MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The new CEO of the world’s third largest cruise line dreams of sailing to Cuba.
“My unfulfilled dream is to be on the bridge of one of my ships coming into Havana harbor,” said Frank Del Rio, who was recently named CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Del Rio goes a step further. He says, like other cruise executives, he has actual Cuban itineraries safely locked away in his office.
“The preparations are all internal,” Del Rio said. “We have itineraries in my upper right hand drawer ready to go.”
Del Rio was picked last month to head the third largest cruise line in the world. He oversees Norwegian, Regent and Oceania Cruise Lines.
Right now, his 21 ships cannot take Americans to Cuba because of the U.S. embargo, and while he’s careful to stay clear of politics, the new CEO believes it’s time for a change.
“It didn’t take 55 years for America to mend fences with Japan or Germany after World War II,” he said. “We trade freely with Russia, China and Vietnam. One day I hope we can trade freely with Cuba.”
From the bow of one of his ships, Del Rio can see the Freedom Tower where his family was among thousands of Cuban refugees processed in the 1960s. Fifty years later, his fleet of ships has a Cuban touch.
Del Rio personally selected original artwork to adorn the Ocean Riviera luxury liner. The ship has maps of Cuba, and even serves Cubanisimo wine, a Pinot Noir made by a Cuban-American winemaker in Oregon.
As Del Rio waits for changes in U.S.-Cuba relations, his dream cruise to Cuba remains on hold.
“Standing on that bridge will be my grandkids, my son and daughter, my parents, my wife,” he said. “Someday we can make that happen.”