HAVANA – Cuba announced that it will authorize the entry and departure of Cuban citizens both as passengers and crew members on cruise ships and merchant vessels, a measure that will take effect on April 26, according to an official note published Friday in the island’s press.
The decision comes after the controversy that arose when the U.S. company Carnival announced its inaugural cruise to the island, but faced restrictions under Cuban law that bars Cuban-Americans from entering the country by sea.
But in an official statement issued this Friday, the government of the Caribbean nation said it will authorize “the entry and departure of Cuban citizens, independently of their migratory status, as passengers or crew” of merchant vessels and cruise ships.
The island also announced that it will allow “in a gradual way, and once the adequate conditions have been created,” the entry and departure of Cubans as passengers and crew of yachts, a measure whose application “will be announced opportunely.”
In order to travel on seagoing vessels, “Cuban citizens living in national territory will need a visa from the country or countries they intend to visit,” the note said.
The Cuban government said the new measure corresponds to the “continuity” of the island’s “process of studying migratory regulations,” a policy “modernized” by Cuba in January 2013.
The island recalled that “in the current context of relations with the United States” – with which it has established diplomatic ties after more than 50 years as sworn enemies – the two countries have discussed such issues as “application and enforcement of the law, terrorism, maritime navigation security and people trafficking,” with the goal of promoting bilateral cooperation for their mutual benefit.