MIAMI (CBSMiami) — In a historic voyage, the first ship coming from the U.S. arrived in Cuba Monday morning.
It’s the first time a ship from the U.S. has sailed to Cuba in 40 years.
The ship Adonia – the Fathom brand for the Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line – sold out with more than 700 passengers wanting to take part in Sunday’s inaugural voyage from Port Miami.
One woman said she had relatives on the ship. She was joined by dozens of Cubans taking it all in from the Havana waterfront.
Another man said, “I have an uncle on the ship.” He added its been years since his uncle had visited the island.
The cruise’s path to their first voyage to Cuba was not easy. A policy prohibiting Cuban-born U.S. citizens from joining the voyage prompted an outcry from the South Florida community and even lawsuits that called it discriminatory. The company said it was part of Cuba’s policy that would not allow Cuban-born U.S. citizens to go to the island by boat.
Following major backlash, Carnival Corp. eventually announced they would only sail to Cuba if the government changed its policy. An agreement was reached, allowing Cuban-born U.S. citizens to set sail.
Rosa Maria Caballero who is Cuban-American held back tears as she talked about setting foot on Cuban soil Monday. Cuban dancers greeted her and the other passengers as they made their way through Havana’s small cruise terminal.
Among the travelers was Carnival Cruise Lines President Arnold Donald who has said there is pent up demand among Americans to visit Cuba.
“We want to thank the Obama administration. We want to thank Cuba for making all this possible and we’re very, very happy to be here with our Fathom (cruise line) brand,” said Donald.
The trip will last seven days. From then on, the Adonia will sail to Cuba every other week.