MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A Cuban band played as passengers checked in aboard the Adonia — the Fathom brand for the Carnival cruise line — the first historic voyage on the first ship in 50 years to sail from the U.S. to Cuba.READ MORE: FBI: Body Found Near Search Area For Missing Florida Woman Gabby Petito Consistent With Her Description
“I left Cuba when I was four,” said Milly Martin, one of a dozen Cuban-born Americans heading to the island. “It’s in our blood. The history is in our blood. It’s kind of hard to talk about it, it’s emotional, and special. Very special.”
The ship sold out with more than 700 passengers signing up for the inaugural voyage from Port Miami.
“I am a professional mariner. I’ve sailed around the island, I’ve been to Guantanamo Bay. Always wondered what life was like on the island. I’ve been to about 45 countries and it’s always been the closed one. It’s exciting, I’m looking forward to it,” said passenger Gary Carlson, from D.C.
Fathom President Tara Russell says they have programs on and off the ship that are going to immerse passengers into the Cuban culture.READ MORE: Massive Search Underway For Brian Laundrie, Fiancé Of Missing Florida Woman Gabby Petito
“Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba and Havana are three very different geographies. So the experiences that we have there will be uniquely different but it’s really tailored to the region — gifts and talents of the people there and really what we believe our travelers long for — in terms of their travel experience,” said Russell.
The historic cruise opened doors for visitors to sail into Cuba, but reaching this point wasn’t easy. Carnival Corporation was at the center of public backlash when it would not take reservations from Cuban-born individuals, saying it was following Cuban government policy.
But after public outcry and threats of lawsuits from citizens and sanctions from Miami-Dade’s mayor, Carnival announced it would only sail to Cuba if the government changed policy. It worked and an agreement was reached, allowing those discriminated against to now set sail.
“To be a part of truly making history and preparing for an even more positive future for everyone, is one of the greatest honors any company can have,” said Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald.MORE NEWS: MDPD Seeking Driver Who Hit, Killed Man Riding Mini Scooter In Florida City
The historic voyage will last for seven days. The ship will be sailing to Cuba every other week.