Cuba lifts ban on Cuban-born travelers visiting island on commercial vessels

CCTV News

Cuba lifts ban on Cuban-born travelers visiting island on commercial vessels

Sailing to Cuba just got a whole lot easier after the Cuban government adjusted its migration policy allowing all Cubans and Cuban Americans to enter and leave Cuba by sea.

CCTV America’s Nitza Soledad Perez reports.

Cuba lifts ban on Cuban-born travelers visiting island on commercial vessels

Cuba lifts ban on Cuban-born travelers visiting island on commercial vessels

Sailing to Cuba just got a whole lot easier after the Cuban government adjusted its migration policy allowing all Cubans and Cuban Americans to enter and leave Cuba by sea. CCTV America's Nitza Soledad Perez reports.

The decision by the Cuban government to lift a controversial ban is an especially welcome announcement for Carnival Cruise Line which had been in the middle of turbulent diplomatic waters.

The exile community had accused Carnival of discrimination for denying Cuban-born travelers the possibility of traveling on a U.S. cruise ship next month, in the first such trip to the island by a U.S. cruise ship in more than 50 years.

“We are just glad that we were able to manage through it, and we have the outcome everyone wants, which is people to be free to go to Cuba and back,” Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said.

Previously, Cuban law did not allow Cuban-born individuals living elsewhere to travel to the island by a commercial vessel. Carnival said it had little choice but to comply with the ban.

Two lawsuits had been filed in federal court in Miami after two Cuban-born Americans attempted to book a cruise but were denied tickets. Just days before Cuba eliminated the ban, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the Cuban regulation and Carnival’s refusal to allow Cuban-born people to book trips.

“The United States government will never support, never condone discrimination. And the Cuban government should not have the right to enforce on us a policy of discrimination against people who have the right to travel,” Kerry said.

Before the ban was lifted, Carnival opened up it’s bookings.

Cuban Americans say the end of the ban is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

“In this case, it’s an insufficient victory, Cuban people still need to require, need to apply a visa to visit their own homeland. This needs to be changed,” Democracy Movement Director Ramon Saul Sanchez said.

The Cuban government has said it’s planning to loosen restrictions that ban Cubans from boarding recreational vessels such as fishing boats and yachts.