In a cruise industry first, logistics expert Savino del Bene has been licensed by the US government to transport agricultural products to Cuba for a year-round cruise operation there.
The exemption under the US embargo was granted for a two-year term, to the end of 2018, by the Bureau of Industry and Security, part of the US Department of Commerce.
‘It’s a major achievement for us,’ said John Paul Brigneti, vp global logistics, cruise & marine solutions for Savino Del Bene – Miami.
Savino del Bene is now able to ship perishable items like produce and cheese directly from the US to Cuba’s Mariel container port, where they’ll be cleared and transported to the cruise vessel in Havana. Brigneti did not want to identify the cruise line.
‘We are very proud of this approval,’ he told Seatrade Cruise News. ‘It indicates we’re looking for new ways to do business in the cruise supply chain. It’s very big news and, for us, it’s a major step.’
This will benefit US distributors, too, Brigneti added, because until now, procurement for the Cuba cruise operation has been handled in Europe.
For the cruise line, it ensures the ability to procure provisions in a very short timeframe. Containers can leave the US on Monday, arrive in Mariel on Tuesday and the ship can receive the items in Havana on Sunday.
‘It’s like air freight,’ Brigneti said.
Savino del Bene has in place an organization in Cuba to manage the complete process including documentation, brokerage/clearance, local transport and stevedoring. Arranging everything, culminating in the US agricultural license under the embargo, has taken about two years of effort.
Brigneti said the company hopes to make the first shipment in early February.
Savino del Bene is an Italy-based global logistics giant.