KEY WEST, Fla., Dec. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Given relevant permits on commercially satisfying conditions, Norwegian based ship-owner Norled has the intention to start a regular day cruise connection between Key West, Florida (USA) and Havana (Cuba), confirms Deputy CEO Lars Jacob Engelsen. "We understand there may be a significant interest for re-connecting these two cities, a half century after the regular auto ferries of the 1950s stopped."
Norled has approached the City of Key West to get docking times in their "Ferry terminal". "The connection can only be started with good and prompt support both from the City of Key West and the Federal government in upgrading the terminal with efficient passport and customs facilities for international traffic," says Kjell Ove Hatlem, Norled's Project Manager for International Transport, who also is in dialogue with relevant authorities in Havana to get the necessary green lights on the Cuban side. "International connections like this are part of Norled's strategy to leverage on our long experience to expand into new markets. The potential Key West - Havana excursion is in competition with attractive alternatives we discuss in some other countries," adds Mr. Engelsen.
Even with the current US limitations of 12 authorized reasons to travel from US to Cuba, Norled expects such a day cruise to be attractive for many of the 3.0 million overnight visitors and 0.6 million day trippers to the Keys each year, and also contribute to increased interest for Key West to the benefits of hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the city. "To arrive at the center of Havana by boat after a 3 hour ocean crossing fits perfectly with Norled's mission to give people a 'Great travel experience' - and overlooking the sunset in the Atlantic on the return trip to Key West will also be unforgettable," says Engelsen.
If the new US president and Congress decide to lift the embargo, a report from International Trade Commission of the US, indicates that 1.5-3.5 million would travel from USA to Cuba annually, says Hatlem, who expects that many will find a 3 hour sea journey from one city center to another to be an attractive alternative to combined waiting and travel times for those who choose to fly.
Norled AS – proud of their seamen traditions tracking back to 1855 - has a total fleet of 80 vessels, whereof 30 are fast passenger vessels (catamarans) and 50 are combined car and passenger ferries. The company, with its 1100 employees and revenues (2015) of 250 MUSD, is a market leader in Norway within fast passenger vessels, one of three major players within combined car and passenger ferries and a leading operator within Fjord tourism.
Internationally Norled has gained significant attention for an innovative and environmentally friendly approach and especially for the introduction of the world's first fully battery driven and emission free ferry, the 81-meter vessel MS Ampere, put into trade early 2015 for crossings of the Sognefjord in Norway. Ampere has got several awards like "Ship of the year 2014", the Innovation price 2014 from The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the German Greentech award 2016 and The Seatrade Clean Shipping award for 2015.
For further info see www.norled.no/en/ and https://www.norled.no/en/about-norled/environment_innovation_core_values/.
Picture of the zero-emission ferry Ampere and other vessels available on https://www.norled.no/en/about-norled/pressebilder/.
 United States. International Trade Commission: «Overview of Cuban Imports of Goods and Services and Effects of U.S. Restrictions». March 2016.
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