Skip to main content

Maritime Law--Yacht Broker Plans First US-Cuba Voyage Charter Under New Rules

It is reported that a Palm Beach County yacht broker received a license issued by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") to operate a 78-foot yacht between the United States and Cuba. Paul Madden, a longtime luxury yacht broker with Paul Madden Associates LLC, reportedly received the license on July 1 and the vessel is already scheduled to carry and documentary filmmaker and a Wall Street Journal reporter, along with other passengers.

As previously reported in my blog, several other vessel operators have received OFAC licenses to operate to Cuba, including Carnival Cruise Lines. Cruise and ferry companies have applied for government licenses to sail to Cuba since the Obama administration restored diplomatic ties with Cuba and loosened rules for U.S. travel to the island. Carnival is the first cruise line to obtain a license, which plans to start service in May.
But the 78-foot yacht will reportedly be the first vessel to sail between the United States and Cuba in decades. The 4-cabin vessel received a research license from OFAC and the trip is being arranged by a New York educational tour guide, Academic Arrangements Abroad. An advantage to traveling by yacht rather than other forms of transportation, such as planes, is the provision of lodging and food without having to rely on the Cubans. Additionally, a yacht can offer secure Internet access, which is severely limited in Cuba. Furthermore, a smaller yacht can be accommodated within the shallow depths of most Cuban ports. Cruise ships will require much more infrastructure to operate.
Fifteen people are booked to sail from Key West to Marina Hemingway nine miles west of Havana on the historic 4½-hour excursion. Passengers will stay on the yacht, which reportedly plans to proceed afterward to Havana Harbor, Cuba's main port. The plan is for the tour to head back to Key West.

The biggest challenges to passenger services to Cuba is the lack of Cuban infrastructure. In addition, most marine insurers will not insure travel to Cuba, as it is generally outside of the navigational limits of most marine insurance policies.
If you are interested in reaching me, you may contact me via this blog or at




Popular posts from this blog

Maritime Law--U.S. Crewmember Required to Arbitrate Claims Applying Norwegian Law

In Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 15-14775 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a U.S. citizen, working aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is required to arbitrate his claims against Royal Caribbean.
Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presented an issue of first impression: Whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls o…

Maritime Law--Tour Boat Captain Implicated in Tragedy Off Nicaragua

As reported in the Daily Business Review on January 25, 2016, Nicaragua's police, army and navy will investigate the captain of a tourist boat and his assistant for the deaths of 13 Costa Rican passengers killed on January 23rd when the vessel capsized in bad weather. The Reina del Caribe, Spanish for "Caribbean Queen," was carrying 33 people when it went down Saturday amid rain and strong winds as it ferried between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination, off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Daily Business Review article can be accessed here=> Daily Business Review article.

The government clarified on the 24th that the boat was carrying 25 Costa Ricans, two Americans, two British citizens, a Brazilian and three Nicaraguans. Previous reports had said there were 32 people on board, including four Americans. All the dead were Costa Ricans.

Nicaragua's naval commander for the southern Caribbean region said the boat's captain was detained because the …

Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 p…