Ah…Caribbean cruising! White, palm-fringed beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, the rhythms of salsa, cha-cha and rumba. But hold on, I’m not talking about cruising to just any Caribbean island! I’m talking about cruising to Cuba!
These days, Cuba is the most enticing island in the Caribbean! Many years of political isolation (Cuba is one of the world's last defenders of communism) has prevented the island from becoming developed and commercialized like it’s many neighboring islands. In fact, when you read literary exposés or look at photographs, it seems that Cuba is lost in time, somewhere in the 1950’s.
Now here’s the good news! All Americans can now cruise legally to Cuba…with some limitations. The longstanding ban on Cuba travel has been amended to allow all U.S. citizens to take part in tours to Cuba that encourage “people to people” contact. This means that cruise lines can bring Americans to Cuba if the guests participate in shore excursions that are authentic Cuban experiences that explore the people, music, art, history and culture of the island ( as determined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control ). The easiest way to comply with this requirement is to purchase excursions from the cruise line.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will sail to Cuba in 2017. The company’s first cruise to Cuba will set sail from Port of Miami on Oceania Cruises’ Marina on March 7, 2017 with select Caribbean itineraries featuring calls on Havana, including many multiple-day calls to allow guests to explore Havana in depth.
Seven Seas Mariner, of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, will call on Havana during two cruises in April 2017.
The Norwegian Sky will also offer a selection of four-day voyages that will overnight in Havana in May 2017.
Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises will also provide guests with travel directly to Cuba. The Empress of the Seas will launch Royal Caribbean's Cuba program with a five-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017.
Important Note: U.S. citizens are required to have a valid passport and VISA for all cruise itineraries that include Cuba.