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Cuba……….Go there while you can!!

Before we give you a summary of our recent cruise to Havana, the unanimous consensus of our group is that we are so happy that we made the decision to go on this trip.

Starting out with 20+ cabins and ending up with 4 (and 3 additional cabins including Martha and John’s son and friends), we were all a bit anxious about the decision to make the trip in spite of the bad press about travel to Cuba that had made headlines in recent weeks. And so on Monday, December 4, 2017, our MBYC group, Mulligans, Brinkoetters, Southards and Whites embarked on our four night, five day cruise out of Miami. Thanks to the addition of Randy’s skillful preparation of very tasty Bloody Mary’s (even with pickles as garnish), we started our vacation as we made our way to the Miami Port in a chauffeured A Carr Mini van.

The embarkation process for this cruise on the Norwegian Sky was very smooth, and before long we were having lunch in the Palace Dining Room and getting ready for our arrival the next morning to Havana. After a relaxing afternoon, dinner, a show, and some sleep, (and a stop at the casino for some of us!!) we were ready for our day and a half visit to Havana. We were prepared for interrogations and lots of questions by Cuban officials, as we were given our pre-arranged Visas for our “People to people” approved visit. Needless to say, we were welcomed into the country without any fanfare (a stamp of our passport and a screening of our bags) and went outside to meet our guide for the day, Reniel. Although we could have booked our tours with the cruise line, we decided to try it on our own. After much research, Margi found a highly recommended company for much less than the price of the cruise tours. The six of us (Martha and John did the tours with their son and friends) set off for a two hour walking tour of Old Havana followed by a three hour ride in two old (1951 and 1955) convertibles with our drivers and guide. We learned so much about Cuba, Havana, the history and people. We were ecstatic passengers with our hair blowing in the wind as we breezed down the Malecon (boardwalk) heading out of Old Havana through the other parts of the city.

Marianne had reserved seats for us that evening for the show at the Tropicana. Again, by doing this directly with the Tropicana, we paid about half the price that we would have through cruise excursions. Our guide negotiated with the two drivers to pick us up at 8:45pm for the ride to the show and to drive us back to the ship about 4 hours later. Again, not only was the experience a “once in a lifetime,” making the 40 minute drive in the open convertibles, but the cost was quite inexpensive. We all loved the show, which was a cabaret of talented and colorfully dressed young men and women expressing themselves and their Cuban heritage through music and dance. The ladies were given a flower and the men a cigar upon entering the outdoor venue. A bottle of rum and cans of coca cola were provided on the table, as well, to add to the “flavor.”

After a day of relaxing at sea, we arrived at the Norwegian private island on Thursday morning. It was a beautiful beach to relax and continue our pastime of eating and drinking! Back to the ship for our final evening at sea, before arriving back to Miami on Friday morning.

If ever you have the chance to visit Havana, we highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity. A great time was had by all.

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