Last August I decided to treat myself to a vacation. I knew I wanted to go on a cruise somewhere warm, but I wasn't sure of where to go. Thankfully, my bestie, Jessica, agreed to vacation with me! We began to search various cruise lines, comparing prices and amenities (no shame over here, we're babes on a budget. Lol). In times past, I've cruised with Carnival (the turn-up ship). I really enjoyed Carnival, however, this time around, I wanted a different experience. With that being said, we decided to go with Norwegian Cruise Line! What sold us on this particular cruise line, was finding out they actually cruise to Cuba. So, we immediately booked a 4-Day Cuba (which included one night there) and Bahamas voyage, on the Norwegians Caribbean Sky.
There’s a travel ban on Cuba however, you can travel there as long as you’re taking part in what’s called a "people-to-people" cultural exchange tour. So, unfortunately, flying directly to Cuba, JUST to take selfies with the vintage cars for the Gram is NOT an option. Lol. If you're cruising with NCL, you’d simply have to fill out a travel affidavit form.
We decided not to book any excursions through NCL, even though that may have been a more reliable, and safer option. Prior to our trip my friend, Jalesia had recently returned from Cuba and she filled us in on her amazing tour guide in Cuba, Elvy Quintana.
Before we actually set sail, I communicated with Elvy via Facebook Messenger, to make plans for our stay in Cuba. Once we arrived, he met us right at the port, on time and displayed a thorough interest in wanting to show us around Havanna.
Before Jessica and I met Elvy, we decided to venture out and go on a horse and buggy ride around Old Havana.
Later that evening we met with Elvy and he took us to new Havana in a restored pink Chevrolet convertible (the cars you see in pictures, eek!). There we got to see The Christ Statue "Cristo de la Habana", while enjoying fresh coconut water and rum along the countryside. We spent the rest of the evening touring Plaza de la Revolución, Callejon de Hamel and walking the streets of Old Havana, indulging in Cuban culture, sipping malta and salsa dancing.
We met with Elvy again for a jammed packed day of exploration before our ship set sail for the Bahamas. We toured the home of American novelist, Ernest Hemingway.
Next up was Fusterlandia. A neighborhod filled with beautiful vibrant mosaic art.
One of my favorite part of the trips, if not my favorite was being able to stop at a local street market and interact with the locals. They were so kind. Having a glass of freshly pressed sugar cane juice brought back many childhood memories.
Before having to jet back to our ship to depart for the Bahamas, we indulged in some Cuban dining at Doña Carmela y Hamel's Alley. When Beyonce visited Cuba she ate here and they made sure you knew that. Lol.
Although our stay in Cuba was very short, since we had the right tour guide, we were able to see and experience so much. The only regret we had was not experiencing Cuban nightlife (we were beat from walking).
Change your currency to Euros before traveling to Cuba to avoid paying penalties. Though you pay the exchange rate in the States you’ll get more for your Euro in Cuba. Pack sunscreen, comfy walking shoes, and stay hydrated. Lastly, book Elvy for a memorable Cuban experience.
Contact for Elvy Quintana:
Phone: +53 52433391
Facebook: Elvy Matos Quintana