International Business

Cuba travel lawsuit against Carnival withdrawn

After some rough seas, Fathom’s Adonia is scheduled to set sail from PortMiami bound for Cuba on May 1, 2016.
After some rough seas, Fathom’s Adonia is scheduled to set sail from PortMiami bound for Cuba on May 1, 2016. Fathom

In the wake of a reversal in a Cuban policy that prevented those born in Cuba from taking cruises to the island, a class-action lawsuit against Carnival Cruises and its Fathom line was pulled Thursday.

A notice of voluntary dismissal was filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on behalf of Francisco Marty and Amparo Sanchez, who previously had been refused bookings on Fathom's maiden voyage from PortMiami to Cuba because of a Cuban regulatory policy. They claimed the cruise company was violating their civil rights by denying tickets to those born in Cuba.

The cruise line later announced it would delay sailing to Cuba until the regulations were changed to allow Cuban-born Americans to sail.

Last week, Cuba said it was dropping the Cold War-era policy that prevented those born in Cuba from arriving in or leaving the island by vessel, clearing the way for the Fathom trip to proceed as scheduled. It is slated to leave PortMiami at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on a seven-day voyage with stops in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago.

“We filed our case with one, simple goal: to end discrimination against Cuban-born Americans who were being denied cruises to Cuba based on their place of birth,” said Tucker Ronzetti, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “The practice has ended, first by Carnival changing its discriminatory policy, and then by the Cuban government’s agreement to allow Cuban-born Americans to arrive by ship.

Because “Cuban-born and other Americans alike can now take Carnival’s cruises,” the notice said, the suit has been withdrawn. “We look forward to all U.S. citizens, Cuban-born or otherwise, now equally enjoying cruises to Cuba,” said Ronzetti.

Marty, a Bay of Pigs veteran, said he left his native Cuba “because there was no respect for the rule of law.”

“When I was denied passage by Carnival to my native land, I was shocked that such an action could be taken by a company that calls the Miami port its home. Discrimination for any reason is not tolerated in the United States,” he said. In effect, Marty said, the “company was treating me like a second-class citizen of the United States based on my national origin.”

He said he was gratified by the Cuban reversal. “I knew we would prevail because this is the United States of America and the rule of law always wins,” Marty said.

A second civil suit seeking equity for travelers born in Cuba was dismissed when Cuba changed its policy.