By Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong
While much of the rest of the world has traveled to Cuba freely, this beautiful island less than 300 miles from the coast of Florida has been a mystery to United States citizens for half a century. Formerly a thriving U.S. vacation destination, Havana once again offers visitors its Baroque facades, colonial cobblestone streets, fortresses, Spanish architecture, pastel colored homes, beautiful beaches, classic 1950’s era automobiles and world famous cigars.
When travel to Cuba from the U.S.A. became legal again, we chose to book a cruise from Miami to Havana on the beautiful Norwegian Sky. Here are our Six Reasons To Cruise To Cuba On The Norwegian Sky.
More than twenty years ago, the Miami Dade park system responded positively to resident and visitor requests for a clothing optional beach at Haulover. The decision to designate Haulover Beach as clothing optional was a good one. Haulover Beach has been listed as one of the top ten beaches in the world by numerous travel publications.
South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, Inc. founded the clothing optional section of Haulover Beach Park in Miami in 1991 and mentors it through its volunteer Beach Ambassador program, establishing the model for an urban nude beach.
Everyone is welcome to sit wherever they like though and people from all backgrounds, ages, races, sizes and shapes walk the shoreline and talk freely. One beachgoer told us, "It is a very liberating feeling. Everyone is the same here. People don't hide behind their clothes or judge anyone because of their clothes here. People just walk up and start a conversation. I wish there were more places like this!"
Haulover Beach is located at 10800 Collins Avenue, Miami, FL. For more information visit - http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/parks/haulover_park.asp
We docked in Havana, got through Customs and stepped out of the port terminal right into the Old Colonial District.
Old Havana is everything we expected and more - churches turned into museums, Baroque facades, colonial cobblestone streets, wooden brick streets, fortresses, Spanish architecture, pastel colored homes, laundry hanging from balconies, statues and classic 1950’s era automobiles.
And…the Norwegian Sky stays in Havana overnight allowing guests a day and a half to sightsee.
Havana, Cuba is a classic automobile lover’s dream come true.
Drivers park on the streets or drive up and down the streets showing off their cars and calling to tourists offering rides and tours for a fee.
We chose to walk along the waterfront until we found a shady spot with a pleasing photography background. We sat on the waterfront wall in the shade, enjoying the ocean breeze and photographed the classic cars as they drove past us. Many beeped their horns for us and waved or gave us a thumbs-up.
We have enjoyed over 50 cruises on several different cruise lines. We can honestly say that the food on the Norwegian Sky is the best of any cruise we have experienced.
Executive Chef Baiju Ravindran is exceptional.
During our overnight stay in Havana, the chef offered a Cuban Cuisine buffet that some felt was as good or even better than the food in town.
Norwegian Cruise Line was the first cruise line to offer an uninhabited tropical island experience exclusively for its passengers.
Great Stirrup Cay is Norwegian Cruise Line's 250 acre private island. It is the northernmost of The Berry Islands of the Bahamas.
Great Stirrup Cay is “an unspoiled paradise of magnificent white sandy beaches, majestic coconut palms, and calm, pristine waters where an abundance of colorful marine life inhabits the surrounding coral reefs.”
The Norwegian Cruise private island experience offers five beach bars, a beach grill with complimentary buffet, beach lounges, cabana rentals, clam shell rentals, swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, beach volleyball, ping pong, souvenir shopping and a bandstand.
For more than half a century, Norwegian Cruise Line has offered more than just the traditional cruising experience.
Their Freestyle Cruising revolutionized the industry by giving guests the freedom and flexibility to design a cruise vacation that meets their own needs and schedules - no fixed dining times, relaxed attire, multiple dining options, relaxed disembarkation, and more lounges, bars, theaters and entertainment and activity options.
There is always an event taking place or a meal being offered and you can choose whatever fits you best.
Our cruise offered all-inclusive beverages. Whether we wanted a soda, a beer or a cocktail, there was never an additional charge.
The staff and crew are well trained, friendly and helpful. It is no surprise to see guests tearfully hugging the employees on disembarkation day.
Captain Stefan Nording’s leadership brings an exemplary level of service from his staff and crew. Hotel Director Jean-Michel Dhelin is fantastic at his job. Not only is everything under his care done exceptionally, he spends time meeting, greeting and caring for his guests personally. Concierge Kadek Astawa is a smiling, limitless bundle of energy who makes every guest feel like a VIP.
Norwegian Cruise Line holds a unique place in the cruise industry. High quality service, delicious food, affordable all-inclusive packages and Freestyle Cruising make cruising Norwegian a pleasure. Enjoying all this aboard the Norwegian Sky AND visiting Cuba is a dream come true.
For more information about Norwegian Cruises or to book your own cruise, visit https://www.ncl.com/
Families traveling with children and teens may learn about Norwegian Cruises youth activities and programs at https://www.ncl.com/why-cruise-norwegian/family-cruises/youth-programs