THE recent death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro has ramped up interest in this laid back Caribbean island where tourism continues to grow.

Oceania Cruises' ship Marina off Cuba's lively capital Havana which she is scheduled to visit in March.
Oceania Cruises’ Marina, off Cuba’s lively capital Havana, which the cruise ship is scheduled to visit in March.

For many, a cruise to Cuba is a much welcomed option with more companies setting their sights there in recent weeks. True, the people of this tropical island are mainly poor, but they love life and dancing to lively salsa music. And somewhere in the background someone will always be tuning up a much-loved ‘50s Cadillac to keep it movin’.

Cuba was a country off-limits to American travellers until recent times when US President Obama eased restrictions on a 50-year old embargo between the two countries.

Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have just announced that they will be sailing to Cuba in coming months, with overnight port calls to the island’s lively capital Havana.

The news is a real joy to Frank Del Rio, CEO of the Norwegian fleet who says, “As a Cuban-American and founder of Oceania Cruises, I am incredibly proud that one of Oceania’s vessels, Marina, will be our company’s first ship to sail to Cuba in March. This is truly a dream come true for me and I cannot wait for our loyal guests to experience the sights and sounds of my hometown Havana, and to get to know its rich culture and its warm and welcoming residents.”

Swiss-based MSC Cruises already has MSC Opera home porting in Havana, and Adonia, under Carnival’s Fathom line, started sailing there earlier this year. However, Carnival will end Fathom cruises in May with plans to have Cuba on itineraries of some of the other ships in its fleet at a later stage.

Royal Caribbean has also had approval from the Cuban government for Empress of the Seas to sail there from April, and Azamara Club Cruises is also scheduling cruises to the tropical island.

Cruise ships sailing to Cuba offer “people-to-people” exchanges between Americans and Cubans as allowed by U.S. rules governing visits to Cuba. But, President-elect Donald Trump may undo the US-Cuba relationship if certain conditions are not meant.

♦♦♦♦ is taking a festive break and will be back on deck on January 18, 2017.




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