TAMPA (FOX 13) - Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas will embark Sunday on the first cruise ever to leave Tampa and go to Cuba.
The ship will take off on a seven-night itinerary that includes Cozumel, Belize City and Havana, Cuba.
For passengers aboard the cruise, this day couldn't come soon enough.
"There are no words. I am just so excited, we want to be part of history," said passenger Margarett Ann Clark.
Many passengers like Mauro Gusman were drawn to the opportunity to experience something for the first time.
"I've always wanted to go to Cuba, but obviously the restrictions were there. We just had to take the opportunity to come out here and be a part of that first voyage," said Gusman.
The number of cruises between Florida ports and Cuba is scheduled to increase rapidly over the next year, including several offerings from Tampa and at least 30 departures from Miami.
Experts estimate this could generate an economic impact of $11 million for the tiny island nation once completely off limits to Americans"