By Nahrain John @karryontravel08 Jul 2015Cruise lines may have just squashed fears that Cuba is taking tourism from its Caribbean neighbours, with plans to launch operations to the destination and its nearby islands. This week, MSC Cruises confirmed it will homeport 2,120-guest MSC Opera from Cuba from December this year, while Carnival Corporation said it intends to take travellers to the country from May 2016. The announcements come less than a week after Frank Comito the CEO of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association expressed concerns that tourists may soon opt to visit the formerly restricted destination over current popular Caribbean islands. He explained that the islands are dependent on tourism and a decline in arrivals would cause ‘serious economic and employment consequences’. Read on MSC Opera will homeport from Havana from December. However, with the two cruise lines planning new itineraries in the region, they’ll not only bring thousands of tourists to Cuba and its neighbouring islands but also thousands of tourism dollars. MSC Cruises will be the first to kick off new operations in Cuba when the line sends MSC Opera to Havana on 22 December. The ship will sail from the city during the 2015/16 season, offering 16 Caribbean cruises. In addition to a two-night stay in the Cuban capital, the cruise will also stop by Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico. Cruises will operate for seven nights and will be available for booking from 10 July 2015. Carnival will send MV Adonia on a fathom cruise to Cuba. Meanwhile, today Carnival Corporation announced it had received permission from the US government to sail to Cuba. Starting May next year, the company’s newly launched voluntourism cruise brand ‘fathom’ will offer itineraries to Cuba. Although it will be a direct cruise to the destination, travellers that enjoy the humanitarian exchanges on the cruise may also look at taking part in the brand’s other itineraries to the Dominican Republic. The first fathom cruise will depart in April next year on a seven-day voyage from Port Miami aboard MV Adonia to the Dominican Republic’s Amber Cove. Following the inaugural April month of voyages to the Dominican Republic, fathom intends to offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries on a systematic and regular basis, giving travellers the opportunity to choose from two destinations and a range of activities from social impact in the Dominican Republic and educational and cultural exchanges in both countries designed to have a positive, transformative effect on the lives of the travellers. “We know there is strong demand from travellers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society.” Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation President and CEO “It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to Cuba to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the Dominican Republic beginning in the spring of 2016.” Is Cuba on your bucket list? Other stories you may like G Adventures just dropped a MAJOR hint about where it’s taking UMI Travel Agents Where will Aussies travel to in 2018? Flight Centre has a few ideas Were you at the AMAs with Discover L.A.? Or maybe you were spotted in North Queensland & more?