Most of us aren’t old enough to remember a time when Americans could travel freely to Cuba. The U.S. first placed an embargo on Cuba in 1960, and it was only toward the end of last year that President Obama announced a plan to begin lifting some of the sanctions and re-establish diplomatic relations.

As part of that plan, Americans will be allowed to travel to Cuba once again. Carnival Corporation, the largest operator of cruises in the world, and owner ofCarnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, fathom in North America, and many others, just announced their own plans for Cuba itineraries in 2016. The Carnival Corporation will be launching these cruises under thefathom brand name (yes, it is spelled lower-case).

Beginning in May of 2016, Carnival will begin offering itineraries to Cuba under the People-to-People program that U.S. law allows for, to promote cultural exchange. The State Department’s United States-to-Cuba travel guidelines, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s regulations for travel companies planning itineraries to Cuba, create some limitations on travel, but working within those limitations, Carnival aims to provide a unique and rich cultural experience that can’t be replicated in other destinations or by other cruise lines.

Fathom will launch its first cruise in April 2016, a seven-day voyage from Port Miami to the Dominican Republic. The fathom line will then offer weekly seven-day voyages, and in May will begin to offer Cuban itineraries in addition to its Dominican ones.

The fathom line of cruises is very much for the traveler who’s interested in cultural exchange and in participating in local customs. Unique to Carnival and fathom, travelers will participate in volunteer work as part of the terms of the cultural exchange. Immersive educational opportunities will be available as part of the itineraries to Cuba, as well. (Voyagers on the Dominican itinerary will get to participate in social-impact activities.) Tara Russell, president of fathom, comes from a social entrepreneurship background, and this experience in purpose-driven cultural exchanges informs fathom’s goals– “To enable travelers to immerse, learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis,” as Russell words them.

The MVAdoniais fathom’s first ship, a vessel that can serve 710 passengers, small enough to provide an intimate luxury experience. Rather than plan stays in hotels or transportation by motor coaches that may not meet Carnival’s standards, theAdoniahas been outfitted with the level of amenities to provide a true and reliable luxury experience and a smooth journey.

While cultural exchange and social impact programs may not be for every traveler, right now, these kinds of programs are the only way to see Cuba. If you think this kind of vacation would interest you, visit AffordableTours.com or call us at 1-800-935-2620 and our travel experts will help you get the best deals with our partner companies.

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