'We Didn't Pay to Sit in International Waters': Cruise Ship Denied Entry to Cuba

A cruise ship that was headed for Havana, Cuba on Friday was denied entry to the country. Now, customers are upset and travel organizers are working to figure out why they couldn’t get into Cuba.

“We didn’t pay to sit in international waters, we paid to go to Cuba, to Havana!” said one passenger yelling inside a theater on the ship.

Bahamas Paradise’s cruise ship, the Grand Classica, departed the Port of Palm Beach Thursday for her maiden voyage to Cuba. The ship would have arrived in Havana on 7 a.m. Friday. Some people would have gotten off the ship to explore the island, and some Cuban nationals would have been allowed to temporarily board to reunite with family and friends.

“It’s very sad,” said Lily Wynter, who flew from Los Angeles to take the cruise with her mother. “It’s something we planned for a couple months. I have an uncle I haven’t seen in 17 years.”

Wynter’s mother left Cuba in 1972. This would have been her first time back.

A spokesperson for Bahamas Parade Cruises said that Viva Travels, a travel agency, chartered the Grand Classica. The spokesperson said that despite prior approval from the Cuban government, they were denied entry for unknown reasons.

The ship left Cuba and made its way to the Bahamas. The ship is set to return to West Palm Beach on Monday.

“There’s no activities, there’s no performances, there’s really nothing to do,” said Wynter.

A State Department spokesperson released a statement to NBC affiliate WPTV saying, “Every state has the sovereign right to regulate the entry, screening, and stay of foreign nationals in its territory, subject to its international obligations. For cases regarding into Cuba, we would refer you to Cuban immigration authorities.”

WPTV said that a call to the Cuban embassy in Washington DC was not returned.