Alan Lam reporting
After an earlier delay caused by failing the US Coast Guard inspection and the Cuban government’s initial refusal to allow Cuban born American to sail to Cuba, Fathom’s Adonia finally arrived in Havana.
After a ceremonial departure from Miami 18 hours earlier, the ship arrived at Havana’s Sierra Maestra Cruise Terminal at 9 AM on 2 May with 700 passengers onboard, including 20 or so Cuban Americans and Carnival Corporation & plc’s CEO, Arnold Donald, to a warm welcome by a crowd of curious people who gathered at the seafront waving Cuban and US flags.
Adonia thus became the first cruise liner to arrive in Cuba from the US with American passeners in half a century, marking the end to a long process of diplomacy, negotiation and planning, not to mention hostility. This is a highly symbolic and historic moment recognised by the wider world of politics and international relations.
While Carnival’s Fathom became the first US-based cruise line to send a ship to Cuba, Arnoldo Pérez, a Cuban born American, was the first to disembark Adonia, accompanied by Arnold Donald, in a carefully choreographed exercise.
“This is a very emotional and significant moment,” said Pérez, who left the island when he was only nine months old. Hereafter Adonia is scheduled to sail to Cuba every two weeks, calling at ports such as Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, besides Havana.
The ship flies the British flag and is managed by P&O Cruises in Southampton, which is also part of the Carnival Corporation & plc group.