Posted by: cruise2 | 17 May, 2016

The Havana Ship They Forgot

by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com

For more information and reservations contact

The Cruise People   jlang@cruiseshipcenters.com  +1.647.299.7447

Last week the US media began by saying that the 30,277-ton Carnival-owned Adonia was the first US-based cruise ship to call on Cuba in over fifty years.

May 2, 2016: Fathom's Adonia slipped through the channel into Havana Bay, Cuba (Photo credit Reuters/Alexandre Meneghini)

May 2, 2016: Fathom’s Adonia slipped through the channel into Havana Bay, Cuba (Photo credit Reuters/Alexandre Meneghini)

But thanks go to Allan Jordan and Michael Grace for bringing it to the media’s attention that this was quite wrong.
Thirty-nine years ago, in May 1977, another US-based ship, Carras Cruises’ 15,833-ton 400-berth Daphne, made an inaugural cruise to Havana from New Orleans.

In 1977, Carras Cruises, belonging to a Greek shipowner who was new to the cruise business, got permission to take Daphne into Havana. In a special jazz cruise organised by the late cruise impresario Fred Mayer, musician Dizzy Gillespie was on board and there was much media reporting then that Daphne was the first ship to carry US passengers to Cuba since the Revolution.

In May 1977 Carras Cruises' 15,833-ton 400-berth Daphne, made an inaugural cruise to Havana from New Orleans

In May 1977 Carras Cruises’ 15,833-ton 400-berth Daphne, made an inaugural cruise to Havana from New Orleans

But even in 1977 the media had it wrong. Cruise ships had continued to sail from Miami to Havana after the Revolution but only for the months to the end of the winter cruise season of 1959. They had not returned, however, in the winter of 1959-60, and the usual Miami-Havana ship, the 4,945-ton 400-berth Florida, had switched for good to the Miami-Nassau run.

Daphne sailed from New Orleans to Havana and then to New York, where a luncheon was held on board with lots of invited media. She then sailed back to Havana but her next Cuba cruise had to be cancelled due to bomb threats and protests by Cuban patriots, and the ship departed for her summer season in the Mediterranean.

The 4,945-ton 400-berth Florida

The 4,945-ton 400-berth Florida

On Daphne’s first Havana cruise, she also had four Cuban-Americans on board. Initially the Cubans refused them entry but the authorities relented on the second day in port, so Daphne’s two Cuban-born couples living in Chicago were permitted to go ashore.

For a while in the late 1970s, 7-night Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Havana cruises were offered by ships such as Carras’s 16,531-ton Danae, sister ship to the Daphne, and Black Sea Shipping Company’s 15,409-ton 500-berth Kazakhstan and 13,758-ton 460-berth Odessa, which were handled by Montreal-based March Shipping.

Classic International Cruises' Princess Danae (1994 - 2012) ex Danae

Classic International Cruises’ Princess Danae (1994 – 2012) ex Danae

Daphne made a few more stops in Havana before Cuban-American relations deteriorated, and the door closed once more after President Jimmy Carter left office.

At the same time, Kazakhstan and Odessa disappeared from the scene after Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
Daphne and the Danae meanwhile moved to operation by Costa Cruises.

Fathom’s Adonia will cruise twice a month from Miami to Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, alternating with cruises to Carnival Corp & plc’s new cruise terminal at Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.

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