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Thread: Cruise ship from Miami arrives in Havana for historic trip to Cuba

  1. #1
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 57,341

    Cruise ship from Miami arrives in Havana for historic trip to Cuba

    Cruise ship from Miami arrives in Havana for historic trip to Cuba

    “We’ll never forget this day”
    Cubans along the shore whistled and waved
    First U.S. cruise ship to visit island in half a century

    HAVANA As passengers cheered, Carnival Corp.’s Fathom Adonia arrived at Havana harbor on Monday morning, officially reestablishing the U.S. cruise business in Cuba.
    The voyage of the Adonia, with about 600 passengers aboard, was the first trip from a U.S. port directly to Cuba in more than 50 years, and the importance of the historic trip wasn’t lost on anyone.

    Passengers boarded the Fathom Adonia Sunday to inaugurate the first cruise service between the United States and the island in more than half a century. Carl Juste

    Aboard the ship, cruise passengers waved Cuban and American flags. In the Old Havana terminals, Cuban flags and banners from Havantur, the official tourism agency, were draped along the second-floor balcony as a crowd of officials, port workers and media welcomed the ship.
    The ship officially docked at 10:24 a.m..
    The visit began when the first hazy outlines of the Havana skyline appeared on the horizon about 7 a.m., and excitement aboard the Adonia began to build.
    About 7:45 a.m. when the city was still about seven or eight miles away, Captain David Box came on the public address system, noting the great dome of Havana’s Cathedral was clearly visible and pointing out that Havana, founded in 1515, was once known as the “Rome of the Caribbean.”
    “We’ll never forget this day,” he said.

    By 9:30, the ship arrived at the mouth of Havana harbor, where it lingered before finally docking almost an hour later.

    Although the Adonia is a small cruise ship — it has to be because a tunnel passes under Havana harbor, making it inaccessible for larger, deeper-draft vessels — it has a loud horn that it sounded as it slowly glided into the harbor around 9 a.m., where it stopped before it was to head to the Sierra Maestra terminal.
    “Our ship is small but our ship’s horn is huge and will reverberate across the world,” Box said.
    Cubans along the shore and workers at a restaurant at El Morro Castle whistled and wave as the Adonia entered the channel on a bright, sunny day.

    “Good morning, Cuba,” exclaimed Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald as he invited guests to an 8 a.m. poolside party as the ship neared Havana. “Just enjoy this very special day.”
    The band started playing and drinks started to flow more than three hours before the passengers were allowed to disembark for their first day of people-to-people tours.
    The week-long cruise will circumnavigate Cuba and will also stop in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. As a people-to-people trip, the voyage is supposed to encourage interactions with the Cuban people.
    While baking on the beach is not part of any people-to-people agenda, a wide variety of cultural and artistic activities are permitted.
    “It’s exciting to be part of this historic voyage,” said Shirley Thurman, a retiree from St. Augustine who was making the trip with her husband. “I am so glad we are normalizing relations with Cuba. I think the common people in Cuba have been the ones who have suffered over the years.”

    Thurman said she had no desire to come to Cuba before the U.S. government began liberalizing travel rules, making it easier for a greater variety of Americans to travel to the island as part of an opening toward Havana that began on Dec. 17, 2014.
    But the night that Carnival announced the Fathom Adonia would be making its first voyage to Cuba, her husband was on the phone making reservations for the cruise.
    All the cabins were sold out for the maiden voyage, although single occupancies meant the ship traveled somewhat below its 704-passenger capacity.
    Two Cuban-born passengers, Arnie Pérez, Carnival’s chief legal counsel, and his wife Carmen, were scheduled to be the first off the ship. Both were born in 1960. His family left Cuba when he was 9 months old; hers when she was seven years old.
    Pérez hadn’t been back since last year when he began helping negotiating the deal that led to the Adonia’s entry into the Cuban market.
    The only member of his immediate family who remains in Cuba is an 89-year-old aunt who lives outside Santiago de Cuba. When the Adonia stops in Santiago, he said he is going to make it a point to see the aunt he has never met.
    The first meeting with Cuba as Fathom tried to forge a cruise deal was back in July and final approval didn’t come until mid-March, he said.
    However, Carnival and Fathom executives didn’t count on the type of backlash they would get in Miami when they started to deny Cuban-born travelers passage on the ship. They were abiding by a Cuban policy from the Cold War era that bars those born in Cuba from entering or leaving the island by vessel, making a cruise an impossible journey for those born on the island.
    But Cuban exiles swung into action, protesting what they saw as a discriminatory policy that didn’t put the Cuban-born on equal footing with other travelers. Two lawsuits were filed against the cruise lines and opposition to the cruise began piling up.
    Carnival shifted gears, saying it would sell tickets to Cuban-born travelers and would delay the Adonia’s first trip, if necessary, until Cuba changed its policy.
    “We made it clear we wouldn’t go if they didn’t change the policy,” said Pérez, who was involved in the last-minute negotiations.
    On April 22, a statement that appeared in Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, made it clear that cruise liners and merchant ships would no longer be subject to the policy.
    “Yes, it should have been done earlier. They realize that,” said Pérez. But he said on Sunday, the day the Adonia left PortMiami, he got a message from the Cuban Embassy in Washington expressing hope that the cruise would go well.
    “The time is now to do something different toward Cuba,” Pérez said. "We're engaging with people and we are hoping for the best."

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  2. #2
    stbartshopper is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2013 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. Posts: 11,265

    Re: Cruise ship from Miami arrives in Havana for historic trip to Cuba

    A long time coming- this day!

  3. #3
    Jim Kelly-Evans is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2010 Philadelphia and Fire Island, NY Posts: 1,375

    Re: Cruise ship from Miami arrives in Havana for historic trip to Cuba

    Let's hope that it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
    "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy." - Dorothy Parker

  4. #4
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968

    Re: Cruise ship from Miami arrives in Havana for historic trip to Cuba

    What's the latest on lifting those people-to-people restrictions and enabling Americans to travel freely to Cuba?

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