Relations with Cuba could mean Manatee-Havana ferry service, says port director

skennedy@bradenton.comNovember 15, 2012 

PORT MANATEE -- Ferry service between Port Manatee and Cuba is one possibility should diplomatic relations be normalized between the U.S. and the island nation, officials said Thursday.

Ferries may someday ply the waters between Manatee and Cuba, carrying both passengers and cargo from the port, Port Executive Director Carlos Buqueras said after a meeting of the Manatee County Port Authority on Thursday.

The launch of ferry service was a topic Buqueras discussed recently during a trip he made to Spain, he said.

"The operator for Havana is located in Barcelona," said Buqueras, who later explained that the Port of Havana is operated jointly by a Spanish company and the Cuban government.

"We want to make sure opportunities to sail from here are welcome at the other end," he told the port authority board, comprised of Manatee County commissioners.

Commissioner Donna Hayes said it was an "opportune time to start working on this, this is not something that happens overnight."

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