NCL Cuba Cruise Recap

Hey Everyone! Hope you’re having a great day!

For today’s post, I wanted to do a recap on The Hoch’s and my cruise experience last week. We hadn’t done a cruise together before and to be honest, were never really interested in doing one. But this one was a bit different and caught our attention for one reason….

It made a stop in Havana, Cuba!!

As most of you probably know, individual travel to Cuba for Americans is currently not allowed. There are 12 categories of authorized travel and they are more strictly enforced with the new Cuba Policy.

One way Americans can visit is if they travel through a licensed tour company under U.S. jurisdiction and must be accompanied by a company representative.

Entering Cuba on a cruise line actually takes care of that requirement, is a lot cheaper than a land tour, and the cruise line can take care of your visa for you as well. 🙂

Hoch’s friend actually told us about the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) 4-day cruise and once we saw that it was less than $800/person (that’s after fees AND is all inclusive with alcohol!), we decided we’d do that for Hoch’s birthday week.

The itinerary on the Norwegian Sky ship went like this:

  • Depart Miami – Monday @ 5pm
  • Arrive in Havana – Tuesday @ 8am
  • Spend all day/night in Cuba 🇨🇺
  • Depart Havana – Wednesday @ 6am
  • Day at Sea 🛥️
  • Arrive at Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (a privately owned island) – Thursday @ 8am
  • Fun in the sun/excursions 🌞
  • Depart Stirrup Cay – Thursday @ 5pm
  • Arrive in Miami – Friday @ 7am (eat breakfast and leave by 9am)

So it’s not super long, but after having done it, I think it’s a good amount of time to be honest. Maybe I could’ve done one day longer, but any more than that and I might’ve gone stir-crazy (of course this depends on the stops too).

We did go to the gym one day, just because we had hit our maximum layout in the sun and read point for the day.

The cruise ship itself was fine. We obviously had an interior room with no windows, but honestly it was more than enough room for us.

The food was good, nothing amazing, but good. And of course the frozen drinks were in high demand. 😉

We also got a legit massage onboard (which I hadn’t done in a long time) and I’ll say it was pretty amazing.

Here are some photos from the ship itself:

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Leaving Miami
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Main Pool on the ship
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One of many towel animals left on our bed (I swear they clean your room like 3 times a day!)

Now on to the good stuff.

As part of the “People to people” visa requirement, we needed to book an excursion thru the cruise line. There were several options available, so we just picked the cheapest and most basic one, did that for a few hours, and then were free to explore solo.

The bus tour itself was actually pretty good, we got to see more of Havana in one day than if we’d stayed solo the whole time.

A couple photos from some of those stops:

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A view of the port and old town from across the harbor

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El Cristo de Habana (not nearly as big as the one in Rio. Our guide pointed out how his hands look like he’s holding a cigar and a glass of rum! 😂)
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Cheesin’

Now if you know me and have read previous travel posts, you know that I love getting lost in cute cities with winding streets. And the old town of Havana offered just that. 🙂

After our tour, we walked around the old town for quite a while, eating lunch, and just taking in all the cool architecture, old cars, and Cuban vibes. There is a lot of rehab that needs to be done, but I could imagine what it would’ve looked like before. It would be soo cool and unlike any other place in the world if they could get the old town looking like new again.

Here are several shots from old town:

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Seriously, some super cool stuff!

It was a hot day so we ended up going back on the ship for a little break/showers before heading back out for the evening. Once you have your visa, you can walk on and off the ship as you please!

When we headed back out for the night, the energy of the city really shifted a bit. People were home from work, hanging out on their balconies or in the streets, kids were playing soccer, music was playing on every corner, and all the WiFi park spots were filled with people using the internet on their phones. 😎

It was a really cool vibe and probably my favorite part of our time spent there. Another favorite was stopping to hang out by the Malecon (which is a historic stone wall along the waterfront). All the locals were hanging out there, watching the sun set, enjoying a beer, playing/listening to music, or just holding hands with their significant other. 💕

Of course, you can’t go to Cuba and not see some salsa dancing! So we also made our way to a rooftop salsa place with a live band. It wasn’t very busy when we were there, but did pick up a bit which was fun to see. We spent most of the evening there before making our way back to the ship (doing a mini bar crawl at any local spot we saw on the way).

Looking back, I wish we would’ve pushed through and went to a big dance club that we had heard about. We would’ve needed to taxi it and Hoch was struggling as it was (too much sugar in those frozen drinks!) so he would’ve been miserable.

I guess it just means I’ll need to come back. 😉

Our last day of the cruise on the Stirrup Cay Island actually ended up being a bit rainy and cloudy, which was a nice change from the super hot days before at sea and in Havana.

So we ended up not doing any excursion, just chilling and reading in our rented Cabana, and then we discovered the half piña colada/half daiquiri cocktail and that was the end of it. 🤦🏻‍♀️

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Overall, it was a nice time. I really enjoyed Havana as well as just relaxing. I think the older I become, the more I appreciate not needing a vacation from my vacation.

I was speaking with my aunt the other day and we may try and do a large family cruise in the future! I think that would be a lot of fun and tho I had a blast with Hoch, I think a larger group on a cruise ship is the way to go, especially if it’s MY FAMILY. 🙂

(My mom, David, Steph, Jaisen and Evelet are on a different cruise as I type this, yeah we didn’t plan that well)

Well that’s it for this recap!

Yes, you can still go to CUBA!! So take advantage while you can if it’s something you’re interested in doing!

Until next time,

Kimberly

P.S. Check out this link for more photos from our trip! (I admit, I didn’t take as many as I should’ve!)

2 thoughts on “NCL Cuba Cruise Recap

  1. Hey Kimberly,

    I was really excited to see you went to Cuba and am a bit jealous :D. Where there any parts of Cuba that you missed that would like to visit next time? I was surprised to find out how many destinations there are there besides Havana.. By the way, who was the the wax figure person you were standing with?

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    1. I’m sure there is a ton we missed since the cruise only stopped in Havana. I know there’s a UNESCO world heritage site outside of Havana, a valley that looked pretty amazing. I can’t recall that name but i would’ve loved to go there. Also, the wax figure is the guy that rolled the longest cigar in the world! He was actually working at the cigar place as well, so it was weird they had a wax figure of him too. LOL

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