The U.S. House of Representatives voted 262-167 to lift the ban on travel to Cuba, representing the strongest Congressional support ever for the measure. The Bush Administration has vowed to veto the bill, which could precipitate a Congressional override attempt early this fall. A 66 percent majority is required to override - current House support to lift the travel ban is at 61 percent.

Meanwhile, Festival Cruises appears to be tempering its position on Havana-homeported cruises. During the 2001-2002 winter season, Festival's 1,200-passenger Mistral sailed seven-day cruises based in Havana, however, for winter 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, Festival has announced that the ship will instead be homeported in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

Festival has also significantly pushed back its plans for the chartered 500-passenger Caribe (ex-Valtur Prima), originally slated to begin year-round cruises based in Havana this summer. The most recent schedule released by Festival now has the ship beginning year­ round seven-night cruises from Havana on Dec. 21, 2002.