Cruises to Cuba Offer Exploration Without Inconvenience

Physician’s Money Digest

Havana Skyline

Havana Skyline, photo courtesy Physician’s Money Digest

Cruising may be the best way to see Cuba right now, especially for American tourists accustomed to a certain level of service from hotels. When the Adonia sets sail from Miami on May 1, it will mark the first time a regularly scheduled ship has sailed to Cuba from US shores in 50 years.

The Adonia belongs to Fathom, Carnival Corporation’s “social impact” brand. Fathom offers alternating, week-long cruises to Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic, passengers may choose to engage in some volunteer activities or not. In Cuba, because of current restrictions on travel, most of the time passengers participate in educational shore tours as a group.

Pearl Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Oceania Cruises (part of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings), also anticipate getting the go-ahead from Havana very soon.

Why cruise to Cuba as opposed to booking a land-based trip?

“With the Cuban infrastructure stuck in time, travelers need to be aware of the fact that the roads are in bad shape, the electrical system is archaic and sketchy, the water’s not always running and available and (there are) hotels with no air conditioning,” says Shauna Hoffman, long-time cruise expert and Cruising to Cuba CEO.

“Cuba has a ways to go before it is up to the standards that Americans are used to when traveling. But when you travel by ship, you get a safe, air conditioned haven to come back to every night. You also have the influx of investments from the cruise lines to make sure that your land excursions are safe and up to par,” says Hoffman.

In addition, most of the cruise lines handle the paperwork required for visas, you only unpack once, and cruises guarantee your room. Booking a cabin also assures you of a place to sleep. Hotels frequently overbook leaving some land-based passengers without rooms, according to a group travel specialist.

How does a cruise to Cuba differ from a traditional voyage?

“The cruise lines are not doing the Broadway shows and having casinos,” says Hoffman. “Instead, onboard there are Cuban film festivals, Cuba historians, a taste of Cuban food, concerts. Because of the people-to-people program, the first 8 hours in every port must be a group tour which is included in the cruise price. Afterwards, you can go on your own.”

What are the advantages of a Cuba cruise that leaves from the U.S?

“Cruises that depart from the US are overseen by the Coast Guard and meet US standards for safety,” says Hoffman.

What interests you about Cuba? Would you go on a cruise to Cuba? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.

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