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Historic U.S.-Cuba cruise could be delayed over ticket sales to Cuban-born Americans

A view of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba and central Havana from the La Torre restaurant atop the Fosca Building on April 24, 2015.

A view of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba and central Havana from the La Torre restaurant atop the Fosca Building on April 24, 2015.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Carnival Corp.'s new Fathom cruise brand has hit a bit of rough water.

The company is poised to make history May 1 as the first cruise company in more than half a century to sail from the U.S. to Cuba. But the cruise line announced Monday that its inaugural people-to-people cruise may be postponed.

In a statement, Carnival said it’s in talks with the Cuban government to allow U.S. residents and citizens who were born in Cuba to take the Fathom cruise too -- a reversal of the company’s prior stance.

Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born Americans or Cuban-born U.S. residents to visit the island by sea, though they are allowed to visit on charter flights.

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The Adonia is the single ship in Fathom's fleet. It is to be used for weeklong cruises to Cuba.

The Adonia is the single ship in Fathom’s fleet. It is to be used for weeklong cruises to Cuba.

(Carnival Corp. )

If Cuban officials don’t decide on the issue by May 1, “Carnival Corp. will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly,” the statement said.

The exclusion prompted a class-action lawsuit against Carnival claiming civil rights violations on the part of Cuban natives who say they were barred from buying tickets. It also sparked protests in Miami against Carnival.

Fathom, which was created to operate social-impact cruises, has updated its reservation process so all travelers, including Cuban-born individuals, can buy a ticket, the Carnival statement said.

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But this wasn’t the only snag for the new cruise brand.

Cruise Critic reported that the line’s debut trip to the Dominican Republic was delayed by a week because the U.S. Coast Guard “found problems with the fire safety doors on its single ship,” the 704-passenger Adonia.

The first sailing got underway Sunday, and you can read about what sailing on Fathom is like on CruiseCritic.com.

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Fathom’s cruises to Cuba are to sail on the Adonia from Miami and stop in Havana as well as Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. Cultural immersion and educational activities onboard and on land are part of seven-day itineraries that start at $1,800 per person.

The cruise line will operate trips that comply with U.S. rules about people-to-people and educational requirements for American visitors. Tourism to Cuba for Americans remains illegal, according to the U.S.’ 1962 embargo of the island nation, which remains in place.

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