I’m off to Cuba with CubaCruise, a brand new Canada-based cruise line which sails round the island on week-long itineraries.
We’ll be starting in Havana today, and sailing clockwise round Cuba, cruising along the north coast to Holguin, then Santiago de Cuba before dropping into Montego Bay, Jamaica. When we head back to Cuba, we’ll stop at Cienfuegos and Trinidad and finally Isla de Juventud, before returning to Havana.
CubaCruise launched the operation in December last year, aiming primarily at the Canadian market, but there’s even talk of US citizens getting onboard (though how this is meant to happen is not quite clear).
The line has leased Louis Cristal from Greek line Louis Cruises until June, when the ship will return to the Mediterranean. It’s early days, but if it proves a success then CubaCruise hopes to hire the ship again for this winter.
Cuba still exerts a fascination on even the most well-seasoned traveller (or cruiser). Changes are afoot, though as always on this island, they are moving at a snail’s pace. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Cuba before, on a land-based holiday; but never on a cruise.
I’m excited about seeing the changes – when I visited in 2006 there were no mobile phones, for example. I understand, too, that private enterprise is booming, with restaurants and hostels popping up everywhere, whereas before they were strictly controlled.
UK and Canadian citizens can travel freely to Cuba; US citizens can, but with limitations. Americans can take part in tours to Cuba that encourage “people to people” contact, whereas before it was only religious, educational, and cultural groups that could legally travel to Cuba, and then only with specific permission from the U.S. State Department.
The bad news is that Americans still can’t simply book a flight and a hotel and head to Cuba. You’ll need to travel with a Cuba travel organization that has an official license from the US State Department. But things are changing, and we bet it won’t be too long before restrictions are lifted completely.
So tell us: What would you like to know about this fascinating country, and would you like to take a cruise round it? Please let us know in the Comments below and I will do my best to answer all your questions when I get back!