Cuba rolls out red carpet for liner

| 06/01/2011

(UKPA): A salsa band, dancing schoolchildren and showgirls in bikini tops and feather headdresses welcomed around 1,500 tourists on a British cruise liner – one of the biggest ships to visit Cuba in years. Once a frequent sight, cruise ships had become a rarity since 2006, after then president Fidel Castro complained that the industry did little more than flood the communist-governed country with rubbish. But the cash-strapped government now led by Fidel’s younger brother Raul appears to have taken a rosier view. Tourism Ministry official Jose Manuel Bisbe said the arrival of the Thomson Dream underscored the recent resurgence of cruise traffic to the island.

In a brief address as passengers in shorts and flip-flops streamed off the ship, Mr Bisbe said a number of deals had been signed with European cruise operators to add regular stops in Cuban ports, and more accords were in the works.

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