Cruising to Cuba is nothing new for Canadians, but now, it’s an option for Americans who wish to take a trip to Cuba. Canada-Cuba relations can be traced back to the 18th century and is the third most popular overseas destination for Canadians. In addition, Canada is Cuba’s largest source of tourists with more than one million citizens visiting the country annually. More recently, there has been plenty of interest from Americans in this large and beautiful Caribbean island. Cruise lines like Azamara Club Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean are calling on Havana, and sometimes other Cuban ports, too.
The U.S. has a long-standing trade embargo with Cuba, and travel to Cuba for purely tourist activities is still prohibited; so, cruise lines are required by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control to ensure that excursions and tours have a focus on education or cultural exchange. This qualifies passengers to fit into one of the 12 categories of U.S. citizens currently allowed to visit Cuba.
The amount of time you spend in Cuba will depend on the cruise line and itinerary. You may have an 8-hour port stop in Havana, a multiple-day visit or even an overnight stay in port. Be sure to review itineraries carefully so that you know what to expect.
Havana is on Cuba’s northwestern coast, and cruise ships dock right across from the old city; some of it expertly restored, some of it crumbling, but all beautiful and historic. The main squares, Plaza de Armas and Plaza Vieja, have architecture that spans centuries. From Plaza de Armas, la Calle Obispo leads to the Hotel Ambos Mundos, were Ernest Hemingway used to write; and El Floridita, where he sipped daquiris. The Museo de la Ciudad, the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes provide a look at the history and culture of Havana.
Other ports in Cuba include Cienfuegos on the southern coast. This city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the harmonious design of the original city streets still evident today. Cienfuegos is also a gateway to the city of Trinidad, which dates from the early 16th century and was once the center of Cuba’s sugar trade.
At the eastern tip of Cuba, the city of Santiago de Cuba cascades down a steep hillside, and there’s a strong Caribbean element to the culture. This is where Cuba's revolution began, and you can tour the Cuartel Moncada, a military barracks attacked by a group of rebels led by Fidel Castro in 1953. The attack was a failure, but an indicator of the revolution to come.
Opportunities to cruise to Cuba may change quickly in the coming months and years, so rely on Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to keep you up to date.
Find us and follow us on Facebook! www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel