The United States and Cuba, which lies just 93 miles south of the Florida Keys, recently resumed diplomatic relations; and, the U.S. is slowly lifting decades-old travel restrictions between the two countries. As a result, several cruise operators are planning new Caribbean itineraries that include port calls in Cuba.
The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba lies at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical warmth is moderated by constant trade winds, and the dry season – November to April – is an ideal time to visit. Cuba has lovely rolling plains, rugged mountains and beautiful white sand beaches along its coastline. There are also more than 4,000 offshore islands and cays, adding to the beauty of the surrounding water.
Cuban ports are fascinating because life there is still much as it was before the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The media is state-owned, as are most businesses, and Internet connectivity is available only in some large resorts specifically built for tourists. As a result, Cuba has no pop culture, no familiar brands like Starbucks or Pepsi, and no pier-side hawkers of jewelry or duty-free goods. But, the warming of U.S./Cuban relations may mean that Cuba is on its way to change: one reason you may want to visit soon.
fathom, a new cruise line that combines Caribbean cruising with social projects on land, is planning to begin sailing to Cuba in 2016. This socially responsible approach fits with current U.S.-to-Cuba travel restrictions, which specify that Americans traveling to Cuba must engage in cultural, educational, artistic, humanitarian, or faith-based exchanges with the Cuban people.
In addition to fathom, Globus (best-known as a tour provider) and Haimark, a small-ship cruise line, plan to begin sailing from Miami to Cuba this winter. These cruises will also be structured as people-to-people exchanges, as cruising from the U.S. to Cuba for the sole purpose of leisure is not yet allowed.
In addition to the capital of Havana, cruises to Cuba may also stop in Santiago, the cradle of the Cuban Revolution; Trinidad, a picture-postcard town with cobbled streets and Spanish architecture; Cienfuegos, home to the National Botanical Garden, with more than 2,000 species of plants; or Holguin, near to Cayo Barjay, where Christopher Columbus made landfall centuries ago.
To explore all of the new possibilities for sailing to Cuba, contact your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.