Port Tampa Bay drawn into Carnival Cuba cruise controversy

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Carnival reversed course Monday on a controversial policy that banned Cuban-born Americans from booking cruises to Cuba. Carnival imposed the ban because Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born people from returning there by sea, even though they can do so on commercial flights.

On Monday Carnival released a statement saying, “All travelers can book its cruises to Cuba, including Cuban-born individuals, in anticipation of Cuba allowing travel on a similar basis as they would if they were traveling by air.”

The Carnival policy sparked protests in Miami last week and Monday at the Port Tampa Bay where a handful of Cuban-American protesters objected to the Port’s ties with Carnival because the company is doing business with the Castro regime.

“In Cuba, they are gangsters,” said protester and longtime activist Mario Quevedo. “Wake up and realize who you’re dealing with.”

Quevedo delivered a letter to the Port’s vice president and chief commercial officer, Raul Alfonso, objecting to the ongoing relationship with Carnival, despite the cruise line’s change in policy. Alfonso told 8 On Your Side he didn’t want to get into the politics of the Cuba issue but said until Monday even he could not have purchased a ticket on a Cuban-bound Carnival cruise.

“I was not happy about that,” Alfonso said.

The first Carnival cruise heading to Havana is supposed to sail May 1, but the company plans to delay that cruise if the Cuban government doesn’t relent on its policy toward Cuban-born travelers. There are no Cuba cruises planned so far out of Tampa, but Port Tampa Bay is hoping that will change.

None of that pleases Quevedo, who holds great bitterness toward the Castro regime that has ruled Cuba for the past 57 years. “I don’t think Carnival is doing me any favor by allowing me to buy a ticket,” Quevedo said.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON RIGHT NOW: 

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