By Doreen Hemlock
When the Obama administration loosened restrictions for U.S. yachting to Cuba, Maria Romeu was among the first to seize the moment. The Cuba-born entrepreneur knew the island from decades of organizing cultural exchanges. She also knew yachting from years working in the industry in Florida. From June 2016 to April 2019, she arranged for more than 60 yachts to visit Cuba, most of them U.S.-owned mega-yachts more than 100 feet long carrying sophisticated U.S. clientele.
Then, the Trump administration halted U.S. yacht trips to Cuba. Romeu pivoted, opting to market to Europeans instead. By early 2020, she had half a dozen non-U.S. mega-yachts set to visit, some aiming to stay for weeks with Europeans to regularly scuba-dive off Cuba’s south coast. But the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to those vacations, as travelers locked down at home to protect their health.
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