Carnival Paradise Renovation Details Announced

February 22, 2018.

Vintage cars pass the Carnival Paradise while the cruise ship is docked in Havana, Cuba. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival is continuing the upgrading of the Fantasy-class ships in quick fashion.  Just a few days ago the news about Carnival Fascination finishing it’s overhaul was announced, and now it’s Carnival Paradise’s turn.

The ship is undergoing an extensive, multi-million-dollar refurbishment that will add a water park, 38 new cabins, 98 balconies to existing staterooms, and many of the popular food and beverage venues.  While favorites such as Guy’s Burgers and BlueIguana are being added, the upgrades apparently do not include Alchemy Bar.

Following the month-long dry dock Carnival Paradise will resume its year-round schedule of four- to eight-day cruises from Tampa, Fla., March 26, 2018.

The new features include:
· Guy’s Burger Joint 

· RedFrog Rum Bar

· BlueIguana Cantina

· Camp Ocean: a play area designed for kids ages 2-11.

· New Cabins, Stateroom Enhancements: Thirty-eight cabins will be added – two Grand Vista suites offering floor-to-ceiling windows, 22 junior suites, two scenic ocean view cabins and 12 interior accommodations. Additionally, private verandahs have been added to 98 existing staterooms, creating new 230-square-foot balcony staterooms. All staterooms will offer new island-inspired interiors with bright colors and soothing pastels inspired by Carnival Paradise’s tropical itineraries.

· WaterWorks Aqua Park: Located on Verandah Deck, this expansive all-ages water park features an enclosed 300-foot-long Twister water slide, two 82-foot-long racing slides, and a splash zone for kids.

· Miniature Golf Course: A nine-hole miniature golf course has been relocated to Deck 14.

· Retail and Photo Enhancements: The ship’s retail shops are being completely reimagined with a new design and enhanced product offerings including Pandora and Guess.  Cherry on Top is also being added, while the printed photo gallery is being replaced with a digital Pixels-branded platform that allows guests to identify and purchase images via their smartphones or at a nearby kiosk.

Carnival Paradise’s Tampa-based schedule includes four-day cruises to Cozumel and five-day cruises to Cozumel or Mahogany Bay (Roatan), Grand Cayman or Key West. The ship also sails to Cuba with four-day cruises visiting Havana, five-day cruises calling at Havana and Cozumel or Key West, and eight-day voyages to Havana, Key West and Grand Cayman.

Norwegian Announces New Cruises To Cuba & Caribbean From Miami

February 13, 2018.

Norwegian Cruise Line has opened brand-new cruises to Cuba and the Caribbean aboard Norwegian Sun round trip from Miami.  For a limited season this fall, Norwegian Sun will offer cruisers a chance to discover the rich history of Cuba and explore some of the brand’s most popular tropical destinations in just one journey on 7, 9, and 13-day cruises.

Norwegian Sun will sail six 7-day cruises from Miami departing on Sundays from September 9 through October 14. The ship will cruise to ports including Havana, Cuba, Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas; Costa Maya, Mexico and Harvest Caye, Belize. The ship’s nine-day Cuba and the Caribbean cruises will expand upon the 7-day sailings and also include additional visits to Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras and Cozumel, Mexico.

Those wishing to visit the Panama Canal can do so aboard Norwegian Sun’s new 13-day Cuba, Caribbean and the Panama Canal cruise departing from Miami on October 30. This bucket-list cruise will visit eight destinations including Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia and Oranjestad, Aruba, among others.

Norwegian Cruise Line has also added a new 5-day cruise to Cuba and the Bahamas from Port Canaveral on September 3. The new cruise will round out the ship’s season sailing from the Space Coast with an afternoon visit to the southernmost city of Key West, Florida then head to Havana for an overnight stay in the historical city, followed by a beach day at the private-island paradise of Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

All of Norwegian Sun’s recently released cruises will visit the popular destinations of Havana, Cuba and Harvest Caye, Belize. While in Cuba, Norwegian Sun sails into the very heart of Havana, providing guests with the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and visit Cuba’s warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges – all just steps away from the comfort of the ship. Norwegian offers a selection of 13 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests have the chance to have a farm-to-table dining experience or explore modern Havana in an American classic car and discover the arts, culture, dance and cinematic masterpieces of Fabrica de Arte Cubano on an exclusive private tour.

Located one mile off the coast of Southern Belize, Harvest Caye, is a resort-style destination where guests can lounge along the expansive beach or at the 15,000 square-foot pool with a swim-up bar, enjoy a nature center with wildlife and reptiles or opt for an adrenalin rush zip line adventure at the 130 ft. tall Flighthouse, among many other on-island attractions. Those who want to explore mainland Belize have several convenient options from Harvest Caye including the island ferry, rainforest tubing or private boat excursions.

Cuba Voyages with Azamara for 2018-2019

January 25, 2018.

Last year I took a 4-night cruise to Cuba on a mainstream cruise line, and while it was a great experience it would have been better if I traveled first class with a luxury cruise line.  Well, the good news is you can and for a surprisingly good price.  Azamara Club Cruises has several voyages to Cuba in 2018/2019, including a very affordable 4-night cruise that is in Havana overnight, leaving in the afternoon of the following day, so it’s essentially two days to explore and interact with the wonderful Cuban people.

While in port, guests can participate in featured Cuba shore excursions including the Old Havana Heritage Walking Tour and the Best of Havana, allowing travelers to have authentic experiences that bring the rich heritage and cultural treasures to life.

Azamara is an all-inclusive cruise line, so all of those usual onboard expenses such as gratuities, drinks, incidentals, are included in your cruise price.  Plus, these are smaller cruise ships with 690 guests so there is never a crowd and the service is personal.

More information about some of the featured sailings are below.

o   Sailing date of 11/10/2018

o   Azamara Journey

o   Sailing date of 11/20/2018

o   Azamara Journey

o   Sailing date of 12/21/2018

o   Azamara Journey

o   Sailing date of 1/15/2019

o   Azamara Journey

Royal Caribbean Expands Sailings To Cuba In 2018-2019

November 30, 2017.

The Malecón in Havana

If anyone thought travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens had been severely curtailed recently, fear not.  Royal Caribbean International will double down on Cuba next summer, with two ships – Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas – and two new destinations added to itineraries.

The added sailings and the new ports of Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos on the southeast coast give cruisers even more ways to immerse themselves in the culture and history of the island.  Cuba’s historic cities of Havana, Santiago and Cienfuegos will be among the destinations on an array of 4- to 8-night Caribbean adventures on Empress of the Seas that open for sale today.

Departing from Miami year-round, Empress cruise vacations will include 7-night Best of Cuba itineraries to Cienfuegos, Havana and Nassau, Bahamas; 5-night sailings visiting Key West, Florida and spending the night in Havana; and an immersive 8-night journey to Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Grand Cayman, and Labadee, Haiti.   Majesty of the Seas will continue the 4- and 5-night offerings to Havana that include day and overnight stays, departing from Tampa from April to October 2018, and Ft. Lauderdale from November 2018 to March 2019. All sailings to Cuba will offer shore excursions designed for guests to experience the destination and to comply with the people-to-people educational exchange activities requirement as set forth in the U.S. regulations.

Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site established in 1819 with a wide array of visually-stunning attractions, including acclaimed Botanical Gardens with more than 2,000 plant species on display, impressive neoclassical architecture, a 950-seat opera house and the bustling Santa Isabel Boulevard.

Santiago de Cuba is a gateway to Cuba’s revolutionary and religious history, with adventures such as the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Castillo del Morroto, the Sierra Maestra foothills, El Cobre – one of the most significant religious destinations in Cuba – and historic sites like Revolution Square.

 

Carnival Paradise To Offer 5 Additional Cuba Cruises in 2018

August 16, 2018.

The Carnival Paradise arrives in Havana Harbor in Havana, Cuba. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

Following strong response to its first-ever cruises to Cuba this year, Carnival Cruise Line has added five more voyages featuring extended calls in Havana in 2018.

The new voyages include three five-day cruises to Havana and Cozumel or Key West departing Feb. 17, July 2 and Sept. 5, 2018; a six-day sailing featuring Havana and Grand Cayman departing Aug. 26, 2018; and an eight-day voyage with stops at Havana, Grand Cayman and Cozumel departing Aug. 18, 2018.

All of the voyages include a day-long call and overnight in Havana with the eight-day cruise of Aug. 18, 2018, offering two full days at the historic Cuban capital.

Earlier this year, Carnival announced a series of four- and five-day voyages to Havana that kicked off in late June.  (Editor’s Note:  I was on the inaugural voyage on June 29 and it was a wonderful cruise)

Upcoming voyages in the initial roll-out include four-day cruises departing Aug. 24, Sept. 7 and 21, and Oct. 5 and 19, 2017 as well as May 3, 2018 and five-day voyages departing Aug. 28, Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, 2017.

Carnival Paradise guests can select from nearly 20 different shore excursion experiences that showcase Cuba’s vibrant culture, majestic beauty and centuries-old architectural landmarks.

Vintage cars pass the Carnival Paradise while the cruise ship is docked in Havana, Cuba. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

Aboard Carnival Paradise, guests enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment, including newly added Cuban-themed entertainment and activities. Dining options include two full-service main dining rooms and expansive poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria.

The ship also features a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat.  Family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises as well as fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups.  Four swimming pools and a 115-foot-long cascading water slide are also featured.

The visits to Havana comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces More Cuba Sailings

August 10, 2017.

Azamara Club Cruises just announced additional Cuba sailings with more overnights, new shore excursions at night and an ‘AzAmazing Evenings’ event in 2018 and 2019!  The new itineraries range from four to fourteen nights and visit some of the most diverse Cuban ports like Cienfuegos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The voyages also include new onboard Cuban-themed programming, two overnights in Havana and shore excursions to Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos.  Three new Cruise Global, Nights Local shore excursions include a musical evening at Fusion Havana, a Jewish Heritage Tour in Havana and an entertaining evening at Cabaret Parisien. 

Three New Cruise Global, Nights Local Shore Excursions

As part of Azamara’s commitment to Destination Immersion®, Cruise Global, Connect Local will introduce guests to the culture and people of Cuba in the most authentic way. From locally inspired small-group excursions by day and night to the signature AzAmazing Evening in Cuba, there are three new night experiences, including:

  • Cabaret Parisien, Havana: Visit the Nacional Hotel de Cuba and marvel at the cabaret show “Cuban, Cuban,” a true sensation based entirely on island culture.  This colorful performance features stunning costumes, lively music and captivating dance moves reflecting Indo-American, Hispanic and African influences.  Before the performance, wander the lovely hotel gardens and gaze out at the sparkling nighttime views of the Havana Malecón.
  • Musical Evening at Fusión Havana, Havana: Embark on a truly captivating evening filled with the excitement of sultry music and dances of Havana, as Cuban rhythms, Latin Jazz, and Flamenco resound through the Fusión Havana, a local showplace and restaurant.  Cuba Libres and other favorite local cocktails will be served at a two-hour open bar with local delicacies like savory croquettes and stuffed tostones.
  • Jewish Heritage Tour, Havana: Embrace Cuba’s rich Jewish heritage with a guided tour that takes you through the streets of Old Havana’s Jewish Quarter. With plenty of local encounters to hear firsthand stories about the Jewish community, the tour includes a visit to the spectacular Hotel Raquel, a breathtaking example of Havana’s Jewish influence, and to a local synagogue for an authentic look at how locals worship. Pay moving visits to a historic Jewish cemetery and Havana’s Holocaust Museum, a solemn reminder of World War II, curated by the local community.

Additionally, a number of experiences are being developed throughout Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba to give Azamara guests immersive and localized experiences outside of Havana including:

  • Santiago de Cuba: Guests will explore a variety of well-known and off-the-beaten track historical sites including the Colonial Historic Center of San Juan Hill, where an instrumental battle in the Spanish – Cuban – American war occurred.  Then travel to the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, where notable Cuban national hero and literary import Jose Marti is laid to rest.
  • Cienfuegos: After starting their tour in Cienfuegos, guests will travel to Trinidad, where they can explore the colonial old town and quaint cobblestone streets.  A stop at Potter’s House gives guests the chance to discover the artwork of Cuban craftsmen and learn about their technique passed down through generations.  Guests will round out their visit to Cienfuegos to view a performance at the Teatro Tomas Terry followed by shopping the Santa Isabel Boulevard.

 

Cuba Cruises On Norwegian Sun Open For Booking

July 26, 2017.

Norwegian Cruise Line today opened 2018 cruises to Cuba aboard Norwegian Sun, which will homeport in Port Canaveral starting in May 2018, following a dry dock enhancement. Norwegian Sun’s new all-inclusive four-day cruises to Cuba will depart Port Canaveral each Monday, beginning May 7, 2018, and feature a call on Key West, Florida on Tuesdays, followed by an early morning arrival to Cuba’s capital city of Havana on Wednesday, allowing guests the opportunity to experience a full day and night of exploration.

The Norwegian Sun cruises to Cuba will provide guests with cultural immersion during OFAC-compliant* shore excursions.

Just prior to her arrival in Port Canaveral, Norwegian Sun will undergo a two-and-a-half week dry dock in April 2018 as a part of the Norwegian Edge™, the brand’s revitalization program encompassing the entire guest experience. Norwegian Sun accommodates 1,936 guests, with 16 dining options, and 12 bars and lounges. All guests sailing aboard one of Norwegian Sun’s Cuba or Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages included in their cruise fare as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program.

For a limited time, guests can take advantage of Norwegian’s Havana Nights offer and enjoy $50 in free onboard spending money** when they book a new cruise now through August 31 for 2017 and 2018 Cuba sailings. Those who act fast and take advantage of Norwegian’s Havana Nights can also enjoy $50 deposits*** now through August 7.

*Norwegian Cruise Line is currently authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer carrier services to authorized travelers between the United States and Cuba under the travel guidelines for US citizen travel to Cuba. Norwegian Cruise Line will continue to work with the administrations in both Cuba and the US to comply with any policy changes and regulations so that the brand may provide guests with educational and culturally rich experiences in Cuba, with all sailings subject to potential changes due to governmental relations.

** Offer not applicable to categories IX, OX, BX, or, MX.

*** (Suite categories are not applicable for this offer. Offer is only applicable for mini-suites and below. Offer available for new bookings made more than 90 days from sail date.

 

Norwegian Cruise Line Updates 2018 Summer Deployments for Alaska and Caribbean

 

July 10, 2017.

Norwegian Sun to be second Norwegian ship to offer all-inclusive cruises to both Cuba and the Bahamas from Port Canaveral and Norwegian Jewel will cruise Alaska in the summer 2018 season

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced updates to the their summer 2018 deployment.

Norwegian Sun will reposition to Port Canaveral and offer all-inclusive four day cruises to Havana and Key West, and three-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Jewel will sail to Alaska in summer 2018, doing 7 and 9 day sailings from Seattle, Seward and Vancouver.

Following her fall/winter season in South America and a dry dock enhancement, Norwegian Sun will spend her summer 2018 season sailing all-inclusive cruises from Port Canaveral, offering four-day itineraries that call on Key West and Havana, Cuba, along with three-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Sun accommodates 1,936 guests, with 16 dining options and 12 bars and lounges.

All guests sailing aboard one of Norwegian Sun’s Cuba or Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages included in their cruise fare as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program. Norwegian Sun’s new itineraries include the following:

  • Norwegian Sun will undergo a two-and-a-half week dry dock in Victoria, British Columbia as a part of the Norwegian Edge™, the brand’s revitalization program, and re-enter service on April 19, 2018 where she will begin her journey to the east coast with a 17-day Panama Canal cruise departing from Seattle.
  • Norwegian Sun’s four-day cruises to Cuba will depart Port Canaveral each Monday, beginning May 7, 2018, and feature a call on Key West, Florida and an overnight stay in Havana, returning to Port Canaveral each Friday. Norwegian Sun will transport guests to the heart of the action in both Key West and Havana.  Norwegian Sun will offer guests the opportunity to experience the culture and history of Cuba during OFAC-compliant* shore excursions.
  • Norwegian Sun’s three-day cruises to the Bahamas will feature calls in Nassau** and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s popular private island beach paradise that was recently enhanced with new food and beverage outlets, expanded Cabanas for daily rental and a new underwater snorkeling garden.

Following her winter 2017/2018 season sailing in Australia and Asia, Norwegian Jewel will sail from Tokyo (Yokohama) to Seattle and will replace Norwegian Sun as Norwegian’s third ship sailing in Alaska in summer 2018.

  • Beginning May 26, 2018, Norwegian Jewel will reposition from Seattle to Vancouver with a nine-day Alaska cruise.  This scenic itinerary will visit  Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan.
  • Norwegian Jewel will sail a seven-day roundtrip cruise from Vancouver to Alaska departing on June 4, 2018 with calls on Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
  • Beginning June 11, 2018 from Vancouver, Norwegian will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to enjoy alternating embarkation ports in Vancouver and Seward. From Vancouver, Norwegian Jewel will sail seven-day Glacier Bay cruises calling on Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and disembarking in Seward. From Seward, Norwegian Jewel will feature seven-day Inside Passage Alaska cruises calling on Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and disembarking in Vancouver. Both itineraries will include a sail past the breathtaking Hubbard Glacier.

*Norwegian Cruise Line is currently authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer carrier services to authorized travelers between the United States and Cuba under the travel guidelines for US citizen travel to Cuba. Norwegian Cruise Line will continue to work with the administrations in both Cuba and the US to comply with any policy changes and regulations so that the brand may provide guests with educational and culturally rich experiences in Cuba, with all sailings subject to potential changes due to governmental relations.

** Selected dates to include calls on Freeport and Great Stirrup Cay. 

Holland America To Visit Cuba Starting December 2017

May 24, 2017.

Demand expected to be high when Cuba cruises open for booking on May 26, 2017
 

Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard ms Veendam. Holland America Line becomes Carnival Corporation’s third cruise line to be approved to sail to Cuba following the company’s inaugural sailings to the island last year.

The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos, known as the model of early 19th century urban planning in Cuba. The 12-day holiday cruise showcases both Cuban ports. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports, as well as a combination of Caribbean ports, including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Most itineraries include an extended call at Havana, allowing guests the time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse themselves in a wide array of historical and cultural adventures. Additionally, a stop at Cienfuegos presents the opportunity for a special visit to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cuba’s province of Sancti Spíritus.

The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos, as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

On board, the Cuba experience will be enhanced through the line’s Explorations Central, or EXC, program, featuring EXC Guides who will bring the destination to life through presentations and EXC Talks that will enable guests to deepen their understanding of the Caribbean’s largest island. Also enriching the Cuba experience for guests are EXC Port Maps created for the Cuban calls, EXC Encounters that will showcase the culture and history of Cuba to guests before they visit the ports, and much more. In addition, educational and cultural EXC Tours are being developed in and near Havana and Cienfuegos with a highlight being Trinidad, one of the best-preserved historic towns in the Caribbean.

Bookings for Holland America Line’s cruises to Cuba will open May 26, 2017. Guests booked on Veendam’s previous deployment will be given a full refund and opportunity to book on another Holland America Line voyage. Fares for Cuba cruises begin at $899 per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional.

The visits to Havana and Cienfuegos comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control. All information about special requirements for travel to Cuba is available at hollandamerica.com.

Royal Caribbean Open First Year-Long Program To Cuba

May 10, 2017.

Expanded Sailings Introduce 58 New Cruises, Including 28 Havana Overnights through March 2019

Royal Caribbean International has greatly expanded their sailings to Cuba on Empress of the Seas.  The ship will sail 58 cruises of 4- and 5-night itineraries from January 2018 through March 2019, more than half offering overnight stays in Havana.  The Western Caribbean and Havana sailings are open for bookings as of today.

“Since arriving in Cuba for the first time last month, we’ve seen the excitement of our guests when sailing into Havana and the passion they have for the city at sail away – its people, its architecture, its food, its music. This is the enthusiasm we strive to bring to adventure-seekers who vacation with us,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.  “The positive reaction to our Cuba sailings is very encouraging, and we are thrilled to expand on the number of sailings for our 2018-2019 itineraries.”

Empress of the Seas will return to Tampa for summer 2018, offering a series of 4- and 5-night cruises, calling on Key West, Florida, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, as well as Havana on most sailings. The ship will reposition to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the winter 2018-2019 season, continuing short Caribbean adventures to the Caribbean destinations. Currently, Empress sails from Tampa through Nov. 4, 2017.  The ship then returns to Miami for the winter 2017-2018 season, adding calls to Royal Caribbean’s private island destination CocoCay and Nassau in The Bahamas.