Holidays in Cuba- looking beyond the cigars and the classic cars

Posted: 20-Jun-16 09:20

The Huffington Post's Shauna Hoffman shared a candid report of her experience on her recent cruise tour to Cuba. The Caribbean island is currently in the midst of major changes with a warming of relations between Cuba and the US that has opened Cuba up to an influx travellers from the US.

Holidays in Cuba- looking beyond the cigars and the classic cars

With relations between US and Cuba making major strides since 2014, the Caribbean island that many believe to be “frozen in time” is bracing itself for an influx of American holidaymakers. US travellers are still prohibited from visiting the island for tourism purposes in the traditional sense. However, the Obama administration has permitted travel to the island under 12 federal categories which include family visits, journalism and the category that is most likely to attract US travellers; people to people cultural exchange tours offered by a select list of licensed operators.

Perhaps the most significant signs of progress have come in 2016 with US president Obama’s visit to the island, the arrival of a US cruise ship in Havana for the first time in nearly 40 years and the announcement that a handful of US airlines including American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines have been granted permission to operate to 10 daily flights to nine approved Cuban airports.

The Huffington Post’s Shauna Hoffman recently wrote a piece on her own experience visiting Cuba for the first time on a PTP cruise tour arranged by Carnival. Hoffman arrived in Havana via the Fathom Adonia- the first cruise ship allowed to make the journey from Miami to Cuba.

As can be expected, Hoffman noted her excitement in finally being able to visit the forbidden island and her initial plans to make the most of the once in a lifetime experience. However, what was interesting was Hoffman’s candour about the reality of her own behaviour once she had planted her feet on streets of Havana, She wrote:

“After the initial tears of realizing we were about to dock in Havana, I was like every tourist I was not supposed to be. As the Havanese were waiving to us from the dock, my camera was locked on the old Chevys whizzing by in bright pink and turquoise, as they cruised along the Malecon”

Luckily Hoffman was jolted to reality by the kind words of a waiter expressing joy that the Americans, and more importantly what they represent to Cuba- a sign of hope, had arrived. At the very least Hoffman’s article is a cautionary tale for the US holidaymakers that will soon flock to Cuba’s shores; take the time to look up, don’t let the 1950s classic cars, and the cigars distract from appreciating the real beauty that Cuba has to offer not least of which is the Cuban people themselves.


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