Cuba, once a country that was off-limits to the North American tourist, especially to people living in the U.S., has re-opened its doors for cruise guests who want to experience Old World Charm in the Caribbean. However, passengers cannot stop off at the island solely to relax or play a round of golf. The trip has to be taken for reasons that are related to business or the cruise must be educational or humanitarian in scope.
With that in mind, cruise lines are scheduling cruises to and from Havana, starting in December 2015 and are featuring cruise itineraries well into 2016. For example, MSC Cruises, which is the world’s biggest privately-owned global cruise company, previously announced that its MSC Opera, which accommodates just over 2,100 cruise guests, will homeport in Havana starting in the winter of 2015.
MSC Cruises is scheduling its first Havana-based cruise on 22 December 2015. The cruise follows the departure of the cruise line’s Grand Voyage to Cuba from Genoa, Italy, which leaves on 2 December 2015. The Grand Voyage will make a call in Havana on 18 December of 2015 and continue on its travels before returning to Cuba for a final call on 22 December 2015.
Beginning on 12 April 2016, MSC Opera’s Grand Voyage will depart from Havana and set out on a voyage to Europe. The ship will arrive on 7 May 2016 in Warnemünde, Germany – the ship’s final stop.
One of the stops made by the MSC Opera is Cozumel, which is located in the Caribbean Sea 12 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula’s coastline. Guests who choose this journey and excursion can see ancient Mayan ruins, snorkel with sea turtles or go caving. A stop at Montego Bay, on Jamaica’s northwest coast, will give MSC Opera cruise guests a chance to go white-water rafting on the Martha Brae River or visit the Good Hope Estate plantation.
The ship’s itinerary also includes a stopover in Georgetown, situated on the Cayman Islands. Guests can visit the area’s coral reefs by way of catamaran or unwind and take a nap on the white-sanded Seven Mile Beach.
Havana itself beckons tourists not only to stroll along its promenade but to see such tourist-worthy sites as the Castillo del Morro, a 16th century hillside fortress, and Vieja Habana (Old Havana – a UNESCO Word Heritage site).
Old Havana is home to such attractions as the Plaza Vieja, Plaza del Catedral and Bodeguita del Medio. El Capitolio (the Capitol Building), is also a memorable attraction – Its white facade gleaming brightly against a backdrop of colonial buildings.
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