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Capitol Alliance Group to lobby for Havana Ferry Partners in planned Florida-Cuba ferry

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As America improves trade and cultural relations with Cuba, one of the ways U.S. tourists will soon be able to visit the Caribbean island is by ferry; luxury vessels offering entertainment, gambling and restaurants.

One Florida company — Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale – has been granted approval by the U.S. government to begin commercial service to Cuba. The Havana Ferry trip would originate in Key West – with possibly adding Fort Lauderdale and Miami routes – carry as many as 200 people and cost an estimated $300 for a round-trip ticket. Plans for a deluxe journey could include food, drinks and perhaps casino gaming.

On Wednesday, lobbyists Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl announced that Tallahassee-based advocacy firm Capitol Alliance Group will represent Havana Ferry. Biehl, a native of Brevard County, serves as Capitol Alliance’s Legislative Programs Director.

“The Capitol Alliance Group is proud to represent Havana Ferry Partners, which provides luxurious and reliable transportation between Florida and Cuba,” Biehl said in a statement. “With diplomatic ties reestablished between the U.S. and Cuba, we are confident that our client’s services will play an important role in the burgeoning Cuba tourism industry.”

Among the legal and legislative obstacles facing a ferry service to Cuba are Homeland Security concerns and approval by both the U.S. Coast Guard and Cuban naval officials.

Although Cuba and the United Staes have recently reopened their respective embassies, and overall travel restrictions have eased, the average American tourist still cannot visit Cuba without meeting specific criteria, and will be subject to daily spending limits and other restrictions.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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