Travel Story Want to visit Cuba? Consider a cruise

Photo of Niall McIlroy

A range of major cruise lines are now including the country on Caribbean itineraries, meaning it has never been easier to visit. 

As if a Caribbean cruise needed any more sugar, Cuba is firmly on the horizon for a host of ships. With the US and Cuba on speaking terms again (for the time being), the island and all its attractions are back “from the cold”.

While a couple of companies jumped the gun and advertised stops in Havana before actually having gained permission (close but no cigar) it’s now full-steam ahead, with Norwegian, Viking, Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Holland America and the yet-to-be-launched Scenic Eclipse among those that have announced Cuba itineraries.

Cruises will leave Miami or Port Everglades in Florida and passengers have much to look forward to as their ship glides along the Malecon esplanade and into Havana Harbour.

Itineraries will generally include a couple of nights in the capital, where the eye-catching architecture and fleets of still-going-strong 50s cars combine with the Caribbean and Spanish-infused food and music in a vivacious mix.

Passengers can walk, take a vintage car or horse-and-cart tour around the city, visit some of the bars favoured by Ernest Hemingway or venture out to a cigar or rum factory. At night, Havana buzzes when extravagant dance shows at places such as the Tropicana erupt on stage.

Santiago De Cuba, the second city, is where Castro launched the revolution that changed a nation with religious shrines, the Bacardi factory and a rum museum to explore. Visitors could head up to the Castillo de San Pedro del la Roca fortress for city views.

Cayo Largo Sur and Isla de la Juventud are renowned scuba-diving spots. On the latter, for something a little drier, take a tour of the World Communist University.

The country has more than its share of national parks and secluded beaches, and some of these can be enjoyed on itineraries that visit Cayo Coco, Antilla and Casilda.

(Picture at top: Havana, by Roberto Chile/Royal Caribbean.)

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