Since the start of cruise operations, on December 9, the Guanahacabibes Peninsula has seen eleven cruise ship arrive, and expects to surpass ninety before the close of the season, in the month of June.
José Antonio Aguilera, a representative of the Viajes Cubanacán agency in Pinar del Río, told Granma that, during this period, they expect to receive over 16,000 visitors, traveling on ships that stop at various sites across the island as well as the Caribbean, such as Jamaica and Grand Cayman.
He added that this is not the first time that cruise ships have arrived on the westernmost tip of Cuba, however, they had never previously done so with such frequency.
Unlike along other parts of the route, in the case of Guanahacabibes, visitors do not reach land via a dock, but rather on smaller boats that transport them to the María la Gorda international diving center.
Aguilera explained that during their stay in the peninsula, in addition to diving or enjoying the sun and beach tourism activities, visitors have the opportunity to walk several trails within the Guanahacabibes National Park, or join excursions to the Cabo de San Antonio, to interact with nature and learn about the area’s history and legends associated with the presence of privateers and pirates.
In addition, he highlighted the Tobacco Trail tour, a tourist product recently launched in Pinar del Río, to show visitors the different stages of tobacco cultivation, which has distinguished this province for centuries.
“The cruise sector is very strong in the Caribbean, and we are inserting ourselves within it,” Aguilera said, noting that the peninsula has welcomed vessels of different sizes, including the Celestyal Crystal, with capacity for 1,200 passengers.
Although the season is scheduled to last until June, the Viajes Cubanacán representative noted that, following the first arrivals on the peninsula, several companies have expressed their intention to extend the season.
Given the fragility of marine and terrestrial ecosystems on the peninsula, Aguilera assured that the main premise guiding this activity is protection of the environment.
In this regard, he explained that various measures have been adopted. For example, in order to prevent damage to coral reefs, cruise ships can not drop anchors onto the seabed, but instead are tied to previously placed buoys.