AdoniaI couldn’t believe what I was reading in the Miami Herald article "Carnival Cruise to Cuba Discriminates Against a Class of Americans"  Carnival’s new Fathom "impact" brand, scheduled to be the first U.S.- based cruise line to cruise to Cuba in over 50 years (on May 1st), is refusing to permit Cuban-born Americans on the cruise.

Written by Fabiola Santiago, the article quotes Cuban American Maria de los Angela Torres, who came to the U.S. as a Pedro Pan child in the early 1960’s, after she tried to book a cruise to Cuba. Everything was proceeding smoothly in booking her cruise until the Fathom agent learned that she was born in Cuba. The agent then told her that "Current Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born individuals from entering Cuba via ship or other sea vessel, regardless of U.S. citizenship status. For that reason, at the present time, Fathom cannot accommodate Cuban-born individuals." 

The Herald analogized the discrimination to a cruise line refusing to take American Jews to Israel or African Americans to Africa. 

Two years ago, the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers from disembarking from the Norwegian Jade during a stop at the Tunis (La Goulette) cruise port. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) told the Israeli citizens that they were not welcome by the Tunisian government and had to stay aboard the cruise ship.

NCL quickly decided to boycott Tunis and issued the following statement: 

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”

Carnival, on the other hand, is acting in "cahoots" with Cuba, as the Herald points out. It’s pathetic and disgraceful on Carnival’s part. Carnival acquiesced to the discriminatory policies of the totalitarian Castro regime as a quid pro quo to be the first cruise line to do business in Cuba. When faced with an important principle, Carnival sold out for profits. 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

April 8 2016 Update: Breitbart asks whether Carnival has violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act in an article titled Cuban-Americans Banned from Carnival Cruises Trips to Cuba. Title II of the act prohibits American “places of public accommodation” from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin.” Place of birth, naturally, would fall under “national origin.” In federal caselaw, the U.S. Supreme Court held that foreign flagged cruise ships were subject to federal statutes which prohibited discrimination against U.S. citizens.   

April 10 2016 Update:  A look at Carnival’s "social impact" brand, Fathom Travel, which I published last summer – The "Fathom" Ruse Revealed: Carnival Really Wants to be Friends with Cuba.

April 11, 2016 Update:  The U.K.’s Telepgraph newspaper comments on the ban of Cuban-Americans on the Adonia to Cuba: Cuban Americans banned from first cruise to Cuba in decades.    

Photo credit: Fathom’s Adonia

  • Brent

    well this just put the brakes on my travel plans to do the cruise to Cuba. Until these Cuban persons are able to travel freely between USA & Cuba, I will not travel either by sea or air.

  • Joe Smith

    Seriously Jim? Is Carnival actually discriminating as the title leads us to believe, or are they simply following existing law? Like it or not, agree with it or not, companies have no choice but to follow the law. Certainly, if the law was different, Carnival would be happy to transport Cuban-born Americans.

  • Freddy

    Relax – we are trying to open trade back up. US does not allow people deported by our country to travel here via cruise ship.

    This is not a race issue.

  • John Goldsmith

    Well, about the only way to combat this situation would be for everyone to boycott the Fathom Cruise brand until the government of Cuba allows ex citizens to return. That won’t happen, but I will do my part by not cruising on Fathom.

  • Leigh Giarde

    Did we miss the fact that it’s not Carnival, but US Law and Cuban law that is doing the prohibition? And, it’s not only Carnival who will have to comply, but also Royal Caribbean who just announced they will be basing a ship in Cuba? It’s no more than compliance with EXISTING laws. There are lots of laws why people are not allowed to board cruise and airlines and trains. It’s not a race issue or a discrimination issue. It’s a LEGAL issue.

  • Freddy:

    I understand that this is driven by business.

    The Cuban policy which Carnival is enforcing has nothing to do with “deportation.” It is a policy against Americans born in Cuba who left Cuba because of Castro’s mischief. It is a policy of retribution by Castro and his ilk.

    Agreeing to enforce the policy, like Carnival and Fathom is doing, encorages such Cuba’s discriminatory policies and its suppression of human rights.

  • Joe:

    Carnnival’s acquiesence to Cuba’s discriminatory policy in order to make $$$ is worse than making the policy in the first place.

    Carnival has the choice not to cruise to Cuba. Have we forgotten the message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

  • Leigh:

    Royal Caribbean is not basing a cruise ship in Cuba. That was an April Fools joke which I made in an prior blog –

    I wrote that Royal Caribbean was also going to sell “Che Guevara” cigars and offer excursions to Cuba’s famous Combinado del Esto prison which houses thousands of dissidents and political prisoners.

    That was a joke too.

    Now I’m thinking that maybe Carnival will really do something as outrageous like this . . .

  • Jim

    It is logical that Cuba would not want its former citizens to return. Considering the USA’s past actions to destroy the Cuban government and try to assassinate it leaders I would not want them as well.
    I, like many USA citizens, look forward to visiting Cuba on a Carnival Cruise.

  • Jim:

    If I were a communist totalitarian dictator who stole the property of Cubans and tortured and killed dissidents, I would not want them or their families to return either.

  • I’m missing something here, Jim. If it’s a Cuban law that does not allow the return, what is any cruise line to do about that? Are you saying the lines should refuse to go to Cuba at all until that law is changed?

  • Sally:

    Yes, that’s what I am saying. If Carnival’s cruise executives want to support such discriminatory practices regarding Cuba, people thinking of taking a cruise vacation should think of another line that does not participate in such immoral conduct. Travel agents need to be part of forcing cruise lines to do the right thing.

  • It is not true that Cuban-born Americans are not allowed back to Cuba. Our Discover Corps ( tours to Cuba are open to Cuban-born Americans, but we simply must go through a longer, more difficult process to obtain their Cuban visa.

    It might be the case that cruise ship passengers is different, but I wanted to clarify the point that Cuban Americans can legally go visit Cuba.

  • Scott Amstutz

    This is the same thinking that kept us out of Cuba for 50 years. Open up what we can, and the rest will follow. This is a backwards thinking argument that Carnival is discriminatory. They are progressive, and companies like this will soon open up Cuba to everyone completely!

  • Jim

    Scott, I most agree with you. I mean I would not want to take a cruise with Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz anyway and they were born in the USA and Canada respectively.

  • Javier Garcia-Bengochea

    The ports of call in Cuba have also confiscated private property with the port in Santiago de Cuba having a certified US Treasury claim- meaning the owners were Americans at the time of the confiscation and the USG has the obligation to resolve this claim before normalizing relations.

    Enterprises like these will necessarily traffic in stolen property, which begs the question how such American engagement brings democracy and the rule of law.

    The US policy shift is nothing more than politically sanctioned organized crime.

    Re Cuban-Americans, it is in fact Cuban law that any Cuban (including exiles) is prohibited from entering or leaving Cuba by boat, unless they are married to a foreigner and have obtained Cuban gov permission.

  • Shirley

    To Javier Garcia- Bengochea
    I believe we may be related; my husbands grand-father was Miguel Gonzalez-Bengochea from Spain who moved to Cuba in the late 1890’s.
    Email me if you feel there may be a connection. Thanks!

  • Charles Martel

    This is a moral outrage and a clear violation of the 1964 Civil Rights act. I am immediately canceling our Mariner membership with Holland America (a Carnival line). It will be a cold day in hell before we ever cruise with any Carnival line again.


  • Humberto Capiro


  • Jack

    Who cares? I’d be better without cubans aboard

  • All American Jack:

    You sound like exactly the bigot who Carnival is marketing its cruise to Cuba to!

  • Rick

    Why on earth would the United States government speed full steam ahead for recognition with such a restriction in place on American citizens entering Cuba? What happened to a new beginning, and all that jazz? I thought one of the main reasons for recognition, was for Cuban families to reunite? I had considered a trip there, not anymore.

  • Rey

    This situation is more about Carnival violating the Civil Act Rights against a group of the American Citizens that the fact the Cuba denies the entry of Cuban Americans. Cuba has the right to enforce its regulations but what is not right is Carnival to support this regulation violating the American Laws. If we tolerate such action we might see in the future other kind of discrimination here in USA against other American Citizens

  • orlando

    Note that this is not a measure against what Cuban government dictatorship call “Cuban dissidents”, this is a discriminatory act against every Cuban person, including those that legally applied for a visa and received approval to enter United States using every legal channel available.
    This act of discrimination and deceiving business practices shouldn’t be allowed in the land of the freedom

  • Dave


    While Jack, who responded above, sounds like a bigot-your response is wrong. I find it difficult to believe that most Americans who want to travel on Fathom are bigoted. On the contrary, they are looking to learn about new cultures. They are well-travelled and looking for something new. And by the way, before you accuse Carnival of bigotry, why don’t you go on a Carnival Cruise? You will see people of different colors and races.

  • Jesse Puentes

    Besides the beach and the sand nothing else to see
    I have been there.

  • Angelina

    Stalin, Hitler, Trujillo…..All totalitarian assasins, wait so are the Cuba regime Castro-Ruz and Co. The Cuban exiles are or were not ever deported{for the ignorants} . We will not tolerate “DISCRIMINATION”!!!!!Does whom see a crime and do not speak up comitt it!!!!!!Carnival is being downright prejudice, if I was told certain status, race or sexual preference could not travel to their OWN country…..I would not do business. PERIOD

  • Gail B

    I am the child of a Cuban-born mother who traveled to NYC at the age of 30,along with her dad, to visit the 1939 worlds fair and to see siblings that had immigrated to the USA. Although it was her intention to return home, she stayed to marry my dad but always with a view to return home one day (which never happened). My sisters and I were raised on Mother’s memories of Cuba and her deep and honest love for that land. My sister and I see this as probably our only chance to go before it is too late. we are getting older. I am sorry for those that cannot return and my heart goes out to them. I am not a greedy, bigoted American. I am just a child that wants to finally see her heartland. I pray that I will not be denied this opportunity. Cuba is a burning ember in my soul placed there by my late mother. I must realize this dream.

  • Jose Magin Catasus

    To Gail B.
    I hope you and your sister got to realize your dream of visiting your mother’s homeland. It is a beautiful land. I hope I can get to see it again before I die.