WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- The Obama administration on Tuesday approved two companies to provide ferry services between the United States and Cuba.
The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments issued licenses to operate between the two countries, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., reported. Those companies are Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, Baja Ferries of Miami, United Caribbean Lines Florida of Greater Orlando, Fla., and Airline Brokers Co. of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
One Puerto-Rican based company, America Cruise Ferries, told CNN it had also been granted a license.
Cuba must also grant the companies approval in order for the service to proceed.
"I'm very excited, because this is a historical event in U.S.-Cuba relations," Havana Ferry's managing partner, Leonard Moecklin Sr., told the Sun-Sentinel.
Traveling by ferry between the two countries is expected to be a cheaper option than flying, and travelers could transport larger amounts of luggage.
"This is a significant opportunity to advance U.S.-Cuba relations," James D. Whisenand, an attorney for America Cruise Ferries, told CNN. It is "a significant green light of the new U.S.-Cuba relationship and a major proponent of the people-to-people policy endorsed by the Obama administration.
"The new ferry service will allow people to board their cars in Miami and arrive in Havana within 9 hours," he said.
The news came on the same day New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced JetBlue Airways, partnering with Cuba Travel Services, would offer direct flights from New York City to Havana, Cuba, starting July 3.
"Our Global NY initiative and our trade mission to Cuba are all about opening the door to new economic opportunities, and JetBlue's exciting announcement today is proof that our approach is delivering results for New York businesses," Cuomo said. "By leading one of the first state trade missions to Cuba as the United States reestablishes diplomatic relations, we placed New York State businesses at the front of the line for new prospects in Cuba, that will in turn support jobs and economic activity here at home. I commend JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes for his leadership in making JetBlue the first major carrier to announce a direct flight from New York to Cuba in this new era between our nations."
The new travel options come months after U.S. President Obama announced an end to hostilities with Cuba and lifted travel restrictions to the country.