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Havana, capital of Cuba, is where American visitors' adventures begin. Founded in 1515, this famous city is home to awe-inspiring architectural treasures — and classic American cars.
Visitors on a cruise ship will likely have the chance to explore the nation’s storied history and lively culture by meeting its artists, dancers and musicians, visiting its museums and rum factories, walking its plazas and parks, tasting its authentic fare at locally run paladares, and much more.
While visits for strictly sun-and-sand holidays are still not allowed, there are a lot of things to see and do when you travel to Cuba under the "purposeful" guidelines adopted by the cruise lines. Some of the cruise lines' itineraries include additional stops in the port cities of Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
Step back in time to the 1950s when you tour the former presidential palace where the Museum of the Revolution is now housed, and sip a mojito at the Hotel Nacional, where the Rat Pack (ask your parents) used to hang. Meet talented artisans as you shop the Almacenes de San Jose crafts market and learn about the country’s age-old profession when you meet Cuban cigar rollers.
Visitors can also take in miles of undeveloped, glittering coastline, see well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage sites and chat up locals interested in modern life in the U.S.
The New York Times recently reported: "The good news, for Cubans and their visitors, is that the economic reforms — however limited — have created a constellation of privately run restaurants and bars in Havana and provincial towns, many of them in beautiful, restored homes."
There's only one cruise pier and it holds one ship at a time. Terminal de Cruceros Sierra Maestra is located in the port's Ensenada de Atares harbor area, near Old Havana.
Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport.
Safety: Havana is relatively safe for tourists. Gun crime, violent robbery and organized gang culture are nearly nonexistent. As always, don't flash cash in public places, protect your valuables and be wary of pickpockets.
Currency: Cuban Convertible Peso. Cuban currency is NOT traded internationally, so you can’t buy it in advance but can when you arrive. That said, U.S. dollars are widely accepted.
How about you? Have you been to Havana or are you planning to go? We'd love to hear about your experience or see your photos!
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“Art and music is everywhere. Visit the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana for insight and history of Cuban art, then be sure to go to Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) on the weekend, a multimedia art space/nightclub in an old factory building, to see what local artists are doing today.”