HAVANA, Cuba – The first U.S. cruise ship to arrive at Cuba in half a century entered Havana on May 2. Onlookers waved American and Cuban flags as the Carnival cruise liner that had left Miami on May 1 docked at Havana.
The Carnival cruise liner Adonia arrived at Havana weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Caribbean island.
The seven-day voyage indicates closer bonds between the two nations.
700 passengers are on board the ship. Some of the passengers were Cuban-Americans who had come to the country for the first time in decades.
The cruise ship manager said that it is “the beginning of a new era.”
According to reports, some people who did not condone of the journey, gathered at the port in Miami on May 1 and protested. They held out signs that said “Castro why do you ask Cubans for a Visa to visit their own country?”
Until last week it was uncertain whether the cruise would take place. Cuban President Raul Castro’s administration only lifted the ban of seaborne travel of Cubans between Cuba and the United States last week.
Passengers, however, did not want politics to interfere with their journey to Cuba. A passenger Pam Carlson said in a news report, “My grandmother went way back in the day, before it was ever closed, so just to be able to go there and meet the people and see the people, it will be meaningful to us.”
Another passenger Gary Carlson is said to have commented, “I’m not sure I really understand, because it’s time to put those things behind us. Really the big issue is government to government, not people to people, and that’s what we’re excited about participating in.”
Carnival cruise liner will run week-long voyages to Cuba twice a month, according to reports. This comes after diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored in 2014.
Reports have said that both nations are willing to make changes with regards to travel before President Obama, who has been urging the Congress to lift trade embargo and travel ban, leaves office.
John Kavulich, president of the New York-based US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, said, “Regularly scheduled cruises are the third leg of the land, sea and air efforts by the Obama Administration to cement its policy changes, the goal is to make the initiatives big and loud so that they are harder to dislodge.” READ MORE