cuba-flag_web.jpgHAVANA — Direct maritime shipments from Miami to Cuba resumed Friday for the first time in half a century.

The shipments include items from authorized religious and charitable groups and from people shipping packages to family and friends on the island.

They leave from a Miami River terminal through a weekly service provided by International Port Corp. The company holds licenses from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the 50-year-old economic embargo on Cuba, and from the U.S. Commerce Department.

The service costs about $6 per pound and takes one to two weeks to arrive, depending on the destination in Cuba.

Similar service already exists from other U.S. ports. But this is the first time in decades that such a shipment arrived from Miami, which is home to a large Cuban exile community.

The first ship from Miami, the Ana Cecilia, entered Havana Harbor just as the sun began to rise Friday.