Cuba Cruise lowers its gangplank to American Tourists
For one of the first times in over 50 years, the average American citizen can now cruise around Cuba and freely visit six ports of call (five in Cuba and one in Jamaica) thanks to a recent deal signed by Cuba Cruises, the Canadian operators of the 1200 passenger cruise ship, the Louis Cristal. This travel breakthrough is one of the first that follows U.S. President Barack Obama’s surprise announcement last December aiming to lift certain economic restrictions between the two countries. It is also thanks to a recent agreement signed between Cuba Cruise and The “Cuba/US People to People Partnership”. The “Cuba/US People to People Partnership” is a project of the U.S. not-for- profit Fund for Reconciliation and Development.
In the past, the Cubans have not been the road-block in terms of restricting travel by Americans into Cuba, as they did not impose any restrictions on those wishing to enter the country. It has been the American government that has imposed strict fines and sanctions on those caught traveling to Cuba without the proper permission. (Americans travelling on the cruise will have to register with the “Cuba/US People to People Partnership” to receive a letter authorizing them to travel to Cuba under the new General License for “educational activity”.)
Interested American travellers can now book a seven day cruise that begins and ends in Havana, or, one that begins and ends in Montego Bay, Jamaica (the other main Cuba Cruise embarkation point). Travellers have the choice of flying to Havana from Toronto aboard the weekly Cuba Cruise air charter (with prices for air and cruise starting at $1092 CAD plus port dues and taxes of $590 CAD per person) or they can find their own way to Havana or Montego Bay and board the ship at one of those ports. Cruise only options range from $782 CAD PP plus port fees of $178 and taxes for an Inside Stateroom to $2088 plus fees for a Premium Suite.
Havana departures are every Monday while Montego Bay’s are every Friday until the end of March, 2015.
Cuba Cruise has a link on their website to many US partners offering air to Havana or Montego Bay from the US. however, many will likely find that the Cuba Cruise option with air out of Toronto is also affordable and convenient.
These competitive prices to access Cuba will stun most Americans who have previously investigated “people to people” tours to the island often starting at $5000 USD per person. Not only that, the Cuba Cruise circumnavigates the island to give travellers a taste of every corner of the country most of which is difficult to access by road or air over such a short period of time.
In addition, American travellers will be permitted to participate in the Cuba Cruise land excursions, of which there are many, in every port of call. This might include a city tour in vintage automobiles (in Havana) a tour to the Castros’ childhood homestead (in Biran/Holguin), taking Salsa and Rumba dance lessons (in Santiago de Cuba) and a tour of a hundred year old botanical garden (in Cienfuegos). Prices for the excursions range from $49 to $160 CAD (most transactions on the Cuba Cruise are in Canadian dollars).
Suddenly Cuba is indeed becoming accessible to the average American tourist. Cuba Cruise is one of the first affordable options out of the departure lounge. You can be the first of your friends up a gangplank in Cuba! Visit
www.yourcubacruise.com for more information.
A.J. Twist is a Montreal-based travel writer and photographer. Have a look at his entire account of traveling the Cuba Cruise here: