- Associated Press - Sunday, April 30, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas ship will leave on its maiden voyage to Cuba from the Port of Tampa to Havana.

The ship will launch Sunday for its seven-night cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize and Havana, Cuba. The Empress is one of several cruise ships with a route from Tampa to Cuba. Carnival’s Paradise ship will also begin trips to Havana starting June 29. Over the next two years, about 40,000 cruise passengers are expected to travel to Cuba on 22 cruises from Tampa.

Cruises to CUba are subject to U.S. rules that ban pure tourism by American travelers to Cuba. Instead the cruises must be “people to people” trips themed on permitted categories of travel such as cultural exchanges.

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