Cuba reversal appears to clear way for Carnival cruise

Cuba may ease ban on Cuban-born travelers
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Story highlights

  • The first Carnival ship is due to sail to Havana on May 1
  • Some Cuban-Americans complained Carnival prevented anyone born in Cuba on the ship
  • Cuban change in policy appears to remove barrier to those born in Cuba

Havana, Cuba (CNN)The Cuban government said it would scrap a longstanding ban on letting people born in Cuba come to the island by cruise ship, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported Friday.

The change in policy appears to remove barriers to the first visit by a U.S. cruise ship to the island scheduled for next month.
    The Carnival Cruise Corp. announced last month that a ship from its Fathom line would be the first U.S. cruise boat to visit the Caribbean island nation since the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and communist-run Cuba.
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    But a controversy erupted after some Cuban-Americans complained that Carnival prevented anyone born in Cuba from booking passage aboard the ship.
    Cuban-Americans protested in front of the company's Florida headquarters and filed lawsuits against Carnival alleging discrimination. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the cruise line should not sail to Cuba until everyone was allowed aboard.
    Carnival later said the company would reverse course and accept reservations from people born in Cuba and lobby the Cuban government to change the ban.
    A Cuban government statement in the official Granma newspaper said the new policy allowing Cubans to board cruises will go into effect Tuesday.
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    Granma said the government would also loosen restrictions on Cubans traveling aboard private boats but did not say when those changes would go into effect.
    The shift in policy, the Cuban government statement said, was made with "the intent of promoting mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation."
    The Carnival ship is due to sail to Havana on May 1, which is celebrated as workers day on the island with a massive pro-government parade.
    "This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased," Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said. "We want to extend our sincere appreciation to Cuba and to our team who worked so hard to help make this happen."