Historic Cuba cruise gives celebratory feel for passengers

HAVANA (WSVN) — Passengers from all over the country are onboard a historic voyage to Cuba and tell 7News about their experience.

A celebratory feel has been evident on board the Adonia cruise ship. "Travel is a really powerful form of human connection," said President of Fathom Brand Tara Russell.

The Fathom Adonia left the Port of Miami Sunday afternoon. It’s the first ship headed to Cuba from an American port in 50 years. 

It was accompanied by a water salute, a band and free flowing drinks. Passengers from South Florida, the Northeast, the South and across the country waved both American and Cuban flags on board. 

Among the hundreds traveling on the Adonia are Cuban-born Americans. "My parents always wanted to return, and never had the ability to go back," said ship passenger Beatriz Melendez. "Both my parents passed away and I know they’re with me right now. They would be so happy."

Even for those who are not Cuban-American, this cruise is much more than a vacation. Cindy Clark lives in a small town in Texas, but grew up in Fort Meyers. "When the refugees came across, many of them end up in Miami and came to my high school," she said. "We really didn’t understand too much about it, what they had gone through."

Fifty-two years later, Clark is on this historic cruise. "I went there last year, and this is another thing I wanted closure on and see what happened," she said.

Clark was relieved, she said, like other passengers when she learned the voyage would go on after the Cuban government relented and allowed Cuban-born Americans to disembark on the island. With that, the party portion of the cruise was underway from the dancing to swimming to the speeches as an American ship approached the island nation. "I know it’s very raw, and yet I believe that we have the opportunity to look forward and see new horizons," Russell said.   

Later Tuesday, passengers will leave Havana for their next port in Cienfuegos, Cuba. After, cruise passengers will spend a few more days circling the island.