The cruise ship Fathom Adonia left port in Miami Sunday to begin the first cruise service between the United States and Cuba in more than half a century.
A boat with activists from the Democracy Movement protested the trip but pulled away before the Adonia set sail.
To make history "is one of the greatest honors a company can have," said Arnold Donald, chief executive of Carnival Corp. Fathom is Carnival's social impact brand.
A decades-old Cuban policy that prohibited those born on the island from arriving or leaving by boat threatened to scuttle the voyage. But the Cuban government changed the policy to allow Sunday's trip.
There were 10 to 25 Cuban-born passengers Sunday, according to cruise officials.
The first passenger to set foot on Cuban soil will be Arnie Perez, Carnival Corp.'s chief legal counsel. He was born in Cuba.
Mary Olive Reinhart came with 10 friends from Philadelphia. The adventure was a draw for the retired parks service ranger.
"It's exciting to go places where we're forbidden. For me, I want to be at home in the world _ the whole world."
She also said she's excited to see the old buildings and hopes she can contribute to their preservation.
The 600 passengers on the Adonia are the first cruisers to travel from a U.S. port to Cuba since the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba began Dec. 17, 2014 and the first since U.S.-Cuba relations went into the deep freeze more than 50 years ago.
On Monday after arriving in Havana, the passengers will begin a series of tours that are designed to help them get to know the Cuban people and let Cubans know them better.
Officially the cruise is a people-to-people trip, one of the 12 categories of travel permitted with the embargo still in effect. Those on people-to-people trips are supposed to engage in purposeful travel that includes interactions with Cubans.
The passengers will visit many of the same places a typical tourist might _ the Plaza de la Revolucion, the Colon Cemetery, and the National Fine Arts Museum _ but to comply with people-to-people requirements, there will also be conversations with artists and visits to community projects.