Cuba lifts sea ban for citizens, clears way for historic Carnival voyage
Havana - MENA
Cuba said on Friday it would lift a ban on Cuban-born citizens entering and leaving the Caribbean island by commercial vessels, opening the way for US cruise operator Carnival Corp to set sail for the country from Miami next week, The Daily Mail reported.
The decision is a sign that steps to normalize relations between the two countries continue despite anti-US rhetoric from Cuba's leaders seeking to reassure hardliners following US President Barack Obama's historic visit to the island.
A statement carried by state-run media said starting April 26, Cuban citizens would be authorized "independently of their migratory status to enter and leave as passengers and crews of cruise ships."
The new rules follow measures four years ago to make it easier for Cubans to travel, perhaps the biggest political reform in the Communist-run country prior to the detente announced by President Raul Castro and Obama in 2014.
Obama has made it easier for US citizens to travel to Cuba, but has not totally lifted restrictions.
The looser rules will also make it possible for Cubans to work for cruise and cargo lines, opening new possible careers after years of restrictions on setting foot on boats without special permission.
The waters between the two countries have been the scene of mass migration, hijacking and invasion attempts in the past, leading Cuba to ban boat travel without a permit