First US-Flagged Passenger Vessel Offers Scuba Charter Service to Cuba

Educational Scuba Diving Trips From Key West to Cuba Now Available Aboard the M/V Spree

04 Nov, 2015, 14:30 ET from Spree Expeditions, Inc.

KEY WEST, Fla., Nov. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The M/V Spree returned to Key West on October 30 from a week-long trip during which 10 divers got to experience the wonders of diving in Cuba. US citizens have not been allowed to charter a U.S.-flagged vessel to scuba dive in Cuba since 1962. "We're thrilled to be able to lead the way," said Frank Wasson, Captain of the M/V Spree. "Our objective is to offer the opportunity for US citizens to participate in person-to-person and education-focused dive trips with US departures."

On the first trip, the Spree carried professional educators who were tasked with development of the itinerary and lesson plans that will be utilized for future U.S.-to-Cuba trips. "This trip was an excellent opportunity to explore the possibility of developing an itinerary and lesson plan for diving in the established diving centers in Cuba with the guidance of Cuban divemasters aboard the boat," stated Captain Wasson.  The educational program plans to include a visit to the National Aquarium in Havana to learn how the Cuban people care for their own reef systems.

The Spree has worked closely with the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, and Commodore Jose M. Diaz Escrich to forge a new relationship.  "The Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba has reached out to institutions, primarily American, who are willing to contribute to the protection and conservation of the Cuban maritime heritage, including the underwater heritage, given our concern of a likely increase in recreational water activities in our seas," stated Commodore Escrich.  The Spree, as a recognized Blue Star Operator within her home sanctuary of the Florida Keys, strives to assist with this goal and provide services to promote and maintain the health of Cuba's reef systems.

"The walls and reefs on the north coast of Cuba rival those in Grand Cayman," remarked Captain Wasson, "and were very healthy. In some places, the coral cover was a remarkable 45%." More than 125 unique species of fish were recorded in only 11 dives, including some rare and uncommon species infrequently encountered elsewhere. All of the passengers on the Spree talked about the clear visibility and wide variety of fish life they encountered diving the walls north of Cayo Levisa.

The M/V Spree is authorized as a travel provider to take US citizens to Cuba on diving excursions for person-to-person and educational opportunities. The U.S. Department of Commerce has licensed the M/V Spree for multiple education and research trips, and the charterer, the Gulf Reefs Environmental Action Team (G.R.E.A.T.), has been granted permission by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to conduct people-to-people educational tours of Cuba.

For further information, please contact Whittney Warner at 281-970-0534 or whittney@spreeexpeditions.com.  

About Spree Expeditions, Inc.
Spree Expeditions, Inc. (www.spreeexpeditions.com) has operated the award-winning liveaboard dive boat Motor Vessel (M/V) Spree since 2002. The M/V Spree has been in service as a liveaboard dive boat since 1993. The M/V Spree is typically based in Key West, Florida, and dives and conducts research on the reef systems of the Dry Tortugas, Bahamas, Florida Keys, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and now Cuba. The M/V Spree is certified to carry 12 passengers and 12 crew on international voyages.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283883

SOURCE Spree Expeditions, Inc.



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