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Historic US cruise ship headed to Cuba

dpadpa 2/05/2016

For the first time in more than 50 years a US cruise ship is on its way to Cuba

For the first time in more than 50 years a US cruise ship is on its way to Cuba after the US loosened travel restrictions amid a broader rapprochement between the neighbours.

Some 700 passengers were aboard the MV Adonia from Carnival Cruises' smaller Fathom line when it sailed from Miami on Sunday due to dock in Havana on Monday (Tuesday AEST).

The Cuban government had at first said it would ban Cuban exiles and Cuban Americans born on the communist island from travelling aboard the ship amid decades-old restrictions on Cubans travelling via boat, but the government relented in April. Carnival had put its plans on hold, as members of the Cuban exile community threatened legal action on grounds of discrimination.

The seven-day cruise is to circumnavigate the island with stops in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos, the cruise line said.

The journey is authorised under US regulations that allow cultural and people to people travel.

US President Barack Obama and Raul Castro began the process of restoring relations in late 2014, but a trade embargo that can only be lifted by the US Congress remains in place. In March, Obama became the first US president in nearly 90 years to visit the island.

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