The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments filed new rules on travel to and commerce with Cuba that appear to generally ban U.S. cruises.

However, people-to-people educational group travel would be "grandfathered" for consumers that have already made a transaction, such as a flight booking or lodging reservation, under the new Treasury Department regulations. It isn't clear if that provision applies to cruise bookings.

While the Treasury Department has previously been the main interpreter of the embargo rules regarding Cuba, the Treasury said its new rules "highlight" the role of Commerce Department export regulations administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security.

Both the Treasury and Commerce department filed rules on June 4 that are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on June 5.

In the filing from the Commerce Department, a final rule regarding temporary sojourn of vessels to Cuba has been amended "to remove passenger and recreational vessels from eligibility for temporary sojourn to Cuba."

"Now only cargo vessels for hire for use in the transportation of separately authorized items are eligible for export or re-export to Cuba on temporary sojourn," said the Commerce Department in a "Background" section of the rule.

In another section, the new language indicates that temporary sojourn applications "for private and corporate aircraft, cruise ships, sailboats, fishing vessels, and other similar aircraft and vessels will generally be denied."

In a statement, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said, "Today, the U.S. government announced new travel restrictions to Cuba. We are closely monitoring these recent developments and any resulting impact to cruise travel to Cuba.  We will communicate to our guests and travel partners as additional information becomes available."

Travel to Cuba for tourism has been banned for decades, but previously travel was allowed for various programs that promoted "people-to-people" exchanges between U.S. travelers and Cubans. That type of travel has liberalized in the past several years, opening the door for cruises in 2016.

The new Treasury rules "remove the authorization for group people-to-people educational travel," the Treasury said. However, it is adding a grandfathering provision to authorize certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorized where the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation).

The Treasury said the new rules were in accordance with an April 17, 2019, speech in Miami by national security advisor John Bolton, in which he said restrictions on travel to Cuba would be forthcoming.

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