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Cuba Cruise: An Itinerary Like No Other

Carnival Cruise not selling Cuban cruises to Cuban natives

Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Laura Cooper

Note: The Cuba Cruise itinerary has recently changed to include a beach day in Punta Frances instead of Maria La Gorda.

I recently had the pleasure to experience Celestyal Cruises Cuba Cruise, a cruise just a few years old. When you step onboard, youre greeted by the friendliest faces excited for you to start your journey on the Celestyal Crystal. The itinerary takes you from Havana to Maria La Gorda, Cienfuegos, Montego Bay, and Santiago de Cuba, followed by a day at sea before disembarking back in Havana.

The 162-meter yacht-inspired ship has only 1200 rooms. They like to keep capacity around 800 passengers, offering a refreshing sense of intimacy compared to the mega-cruise ships that often sail the Caribbean. Cuba Cruise offers a unique vacation in that the ship is smaller and more laid-back, which means less rigid restrictions on when you can eat and what you can wear. You get to know other passengers and may run into them again once or twice, which is a good thing, I promise. And , the itinerary is unique, focusing on Cuba, unlike any other cruise lines.

Read on to learn more about what I loved about the trip and what you can expect on a Cuba Cruise.

Cruise Options For Non Us Citizens

There are a couple of options when it comes to cruising to Cuba from outside of the US. The first option is as shown above, to fly to the Caribbean to take a Cuban cruise. The second option is to combine the Cuba part into a longer itinerary. The itinerary below shows a Grand South America voyages which departs from Southampton and lasts for 79 nights.

Note how the above itinerary doesnt dock in the US. If the cruise came across and docked, for example, in New York before moving down to the Caribbean the cruise would be unable to visit Cuba.

But That Doesn’t Mean Cuba Travel Is Illegal For Americans

In fact, it’s still 100% legal. You just can’t take an American cruise to Cuba or travel under the People to People travel category . It’s still totally fine to travel to Cuba independently under one of the 11 other Categories of Legal Travel to Cuba. If you need help figuring out how to take a legal trip to Cuba, connect with one of our Cuba travel experts.

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Who Would I Recommend Cuba Cruise To

  • Someone who wants to see more of Cuba than just a resort, but who isnt comfortable exploring totally on their own
  • Someone who loves to cruise but wants to experience a more intimate ship with a relaxed style of cruising no pretension here
  • Seniors and couples who would appreciate Cuba and enjoy sightseeing

Blogger Amanda and Travel Agent Tammy making friends in Cuba, what the country is all about.

Princess Cruises To Cuba

Travelling to Cuba on a cruise ship will be easier than ...

The Trump administration said that it will also no longer permit visits to Cuba via passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, and private and corporate aircraft, As a result we will not be booking trips to Cuba until further clarification is obtained.

The history of Princess, P& O and CCL brings us, once again, to Fathom Cruises! As of today they have not announced any plans for Princess Cruises to Cuba.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling To Cuba

Do I need a visa to travel to Cuba?Is tipping customary in Cuba?What is internet access like in Cuba?Can I use my cell phone while in Cuba?Do I need power adapters?What are the toilets like in Cuba?Can I drink the water in Cuba?Are credit cards accepted in Cuba? Will I be able to find ATMs?Should I purchase travel insurance?My Trips

Travel Advisory: On June 4 2019 The Us Government Announced New Travel Restrictions To Cuba Effective Immediately As A Result All Cruise Lines Will No Longer Be Permitted To Sail To The Caribbean Island Of Cuba

Set sail to this picturesque Caribbean island, famed for its striking colonial architecture, magnificent powder-soft beaches, and fascinatingly diverse culture.

With miles upon scenic miles of white sand beaches, beckoning Old World architecture and majestic mountain ranges, Cuba is quickly becoming a popular vacation destination, and one of the best ways to explore this vibrant Caribbean island is with a Cuba cruise.

Very little has changed in Cuba in comparison to neighboring Caribbean islands, due in large part to an economic embargo that has lasted for more than half a century. As a result, passengers disembarking from a Cuba cruise will notice that some of the major cities, such as Havana, appear to be stuck in a time warp: the colonial architecture, though visually stunning, are in need of repair, while antique Fords, Buicks and Pontiacs are easily spotted cruising the streets in clouds of smoke. However, these storied surroundings are what make Cuba such a fascinating place to visit.

The best time to go on a Cuba cruise is from December to March, when the weather is delightful and rain is sparse. From May to October the temperature can reach unbearable levels, but if you can withstand the heat and humidity, try to book your Cuba cruise in July so you can be a part of the effervescent Carnival festival that occurs every year in Santiago de Cuba.

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Cigars Rum And Coffee

Two things we associate with Cuba above all are cigars an rum, and theres a reason for this. Theyre Cuban staples, and you wont find much that can compete with them in any other part of the world.

You can even buy a certain amount of each and bring them back home. The limits are usually up to 100 cigars and up to 1 liter of alcohol.

Only slightly less noteworthy is Cuban coffee. Sure, the most famous coffee comes from Colombia, but pretty much the entirety of the Caribbean and Latin America makes great coffee.

Top Cruise Lines From Florida To Cuba Whats Your Pick

Last cruise ship leaves Cuba and US visitors disappointed with Trumps measures

Take a look at some of the best cruising options to Cuba from Florida and decide whats best for you.

  • Armonia from MSC Cruises : Travelers looking for a weeklong cruise should resort to Armonia that spends quite a few days in Havana before sailing to Montego Bay, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, with an overnight in Havana. The ship can comfortably carry 2,000 passengers. It started Havana sailings in the year 2016. If you choose Armonia, your trip is going to be straightforward, not a complicated one. However, you can avail of yourself all the big-ship amenities.
  • Azamara : With Azamara, get ready to dive deeper into unparalleled destinations including Cuba. Every Azamara voyage power-packs upscale sailing with immersive cultural experiences that will surely leave you looking at life from a new perspective. As your cruise begins from Florida for Cuba, you will thoroughly enjoy Azamaras exceptional, authentic service. Not to mention its complimentary extras, they are simply amazing.
  • Given its reputation for destination immersion, the cruise ship offers well-crafted 4-night getaways from Miami to Havana. You may also like to book 9 to 15 nights itineraries based on your preferences and travel dates. When you opt for an in-depth exploration of Cuba, the cruise line will add up destinations like Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. Get yourself onboard through people to people visa as it complies with it for free shores excursions.

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    Is There Still An Embargo On Travel To Cuba For Us Citizens

    Yes, although it’s much easier to go since relations with Cuba warmed in early 2015. Before, official travel to Cuba was restricted to certain types of trips. Individuals had to apply, and they could only go with licensed tour operators. Now, while the types of trips are still limited to 12 categories of travel, people no longer have to apply for individual visas. Travelers to Cuba can now also use U.S. credit and debit cards during their travels, although many American banks have yet to catch up with this. Bring enough cash to convert.

    Taking A Cruise: Recommendations And Resources

    Book a Cruise:Have a specific cruise you want to book or just need some help and inspiration? Get a cruise quote through us: Cruise Quote Form.Not Sure What to Book?Learn everything you need to know to find and book the perfect cruise in my How to Cruise For Less cruise course.Dont Forget Your Travel Insurance:You could be stranded abroad, lose your entire cruise fare, or be hit with MASSIVE medical bills if you dont have cruise travel insurance. I use comparison websites to compare quotes: Compare Quotes Here.Our full list of travel recommendations can be found here.

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    You Should Still Check Out The Port Cities Even If You Can’t Cruise There

    Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Cienfuegos all have their own charms. Old Havana, for example, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that you can explore for days. Cienfuegos is a foodies paradise and an excellent jumping off point for outdoor excursions like birding. And Santiago de Cuba is bursting with life during summer festivals like Carnaval.

    Cuba By Cruise Is Still The Best Way

    Dining aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line â The Dietitianist

    Carnival Corporation had a conference call this week with investors. While most of the talk was financial or COVID-related, there was one question from an analyst regarding Cuban Cruises and whether Arnold Donald thinks the company will be returning to Cuba under the new administration. Donald reacted as follows:

    Cuba was a focal point for the Obama administration, opening up Cuba, etc. Well see what happens with the incoming administration.

    We obviously will be well prepared. We were very active and the first ones to sail to Cuba. And well be well prepared to operate in whatever the guidelines and rules and regulations are. But well be prepared to help people who want to go to Cuba to see it in the best possible way. Which is arriving via cruise and then experiencing what Cuba has to offer when it opens.

    So far, thats a lot of ifs. But if we take Joe Bidens comments and previous actions into account, we could very well be looking at Cuban cruises once again. Joe Biden was instrumental during the Obama administration for the thawing of relations with the Island nation.

    As Cruise Hivereported late last year while being interviewed by a Miami Radio Station, the President-elect was asked if he would consider going back to the Cuba-policies put in place during the Obama-era Biden said:

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    Youll Need To Record Your Activities

    Technically, leisurely travel is not one of the reasons that youre legally allowed to visit Cuba. The good news is that there is a loophole that American travelers have been exploiting for years. Some of the approved categories are charity and education.

    A cruise to Cuba falls under the education category if you take the excursions because it is assumed you will learn about Cuba from your experience. You are also allowed to donate to charity, but you will need to call it a gift because the word charity is not well-received in Cuba.

    Either way, youll want to document your time in Cuba and what you did there. These writings probably wont be examined, but the US government does have a right to question you about your activities in Cuba, so its best to be prepared.

    Who Will Sail To Cuba

    Carnival Cruise line was one of the first to sail to Cuba a few years ago. Amongst others, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Paradise made calls in Havana, while Royal Caribbean had both Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas sailing to the Cuban capital.

    The same cruise lines will surely sail to Havana again if they have the chance. Other cruise lines that have experience with or plans for Cuba are Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Viking Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Oceania Cruises.

    It looks unlikely that cruise lines will be able to sail to Cuba immediately, though. The American Society of Travel Advisors that Joe Bidens election would see Cuba opening up, but it would be a slow process.

    A top Biden foreign policy adviser reported that Biden would reverse the policies from the current administration. Still, it wont happen right away: Given all that will be on President-elect Bidens plate, we expect action on Cuba to come slowly, according to ASTA.

    So, positive noises all around for Cuban Cruises to resume. Whether its this year or next year, one thing is sure. We cant wait to walk around in old Havana and have a Daiquiri in El Floridita.

    Main Photo Credit: Arodel /

    Feel free to discuss this topic and all things cruise at our new boards. A place where readers can ask questions, help their fellow cruisers and general cruise discussions on cruise lines and ports.

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    Cruising To Cuba: Which Lines Can Sail There Right Now

    Editors note: This blog post was updated as of December 12, 2016, to reflect the ongoing influx of cruise ships carrying U.S. passengers to Cuba.

    Cuba has the potential to change the face of Caribbean cruises as we know them. With renewed diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and the resumption of regularly-scheduled flights between the U.S. and the island country, its only a matter of time before we start seeing ports like Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cubapositioned alongside places like St. Thomas and Grand Turk.

    For the rest of the world, its all a bit mystifying: guests from Canada, Europe, Asia and around the world have all been traveling and cruising to Cuba to vacation for years. UK-based lines like Fred.Olsen have called on Cuba in the past, as have the ships from Spanish cruise operator Pullmantur that was, at least, until they became a fully-owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean. In the past, lines with U.S.-based parent companies have been prohibited from calling on Cuba, and foreign ships calling on Cuba were banned from entering the United States for months on end.

    Can Mainstream Cruise Lines Sail Directly To Cuba From Miami What About Other Ports

    Five Reasons To Cruise To Cuba On The Norwegian Sky

    Yes. Since 2016, cruise ships have been allowed to sail directly to Cuba from Miami, with the government granting permission on a case-by-case basis. In 2017, cruise lines began receiving the go-ahead from Cuba to sail from other U.S. ports as well, including Tampa. Havana is now included on Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries, leaving not only from Miami but other ports such as New Orleans.

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    What About Canadians Or Australians

    Cuba has more tourists from Canada than from any other place. There are no restrictions on Canadians visiting Cuba so most simply fly down.

    There is no reason why a Canadian, or Australian, or anybody of any other nationality other than American should be unable to book on a cruise visiting Cuba.

    Of course in reality this is much easier said than done. A number of British lines are still cruising to Cuba but for a Canadian this isnt usually very practical. It is possible that they could fly down to the Caribbean to join a ship but long cruises from the UK or Europe would be very difficult for the majority of Canadians.

    Can Americans Cruise To Cuba

    While the Obama administration made it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba by reducing licensing paperwork, your trip still has to fall under certain guidelines and your schedule can’t include free time. In other words, you can’t just be a tourist, which is what mainstream cruise passengers are considered.

    There are some ways around this. By offering people to people educational and cultural excursions, cruise lines are able to bring Americans to Cuba. At this point, the only real barrier for a cruise line to go to Cuba is approval from the island country itself.

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    What Still Needs To Happen For The Embargo To Be Lifted

    Only Congress can completely lift the embargo, which was imposed in 1960 as a ban on trade during Dwight Eisenhower’s administration. At the time, communist rebels led by Fidel Castro had recently come into power and were nationalizing American oil refineries and other private businesses, without compensation. President John F. Kennedy extended the embargo to travel in 1963, after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Royal Caribbean Cruises To Cuba

    The Norwegian Sky

    The Trump administration said that it will also no longer permit visits to Cuba via passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, and private and corporate aircraft, As a result we will not be booking trips to Cuba until further clarification is obtained.

    Big News!!!

    Royal Caribbean adds on another ship to the Caribbean with longer itineraries and more ports! With so many ships sailing these gorgeous blue waters we can find you the perfect island to meet your vacation dreams!


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