Because of its rich history and beautiful architecture, there’s no doubt that Cuba is an exciting island nation to visit. And, the best way to see the island is by cruise ship. Not only do cruise ships offer better accommodations than you would likely experience on land while you’re in port, they will also handle the necessary visas for you and exchange your money for Cuba’s local currency at a better exchange rate than you will find on the island.

There are three ports of call on Cuba and each one is unique. Not all cruise ships dock at every port, however, so you’ll want to be sure to check various cruise lines’ itineraries before you book your cruise.

The Prado Boulevard at night in Downtown Havana. (Photo: Karel Miragaya)

Port of Havana

The capital city of Havana is probably the most well-known city in Cuba. It’s what is most depicted in movies, and where we see all those wonderful historic cars in pristine condition and historic Spanish-style architecture.

Cruise Critic has an excellent in-depth article about this port, and although the article confirms that the city is in decay, it relates that, still:

Havana and its nod to culture and history are breathtaking. It still boasts thousands of architectural treasures, dozens of top-notch museums, gracious avenues and promenades, wonderful music, friendly people, breathtaking vistas and more.

And despite the sad decay, the article continues:

the city is rich with rewards for visitors. The core of “Old Havana” or “La Habana Vieja” is a treasure trove of architectural gems. Across Havana Bay, the iconic 16th-century Castillo del Morro (Morro Castle) guards the city and the harbor and provides panoramic views. The graceful and elegant avenues and mansions of “El Vedado” offer a glimpse of a wealthy past.

To read more information about the history of Havana and what to expect while in port, go to:

Cruise Critic / Havana

Photo credit: Karel Miragaya

Fortress San Pedro de la Roca in Santiago de Cuba. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Photo: Sergi Reboredo)

Santiago de Cuba

After Havana, Santiago is the second largest city on the island and was once the capital of Cuba. However, it has a different feel to it than Havana. Another article by Cruise Critic compares the two very well:

Havana, could be described as refined (and defined) in a Colonial-style way, with big boulevards, squares and architecture, spread out flat along the sea front; Santiago by contrast is a jumbled mess of streets laid out chaotically on a steep hill side, more reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Santiago de Cuba has a got a strong Caribbean vibe to it, evident in the people, the food, the history, the nightlife and the culture.

People who enjoy history will be interested to know that Santiago is where Cuba’s revolution began. Monuments that pay homage to various rebels are scattered all around the city, including one of Fidel Castro.

Santiago is also a city of rich musical heritage, due to the fact that at one time it was a major trading post for slaves brought from West Africa, Haiti and Jamaica. According to the article about Santiago on Cruise Critic:

Cuba’s popular national music, Son, originated in Santiago and is best encapsulated by the music of Buena Vista Social Club, a popular music venue in Havana.

To read more about Santiago and its rich history, as well as excellent tips while in port, go to:

Cruise Critic / Santiago de Cuba

Photo credit:: Sergi Reboredo

Jose Marti Park and City Hall in Cienfuegos, Cuba. (Photo: Public Domain)

Port of Cienfuegos

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as the Pearl of the South. It’s located on Cuba’s southern coast and at one time was a trade center during Spanish Colonial times.

Cruise Critic’s article about this city states:

Cienfuegos is pedestrian friendly, with a median promenade down its main traffic street, a pedestrianized street full of local shops and restaurants and Plaza de Armas, a main square with intact neoclassical buildings.

For the full article and tips about this city, go to:

Cruise Critic / Cienfuegos

Cruise lines that sail to Cuba:

Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Holland America, Oceania, and Viking.

Main photo image credit: Karel Miragaya

Bon Voyage!

Because of its rich history and beautiful architecture, there’s no doubt that Cuba is an exciting island nation to visit. And, the best way to see the island is by cruise ship. Not only do cruise ships offer better accommodations than you would likely experience on land while you’re in port, they will also handle the necessary visas for you and exchange your money for Cuba’s local currency at a better exchange rate than you will find on the island.

There are three ports of call on Cuba and each one is unique. Not all cruise ships dock at every port, however, so you’ll want to be sure to check various cruise lines’ itineraries before you book your cruise.

The Prado Boulevard at night in Downtown Havana. (Photo: Karel Miragaya)

Port of Havana

The capital city of Havana is probably the most well-known city in Cuba. It’s what is most depicted in movies, and where we see all those wonderful historic cars in pristine condition and historic Spanish-style architecture.

Cruise Critic has an excellent in-depth article about this port, and although the article confirms that the city is in decay, it relates that, still:

Havana and its nod to culture and history are breathtaking. It still boasts thousands of architectural treasures, dozens of top-notch museums, gracious avenues and promenades, wonderful music, friendly people, breathtaking vistas and more.

And despite the sad decay, the article continues:

the city is rich with rewards for visitors. The core of “Old Havana” or “La Habana Vieja” is a treasure trove of architectural gems. Across Havana Bay, the iconic 16th-century Castillo del Morro (Morro Castle) guards the city and the harbor and provides panoramic views. The graceful and elegant avenues and mansions of “El Vedado” offer a glimpse of a wealthy past.

To read more information about the history of Havana and what to expect while in port, go to:

Cruise Critic / Havana

Photo credit: Karel Miragaya

Fortress San Pedro de la Roca in Santiago de Cuba. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Photo: Sergi Reboredo)

Santiago de Cuba

After Havana, Santiago is the second largest city on the island and was once the capital of Cuba. However, it has a different feel to it than Havana. Another article by Cruise Critic compares the two very well:

Havana, could be described as refined (and defined) in a Colonial-style way, with big boulevards, squares and architecture, spread out flat along the sea front; Santiago by contrast is a jumbled mess of streets laid out chaotically on a steep hill side, more reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Santiago de Cuba has a got a strong Caribbean vibe to it, evident in the people, the food, the history, the nightlife and the culture.

People who enjoy history will be interested to know that Santiago is where Cuba’s revolution began. Monuments that pay homage to various rebels are scattered all around the city, including one of Fidel Castro.

Santiago is also a city of rich musical heritage, due to the fact that at one time it was a major trading post for slaves brought from West Africa, Haiti and Jamaica. According to the article about Santiago on Cruise Critic:

Cuba’s popular national music, Son, originated in Santiago and is best encapsulated by the music of Buena Vista Social Club, a popular music venue in Havana.

To read more about Santiago and its rich history, as well as excellent tips while in port, go to:

Cruise Critic / Santiago de Cuba

Photo credit:: Sergi Reboredo

Jose Marti Park and City Hall in Cienfuegos, Cuba. (Photo: Public Domain)

Port of Cienfuegos

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as the Pearl of the South. It’s located on Cuba’s southern coast and at one time was a trade center during Spanish Colonial times.

Cruise Critic’s article about this city states:

Cienfuegos is pedestrian friendly, with a median promenade down its main traffic street, a pedestrianized street full of local shops and restaurants and Plaza de Armas, a main square with intact neoclassical buildings.

For the full article and tips about this city, go to:

Cruise Critic / Cienfuegos

Cruise lines that sail to Cuba:

Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Holland America, Oceania, and Viking.

Main photo image credit: Karel Miragaya

Bon Voyage!