After an absence of almost 40 years, the first US cruise ship has arrived in Cuba.
The crossing of the Florida Straits from Miami to the Cuban capital, Havana, was an official renewal of commercial sea travel. This followed the Cold War fallout which saw commercial activity limited between the nations.
The Adonia vessel from the Carnival Cruise Line had the honour of being the first to dock as part of agreements reached between US President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, 18 months ago. A large crowd of workers and passersby gathered to watch and cheer the ship’s arrival. It is now envisaged that thousands of vessels will cross the Florida Straits every year.
The Mercury News reports that the straits were blocked during the Cuban Missile Crisis by the US. Since then, thousands of Cubans have crossed on homemade rafts, with many dying in the process. Cruises from the US are expected to boost the Cuban economy by tens of millions of dollars. Carnival plans to cruise the Adonia from Miami to Havana every two weeks. Before the Cuban revolution in 1959, cruise ships regularly travelled between the two countries. Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it is currently in negotiations with the island authorities with the aim of introducing cruises from the US to Cuba this year. However, cruise dockings will be hampered as the port can only handle two ships at a time.