UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Visiting Cuba via cruise ship is using the right tool for the job. Doors opening wider as time goes on, hotel rooms are at a premium, if available at all. Not that long ago, U.S citizens could sail to Cuba only by booking a Fathom Impact Travel experience. That’s changing. As Cuba cruise options expand, new cruise travel options are on the horizon. Today we take a look at two unique Cuba cruise options that are quite different but share something quite special.
Norwegian Cruise Line is offering weekly roundtrip cruises to Cuba from Miami aboard Norwegian Sky, currently the largest vessel sailing to Cuba through December 2017. 1912- passenger Norwegian Sky will sail four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami each Monday, featuring an overnight in the capital of Havana as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.
To make that happen, Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day shore excursions that satisfy current requirements of the United States Office Of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). United States citizens with a desire to visit Cuba (or any sanctioned country on the list) are required to satisfy certain requirements in order to visit.
Norwegian Sky’s four-day cruises to Cuba will open for sale on February 21 and follows a pattern similar to that of other cruise lines: using their oldest ship. Alacarte balcony stateroom prices start at $1689 per person + air to/from Miami.
Viking Ocean Cruises will offer a series of sailings that stop in Cuba as part of their Central American Shores and Cuba itinerary starting in November of this year. Sailing from Miami, Viking Sun will stop overnight in Havana to enable a Viking travelers to immerse themselves in the newly opened country’s colonial streets. The itinerary continues to Cozumel, Mexico then on to Belize before a stop in Key West.
The Viking Ocean Cruises itinerary highlights the value of an included tour at each port of call. In Havana, that tour will satisfy OFAC requirements as well. In another nod to Viking value, the line is currently offering an advance buy value of Free air when booked before February 28. This 8-day itinerary sails November 17 and 24 as well as December 1 and 8 visiting four countries with a total of five included tours.
The Viking Cuba selection goes a different direction, sending new 930-passenger Viking Sun on this interesting itinerary. Inclusive balcony stateroom prices start at $2649 per person, air to/from Miami included.
These two ships are about as different as they can get. Pricing on both alone documents a dramatic contrast. Each brings a distinctly different ocean cruise experience. Once in Cuba though, the traveler focus is totally off the ship. At least for now. As time goes on, options to visit the island nation will probably open further. As they do, the Cuba cruise experience will probably gravitate toward a standard experience with not as much diversity.
Right now, everyone seems curious about Cuba.
Right now, many U.S. citizens are visiting Cuba for the first time.
Right now, they are able to overcome the stereotypical definition of communists, yesteryear’s version of terrorist. Those curious visitors look beyond 50 years of embargo to see the beauty in a “new” Caribbean island and its people.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same wherever our travels take us? Right now?
Cover Photo: Flickr/Balint Földesi