Day 7; Port of call: Punta Frances, Isla de la Juventud
Our final stop on the Cuba Cruise was, in some ways, the most surreal of our Cuban destinations since it was typical of being on a deserted, Caribbean beach. Punta Frances, is a virtually untouched strip of stunning white sand and perfect for swimming.
In Cuban lore, this was once the hunting grounds of a certain French pirate by the name of Latrobe. Evidently, before being captured in 1809, Monsieur Latrobe hid a massive plunder of gold and jewels within the forests and beaches of Punta Frances which has never been found. Bring a shovel!
At Punta Frances everyone on board is invited to take the tenders. Get out there early, though! The last tender back to the ship is at 1:45 PM (but take it earlier, if you don’t want to miss lunch).
On the beach, the Cuba Cruise guests are the only inhabitants of the area for the day with the exception of a few
bartenders in straw hut bars. Here drinks were being fashioned out of fresh coconuts. A fun novelty.
The privacy and pristineness of Punta Frances is its allure. If you like a day on the beach, it really should not be missed. Tenders go back and forth to the dock all day long until departure.
Lunch is only served on the boat and today’s is one of the best meals of the week! Up by the pool, near the Leda Buffet, the chefs had a couple of charcoal barbecues going full blast and churning out a delicious selection of BBQ chicken, fish, pork and beef, all with a Greek flavor. Here was where a beach party was underway with the music pumping and the beers flowing.
After lunch, the cruise was beginning to wind down. Thoughts towards packing started to take precedence over tanning. Luggage was to be packed and ready for pick up by midnight.
Bills were being prepared for settlement and were ready for review at reception. Some cruisers were surprised to note a $70 charge (optional, mind you, which could be increased or decreased) added for gratuities. It is worth pointing out that this amount goes into a gratuity pool to be shared by all of those who have served you during the week. Many cruisers were also seen palming extra amounts into the hands of their favorite wait staff while others discretely unloaded extra cosmetics, unfinished bottles of booze, cash, etc. to the room cleaners. They deserve anything you can share with them as they were all friendly, hospitable and caring with their service, as far as my experience went. I look forward to seeing them again on my next Cuba Cruise!
Some closing comments:
Sailing into Havana is a breath-taking experience. Once again, try to be above deck early with your camera or cameras locked and loaded. As you sail into Old Havana you will pass into the channel guarded by the Fort El Moro.Thrilling!
During disembarkation in Havana, you will not have any extra time to explore the city before the bus transfer to the airport. At the airport, make sure you have 25 CUCs cash for the departure tax, per person. Other currencies, credit cards and debit cards are not accepted.
If you still have some gifts or souvenirs to buy, shop in the airport before you go through customs. You will have time and the selection and prices are much better.
AJ Twist is a Montreal-based travel writer and photographer.
To begin AJ’s cruise on Day 1 click here