Cruises to Cuba from Florida – Best Cruise Ships from Sunshine State to Cuba
Cuba is a fantastic travel destination. The largest island in the Caribbean, the island country has got plenty of things on offer. Officially the Republic of Cuba, the beautiful country is magnificently perched in the northern Caribbean where the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico meet. This is arguably a great place to visit. Some of the greatest reasons to visit Cuba are –
- Cuba is still unspoiled
- It is a living museum of old cars
- The super-stunning, colorful architecture
- A place that is frozen in time
- Relish the hot weather
- Beer is cheap
- Landscapes are jaw-dropping and beaches are spellbinding
- Cubans love music. So, visit the country for its great music
- Natural beauty
- Unique history
If wondering the best way to reach the island while taking in every bit of vista, count on incredible cruises from the U.S. Cruises to Cuba from Florida are getting popular not just with Americans but with Canadians also.
Cruises to Cuba from Florida – Why Visit Cuba on a Cruise Ship?
“First, because they feel safe on a cruise ship. Safety is on their minds and they don’t want to take a chance staying at a hotel that might cancel their reservation. They want to be in a contained situation with people helping them along the way, especially with the money exchange,” said Barbara Stolzer, a group travel and tour specialist.
“Honestly, the second reason is for bragging rights. They want to be the first ones to tell their friends that they have been there.” She further added, “Third is education. There are a group of people who are curious, who were either there before or heard enough about it that they want to go to learn about Cuba’s history.”
There are many reasons that travelers are looking for cruises to Cuba from Florida. Amongst the topnotch reasons, here are a few that you should take note of –
- When You Want to See More of Cuba: Cruising makes the journey more enjoyable and fun-filled. Since the journey is making its way to Cuba, you will surely see more from the water than on the roads – keeping in mind the roads and infrastructure in Cuba are yet to match the standards of more developed countries. Also, most cruises to Cuba from Florida and other parts of the U.S. cover these three important cities including Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Cienfuegos. If you change your mind and consider taking a road trip from Havana to Santiago de Cuba (545 miles), it will take you 22 hours on an average.
- More Excursion Choices: Since most cruise lines have people to people itineraries or they are certified as people to people operators, they bring travelers a plethora of excursion choices in most Cuban ports. Remember, on a land tour, you might not have much freedom with your activities.
- Cruises Boast Upscale Amenities: There’s no refuting this, is there? Those who have visited Cuba would agree here that even the nicest-looking accommodations (hotels) would experience electrical, water, and other service issues. That’s when you need to contemplate getting onboard a cruise line. Equipped with modern amenities, most cruises to Cuba from America serve great food, entertainment, and other sophisticated services.
- No Currency Surcharge Onboard: This could be a major reason why you should avoid an extensive land tour and rather get on board a cruise line. Travelers to this island country must CUC, which is designed for visitors only. However, locals have a different currency to use. Considering that you are traveling from Florida, you will have a hard time finding ATMs from American-owned banks. Also, if you bring cash (American dollars), there’s a 10 percent surcharge along with a 3 percent change fee levied by most exchange bureaus. Hence, your 1 American dollar comes down to 87 cents in Cuba.
- Exposure to Less Pollution: Most of the vehicles that occupy the Cuban roads (which aren’t superb) are devoid of modern emission systems. This is the biggest reason you see smog in the air in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. You can’t escapee that if you prefer roaming around these cities, exploring its unique culture and history. And the only place where you will have less exposure to pollution is your ship.
One of the few amazing things that most visitors love about Cuba is the country unspoiled by capitalism. This is what Gayle Fortin, a senior travel advisor said, “Cuba is unspoiled by capitalism and, therefore, gives you a true example of what it’s like to walk the streets exactly as it was 30-50 years ago. Local stores selling art, jewelry, and treasures are more interesting than just another duty-free store selling the same thing at every port. My clients also love touring in the classic cars, and the local tour guides make the tours informative, yet fun. For those clients whose ship stays overnight in Havana, they love the show at the Tropicana or to take in a local tour with dancing.”
Top Cruise Lines from Florida to Cuba – What’s Your Pick?
Take a look at some of the best cruising options to Cuba from Florida and decide what’s best for you.
- Armonia from MSC Cruises (from Miami to Cuba): Travelers looking for a weeklong cruise should resort to Armonia that spends quite a few days in Havana before sailing to Montego Bay, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, with an overnight in Havana. The ship can comfortably carry 2,000 passengers. It started Havana sailings in the year 2016. If you choose Armonia, your trip is going to be straightforward, not a complicated one. However, you can avail of yourself all the big-ship amenities.
- Azamara (From Miami to Havana): With Azamara, get ready to dive deeper into unparalleled destinations including Cuba. Every Azamara voyage power-packs upscale sailing with immersive cultural experiences that will surely leave you looking at life from a new perspective. As your cruise begins from Florida for Cuba, you will thoroughly enjoy Azamara’s exceptional, authentic service. Not to mention its complimentary extras, they are simply amazing.
Given its reputation for destination immersion, the cruise ship offers well-crafted 4-night getaways from Miami to Havana. You may also like to book 9 to 15 nights itineraries based on your preferences and travel dates. When you opt for an in-depth exploration of Cuba, the cruise line will add up destinations like Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. Get yourself onboard through people to people visa as it complies with it for free shores excursions.
Azamara is one of the most popular cruises for people who want an in-depth look at Cuba. Although a small ship, it leaves no stone unturned to offer the upscale amenities of a large cruise ship.
- Panorama from International Expeditions (from Miami to Cuba): What about combining a cruise with time on land and sailing on a small ship? If you are okay with it, International Expeditions’ Panorama can be a great choice. This small ship, however, lends in-depth exploration with plenty of cultural activities.
- Carnival Paradise (from Tampa to Havana): Another large vessel that sails from Florida to Cuba is Carnival Paradise. Best known for its splashy, mass-market fun ship, this stunning vessel sails from Tampa to Havana with some itineraries featuring Key West. Another ship from Carnival Cruise Line is Carnival Sunshine. Guests can enjoy thrilling Cuban-themed music, salsa dance, lectures, and deck parties. Carnival Sensation from Carnival Cruise Line also sails from Miami to Havana in conjunction with Freeport and Nassau. Victory does a short itinerary featuring Havana.
Passengers looking for endless fun and entertainment will love to board Paradise.
- Independence of the Seas from Royal Caribbean (from Fort Lauder to Cuba): When onboard, travelers are going to have a blast as they launch themselves on the Sky Pad bungee trampoline experience, score a great game-changing grub at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, and gear up for the clash in Battle of Planet Z. Independence of the Seas offers year-round getaways from Fort Lauderdale.
- Holland America Line (from Fort Lauderdale to Havana): Started mainly in 2017 (December), Holland America Line has dedicated Veendam for all Cuba sailing. In 2018 and 2019, it had more than a dozen schedules. Well, this 1,350-passenger ship prefers taking voyages during the summer. This is the period when not many cruise lines do their itineraries. The vessel boasts three itineraries comprising –
- Authentic Cuba – It departs Fort Lauderdale, covering the Western Caribbean with some nights in Havana and Cienfuegos.
- Cuban Explorer – This is a longer voyage that can extend up to 21 nights. You may choose 10, 11, and 12 nights too. It departs from Fort Lauderdale.
- Summertime Cuba – It departs from Montreal or Boston in June and July, featuring Havana and a few dates in Cienfuegos.
This is a perfect cruise line for travelers looking for more intimate and immersive Cuban experiences.
- Victory I from Insight Cuba (from Miami to Cuba): Insight Cuba is a tour operator. Since 2,000, it has been running trips in the island country of Cuba. Victory I is its 202-passenger vessel that offers 15 nights itinerary leaving from Miami and calls on Havana, Trinidad, Maria la Gorda, and Cienfuegos.
- Pearl Mist from Insight Cuba (from Fort Lauderdale to Cuba): Another cruise ship from Insight Cuba, Pearl Mist departs from Fort Lauderdale and usually does an 11-night cruise. It stops at all the ports that Victory I does. However, it covers Casilda and El Cobre, only replacing Maria la Gorda.
Some Important Information to Read before Taking Cruises to Cuba from Florida
Undoubtedly, for a jaw-dropping travel experience to Cuba, taking a cruise is highly sought-after. But, American cruise ships are no longer permitted or allowed to dock in Cuba due to the ban imposed by the Trump Administration on June 05, 2019. As a result of the U.S. governments announced new travel restrictions to Cuba, Norwegian said in a statement that, "we have ceased all calls to the country, and are modifying previously scheduled sailings as appropriate. We thank our guests and travel partners for their patience, as we navigate this unexpected, last-minute change, and we will, of course, continue to share information with them as soon as additional details become available.”
This, however, doesn’t stop travelers from stepping their feet on the island country. But, they have to do it in a 100% legal way. Those planning to visit the country independently can do so only if their travel comes under one of the 11 categories of authorized travel to Cuba.
So, what are those 11 categories apart from having a General License and a Cuban Tourist Card?
- Religious Activities
- Journalistic Activity
- Family Visits
- Support for the Cuban People
- Public performances, workshops, clinics, athletic, exhibitions, and other competitions
- Professional Research and Meetings
- Authorized Export Transactions
- Importation, Exportation, or Transmission of Information
- Activities of Educational Institutes, Research, or Private Foundations
- Humanitarian Projects
- Official Business of the U.S. Government, Certain Intergovernmental Organizations, and Foreign Governments
Although cruises to Cuba 2020 from Florida are not possible due to travel restrictions imposed by the U.S, you can plan your voyages from other destinations.