Ferry service to Cuba could start within weeks

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Ferry service to Cuba could start within weeks

On the heels of JetBlue announcing they're adding flights from New York to Havana, the federal government has just approved several ferry companies' applications to offer service to Cuba.

While very limited travel has been allowed since the start of the 50-year-old embargo against the island nation, all of it (the legal trips, anyway) has been via air.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, that's about to change, possibly within a few weeks. 

Companies receiving licenses include Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, Baja Ferries of Miami, United Caribbean Lines Florida of Greater Orlando, and Airline Brokers Co. of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

"I'm very excited, because this is a historical event in U.S.-Cuba relations," Havana Ferry's managing partner, Leonard Moecklin Sr., told the Sentinel.

Another company, Jacksonville-based CubaKat, applied later than the others and expects to receive its license soon. That company, according to the Sentinel, plans to offer service from the Keys to Havana with a fare of $169 each way.

Ferry companies are eyeing several Florida ports as launch points, including Port Everglades in South Florida as well as Port Manatee south of Tampa Bay.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor said she hopes they consider operating out of the Port of Tampa, though it's not clear whether any will.

Service is expected to start in coming weeks.

As for the embargo, its removal would require an act of Congress, which probably won't happen anytime soon.

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