By Neysi Hernandez
HAVANA (AA) - The first cruise ship in more than half a century to travel from the U.S. to Cuba docked Monday at the Bay of Havana.
With more than 700 passengers on board, the trip formalizes the presence of American cruise companies on the island and is a symbol of the opening up of Cuba after both countries announced in late 2014 that they would begin the process of normalizing relations.
From Havana, the Adonia, a ship in Carnival’s cruise line, will circumnavigate the Caribbean island while making stops later this week in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
Journalist Alina Amador told Anadolu Agency the the trip represents a relationship that will be mutually beneficial. “After 50 years, countries can now do business together. It is advantageous for both parties — can coexist as neighbors. Finally they are breaking the barriers that distanced U.S. to Cuba, located just 90 miles.”
Half a dozen Cuban-Americans were on board but restrictions for passengers are still in place that allow Americans to embark only if they fall into one of 12 categories permitted by the Treasury Department.
They include travel to Cuba for religious, family, journalistic or cultural purposes but not tourism which is still subject to a trade embargo against the island.
Cubans lined the coast in Havana waved and cheered as the Adonia entered the canal.
Antonio Garcia who came out was “excited” to see the ship. “This is a rapprochement between the two peoples, between the two countries. This cruise is a bridge,” he told Anadolu Agency.