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.

 

Trump Administration Tightens Up On Cuba – How Does It Affect Cruises?

June 16, 2017.

I just listened to President Trump’s speech regarding U.S. policy with Cuba.  He said he was cancelling the Obama Administration’s ‘bad deal’ during a speech filled with tough words about the Castro regime. Of course much of the passionate speech was for the benefit of the crowd,  which was mostly Cuban-Americans who have borne a heavy human and financial burden in many cases, and who also helped deliver Florida to Trump in the election.  But it also was a clear message to the Cuban government.

The speech didn’t provide any specifics on how travel will be affected. Many of the details were already provided to the media Thursday, and the new rules still have to be written and approved.  The federal agencies have 90 days to do that, so cruises in the near term should not see any changes.

The Cuba FAQ on the U.S. Treasury website indicate that there will be no immediate changes for U.S. citizens, and in fact if they have booked part of a Cuba trip prior to today, they will be covered by existing rules and not the new ones if their trip occurs after the new rules take effect.

Now It’s Cuba’s Turn

The one thing few are talking about is how will Cuba respond?  I have to say that the rhetoric used by the President was not exactly cordial and I doubt the Cuban government was smiling after hearing it.  But will they respond in kind?  That remains to be seen.

As it exists now, cruise passengers can self-certify that they did legal things while in Cuba from a list of 12 approved activities.  They don’t need to take an organized tour through the cruise line or with a tour operator. However, going forward that could change.  The Trump Administration wants to end individual travel to Cuba that is not tightly controlled, and that could very well cause the cruise lines to require all guests to have an approved tour of the minimum legal length (5 to 8 hours per day depending on how long the ship is in port), or they won’t be allowed off the ship.  Guests may have to start keeping a log of their shore activities, keep tour documentation and be prepared for a more in-depth interview by Customs upon their return to the U.S.  Currently, Customs has been treating visitors to Cuba no different than those going to other Caribbean nations.  The Treasury Department could audit the records of any U.S. citizen who visits Cuba, and they have 5 years in which to do it so visitors will need to keep all their records for that period of time.  That rule exists now and won’t be new.

We’ll be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Norwegian Adds Cuba Cruises Through 2018

 

April 4, 2017

Norwegian Sky will sail 33 roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba in 2018, with 32 voyages featuring an overnight call in the capital city of Havana

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it will further extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba through 2018, with 33 new voyages. The all-inclusive Norwegian Sky will begin her 2018 Cuba cruise season in March, sailing four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami, with  32 of the cruises to include an overnight stay in Cuba’s capital of Havana, as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas. These new cruises will begin on March 26, 2018 and are in addition to the previously announced 30 calls that Norwegian will offer through December 2017. Guests sailing on Norwegian Sky enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program.

Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests aboard Norwegian Sky will have the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the flora and fauna of Soroa, see modern Havana in an American classic car and much more.

Norwegian Sky’s sailings to Cuba will also feature a call to Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island destination in the Bahamas.  Great Stirrup Cay was recently enhanced to offer additional pathways, seating and shaded lounge areas, with additional features still to come, including a private luxury lagoon enclave for suite guests and guests of The Haven.

Norwegian Sky’s four-day cruises to Cuba will open for sale on April 20.

For additional information or to book a cruise to Cuba on Norwegian, as well as documentation requirements, Frequently Asked Questions and more, please visit www.ncl.com/cruises-to/cuba-cruises.

Azamara Quest Arrives in Cuba

March 31, 2017.

Cuban Officials and Azamara Executives Celebrate Historical Event with a Keys & Plaques Ceremony

 

Azamara Quest arrived at Cuba’s Sierra Maestra terminal for the first time today.  The ship sailed down the Bahía de la Habana alongside Havana’s famous El Malecón providing guests magnificent views of the local shoreline before turning alongside Cuba’s Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro through the Canal de Entrada to dock.

Azamara Club Cruises President & CEO, Larry Pimentel, Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD. President & COO Adam Goldstein, and Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD. Vice President of Business Development, Global Government and Community Relations, Jorge Delgado joined Captain Angel Albertini, Chief of Havana Cruise Terminal and a contingent of Cuban Dignitaries to toast the arrival of Azamara Quest, and this important moment in the brand’s history, during a Keys & Plaques ceremony.

Azamara created a variety of unique people-to-people land programs, by night and by day, to enable guests a fully immersed experience in the destination and have the opportunity to connect with the great culture and people of Cuba.  Azamara is able to do this because of our overnight stay in Havana.  All tour programs offered by Azamara are designed to meet United States’ requirements for travel to Cuba.  Highlights include:

  • Tropicana Cabaret Extravaganza:  The most spectacular of the open-air cabarets showcase Caribbean rhythms and sultry dancers.  An English speaking guide shares history of the famous show while on the ride to the Tropicana.  Once there guests sip on rum cocktails surrounded by lush tropical gardens and enjoy the folklore and music of Cuba.
  • Nelson Dominguez Art Gallery Tour: Located next to the pier, guests can join Larry Pimentel for a private gallery tour of renowned artist Nelson Dominguez followed by the chance to browse and shop artwork to take home as a souvenir.
  • Evening Stroll and El Cañonazo Ceremony: A guided walk through the cobblestone streets of Old Havana at night allows travelers to appreciate the city’s rustic charm and rich history.  A brief bus ride transports the group to the nearby Morro Castle with a ceremonial firing of the cannon at 9 pm.
  • Best of Havana – a full-day, all-encompassing trip through Havana exploring the city’s beautiful sprawling cemetery, notable squares, artsy neighborhoods, literary connections and authentic cuisine.
  • Havana By Classic American Car – Guests can venture back to 1950’s Cuba in a vintage American automobile for a panoramic ride to a historic luxury hotel and along the quintessential Malecón waterfront.
  • Hemingway’s Havana – Guests get to explore the literary connections between Cuba and the late American novelist Ernest Hemingway on a dynamic four-hour tour that offers the chance to see where he lived, dined and sipped his favorite cocktails. 

Following this Hemingway Hideaways voyage which also visits ports in New Orleans and Florida, Azamara is offering two additional sailings for 2017:

  • Havana Discovery: Departing on November 20, 2017, the Havana Discovery voyage begins and ends in Miami with a journey that visits laid-back Key West, followed by an overnight stay in the bustling city of Havana with a historic exploration of Vieja Havana (Old Havana) and dive into the aquamarine waters of Cozumel, the Caribbean jewel.  Rates start at $1,699.00 USD.
  • Havana Getaway: Departing November 27, 2017, the four-night Havana Getaway packs a lot of adventure into a little time.  The voyage explores the colorful buildings and eclectic plazas of Havana with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site and overnight stays allow for guests to experience the quintessential Cuban nightlife.  Rates start at $1,499.00 USD.