NEW YORK -- A U.S.-based tour company on Thursday announced the launch of new people-to-people trips to Cuba that would transport U.S. citizens there by ship.

Road Scholar, a Boston-based company, is offering the trips from Jamaica and Miami, with stops in Havana and other parts of Cuba.

Most travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba is outlawed, but tens of thousands of Americans now visit the island legally each year on people-to-people tours, which are licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department. People-to-people trips must have educational and cultural exchange itineraries in order to be approved by the U.S. government.

Typically people-to-people tours fly from U.S. airports to Havana on chartered planes. But Road Scholar's director of international programs, Yves Marceau, said in a phone interview that "there's nothing in the regulations or guidelines" that preclude traveling by ship on a people-to-people tour.

The U.S. Treasury Department confirmed in an email that transportation "whether by bus, boat or taxi" in Cuba is permitted as part of the people-to-people programs as long as it does not detract from a "full-time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba."

Marceau said Road Scholar had "designed all the port programs to be consistent" with those regulations, including a visit to an agricultural cooperative and meetings with artists.

The Road Scholar trips are among several seaborne voyages planned by U.S.-based entities to Cuba. This fall, Semester at Sea plans its first stop in Cuba since 2004, according to Semester at Sea spokesman Andrew Centofante. Semester at Sea allows college students to earn credit on multi-country study abroad programs that take place on a ship, and Centofante said the Cuba stop was approved by the U.S. government as part of an itinerary in which students will visit various ports around the Atlantic.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had advertised a people-to-people cruise from Jamaica to Havana this past April, but it did not take place. A spokesman for Academic Arrangements Abroad, which was organizing the museum trip, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it's not unusual for tours sponsored by museums or universities to be cancelled if they don't get enough participants.

The Road Scholar trip will use a cruise ship operated by a Canadian company, with Canadians and Europeans making up most of the other 1,000 passengers on the ship, Marceau said. The Road Scholar group has room for 24 participants and will adhere to its own itinerary in Cuban ports.

One of the Road Scholar tours is an 11-night trip beginning in Montego Bay, Jamaica, which heads to Punta Frances, located on a small Cuban island south of Havana called Isla de la Juventud, and concludes with five nights in Havana. A second 10-night trip starts in Miami, then heads to Cuba, with stops including rural areas and the western part of the country, and a final stop in Montego Bay. The third Road Scholar voyage runs 12 nights, traveling from Miami to Havana and around the island before returning to Havana. The Road Scholar seaborne trips to Cuba have departure dates in December through March 2014.

The people-to-people cultural exchange licenses were reinstituted by the Obama administration in 2011, after being halted by the Bush administration. But requirements were tightened last year after criticism that many of the trips were masking recreational tourism to the Communist island. Cuban-American Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida criticized the government for approving licenses for groups that included activities like salsa dancing.

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  • This April 24, 2012 photo shows a view of Cuba's southeastern coastline and the Caribbean Sea from the top of the Castillo del Morro San Pedro de la Roca, a 17th century Spanish fortress that protects the entrance to the harbor in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The fortress was originally designed to fend off pirate attacks. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken on April 26, 2012, performers dance to live music at Casa de la Trova or House of Troubadours in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Music is an integral part of the Cuban culture. One doesn't have to travel far in the downtown section of Havana or Santiago, Cuba's second largest city, to hear the sounds of live music spilling out of nightclubs, bars and social clubs. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This April 26, 2012 photo shows performers dancing to live music at Casa de la Trova, house of troubadors, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Music is an integral part of Cuban culture, particularly in Santiago de Cuba, birthplace of composer Compay de Segundo, who was well known before, but became an international celebrity when the Ry Cooder film, "The Buena Vista Social Club" was released. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This April 24, 2012 photo shows a group of men playing a game of dominoes at a park in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken Sunday April 22, 2012, young men and women dance in the front row during the Cuban National Baseball Series between the Holguin home team and the Havana-based Metropolitanos, a farm team of the better-known Industriales at the local stadium in Holguin, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this Saturday April 21, 2012, men bearing their own bottles crowd around a beer truck where they can purchase refills for five Cuban pesos, in the seaside town of Gibara, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This April 24, 2012 photo shows young dance students performing for American visitors at the Jose Maria Heredia Vocational Arts school in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The school is dedicated to educating eight to 18 year-olds. Students identified as talented who live outside Santiago may attend. All students are provided free tuition, room and board. They may return home every other weekend to visit their families. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken on April 21, 2012, a young girl rides on a carousel of a street fair near the harbor in the seaside town of Gibara, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This April 26, 2012 photo shows performers dancing to live music at Casa de la Trova, house of troubadors, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Music is an integral part of Cuban culture, particularly in Santiago de Cuba, birthplace of composer Compay de Segundo, who was well known before, but became an international celebrity when the Ry Cooder film, "The Buena Vista Social Club" was released. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken on April 25, 2012, a man puffs on his cigar during a meeting of a CDR or Committee for the Defense of the Revolution at a neighborhood in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this photo taken Monday April 23, 2012, pedestrians follow a hearse during a funeral procession on a road near Santiago de Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken on April 17, 2012, a woman sweeps her stoop beside a sign that reads in Spanish: "Long Live the CDR" in Havana, Cuba. The CDR or Committee for the Defense of the Revolution are neighborhood watch organizations that do everything from making sure that residents show up for the anniversary of the revolution to promoting vaccination campaigns, running blood banks, and conducting hurricane evacuation drills. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This April 24, 2012 photo shows students raising their hands to answer their teacher's questions in front of a portrait of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Argentine-born co-founder of the Cuban revolution, at the Jose Maria Heredia Vocational Arts school in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The school is dedicated to educating musically- talented eight to 18 year-olds, some of whom come from surrounding areas. The Cuban government provides free tuition, room and board. Students are allowed to return home every two weeks to visit their families.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken on April 17, 2012, a musician rehearses beside a louvered window at a restaurant in Old Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken Monday April 23, 2012, a sign inside a school in Bayamo, Cuba, promotes children's rights to a free education, among other things. Cuba's literacy rate for those 15 years and older, at 99.8%, is among the highest in Latin America, second only to that of Argentina, according to statistics from the World Bank. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken April 17, 2012, a young boy rests on a bicycle cart as workers slide construction materials onto the cart for transport through Old Havana, Cuba. Restoration as well as new construction are a frequent sight in the city. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this photo taken Monday April 23, 2012, primary school students walk past a mural depicting heros of Cuba's independence from Spain, including Cuban patriot Francisco Vicente Aguilera, right, who later supported Carlos Manuel de Cespedes in the revolt against Spain, in Bayamo, a colonial town in Oriente province. The color of children's uniforms denotes their educational level. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this photo taken Monday April 23, 2012, a man climbs under the engine of his Russian-made car while repairing it in Bayamo, Cuba. Since cars are expensive, many of the ones on the streets have old bodies but have engines that have been repaired and replaced multiple times. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this Saturday April 21, 2012, residents seek shade beneath a sculpture of a sailfish in the seaside town of Gibara, Cuba, Saturday, April 21, 2012, during the annual international Cine Pobre, the Poor People's International cinema festival that is held in the town. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)