First US-to-Cuba cruise ship in decades docks in Havana
HAVANA - Agence France-Presse
AP photoThe first U.S. cruise ship to travel to Cuba in half a century docked in Havana on May 2, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between the old Cold War foes.
A crowd of onlookers waved Cuban and American flags and filmed with their cell phones as the Adonia, a Carnival cruise liner, sailed into port in Havana after setting off on May 1 from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States.
The ship had 700 passengers on board, some of them Cuban-Americans returning to the communist island for the first time in decades.
The ship had set off May 1 from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the U.S.
“I’ve been crying since dawn. I can’t believe I am here,” said Maria Eugenia Pena, a 47-year-old lawyer born in Miami.
Her parents left Cuba shortly after Fidel Castro launched the revolution that brought him to power in 1959.
“I really longed to see the land where my parents, and cousins whom I have never met, were born,” said Pena.
“I’ve come here with my first cousin. We are sharing this experience together.”
On the seafront, Yaney Cajigal, a 32-year-old dancer, could barely contain her excitement as she waited for her niece to disembark.
“This is incredible for me, this is very exciting,” she told AFP.
“We’re welcoming them with the flags of Cuba and the United States so everything will be unity, peace and tranquility.”
The voyage is the first of what Carnival says will become week-long cruises twice a month to promote cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba.
Ties began openly warming in December 2014 and the two countries restored full diplomatic relations last year.
Carnival is the first cruise line company to win permission from both governments to offer trips, which ended after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
The cost of a ticket on the cruise ranges from $1,800 to $7,000 per person.
Regular flights from the United States to Cuba are expected to begin later this year.