Change is coming to Cuba and next year brings the opportunity to visit the Caribbean island in style before the fabulous old atmosphere drifts away.
An ideal way to see Cuba is by ship. ‘Cuban Cigars and New York Stars’, the latest cruise holiday offering from Cruise Traveller (cruisetraveller.com.au), lets you circumnavigate Cuba aboard ms Saint Laurent, a stylish boutique-size ship carrying a crew of 90 and no more than 210 passengers.
The nine-night ms Saint Laurent cruise is a round trip from Miami, which eliminates the need to fly into Havana. There are no scheduled commercial flights from the US to Cuba.
The cruise will take you to Old Havana and around Cuba, the island of Castro, cigars and vintage Cadillacs, stopping at seldom-visited port cities. The cruise visits six of Cuba’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Cruise Traveller has included airfares from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne to Miami (via Los Angeles on way over and New York on return), plus hotel stays in Los Angeles (two nights), Miami (one night) and New York (three nights), to create a fantastic 17-night holiday.
‘Cuban Cigars and New York Stars’ costs from A$12,699 per person twin share (or A$20,869 single) and departs on 20 February 2015. Departures on other dates operate at varying prices.
The cruise includes all meals, selected complimentary beverages on board, basic Wi-Fi package, entertainment aboard and lectures by guest speakers. Complementary butler service is provided for the Owner Suites and Category AA staterooms.
ms Saint Laurent is operated by Haimark Line in collaboration with United Caribbean Lines. Shore excursions with knowledgeable local guides are included.
The cruise explores Old Havana and Trinidad, accompanied by experts in Cuban culture and history. You’ll visit Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana, where Ernest Hemingway wrote ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’.
Relish the authentic music of the famous Cuban ensemble, the Buena Vista Social Club at Cafe Taberna; experience the Valley of Vinales, a UNESCO World Heritage site of green tobacco plantations and limestone caves. Other highlights: the music of the Cienfuegos Choir; French-influenced palaces and mansions; old Cuban colonial architecture; Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, the most important biosphere reserve in the Caribbean.
‘Cuban Cigars and New York Stars’ is a holiday like no other.
It gets underway with a flight to Los Angeles, where you’ll be transferred to the four-star Shangri-La Santa Monica Hotel Los Angeles, evoking the Golden Age of Hollywood, for two nights. Plenty of time to take in Hollywood, Beverly Hills or the great theme parks.
Then, jet across to Miami, sometimes called the capital of Latin America, for a night’s accommodation at the four-star Sofitel Miami Airport hotel. From here, join your ship, ms Saint Laurent, for the cruise of a lifetime.
At the end of your Cuban cruise, disembark in Miami, from where you’ll be transferred to the airport for a flight to New York.
Here in the Big Apple, you’ve three nights at a four-star hotel in the pulsing Manhattan area. The New York City Pass provided includes entrance to the Empire State Building; choice of Guggenheim Museum or Top of the Rock; American Museum of Natural History; Metropolitan Museum of Art, choice between a Circle Line Cruise or the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; and choice of 9/11 Memorial and Museum visit or Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Other options: stroll Central Park, visit jazz bars, browse great art in the Met, take in Times Square and catch the street scene in SoHo and TriBeCa. Maybe sample a cocktail: the Manhattan, concocted with whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, has been popular since its invention in the 1870s.