US cruise ship sailing to Cuba returns

Washington, May 9 (IANS) Cruise ship Adonia, the first US vessel of its kind to visit Cuba in over 50 years, returned to the Port of Miami after completing a seven-night cruise that made stops in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

The vessel operated by Carnival Cruise Line docked on Sunday morning at the Miami port terminal with over 10 passengers ill, presumably with a stomach virus, sources said.

A statement issued by the firm confirmed 14 passengers had come down with gastrointestinal illnesses but are recovering, EFE news reported.

The ship, which can carry more than 700 passengers, set sail from Miami on May 2 and arrived in Havana the next morning, where it was welcomed by hundreds of Cubans.

More than 10 Cubans who left the island over the past five decades – most of them as children – were on board the ship.

Carnival initially adhered to a policy of not accepting travellers of Cuban origin on its cruises to Cuba, in accord with a Cuban law prohibiting its nationals from arriving on the island by sea, a decision that sparked protests by Cuban exiles in Miami and even a civil discrimination lawsuit that was later dropped.

The company, however, modified its stance and announced that the Adonia would sail from Miami without making distinctions between passengers after the island’s government authorised the entry of Cubans by sea.

Carnival will operate a week-long Miami-Cuba cruise twice a month and the voyages will include assorted activities at sea and on land with a cultural, educational and humanitarian component.

–IANS

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