Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hapag-Lloyd cruise line to call on Cuba

Hapag-Lloyd Cruise Line's ship Europa 2 will visit the island of Cuba for the first time in two cruise itineraries during October and November 2016.

Guests aboard the upmarket ship will be able to experience the Caribbean lifestyle, music and charm of colonial cities when the 5-star-plus rated ship calls at Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and Isla de la Juventud.

The small ship will call on several Cuban ports during its autumn itineraries. The island, known for its Caribbean way of life and white sandy beaches, is also famous for its striking colonial style and the hospitality of its inhabitants.

Spa suite aboard ms Europa 2
Europa 2 Spa Suite
“Guests can discover the real Cuba on a city tour of Santiago de Cuba, at a salsa course for beginners in Cienfuegos, or at a visit to El Floridita, which was Hemingway’s favorite bar,” the cruise line said in a statement announcing the new port of call. “Locals can be found in live music bars such as Casa de la Musica, while a visit to a classic Cuban location is also on the excursion program: the Variete Tropicana.”

Europa 2 will visit Cuba as part of a 12-day sailing from Oct. 24 through Nov. 5. That voyage will leave La Guaria (Caracas), Venezuela and visit Mayreau, Grenadines; Marigot Bay, St. Lucia; Gustavia, St. Barthelemy; Marigot, St. Martin and Jost Van Dyke Island before sailing through the Caribbean and reaching its first Cuban port of Santiago de Cuba. From there, it will sail to Cienfuegos and Isla de la Juventud before making its final port in Havana.

In addition to visiting Cuba, guests will be offered a host of other memorable experiences including a cable-car ride through the tropical jungle in Marigot Bay, a ride in a semi-submarine in Gustavia and a kayak tour on the Great River on Aruba.

Fares for the 12-day cruise start at $8,870 per person for the cruise only, according to the cruise line. Airfare to and from the ports, as well as other charges, are additional. More information is available here.

Hapag-Lloyd ms Europa 2 at sea
ms Europa 2 at sea
Cuba also features prominently in another fall itinerary. The EUROPA 2 will depart Havana bound for Colon, Panama. After departing Havana Nov. 6, it will call on Santiago de Cuba, then head to Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao and Cartagena, Columbia before concluding in Colon on Nov. 18.

Fares for the 13-day cruise start at $9,470 per person for the cruise only. More information is available here.

Because Hapag-Lloyd is a German cruise line, its ships are not affected by the U.S. trade restrictions with Cuba. However, despite the easing of restrictions on travel to the island nation by the United States, U.S. citizens must still obtain the proper visa if they wish to sail to Cuba. More information is available here.

Three of the four ships of the Hapag-Lloyd cruise line, including the Europa 2, have been given 5-star-plus ratings by the 2016 Berlitz Cruise Guide. In its 31st edition, the guide awarded the Europa 2 and sister ship Europa the highest distinction as the only 5-star-plus cruise ships worldwide.

Both the Europa 2 and the Europa lead the rankings in the category “Top 5 small ships” with 251 to 750 passengers and both ships are global leaders. The Europa 2 achieved the highest score among all the ships rated and held the 5-star-plus rating for the third consecutive year. The Europa has achieved the award for the 16th consecutive year.

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Photos provided by Hapag-Lloyd
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