January 30, 2003

Tampa-Cuba ferry plan
Yucatan Express, which currently operates a weekly cruise ferry between Tampa and Mexico's Yucatan peninsular now plans to provide a weekly ferry service between Tampa and Cuba, starting February 25.

It says "the proposal is offered as an alternative to air transportation for Cuban Americans visiting relatives in Cuba and would be operated in accordance with existing government programs. The service would begin February 25, 2003, pending government approval, and would continue for 10 rotations through April 2003."

Matthew Hudson, chairman of Yucatan Express says that the Tampa-Cuba service is "a humanitarian program that would help Cuban Americans connect with their families in Cuba and allow them to provide much more of the humanitarian aid permitted under existing U.S. rules. It is not political, nor would it promote business and trade."

At $499 per adult round trip including standard cabin, 4 meals/day, port charges, security charges, and U.S. taxes, the service would be very cost-effective, according to Hudson. Cabin upgrades are available at small additional costs and fees imposed by the Cuban government would also be additional.

The owners of the Yucatan Express have also agreed to palletize, shrink- wrap and carry up to 100 cubic feet of personal cargo per adult passenger at no charge, so long as the cargo meets the humanitarian aid laws of the U.S. government.

"We are offering to carry humanitarian goods, such as food, clothing and medicines free of charge to help families that have been separated," said Professor Hudson.

The Tampa-Cuba initiative expands the company's new service between Tampa and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, which has been operating weekly, Friday through Tuesday, since November 22, 2002.

Operated by Scotia Prince Cruises, a Bermuda company which has been operating USA-Canada cruise ferry services since 1970, the company has carried five million passengers and has securely transported 600,000 vehicles of all shapes and sizes. The current ship, the M/S Scotia Prince, is 485 feet long, fully stabilized with global capability and can accommodate up to 1,000 passengers and 200 vehicles including motorcycles, boats, campers, trailers and RVs. The Cuba proposal would use the car deck for humanitarian aid and would return to Tampa empty.

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