 2016, sailing out of Miami. Itineraries meet the U.S. requirements for travel to Cuba, specifically that Americans engage in people-to-people educational tours while on the island. Fathom tours are designed to focus on educational, artistic, and cultural exchange.

Fathom's seven-day itinerary offers an authentic Cuban cultural immersion into the Cuban culture and full connection with the Cuban people.

The sailings stop in three ports of call in Cuba: Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. Shore experiences include visits to an elementary schools, organic farms, and Cuban entrepreneurs.

Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at around $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard social impact immersion experiences and on-the-ground cultural immersion activities.

Prices vary by season. 

MSC Cruises has based a ship in Cuba, but so far the cruises board in Havana and are not yet marketed to Americans.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are also seeking permission to sail to Cuba.

Flying to Cuba

For decades, only chartered flights were permitted between the United States and Cuba. But beginning in fall 2016, six U.S. airlines are approved to begin scheduled flights between the two countries.