BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A surprising new travel option, as the United States and Cuba thaw relations. Americans could soon take a cruise to Cuba. Carnival Cruise Lines has just secured U.S. approval.
Meghan McCorkell with the potential impact.READ MORE: Man Shot, Critically Wounded In East Baltimore Saturday, Baltimore Police Say
Carnival still needs approval from Cuban officials, but those trips could start as early as next year.
For the first time in 50 years, U.S. travelers may be able to cruise to Cuba.
“I’ve never been to Cuba, so it would be a good experience.”
While tourism to the communist island is still not permitted, Carnival will launch what they call a “cultural exchange mission.”
“The concept was to take interested travelers to a location where they could immerse in cultural exchange, and, in certain cases, give back,” said Arnold Donald, Carnival CEO.
Travel agent Paula Dozier is already seeing interest.
“We’ve already got a couple calls asking us about the ship that they’ve been announcing that’s going,” said Dozier.
That ship will carry 710 passengers on a seven-day cruise. The cost per person–nearly $3,000.
The planned cruises would set out of Miami–so no trips from Baltimore just yet.READ MORE: Fort McHenry Celebrates New Citizens, Defenders Day Saturday
“Cuba’s our neighbor. It is literally less than 100 miles away,” said Maryland Senator Ben Cardin.
Just back from a trip to Cuba, Sen. Cardin says while these are positive steps, Cuba must improve its human rights record.
“In order for us to have a normal relationship with Cuba, it’s going to have to change,” said Cardin.
Travelers who spoke with WJZ have mixed reaction about a trip to Cuba.
“It’s not one of the destinations on my bucket list.”
“I’ve always heard conflicting stories. It’s awful, it’s terrible and that it’s good. So I’d like to see for myself.”
“I hear a lot about Cuba-United States relations, and I don’t think I would allow myself to go.”
The first ship could set sail next May.
Carnival is in talks with Cuban officials to try and gain licensing approval there.MORE NEWS: Man In Stable Condition After He Was Shot In Face While Driving Early Saturday
President Obama recently removed Cuba from the terror watch list and a U.S. embassy in Cuba will open later this month.