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Cruises to Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos (Photo:Gabor Kovacs Photography/Shutterstock)
Cienfuegos (Photo:Gabor Kovacs Photography/Shutterstock)

About Cienfuegos

Known as the Pearl of the South, Cienfuegos enjoys a position as a seaport on Cuba's southern coast. This gave the city an advantage during the island's Spanish Colonial times, as the port became a center for trade with Jamaica and South America.

You can tell that the city once had money, just by walking around town. Cienfuegos earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status because it's the best existing example of 19th-century Spanish Enlightenment urban planning. That's a fancy way of saying that Cienfuegos is pedestrian friendly, with a median promenade down its main traffic street, a pedestrianized street full of local shops and restaurants and Plaza de Armas, a main square with intact neoclassical buildings.

Cruise ships sailing Cuba usually stop at Cienfuegos for a half-day. If your cruise has a full day here, you're in luck -- another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad, may be several hours away, but the full-day excursion draws raves.

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Why go to Cienfuegos?

Pros:

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is tops for art, architecture and cultural excursions

Cons:

Excursions to famed Trinidad require long bus ride

Bottom Line:

Whether you shop locally or travel outside the city, Cienfuegos shows Cuba's quieter side

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Tourists in Cuba are required to use the CUC. The exchange rate is about 1 to 1 for all currencies, but there's a 10 percent surcharge on American dollars. You can exchange money at exchange booths at the port. As a rule, American bank cards and credit cards do not work in Cuba.

There's a 6 CUC tax on pieces of art that is collected by the Cuban government; customs officials will look for rolled-up paper tubes and pull you aside to pay the tax (it seemed to be randomly enforced, as not everyone with artwork was told to pay the fee).

For up-to-date currency exchange rates, visit www.xe.com.

Language?

Spanish. Only people in the tourist trade speak English and even then, it's pretty broken. Best to know a few phrases, particularly if you want to bargain.

Where You're Docked?

The Port of Cienfuegos looks out onto a concrete lot where tour buses park. To disembark, you'll need your passport and visa, as well as your keycard. A doctor is in the customs house and may randomly scan your head to make sure you don't have a fever. Once you go through security, there are several money exchange booths, as well as souvenir stands. If you aren't taking a tour and want to walk, Cienfuegos' main square is about four blocks away.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2017 Top-Rated Western Caribbean & Riviera Maya Destinations

Cienfuegos Cruise Reviews

marykay877
Sail Date: Jan 2019
Took three excursions from this port. Trinidad, Havana, and Cienfuegos itself. There was a fee for the first two, but the third one was included by Viking. All were interesting. Trinidad had a lot of walking on... Read More
Empress of the Seas
Junodog
Sail Date: Apr 2019
Cienfuegos Tobacco Factory Tour. Tour company did not plan out the tours very well, we waited on every stop to see things. 45 mins at the Tobacco factory, 20 mins other stops.... Read More
Empress of the Seas
cpayne
Sail Date: Mar 2019
Took a pedi-cab tour of Cienfuegos to Punta Gorda with stops along the way. Ended the tour at Jose Marti Park for walking and shopping.... Read More
DSD
Sail Date: Feb 2019
We enjoyed both our city tour as well as the catamaran tour we took in Cienfuegos. The Palacio de Valle was a high light of the tour.... Read More
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