-FIRST US CRUISE SHIP IN 50 YEARS LANDS IN CUBA
-US cruise ships could pump tens of millions of dollars into cash-strapped Cuban state coffers
FIRST US CRUISE SHIP IN 50 YEARS LANDS IN CUBA
The first American cruise ship in nearly 40 years to set sail for Cuba has docked in Havana harbour with more than 700 passengers on board, Al Jazeera reported.
The landing on shore of the Adonia on Monday evening marks the reemergence of commercial travel between the US and the Cuba after 50 years of hostile relations brought on by the Cold War.
The ship was the first US cruise ship in Havana since President Jimmy Carter eliminated virtually all restrictions of US travel to Cuba in the late 1970s.
Travel embargo were restored after Carter left office and US cruises to Cuba only become possible again after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared detente in December 2014.
The Adonia’s arrival is seen as the first step towards a future in which thousands of ships a year could cross the Florida Straits, long closed to most US-Cuba traffic due to tensions that once brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
The straits were blocked by the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis and tens of thousands of Cubans have fled across them to Florida on homemade rafts, with untold thousands dying in the process.
The number of Cubans trying to cross the straits is at its highest point in eight years and cruises and merchant ships regularly rescue people on rafts from the straits.
According to Al Jazeera, US cruises are expected to bring Cuba tens of millions of dollars in badly needed foreign hard currency if traffic increases as expected.
Over a dozen lines have announced plans to run US-Cuba cruises and if all actually begin operations Cuba could earn more than $80m a year, the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council said in a report Monday.