Pearl Seas Cruises plans to offer Cuba cruises from South Florida beginning in the spring, the third cruise line to target the island since the U.S. began relaxing travel restrictions to Cuba earlier this year.
Pearl Seas' single ship, the 210-passenger Pearl Mist, debuted in June 2014 and has been sailing coastal New England, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway itineraries during the summer.
Starting in the spring, it plans a series of seven- to 10-day cruises that will visit both the southern and northern coasts of Cuba and offer people-to-people cultural exchanges, which are authorized under U.S. law, to several Unesco World Heritage sites.
"We are delighted to play such an important role in the people-to-people program in support of the Cuban people," said Pearl Seas president Charles Robertson in announcing the plans.
Ports of call on the voyages will include Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, Robertson said.
The cruises depend on approvals from the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce and the Cuban government.
Judy Roman, vice president of marketing for Pearl Seas and its affiliate, American Cruise Lines, said the process for obtaining the required U.S. approvals takes about 10 weeks.
Roman said Pearl Seas had already curbed the sale of previously scheduled Caribbean cruises in the spring from St. Maarten and San Juan and is selling the Cuba itineraries instead.
Pearl Seas will be competing with two other lines with announced plans to sail from Florida to Cuba. Fathom, the social-impact brand from Carnival Corp., plans to begin trips in May with the 710-passenger Adonia, while Haimark Line plans to start in February with its 210-passenger St. Laurent.
Fathom already has approvals from the U.S. government, while Haimark has partnered with United Caribbean Lines, which is seeking to amend its permit for ferry service between Florida and Cuba.