Cruising and Cuba

 
 

Elizabeth Hey
Published September 07, 2017

A world away, Cuba has been touted as a 500-year-old, Caribbean time capsule. Though it sits just 90 miles from the States, Americans were banned from visiting the Caribbean’s largest island for decades. Obama-era loosening of federal regulations allowed Americans to begin visiting the country again, and as a result, numerous cruise lines have announced Cuba products.

Trips to Cuba are not free of regulation: American cruisers must have a people-to-people visa to enter the country, which indicates that their activities will consist of cultural exchange programs. Cruisers fill out the $75 visa onboard and must have a valid passport and medical insurance. Ports include Havana, some with overnight stays; Cienfuegos; and Santiago de Cuba.

In May, Royal Caribbean International began its first yearlong program to Cuba on the refreshed Empress of the Seas, plus 58 sailings to Havana from January 2018 through March 2019 that include onboard cultural activities. Holland America Line rolls out its Cuba itinerary this year with a 12-day holiday sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, followed by 10 additional Cuba sailings and two summer departures from Boston. Carnival’s Paradise offers trips from Tampa, Florida. Norwegian will offer four-day cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida, beginning May 2018. Oceania Cruises sails to Cuba in 2018 with in-depth itineraries, and Azamara Club Cruises offers 2018 sailings, several with two overnights in Havana.