Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

Havana Ferry Partners recently went public with their OFAC denial for ferry service to Cuba.

The denial letter came one-and-half years after Havana Ferry Partners filed its original application. The letter from OFAC is dated February 27 and reads “To date, only air charter services have been permitted for the transportation of authorized travelers between the United States and Cuba.

A White House initiative expanding purposeful travel to Cuba to broaden U.S. outreach to the Cuban people included, among other things, increasing the number of U.S. airports available for the operation of direct charter flights. Ferry services were not included in the group of policy changes. After consultation with the Department of State, OFAC has determined that the issuance of specific licenses is beyond the scope of current policy.” - posted at CubaStandard.com

However, Daniel Berrebi (who owns America Cruise Ferries Inc. which is owned by United Americas Shipping Service which is an affiliate of Unishipping, another Berrebi company) has obtained a U.S. Treasury Department license to operate direct ferry service between Cuba and Florida but the current license is restricted to cargo shipments.

Anya Landau French writes a great analysis of the Havana Ferry Partners denial at The Havana Note and wraps up by saying “add ferry service to the long list of good ideas jettisoned by U.S. politicians queasy over Cuba.”

Several Companies Seeking Ferry Service to Cuba

Bruce Nierenberg and his United Caribbean Lines (no website found) plans to offer a Tampa-Havana connection, to be followed by connections from Port Everglades and Miami. Mr. Nierenberg comments at The Havana Note that this issue is purely a political football and that the US government’s denial of ferry service hurts not only Cuban Americans wishing to see family in Cuba but all Americans due to limited and expensive charter flight schedules. He goes on to say that denial of ferry service to Cuba is preventing jobs to people in Florida. He goes on to say that he too has applied for a license to operate a ferry from Florida to Cuba but does not comment on the status of that application or his exact business model.

America Cruise Ferries Inc., a Dominican Republic-based ferry operator with investors from France, Puerto Rico and Mexico, has said it would like to offer service connecting Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Florida.

Spanish ferry operator Balearia SA initiated Miami-Bahamas fast ferry service in December 2011, most likely with an eye on future Cuba service.

CubaKat CEO Pedro Baez made this video stating as a fact that his company will be sailing three high speed, 149 passenger catamarans to Cuba in March 2013 from Marathon Florida. He is giving the impression that the ferries will be built BEFORE his company is granted a license from OFAC. The catamarans will be built by KonaCat.

Cruise America Associates may have some plans in the works for their own ferry to Cuba but we could not find any domain name or developed web site for this company.

Same with Florida Ferry International, where their website says “Announcing future passenger service from South Florida Ports of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West.

Domain Names = Ideas, Business Plans and “Raw Land”

As regular readers of Havana Journal know, I own many Cuba related domain names and I monitor new registrations. Domain names offer an insight into a company’s ideas, business plan and marketing strategy. They also serve as “raw land” that can be developed for future projects. Lastly, owning a portfolio of domain names related to your business, whether it be in operation or just an idea, can serve to prevent competitors from entering into your space.

Since the rush is on to be the first Cuba ferry business, we have compiled lists of Cuba ferry related domain names below.

I’ll start with Baleria, the company running the Miami-Bahamas ferry using the domain name FerryExpress.com. It appears that Baleria purchased that domain for an undisclosed sum in May 2011, several months before starting service in December of last year. Had I been monitored ownership of FerryExpress.com back in May of 2011, I would have discovered that Baleria became the new owner with plans to develop FerryExpress.com. The company registered the domain name GrandBahamaFastFerry.com in March of 2011 but now it just forwards to FerryExpress.com. So, I would assume they were going to develop this long domain but decided to develop FerryExpress.com for this business.

Robert Lambert of Cruise America Associates LLC (with a OkeechobeeJetCenter.com email address) registered HavanaCruiseFerry.com and CubaCruiseFerry.com on August 14, 2011 but the he is not doing anything with the domains…yet. One could wonder if he has plans to launch a cruise ferry service to Cuba.

Florida Ferry International may have owned the domain name FloridaFerry.com since May of 2009. However, the company registered DiscoveryCubanCruises.com and DiscoveryCubaCruises.com in February 2012. These domains are owned by Armando Ruiz of Miami. One could wonder if he has plans to launch a service with the brand Discovery Cuba Cruises.

Leonard Moecklin of Havana Ferry Partners registered HavanaFerryPartners.com in March of 2010 and CubaFerryInternational.com in July of that year.

Bruce Nierenberg of United Caribbean Lines registered these domains between December 2010 and December 2011:

cancuncubaferry.com
caribbean-ferry.com
caribbeanferry.info
caribbeanferry.mobi
caribbeanferry.net
caribbeanferry.org
caribeferry.com
cubaferryboat.org
cubaferrylines.com
cubaferrylines.info
cubaferrylines.net
cubaferrylines.org
firstcubaferry.com
mexicocubaferry.com
newcubaferry.net
unitedcaribbeanlines.com
unitedferry.com

CubaKat.com was registered on November 29, 2011 which was only a few weeks before the January 9, 2012 posting date of the video above. The registrant is Brian Hall who is the CEO of KonaCat.com.

UniShipping was very forward thinking. They registered MiamiCubaFerry.com and CubaMiamiFerry.com back in November 2004.

Havana Journal Inc owns these domains with various registration and purchase dates:

CaribbeanFerry.com
CharterFerry.com
CruiseFerryService.com
CubaCarFerry.com
CubaCatamaran.com
CubaFastFerry.com
CubaFerry.info
CubaLine.com
CubanFerry.com
CubaShuttle.com
FerryServiceToCuba.com
FortLauderdaleFerry.com
HavanaCarFerry.com
HavanaFastFerry.com
HavanaFerry.com—registered in 2004 (more than five years before the registration of HavanaFerryPartners.com in 2010)
HavanaFerryService.com
HavanaShuttle.com
MiamiCruiseFerry.com
MiamiFastFerry.com
MiamiFerry.com
MiamiFerryService.com
MiamiHavanaFerry.com
TampaCruiseFerry.com
TampaFastFerry.com
TampaFerryService.com
TampaHavanaFerry.com

——————————Havana Journal Comments——————————

Of course passenger ferry service to Cuba is needed and WILL someday be a reality again but for now it seems that everybody will have to be patient now that OFAC has officially denied the Havana Ferry Partners request.