Given the improvement in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, 2017 has seen an explosion in cruising options for Americans. In fact, the Princess and I are making our inaugural visit today onboard Norwegian Sky. Do you have the craving to check out Cuba too? If so, here’s our list of the top cruises to Cuba. This is not your ordinary Caribbean cruise; get ready to be transported to a truly unique destination.
Top Cruises to Cuba
The Princess and I decided to book Norwegian Sky for our first visit to Cuba for a few different reasons. First and foremost, this four day trip from Miami, starting at $529 per person, includes an overnight in Havana. At the time of our booking, NCL was the only cruise line offering this option. Norwegian Sky also stops at the cruise line’s private island Great Stirrup Cay for a full day, which we have never visited. Like all mainstream cruise lines, Norwegian Cruise Line also offers shore excursions that comply with the people-to-people travel regulations that allow Americans to visit the island, and they will even take care of your visa for you at an additional charge.
Top Cruises to Cuba (Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
Norwegian Sky offers the signature Freestyle cruise experience found fleet-wide, and nightly entertainment can be found throughout the ship. What separates this ship from other’s in the fleet is the inclusion of an “open bar”. That’s right, your cruise fare is truly “all inclusive”, covering a wide range of beers, wines, and mixed drinks. So, you can relax at one of the 10 onboard bars as you sip a cocktail and relive the amazing encounters you had during the day alongside the new friends you have made on the ship.
Empress of the Seas
Royal Caribbean brought this ship back into the fleet for one reason- to sail to Cuba. Offering one of the most extensive list of options for a contemporary cruise line, Empress of the Seas offers 4, 5, and 6 night cruises this year. Departing from Tampa, FL until the winter of this year when the ship moves to Miami, you now have options that include day stops and overnight stops in Havana, Cuba. Longer voyages couple stops to this island with other ports including Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Cruises start at $429 per person for the four night cruises.
Top Cruises to Cuba
While the smallest in Royal Caribbean’s current fleet at 48.5K gross tons, the ship still packs plenty of signature Royal Caribbean options that those loyal to royal have come to love about the brand. Similar to other ships, Empress of the Seas has a rock climbing wall, high speed VOOM internet, Chops Grill steakhouse, and even a Boleros night club, allowing Royal Caribbean fans to feel right at home on this vessel.
With news of this addition to Cuba more recently, Carnival Paradise is the new kid on the block. This ship will offer 4 and 5 night cruises leaving from Tampa, FL, starting at $469 a person. Both options include an overnight stay in Havana, giving you a full day and a half to explore. Similar to other cruise lines, Carnival offers a somewhat more extensive list of shore excursions that adhere to the guidelines of people-to-people travel. Of course, you can find your own appropriate on-land activities as well. For those wanting a longer vacation, the five day itineraries include a stop in Cozumel, Mexico as well.
Top Cruises to Cuba (Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)
Carnival Paradise contains many of the popular venues and attractions that make the cruise line a popular choice for families. With a waterslide, Seuss at Sea, and other kid friendly venues, this is one ship your kids will love. With a spa, adults only pool area, and plenty of bars, this ship is perfectly suited for mom and dad too. Offering a variety of complimentary dining options and nighttime shows fit for all ages, Carnival Paradise might be the perfect ship for families traveling to Cuba.
Celeystal Crystal departs from both Havana, Cuba and Montego Bay, Jamaica. With the policy changes that took place in 2016, U.S. citizens can now book a week long cruise leaving from either port. This 9 deck ship is one of the smaller ships sailing in the region (25K gross tons) and can carry up to 1,200 guests on the weekly voyages. With casual and formal dining options, several bars and lounges, a casino, and even a spa, the ship features all of the amenities you would expect from a larger mainstream cruise ship, while giving passengers a more intimate onboard experience.
Top Cruises to Cuba (Courtesy of Celeystal Cruises)
When you book directly with the cruise line, you are automatically enrolled in the correct people-to-people programming that meets U.S. travel regulations for approved trips to Cuba. Wow, that was easy! Once you are booked, you can sit back and relax as everything is taken care of for you. All of your shore excursions and onboard enrichment are coordinated for you by the cruise line. Calling on three ports in Cuba and one in Jamaica, you will get to visit 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites, along with several national parks, making this trip one of the most informative and extensive cruises to Cuba currently offered.
If you are looking for an intimate and luxurious way to see all of Cuba, then you will want to invest in a trip with Oceania Cruises. Debuting in November of this year on the Oceania Insignia and offering several cruises in Spring of 2018 on the Oceania Sirena, you can explore the island in style during a 7 or 8 night cruise. These voyages offer the opportunity for you to engage with the locals and engross yourself in the history and culture while visiting three of the island’s major cities- Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba.
Top Cruises to Cuba (Courtesy of Oceania Cruises)
Sailing with Oceania means you are wrapped in luxury for the duration of your trip. All cruises include shore excursions at each port, a drink package, and onboard credit. Specialty dining is also included, as are specialty coffees, soft drinks, and other beverages. You will also have unlimited use of the onboard Spa to help you relax and unwind after a long day of exploration on the island. With prices starting at $1199 per person, these cruises might be one of the best in the region.
Have you picked your cruise to Cuba yet? What are you most excited to see and do while visiting the island? Drop us an anchor below to let us know about your cruise to Cuba.