View from Victory I’s top deck

(2:15 p.m. EDT) -- A sun-kissed skyline rendered a welcoming backdrop as Victory Cruise Lines' Victory I celebrated its maiden call at PortMiami. The 210-passenger ship kicks off the line's first-ever Cuba cruise on Friday, April 20.

At a cocktail party held Wednesday evening onboard the ship, Victory Cruise Lines' executives and crew commemorated the milestone arrival into PortMiami alongside a small group of key community members, travel agents and media. The port's acting deputy port director, Hydi Webb; the heads of Miami Fire-Rescue Department and Miami Dade Police Department; and other notable figures stepped forward to present the cruise line with honorary plaques and well wishes.

Victory I's Cuba cruise -- roundtrip from Miami -- will be a two-week circumnavigation of the island, with stops in Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana. It will overnight in each port, offering multiple days of sightseeing in each.

The ship will then reposition to Portland, followed by Toronto, from where it will offer a series of Great Lakes cruises. It will return to Cuba in January 2019, after a December 2018 renovation that will welcome a two-deck outdoor dining venue, among other additions.

Nearly identical to Victory I, sister ship Victory II is now in dry dock and slated to sail its inaugural cruise on July 27. It will offer a series of Canada, New England and St. Lawrence Seaway cruises.

Victory Cruise Lines fares include all food, alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and cocktails) and shore excursions.

--By Gina Kramer, Editor