The U.S. Treasury Department has issued at least four licenses to companies that want to establish ferry service to Cuba from Key West, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. Baleària, a Spanish company, presently owns the Baleària Bahamas Express ferry service from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Grand Bahamas, and is now considering a ferry to operate between Florida and Cuba. United Caribbean and Havana Partners have expressed an interest in a service from Tampa to Havana and Mexico. Baja Ferries USA wants to open routes between the Port of Miami and Port Everglades to Cuba. Some of the ferries will offer duty-free shopping, restaurants, bars and even swimming pools.
The details regarding feasibility depends on government restrictions and tariffs placed on them by the countries, as well as the ports involved. Tampa would be a straight run 331 miles due south, but some of the other ports would be closer. In the end it will come down to money, availability of cargo and logistics. As of the summer of 2016, perspective ferry operators are awaiting final approval and licensing from the Cuban government. Because of this the ferry companies are on hold and are still waiting to begin operations.
Tampa and The Port of Tampa have expressed their enthusiasm to become fully involved in these new ventures. Bob Rohrlack, President of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, has been to Cuba several times, taking corporate delegates in preparation for improved, open relations with Cuba.
Photo Caption: Blue Star Ferries is one of four companies that applied to establish ferry service to Cuba.
Captain Hank Bracker, is the multi award winning author of “The Exciting Story of Cuba,” which is at the White House, U.S. Embassy in Havana and all the U.S. Service and Maritime Academies. Capt. Hank’s books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BooksAMillion.com and most Independent Book Stores.