MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As Friday marked the start of eased travel restrictions between the United State and Cuba, the biggest difference was seen in the international arrivals area, where passengers carried alcohol and tobacco products brought over from the communist island.READ MORE: As US Confirms First Omicron Case, CDC Works To Step Up Testing Requirements
“I got some rum. Got a few cigars,” Joe Guerreiro said through a big smile.
He said he breezed right through customs.
Molly Moreland didn’t have any issues either.
“They asked me where I had been. I said ‘Havana, Cuba’. They said, ‘OK’,” she explained. “The very handsome customs agent took my form and my receipt and said, ‘Have a nice day’.”
American passengers arriving from Cuba are now allowed to bring up to $400 in souvenirs from the island, including $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco.
Friday morning, travelers at Miami International Airport were among some of the first to fly to the island under new policy changes designed to normalize relations with the communist country.
“I haven’t seen my mother in 5 years so for me it’s a good feeling right now,” Lucimo Pedroso said as he waited to board his flight.
Many people took wrapped necessities to distribute to relatives.
They hope the eased-up restrictions will make visits more affordable.READ MORE: Arrest Made In Miami-Dade In Connection With Murder Of Palm Beach Gardens Boy
“The prices of the tickets are very expensive for only 90 miles away,” Isabel Fu said.
Americans are officially allowed to travel to Cuba with less government interference, but not technically as tourists.
You have to fall into one of twelve approved categories, which include family visits, research, education, journalism, export and religious trips.
C.J. Cueto represents charter companies that fly people to and from the island.
Even he admits there’s still a gray area.
“Now everybody can go to the counter, will make things different,” Cueto said. “I don’t know how it’s going to be, but change is coming. Hopefully for the good.”
Travelers will be allowed to use U.S. credit and debit cards. Whether Cuban businesses have the infrastructure to accept them remains to be seen.
“I think it’s great for the cuban people,” Guerreiro said. “I think they’re very hopeful. I haven’t seen that kind of hope that they have. They told me to come back here and tell President Obama they love him. They are very pleased.”
Opponents of the new rules say the changes will only serve to bolster the communist regime.
“There’s no freedom, no human rights, nothing has changed in Cuba,” Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said. “I understand people are looking for cheap sex, cheap booze, cheap cigars, but there’s more to Cuba than all of that.”
Those who want to send money to Cuba can now transfer up to $2,000 every three months, as opposed to the previous $500 limit.MORE NEWS: Asian American Artists Celebrated During Art Basel: 'Through Hardships, We Could Look At Diversity And See It As Strength'
Right now all flights to Cuba out of MIA are chartered, but the U.S. Transportation Department says it’s looking to reestablish regular, scheduled flights to the communist nation for the first time in decades.