Cruisers Await Permission to Launch Ferry Services to Cuba

American citizens traveling to Cuba may not have to rely on charter flights for much longer. Soon, cruisers will ferry them to the communist island at much lower …

American citizens traveling to Cuba may not have to rely on charter flights for much longer. Soon, cruisers will ferry them to the communist island at much lower rates than by plane.

U.S. ship builder KonaCat has unveiled its plan to launch a ferry service between the Florida Keys and Havana. The company is seeking approval from the U.S. Treasury Department and if all goes according to the plan the service may be up and running by the end of this year.

As President Barack Obama seeks to normalize relations with Cuba, many American firms are examining how they can capitalize on the business opportunities opening up in all sectors. Officials from the two nations are due to hold a second round of talks on Friday, when the United States will likely set out a timetable for opening a consular office in Havana.

KonaCat is not alone, says Reuters. At least half a dozen Florida companies are seriously considering ferry ventures. Miami-based United Americas Shipping Services and Key West Express are also among the firms looking for a license to launch ferry services to the island,

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KonaCat’s 200-passenger catamaran will ferry people twice a day. A four-hour one-way trip would cost $169 ($338 round trip), according to Keysnet.com.

But the service has its own hurdles. For an example, U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff may have to work hard to sort out illegal immigrants who try to sneak into the U.S. territory.  For U.S. Customs officials, monitoring ferries may prove more difficult than monitoring charter flights.

Ferries were the popular mode of transport between the two countries until 1960, when Fidel Castro took power, leading the United States to severe all ties with the communist state.

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