British cruise ship Thomson Dream to dock in Cuba

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 5 January 2011

From BBC News

A British-owned cruise ship is due to sail into the Cuban capital, Havana, on Wednesday, the first in years to dock in the Communist-run island.

The arrival of the Thomson Dream in Cuba is seen as a sign that European cruise companies are starting to return to the island.

Visits from European cruise ships dwindled after the then-president Fidel Castro criticised the business for leaving "rubbish, but little income".

The ship can carry 1,500 passengers.

The BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says the Thomson Dream will be by far the largest cruise ship to have sailed to Cuba in almost six years.

None of the many cruise companies based in Miami, Florida, can make the trip due to the decades-old US trade embargo which severely restricts trade with the island.

Our correspondent says Spanish- and Norwegian-owned cruise ships were the first to return to Cuba over the past few months.

In an interview with a Cuban magazine in December, a Cuban Ministry of Tourism official said Canada and Russia would also send cruise ships to the island.

The official said negotiations were also under way with Canadian cruise companies for their ships to dock there during the next winter season.

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