HAVANA, Cuba, Wednesday May 3, 2017 – Norwegian Sky sailed into Havana yesterday morning, becoming the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to visit the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island.
— Cruise Norwegian (@CruiseNorwegian) May 2, 2017
The historic journey coincided with the cruise line’s 50th anniversary celebrations. And the Cuban-born CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Frank Del Rio, who is on the sailing along with other Norwegian executives, said it was an appropriate time for the ship to be sailing to the country of his birth.
“Norwegian is 50 years old this year, and it’s about a little over 50 years that…a ship from America had sailed to Cuba,” he said.
“You guys are going to love [Cuba],” Del Rio, who left the island just before he turned seven years old, told passengers on Norwegian Sky’s inaugural Cuba trip.
“Cubans are friendly people. They want Americans to come. This is a great way to engage people who may not see eye to eye on our way of governing.”
The inaugural arrival of the 2,004-passenger vessel was marked with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and commemorative plaque exchange.
— Jason Leppert (@PopularCruising) May 2, 2017
Norwegian Sky is the third ship of the company’s brands to sail into Cuba. Oceania Cruises’ Marina visited Havana in March and the inaugural Cuba call of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Mariner was last month.
And while those journeys were historic for the individual ships, they had an even deeper impact on Del Rio who was on both.
“Oceania Cruises’ Marina went for the first time on March 11th, and we were onboard for that. And that was a very emotional day for me. It was the first time I sailed into Havana Harbor. I had been to Cuba twice before after a 55-year absence. I left Cuba right before my seventh birthday, and then 55 years later I popped in to say ‘hello’ and then got the opportunity to cruise onboard on Marina,” he told the Norwegian Sky cruisers.
“We went back on the Regent Mariner, and so now this is our third ship and our third brand, our biggest brand and our most important brand.”
Norwegian Sky will leave Cuba this afternoon to sail to Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in The Bahamas. It returns to Miami on Friday.
The ship will sail every week to Havana from Miami on a four-night itinerary. It is the only cruise ship making that voyage weekly.