Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest passenger cruise ship conglomerate, is certainly in a hurry to be the first of the three major U.S.-based cruise lines to bring its ships to Cuba. I have been reporting for several years on how Cuba is becoming a very hotly contested and desired port of call for the increasingly competitive cruise industry. But the price Carnival is willing to pay may prove to be too much.
On May 1st, Fathom, Carnival's newest subsidiary line, will set sail from Miami on a week-long journey to Cuba. This historic first-voyage itinerary includes stops in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba, and it will mark the first time in decades that U.S. citizens will be able to travel legally to Cuba on a ship leaving from a US port.
Unfortunately, not all U.S. citizens are welcome on this historic voyage, as the Cuban government has prohibited Cuban-born U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba by ship. Discriminatory practices like this should not be tolerated by any person or business. And it is especially offensive that Carnival--a large company that is based in Miami, Florida, with a heavy concentration of Cuban-born citizens and descendants--would place its corporate profit ahead of opposing the morally reprehensible position that Cuba's government is taking.
I cannot imagine any corporation that would escape criticism if their products or services were available to only some Americans but not others simply because they may have been born in another country. Imagine if American Airlines stopped allowing Israeli-born Jews who immigrated to the United States to fly to Israel.
As a maritime lawyer in Miami, I have investigated thousands of claims made by passengers who have been injured, mistreated, or ignored by cruise lines when those corporations placed their profit ahead of their passengers' safety. Carnival's willingness to condone the exclusion of and discrimination against anyone--especially U.S. citizens living as their neighbors, employees, and surely passengers on their other ships--in favor of profit is wrong. I urge Carnival to reconsider its position and stand together with all Americans by telling the Cuban government that Carnival will not bring its ships to Cuba until all Americans are welcome, regardless of where they may have been born.