Cruises to Cuba authorized

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In another sign of Cuban ports opening to U.S. citizens, the U.S. government has authorized Carnival Corporation to operate between U.S. ports and Cuba beginning in 2016.

Carnival is expected to begin service in May 2016 using its Fathom brand. Fathom provides travelers the experience of working with nationals to assist in the development of regional areas. The Fathom brand is expected to see about 40,000 travelers annually that will volunteer and engage in educational and cultural exchanges in local Cuban communities, according to a report by The Maritime Executive.

"All of our research suggests there is huge pent-up demand for the Cuba experience," Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald tells USA TODAY, noting that it's been decades since cruise ships sailed from the U.S. to the island.