Cruise ship diverted from Cuba due to travel ban returns to Port Canaveral

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A cruise ship full of travelers returned to Port Canaveral Friday morning after never reaching their intended destination.

The Norwegian Sun cruise ship, which was bound for Cuba, was diverted Tuesday after President Donald Trump announced new travel restrictions to the country.

After the ship docked Friday morning, passengers told Channel 9 that they were disappointed when word came that they couldn't dock in Cuba and were going to be rerouted to the Bahamas instead.

"We expected to go to Cuba and about an hour into our trip from Key West we were told government regulations prohibit us from going to Cuba so it was really disappointing," traveler Bryant Akers said.

But passengers said they did receive a 50 percent refund for their current trip, and an extra 50 percent off their next cruise with Norwegian.

The new restrictions impact U.S. passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, and corporate and private aircraft.

The ban steers American dollars away from the Cuban regime and its military and security services, who control the tourism industry there.

Cruises from Port Canaveral to Cuba have been popular since 2016, when the Obama administration started allowing travel to the country.

"… We are adjusting the itineraries of our June 5 and June 6 sailings, which will no longer stop in Cuba," Royal Caribbean announced earlier this week.

The U.S. also bans most private planes and boats from going to Cuba. However, the Trump administration said it will allow anyone who has already paid for the trip to go ahead with it.

So-called "people to people" visits which allowed Americans to visit the island on cultural and educational tours are also no longer allowed.

But it appears university study-abroad activities are exempt from the travel ban.

UCF instructor Katie Coronado said she went to Cuba last summer with her students. She said she was given the green light to go again, but decided against it.

"I don't think that it's a good time to be there without freedom of speech, freedom of the press,” she said.

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