MIAMI – Top officials with Carnival Cruise Line said on Sunday that up to a dozen of the more than 700 passengers who will depart this afternoon on the Adonia, the first U.S. cruise vessel to sail to Cuba in 50 years, are Cubans or Cuban-Americans.
Making the announcement at a press conference held Sunday at the Port of Miami, from where the cruise ship will set sail, was Carnival Corporation general manager Arnold Donald.
Meanwhile, the president of Fathom, Tara Russel, said that both Cubans born in Cuba and Cuban-Americans born in the United States were on board, providing “nice ... diversity” among the passengers.
Carnival affiliate Fathom, starting Sunday, will operate cruises to Cuba with the Adonia every two weeks, an effort that Donald said is “contributing to history” and having a “very positive” impact on society.
He added that it is a “tremendous honor” for Carnival to be the first company to offer cruises from the United States to Cuba after receiving approval from both the U.S. and Cuban governments to offer the tourist package to “everyone,” including Cuban-Americans.
Initially, the firm had maintained a policy of not accepting Cuban travelers for the cruises, in accordance with a Cuban law preventing Cuban nationals from arriving there by sea, a decision that sparked a civil discrimination lawsuit and later was overturned.
Carnival on April 18 announced that it would make no distinctions among its passengers and that all travelers would be welcome aboard any of its vessels sailing to Cuba.
Donald said that Cuban authorities saw that it was necessary to change the regulation to allow Cuban exiles and Cuban-Americans to make the trips.