CORNELIUS, N.C. — A Caribbean cruise turned into a disappointment for a Cornelius family after the U.S. government made it illegal to travel to their next destination, which was Cuba.
"It was not a good mood when they first announced it," Tony Tascione said. "People were not happy we were not going there. It wasn't a very happy reception, but they understood it wasn't the cruise line's fault."
His family chose the cruise because of the Havana port. The day before they were scheduled to arrive, the federal government banned all cruise ships to the country.
The Trump administration said the travel ban is aimed at keeping U.S. dollars “out of the hands” of the communist government, including “the Cuban military, intelligence and security services.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the move was made to limit commercial activity, which provides revenue for the Cuban regime.
"Cuba remains communist, and the United States, under the previous administration, made too many concessions to one of our historically most aggressive adversaries,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “The Trump Administration recognizes the threat Cuba’s government poses in the region, and the Commerce Department is acting to limit commercial activity that provides revenue for the Cuban regime. Holding other countries accountable remains a focus for this administration and we will remain vigilant.”
With the loss of Havana, Tascione and his family spent an extra day at sea and in Key West.
He's hopeful ships will one day return to Cuba. Despite the cancellation, he said his family had a great time and would encourage others to not be discouraged.
"Almost my whole lifetime we couldn't go there until recently," he said. "I think it will open again. It is a political thing."
Cruise lines are in the process of adjusting itineraries.
Royal Caribbean is offering guests with Cuba bookings a 50 percent refund if they continue with their trip or a full refund if they cancel.
Carnival is offering guests who remain on their bookings $100 in onboard credit and a full refund for cancellations.
© 2020 Cox Media Group