Ferries between the U.S. and Cuba to resume for the first time in 50 YEARS

Posted on 06/05/2015

Ferries between the U.S. and Cuba to resume for the first time in 50 YEARS

In a major step, the United States Obama administration has begun approving licenses for a number of ferry companies to operate services between the United States and Cuba.

In December, the United States and Cuba announced plans to renew diplomatic relations after 54 years, and have since held high level talks.

‘If all goes smoothly we could have things up and running by September,’ said Joseph Hinson, vice president of Baja Ferries USA.

He added the company still needed to get approval from Cuba, as well as Florida port officials.

‘This is a further step in bringing Cuba and the United States closer together,’ said Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer who represented Baja Ferries and specializes in Cuba sanctions.

The ferries would only be able to carry licensed travelers to Cuba, including Cuban Americans visiting relatives and Americans traveling for educational and cultural tours.

Approved trade and private sector business activities would also be allowed.

Under the U.S. trade embargo, Americans are not allowed to visit Cuba on regular tourist vacations.

Baja Ferries plans to offer services three to four days a week, using ships carrying about 1,000 passengers and cargo, on an overnight service with sleeping cabins and dining facilities.

America Cruise Ferries also plans to operate three times a week between Miami and Havana with about 1,000 passengers as well as vehicles and freight, said James Whisenand, a Miami lawyer who handled the company’s application.

‘They would like to start operating immediately, but that is subject to final negotiations with the Cuban government,’ he said.

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