Carnival Corp. may delay the first Cuba sailings of its Fathom brand because of a rule preventing any Cuban-born Americans from returning to Cuba.
News broke last week that Fathom had come under scrutiny for not allowing Cuba-born Americans to book cabins on their Cuban sailings. But the cruise line responded, saying that it wasn’t a policy of Carnival that was preventing it from happening, but rather it was coming from the Cuban government.
On Monday, Carnival took a stand. It said that not only would it begin accepting bookings from passengers born in Cuba, but if the rule isn’t changed, it would delay its first Cuban sailings.
Last week, a lawsuit claimed Carnival was discriminating against two Cuban-Americans who were turned away by a Fathom booking agent.
In response, Carnival spokesman Roger Frizzell said in a statement that the company has “requested a change in the regulation and [is] actively working on the issue. It is our hope and intention that everyone can travel and we will continue to pursue a change in the regulation that puts cruising on the same footing as aircraft travel is today in Cuba.”
The lawsuit was followed by protests outside of Carnival’s headquarters in Doral, a suburb of Miami.
Fathom’s statements on Monday pits the cruise line firmly against Cuba’s decade-old policy of not letting ex-pats, many of whom fled the Communist regime, return home.
Meanwhile, after a false start last week, Fathom has finally seen its first sailing hit the open water.
Fathom’s Adonia successfully sailed out of Port Miami on Sunday, departing on a week-long itinerary to the Dominican Republican.
Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald was on hand to toast to Fathom president Tara Russell and the entire Fathom team.
“We’re about the change the world,” he said.
The multiple “sliding fire screen doors” problems found by the Coast Guard that had forced Fathom to cancel its first sailing last week have been fixed. During the whole process, Fathom maintained that its April 17 sailing will go ahead as planned.
At the ceremony in Miami, Russell said that while the process of building the cruise brand wasn’t easy, it was “the time for Fathom.”
“Most people tell you you’re crazy, trust me. Most people don’t believe it can happen, trust me,” she said.