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  • Cuba-Man-Playing-Trumpet-at-Night-in-Front-of-Church.jpg - The Plaza de la Catedral in the center of Old Havana offers opportunities to hear local musicians.
  • Cuba-City-Square-Aerial-Photo_01.jpg - Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, Cuba, has been a gathering place for locals for centuries.
  • Cuba-presidential-palace - A public room inside the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba.
  • Cuba-Beach-with-Palm-Trees-and-Small-Boat.jpg - Cuba beach with palm trees.
  • Cuba-children.jpg - Schoolgirls during the summer in Cuba.
  • morro-castle-cuba.jpg - Morro Castle (Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, named after the three biblical Magi) is a fortress guarding the entrance to Havana Bay, Cuba.
  • havana-cuba-capitol.jpg - The ornate Capitolio Nacional is Havana's most grandiose building, slightly taller and richer in detail than the U.S. Capitol. It houses the Cuban Academy of Sciences.
  • Cuba-Havana-Music-Conservatory.jpg - The Music Conservatory in Havana, Cuba.
  • Cuba-Colorful-Chairs-on-Beach.jpg - The beaches of Cuba await. Board Adonia, a Fathom cruise, to visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
  • havana-street-scene.jpg - A Havana street scene.
  • Cuba-Small-Boats-and-Stone-Beach-with-Palm-Trees.jpg - Experience the authentic Cuba on your cruise.
  • Cuba-Havana-Playas-del-Estes.jpg - Relax on the lovely Playas del Estes beach near Havana.
  • Cuba-Woman-Wading-in-Waves-at-Sunset.jpg - A Cuban woman wades in the surf at sunset.
  • Cuba-Unique-Architecture-and-Colorful-Parked-Cars_01.jpg - The Great Theater of Havana at rush hour.
  • Cube-Starfish-on-Ocean-Floor.jpg - View starfish while snorkeling on a Fathom cruise to Cuba.
  • Cuban-Mural_03.jpg - A mural on a street in Cuba.
  • Cuba-Women-Dancing-in-Bright-Red-Dresses.jpg - Cultural exchanges include exposure to local artists, musicians and dancers.
  • Cuba-Sunset-with-Waves-Crashing-on-Rocks.jpg - Sunset on a Cuban beach.
  • Cuba-Street-with-Cars-and-Colorful-Buildings.jpg - Lovely buildings in Cuba.
  • Cuba-Pier.jpg - Imagine sitting on a quiet pier in Cuba, watching the world go by.
  • Cuba-Sailboat-at-Dusk.jpg - Sailboats in Cuba at sunset.
  • Cuban-Street-Art-and-Sitting-Man.jpg - Artists ply their wares at a market in Cuba.
  • Cuba-Old-Havana.jpg - Old Havana in Cuba is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Cuba-Bongos_01.jpg - Music is in the air in Cuba, and you can bring bongos back from your Fathom cruise.
  • Cuba-Beach-Sunset.jpg - Find your perfect sunset on a cruise to Cuba.
  • Cuba-Artist-Sitting-in-Front-of-Paintings.jpg - Meet local artists during your cruise to Cuba.
  • Cuba-Havana-flower-sellers.jpg - Flower sellers in Old Havana don traditional dress.
  • Cuba-Havana-Hotel-Plaza.jpg - Hotel Plaza in Old Havana, Cuba.
  • cuba-building.jpg - A building in Old Havana.
  • Cuba-Havana-Buick.jpg - A classic 1950s Buick parked on the streets of Havana, Cuba.
  • cuba-teenage-girl.jpg - A girl dresses up for a festival in Cuba.
  • Cuban-Women-in-Dresses-with-Flowers2.jpg - Cuban women selling flower blossoms in Old Havana.
  • Young-Cuban-Man-Agianst-Colorful-Wall_01.jpg - Each Fathom cruise to Cuba includes opportunities to meet local artists.
  • Cuban-musician.jpg - A musician performs for passersby in Havana, Cuba.
  • havana-taberna.jpg - Taberna de la Muralla in Old Havana's Plaza Veija is known for the best beer in Havana, Cuba.
  • cuban-houses.jpg - Classic Cuban apartment dwellings in Havana.
  • Cuban-girl-portrait.jpg - Portrait of a young girl in Cuba.
  • Marina-approaching-Havana-pier.jpg - The Oceania ship Marina approaches Sierra Maestra cruise terminal in Havana, Cuba.
  • Oceania-Marina-in-Havana-harbor.jpg - Oceania's Marina during her inaugural voyage to Havana, Cuba.
  • classic-cars-havana.jpg - Classic cars in front of a government building in Havana, Cuba.
  • streets-of-havana.jpg - A typical street in downtown Havana, Cuba.
  • havana-capitol.jpg - The National Capitol Building in Havana was the seat of government in Cuba until after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
  • Castillo-De-La-Real-Fuerza.jpg - Castillo de la Real Fuerza is a fort on the west side of Havana harbor bordering Plaza de Armas.
  • City-Museum-Plaza-De-Armas.jpg -  Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) at Plaza de Armas is a must-see for history buffs.
  • El-Floridita-Bar.jpg -  El Floridita Bar in Old Havana was a popular stomping ground for Ernest Hemingway.
  • san-francisco-square.jpg -  A fountain in Plaza de San Francisco in Old Havana.
  • Havana-Gentleman-of-Paris.jpg -  A cruise visitor poses with El Caballero de Paris, a sculpture based on a well-known street person in 1950s Havana.
  • Havana-Cathedral.jpg -  Catedral de San Cristobal in Old Havana was completed in 1777.
  • Inside-Bodeguita-Del-Medio.jpg -  Inside Bodeguita del Medio, a drinking spot and eatery that claims to be the birthplace of the mojito.
  • Plaza-Vieja.jpg -  Plaza Vieja (“Old Square”) in Old Havana is home to a local brewery, cafes, a planetarium and a school nearby.
  • havana-street-corner.jpg -  A street corner in Old Havana seen during a walking tour by American visitors.
  • El-Templete-Havana.jpg -  El Templete, a monument that pays homage to the place where Havana's foundation was celebrated in 1519.
  • Havana-Ambos-Mundos-Hotel-1.jpg - The Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana, where Ernest Hemingway began penning “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in 1939.
  • old-havana-panorama-1.jpg - A panorama of the Old Havana skyline seen from Norwegian Sky.
  • La-Cabana-fort.jpg - Inside La Cabaña (Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña), an 18th-century fortress complex in Old Havana.
  • norwegian-sky-in-havana-1.jpg - Norwegian Sky in Havana Harbor. Norwegian Sky offers 3- and 4-night cruises to Cuba and the Bahamas.
  • church-in-colon-cemetery.jpg - A pretty church inside Colon Cemetery (also known as Christopher Columbus Cemetery) in Old Havana.
  • etienne-statue.jpg - A 2012 artwork, “Etienne (La Conversacion),” in Old Havana.
  • Cuba-Havana-hatman.jpg - A vendor walks down a street in Havana.
  • Cuba-Havana-Plaza-Vieja.jpg - Stroll through the Plaza Vieja in Old Havana. The plaza was the site of bullfights, executions and fiestas over the centuries.
  • Cuba-Havana-Cathedral.jpg - The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Havana.
  • Cuba-Beach-Landscape-at-Dusk-with-Building_01.jpg - A beach scene in Cuba.
  • Cuba-Beach-Landscape-with-Purple-Sky.jpg - A Cuban beach at sunset.
  • Cuba-Beach-Sunset-with-Small-Waves-Breaking.jpg - Cruise to Cuba and explore miles of beaches.
  • Cuba-Beach-with-Palm-Trees-and-Multiple-Small-Boats.jpg - Blue skies, turquoise waters and beautiful beaches await on a Fathom cruise to Cuba.
  • Cuba-Blue-Car-Profile-in-Front-of-Teal-Building_01.jpg - Vintage cars dot the streets of Havana.
  • Cuba-Boys-walking-on-Sidewalk.jpg - Boys walking down a sidewalk in Cuba.
  • Cuba-Calm-Beach-Landscape.jpg - Join Fathom for a picture-perfect cruise to Cuba.
  • necropolis-de-cristobal-colon.jpg - Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón, a national monument in Havana and one of the largest cemeteries in the Americas, is renowned for its striking religious iconography and elaborate marble statues.
  • Cuba-Colorful-Cars-Angled-Parked_01.jpg - Vintage cars line a street  in Cuba.
  • Cuba-Colorful-Huts-with-Palm-Tree-Trunks.jpg - Colorful huts on a Cuban beach.
  • Cuba-Country-Side-Landscape_01.jpg - Travel to see the green and lush province of Pinar del Río in Cuba.
  • Cuba-family-outside-small-hut.jpg - Encounter local residents in Cuba during a daylong excursion on a people-to-people cultural exchange.
  • Cuba-Girls-in-Convertible-Car_01.jpg - On a visit to Havana you'll come across all kinds of classic cars.
  • Cuba-Havana-Dense-Urban-Landscape_01.jpg - Havana, Cuba, is now a destination for Fathom cruises.
  • Cuba-Havana-From-the-Shore_01.jpg - Havana, the capital of Cuba, has more than 2.1 million inhabitants.
  • Cuba-Man-Playing-Bongos2.jpg - Fathom cruises to Cuba feature social and cultural opportunities, including sampling the local music.
  • Cuba-Man-Rolling-Cigars.jpg - Cigar rolling is an art in Havana, Cuba.
  • Cuba-Street-with-Green-Car-Peds-Buildings_01.jpg - Pedicabs are the most common way of getting around Old Havana.
  • Cuba-Street-with-Small-Colorful-Homes-and-Donkey_01.jpg - Colorful homes in the town of Trinidad, Cuba.
  • Cuba-Three-Cars-Parked-Along-Row-of-Colorful-Buildings_02.jpg - The colors of Old Havana at sunset.
  • Cuba-Two-Cars-Parked-on-Street-With-Colorful-Buildings2.jpg - Visit Old Havana on a cruise.
  • Cuba-Two-Old-Men-Sitting-in-Blue-Deck-Chairs.jpg - Meet local residents in Cuba as part of a cultural exchange.
  • Cuban-Food_01.jpg - Cuban cuisine is a blend of Native American, Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines.
  • Cuban-Man-and-Woman-in-Doorway.jpg - A Cuban woman and man in a doorway.
  • Cuban-Man-Carrying-Base-in-Front-of-Painted-Cuban-Flag.jpg - Visit Cuba on a cruise to hear local musicians in Havana and Cienfuegos.
  • Cuban-Woman-in-Colorful-Dress-in-Front-of-Yellow-Wall.jpg - A flower seller in Old Havana.
  • Cuban-Woman-Making-Pottery2.jpg - A Cuban potter at work.

Havana: From architectural treasures to classic American cars

our guide

The vibe

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.

Cruise ships that call on Havana

Top reasons to go

  • Until very recently, U.S. visitors weren't allowed to enter the country.
  • Cuban food, culture and welcoming locals.
Morro Castle (Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, named after the three biblical Magi) is a fortress guarding the entrance to Havana Bay, Cuba.
Courtesy of skeezeMorro Castle (Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, named after the three biblical Magi) is a fortress guarding the entrance to Havana Bay, Cuba.

Highlights of a visit to Havana

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."

Cultural exchanges, part of every Fathom cruise, include exposure to local artists, musicians and dancers.
Courtesy of FathomCultural exchanges, part of every Fathom cruise, include exposure to local artists, musicians and dancers.

Fun facts

  • Havana is only 230 miles southwest of Miami
  • The city was founded in the 1500s by the Spanish. It served as stopping point for Spanish galleons returning to Spain with the gold of the conquered Americas.

When you arrive

Docking information

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.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport.

Language: Spanish

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. 

Your take

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!

Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

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The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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Overheard

“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.”

San Jose Mercury News

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