We recently returned from a quick trip to Cuba aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Paradise, and found plenty to like about our Fun Ship journey to the Cuban capital of Havana.
Carnival Paradise became the first ship in Carnival history to call on a Cuban port in June, when she first sailed into Havana harbor. Since then, she’s performed a handful of four-and-five-night voyages, all of which sail roundtrip from Tampa, Florida.
While Carnival doesn’t offer these voyages weekly, it has committed to increasing departures in 2018, adding five new voyages in addition to the single 2018 sailing previously announced.
The new voyages include three five-day cruises to Havana and Cozumel or Key West departing Feb. 17, July 2 and Sept. 5, 2018; a six-day sailing featuring Havana and Grand Cayman departing Aug. 26, 2018; and an eight-day voyage with stops at Havana, Grand Cayman and Cozumel departing Aug. 18, 2018.
All voyages include a day-long call and overnight in Havana with the eight-day cruise of Aug. 18, 2018, offering two full days at the historic Cuban capital.
After an enjoyable Fun Ship cruise to Cuba, here are five reasons to sail aboard Carnival Paradise to Cuba.
1. It’s New
Perhaps the best reason to cruise aboard Carnival Paradise to Cuba is that travel to Cuba by ship is a relatively new thing, not just for American travellers, but for ships based in the United States. Previously, ships owned by US-based cruise lines couldn’t sail to Cuba without hefty fines and restrictions being imposed by them, though it is worth noting that some European lines, like Celestyal Cruises and MSC Cruises, have been sailing here for years. But in terms of your classic Caribbean cruise, Cuba is as new a destination as it gets.
2. Overnights in Havana
With its overnight stay in port, Carnival Paradise allows guests to experience Cuba by day, on a series of People-to-People-compliant tours, and by night, as they wish. Maybe that means wandering the streets on your own in search of a cool bar or streetside café to enjoy the Cuban pastimes of rum and cigars, or taking in the cabaret show at the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Either way, Carnival has designed excursions that are culturally important, educational, and most importantly, hugely fun.
3. It’s the Same Fun Ships You Know and Love
Although Carnival Paradise is steaming to Cuba, Carnival provides the same Fun Ship experience you know and love, with all the staples. These include dusk-to-dawn activities, the fantastic Punchliner Comedy Club, and Carnival’s Seuss-At-Sea events, to name a few. Thrown in a couple of Spanish language classes and a Cuban-themed deck party, and you’ve got one heck of a fun cruise.
4. Tampa Departure Is Convenient and Low-Key
There’s something to be said about sailing from Tampa. The city on Florida’s Western Coast is more laid-back and low key than the craziness of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The same holds true for the city’s port; a nondescript affair located near the Florida Aquarium and Channelside Shops. It also doesn’t hurt that the cruise port is less than 20 minutes away from the airport. From pre-cruise hotel stays to curbside drop-off and check-in, everything seems easier and less chaotic in Tampa when compared to other Floridian ports.
5. Carnival Paradise Is About to Get a Refit
While the 1998-built Carnival Paradise is, on the whole, looking fantastic, the ship’s staterooms are starting to show their age. Carnival recently announced that Carnival Paradise will be going in for a multi-week drydock in February of 2018 that will substantially spruce up every stateroom and guest corridor onboard, along with the addition of 98 new balcony cabins. Public rooms won’t be altered much, but new features, like Guy’s Burger Joint and the Alchemy Bar are at last coming to this trendsetting ship.
From debuting in 1998 as the first purpose-built, smoke-free cruise ship in the world to her trailblazing second life as Carnival’s go-to vessel in Cuba, Carnival Paradise is the perfect vessel to see Havana aboard. She’s got all the entertainment options you could ever want, and is still small enough to be able to sail right into Havana’s thrillingly picturesque harbor – which, in itself, is reason enough to go.