by Victoris Bowden

As Cruising to Cuba continues to grow in popularity, with more and more cruise lines announcing new itineraries and sailing dates, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on the myriad choices now available. Plus, some of the highlights you’ll find in this engaging and vibrant island nation.

Empress of the SeasCourtesy Royal Caribbean International

If you prefer a short cruise then ask about Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas. Newly refurbished, this popular ship carrying 1,602 guests, will sail on an amazing 58 cruises each of 4 or 5 nights duration starting January 2018 through March 2019. Just over half of these will offer an overnight stay in Havana. Variously sailing from Fort Lauderdale or Tampa on different itineraries, the Empress of the Seas will visit Key West, Costa Maya and Havana on most sailings.

Cuban MusicMacie J Noskowski -iStock

The special Cuban influence also extends to the onboard feel with salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin Lounge, cortaditos (Cuban coffee) and café con leche served in the Café Royal and a variety of activities designed to bring the spirit of the island to life on the full journey. And there is an extensive list of tours to enjoy which encompass the highlights of each stop – particularly in Cuba.

NCL SkyCourtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

At Norwegian Cruise Line, the Norwegian Sky will sail 33 round trip cruises from Miami to Cuba in 2018 with 32 of them featuring overnight calls in Havana. And Sky offers an all-inclusive bar experience on board with unlimited complimentary beverages for adult guests. The other port of call on these four day cruises includes the cruise line’s private island of Great Stirrup Cay for a fun filled beach day.

NCL Le BistroLe Bistro - Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Sky offers a remarkable look at the historic and culturally-rich capital city of Havana with the opportunity to visit iconic Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, view incredible art and listen to the vibrant music scene. And of course, interact with the Cubans themselves on people to people exchanges. Other shore excursions that are US Government approved are farm-to-table dining experiences, exploring the flora and fauna of Soroa and a visit to modern Havana in an American classic car. Picture yourself in one of those fabulous classic cars – a great image to share!

HavanaDelpixart - iStock

Premium cruise line, Holland America, will begin sailings visiting Cuba on the MS Veendam. From December 2017 through April 2018, with a 12-day holiday debut sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. A series of 7-day cruises will follow with each visiting Havana and three of them also sailing to Cienfuegos, Cuba. Other Caribbean ports will include Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Grand Turk.

An array of land tours will be offered and there will be enhancements on board via the line’s Exploration Central program – enabling guests to learn more about Cuba and its fascinating history.

Cuban womanFilipe Frazao - iStock

Other cruise lines offer a range of cruises to Cuba from the end of 2017 through 2018 and sailings vary by length with most venturing to Cuba for an overnight or extended stay as well as visiting other Caribbean islands.

Carnival Cruise Line also provides shorter cruises including Cuba this Fall going through some of 2018. Viking Ocean will now include an occasional port call in Havana as will Lindblad Expeditions. Pearl Seas has a series of itineraries planned for Spring 2018 with opportunities to visit Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigia and in the evening, guests can enjoy a visit to the famed The Tropicana Club or the Buena Vista Social Club at the Havana Café, featuring Cuban music of the 1950’s. Celestyal Cruises has long offered week long Caribbean sailings that visit Cuba as have MSC Cruises – so there’s no shortage of choice to see the island and explore its people, culture and intriguing history.  Say si to Cuba – and enjoy a wonderful cruise.

Originally published in Dream Voyages Fall 2017 issue.

 

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