First regularly scheduled cruise from Port Canaveral to Cuba returns

Norwegian Sun begins four-night sailings after diplomatic relations restored

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – Passengers on board Port Canaveral's first regularly scheduled cruise to Cuba returned to Central Florida Friday.

The Norwegian Sun departed on the four-night cruise Monday and made stops in Key West and Havana, Cuba.

"It was exciting for me, because I always wanted to go to Cuba," passenger Mike Dobbings said. "This is the first time we've been able to (do) that since the '60s."

[MORE: 5 places you have to see while visiting Havana, Cuba]

When Norwegian announced its plans last July to begin sailing from Port Canaveral to Cuba, the cruise line said the Norwegian Sun's four-day cruises to Cuba "will transport guests to the heart of the action" in both Key West and Havana, calling in Key West's Old Town district and Havana Harbor, which is located in the heart of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As part of travel restrictions to the communist country, passengers were required to plan an educational or cultural activity during their stay.

"People are living very happy. They're very friendly people and I think they love all kinds of tourists," passenger Sunita Teckchand said.

With the U.S. and Cuba approaching the three year mark of restored diplomatic relations, passengers said the weekly cruise is something that can benefit Cuban families in need.

"A lot of the people that are oppressed in Cuba are actually getting a lot of the tourist money that we're spending over there, so it's helping them immensely," Dobbings said.

In addition to the four-night sailings to Cuba, the Norwegian Sun will operate three-night cruises out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas that will sail every Friday. Those cruises will call at either Nassau or Freeport, as well as at Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private beach island.

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