Tips when sailing to Cuba – Go before the burger shacks arrive

ByRick Deutsch

Tips when sailing to Cuba – Go before the burger shacks arrive

We just did a day  in Havana.  Yes, only one day. But we wanted to get there before Fast Food places and endless coffee vendors set up shop.
Norwegian Sun was our ship out of Port Canaveral. That is a very nice and modern port. The Cruise Terminal is pleasant and they are getting so much business they plan to build a new one!  The proximity of Cape Canaveral (visible from the upper deck of the Sun) allows for the viewing of a launch. We were hoping to see a SpaceX launch upon our arrival. Sadly it was delayed until after we sailed.
The arrival into the port of Havana was eye opening. There are three slots for ships. The buildings of the abandoned buildings  were almost falling down with big holes in the 19th Century structures.
Customs was easy enough. Foreign currency has to be changed to CUC – a special tourist currency. The local peso is not available to foreigners. For each $1 USD we got 87 CUC.  No other currency is accepted. And no credit cards.
The way to see the city is via an old classic car. When the Cuban missile crisis happened, the US embargo stopped the import of US cars after 1960 models. But the clever folks have kept them running all these years without a source of spare parts.  Some are used for daily transport, but the bulk are “taxis.” We rode around with a driver and guide in a 1959 Buick Convertible for 7 hours at $280 CUC.
Hemingway house avana

The Havana home of Hemingway is a must see.

We saw all the sights and the grim infrastructure. Thanks to Communism, the place looked like a WW2 bombed out city. Litter was not picked up. The Hemingway house was a breath of fresh air.
You need to see the cigar factory. Time prohibits me from elaborating. You can see the magic of hand-rolling. I don’t smoke but did buy a few “Cubans” to burn my tongue later.
My time here is up – but think about going soon. I can’t imagin a couple 4,000 passenger ships hitting all at once.
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