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Grand Classica cruise ship returns to Port of Palm Beach after Cuba denied entry

Posted: 9:01 AM, Feb 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-18 18:52:47-05
Grand Classica
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RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A cruise ship was back at the Port of Palm Beach Monday morning after Cuba refused to let the ship dock late last week.

Around 8:30 a.m., the Grand Classica docked at the port.

Passengers on the ship left the Port of Palm Beach late last week anticipating seeing loved ones in Cuba for the first time in years. However, that never happened.

For unknown reasons, Cuba denied the ship entry to the country Friday morning after it set sail from the Port of Palm Beach Thursday afternoon.

A Bahamas Paradise spokesperson says the company Viva Travel chartered the Grand Classica for the voyage. Despite prior approval from the Cuban government, they were not allowed to dock.

The original plan was for some passengers to get off the ship in Cuba and some Cuban nationals would temporarily board. One passenger was expecting to see her uncle for the first time in 17 years.

The ship instead went to the Bahamas to complete the four-day cruise.

When passengers disembarked the ship Monday, they said they didn't want to go to the Bahamas and paid for a cruise to Cuba.

Some people's family members in Cuba were planning to come out to the boat to visit and others were going to meet them on land.

One woman said she was expecting to see her 80-year-old brother, and now she doesn't know when that will be able to happen.

"They broke everybody's feelings. We Cubans, we get upset very easy, so we got upset on the boat and everybody's still upset because we have no answers," said passenger Zeida Saavedra.

While the Grand Classica is a Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line ship, Viva Travel actually chartered the ship for this cruise. The CEO of Viva Travel said he's working on compensating the passengers. He says Cuban authorities denied the ship's entry with no legitimate explanation.

Viva Travel CEO Peter Regalado issued the following statement:

We are upset and sad for all the clients that ultimately wanted to see their family members in Cuba. Once again the Cuban government gets to laugh at the Cuban exiles thru this action with no excuse. After months of work we are denied our entry with no legitimate cause . At this moment we are going to begin by giving a full refund to the customers that were going to sail from Habana.