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Ship that took historic cruise to Cuba returns to Miami

Passengers, some born in Cuba, reflect on experience

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MIAMI – The first cruise ship to travel from the United States to Cuba in decades has returned to Miami.

Carnival Cruise Line spokesman Roger Frizzell said the Adonia returned to Miami on Sunday, a week after it departed.

The ship had 700 passengers and almost 375 crew members.

"It was beyond comprehension just how spectacular and unique this was," passenger Dale Cox told Local 10 News.

The ship included 16 people who had been born in Cuba.

"It was an incredible homecoming," Cuban-born passenger Celia Mena said.

The Cuban government dropped a longstanding ban on Cuban-born people returning to their homeland by sea before the start of the trip.

"That feeling of being welcomed, and being welcomed by my own people, was wonderful," Mena said. "I'll never forget it."

Before the 1959 Cuban revolution, cruise ships regularly traveled from the U.S. to Cuba. But Cold War tensions shut down travel between the two nations.

Now, both sides hope the cruise is the first step toward a future in which thousands of ships a year could cross the Florida Straits.