Cruise Lines Liable for $400Million For Using ‘Seized’ Docks in Cuba

Havana, Cuba
Havana, Cuba

A U.S. District court judge in Florida has ruled that four major cruise companies each owe in excess of USD $100 million for using port facilities in Cuba whose ownership is disputed.

The Havana Docks Corporation filed lawsuits against multiple cruise companies in 2019. Identical judgments were handed down against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group and MSC Cruises just before the new year, according to media reports.

As Skift reports, the court cases arose following the Obama administration’s decision to permit U.S. - based cruise lines to call in Cuba beginning in 2016. The move was part of an easing of Cold War-era embargoes against Cuba by the U.S. It was reversed in 2019 by the Trump administration, which also permitted U.S. citizens to sue third parties for using property allegedly seized by the Cuban government following its socialist revolution of the 1950’s. 

The Havana Docks Corporation claims it was never compensated by Cuba for the seizure of its shipping terminal, and it went after the cruise lines for compensation. 

At least two of the cruise companies say they will challenge the rulings. 

A representative of NCLH told Cruise Week it did not comment on “pending litigation.” But a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Group says the company disagrees with the judge’s decision and will appeal. And Carnival Corp said in its own statement that the cruise company “engaged in lawful travel explicitly licensed, authorized and encouraged by the U.S. government. We strongly disagree with both the ruling and judgement, and plan to appeal these decisions."

The ruling is likely to start alarm bells ringing throughout the industry. Cruise lines, airlines, hotel and resort companies which began operating in Cuba while the U.S. embargo was eased may now potentially face litigation by U.S-based claimants to property in Cuba.


Lynn Elmhirst


With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

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