Havana is Cuba's main (and largest) cruise port located on the island's northern coast. Havana is also the country's capital city. Its total area of 728 km2 (281 ml2) ranks it as Caribbean's largest city. Its metro population of over 2,1 million ranks it as Caribbean's 4th largest metro area - after Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Port-au-Prince (Haiti) and San Juan (Puerto Rico).
Havana port's official name is Havana Harbor. It is also Cuba's main seaport, excluding only the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (an USA-leased territory). Havana Harbor is a natural bay accessed through a narrow inlet. The port's main harbors are named Ensenada de Atares (cruise terminal, shiprepairs), Ensenada de Guanabacoa (least developed), and Ensenada de Marimelena (ENA drydock, Galainela shipyard, Cuban Navy's shipyard, container terminal, oil refinery, flour-wheat mills, aviation fuel depots).
- Havana is approx 370 km (230 ml) southwest of Miami (Florida USA), and approx 770 km (480 ml) southeast of Kingston (Jamaica).
- The city was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish. It served as stopping point for the Spanish galleons returning to Spain with the gold of the conquered Americas.
- The city status was granted in 1592 by Philip II of Spain (1527-1598). All walls and forts were built for the old city's protection.
- The sinking of USS Maine in Havana Harbor during the Cuban revolt against Spain in 1898 became a major political issue and the immediate cause of Spanish–American War(April 21 - August 13, 1898). The war ended with the Treaty of Paris. Its terms were favorable to the USA, allowing temporary US control over Cuba. The war also resulted with the USA ceding ownership of the islands Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
Current-day Havana City incorporates 3 cities- Old Havana, Vedado and the new districts. Havana is among the Caribbean's most attractive travel destinations, with over 1 million tourists visiting annually. In 1982, Old Havana was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Due to Cuba's proximity to the USA, in the period 1915-1930, Havana City was the Caribbean's most visited by tourists location. In 1961, the USA imposed a trade embargo on Cuba. Tourism immediately dropped. In the 1970s, the country's leader Fidel Castro (1926-2016) changed his policy of opposing the tourism industry. In 1982, the government allowed a number of foreign bussiness, including international tourism. Cuba established companies with foreign investments and began to attract capital for hotel development projects.
Havana is also a renowned health tourism destination. International patients travel to Havana for various medical treatments, including eye-surgery, neurological disorders (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, orthopaedics). The majority of patients are from Central America, followed by Europe and North America.
Cruises to Cuba from USA
Until 2016, according to the Cuban law, US citizens of Cuban origin (born in Cuba) were not allowed to visit the country (including on cruise ships). Regardless of their US citizenship status, Cuban-born Americans were denied booking on cruise itineraries visiting ports in Cuba.
The situation changed in April 2016, after Carnival Corporation negotiated with the Cuban government for allowing cruise ships with Cuban-born passengers, as such US citizens were allowed to visit the country on USA-Cuba charter flights.
- The Carnival-Fathom cruise line started Miami to Cuba itineraries in May 2016.
- The first Carnival cruise ship to Cuba was Carnival Paradise, with round-trip Tampa (Florida) departures. The 4- and 5-night itinerary program started on June 29, 2017, and included an overnight Havana stay.
- The first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to Cuba was Empress of the Seas. The round-trips were from Miami and Tampa. The itinerary program started on April 19, 2017 (5-night Miami to Costa Maya and Havana).
- The first NCL cruise ship to Cuba was Norwegian Sky, with 4-night itineraries from Miami and Havana overnights (starting May 2017). The itinerary also visits NCL's private island Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas). NCL Sky's 2018 Miami to Cuba program started on March 26. With Norwegian Sky, NCL's first ever ship call at Havana was on May 2, 2017 (overnight). NCL Sky's Cuban cruise prices started from USD 700 per person (inclusive of unlimited drinks).
- The first MSC cruise ship in Cuba was MSC Opera. The 7-day round-trip itinerary was from Havana (with 2 overnights) and also out of Cozumel Mexico, visiting Jamaica (Montego Bay) and Grand Cayman Island. Starting on December 22, 2015, MSC Cruises became the world's first major cruise company to homeport a big-sized vessel in Cuba.
- SInce 2017, Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles (California USA). An 80-min JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale (Florida) to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from USA to Cuba was through charter flights only.
- In 2016, Cuba was visted by over 88,000 cruise ship passengers. Projections for 2017 were this number to double.
Highlights: Colonial buildings & heritage
Havana cruise terminal
Havana port's cruise terminal Siera Maestra Terminal (officially "Terminal de Cruceros Sierra Maestra") is located in the port's Ensenada de Atares harbor area, near Old Havana (Habana Vieja, off Plaza de San Francisco). Cruise ships enter Havana Harbor through a straight channel (length 1,5 km / 1 ml). The Atares harbor, beside the port's cruise terminals, also has facilities (operated by Asticar) for marine shipping and shiprepair services.
Havana cruise ship terminal's building was inaugurated in 1914. The terminal facility includes 3 docking berths with lengths 184 m (604 ft), 191 m (627 ft) and 171 m (561 ft). The terminal building is a former warehouse and spreads over 25,100 sq m (270,000 ft2) . The Siera Maestra Terminal is operated by Havana Dock Corporation.
The cruise port is at an easily walking distance from the city's main attractions and popular places, including Calle de Prado, La Calle Obispo, Malecon, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja.
Near the cruise ship terminal are available taxis, including the old American cars, the country's typical cocotaxis (rickshaw-type vehicles) and also horse-drawn carriages. CocoTaxis are with 3 wheels, colored in bright yellow, open-air and with max capacity 2 passengers. Horse-drawn carriages also offer tours of Old Havana City.
- On March 9, 2017, Oceania Marina ship (owned by NCLH, operated by Oceania Cruises) made its maiden call here. The visit was part of a 14-day itinerary to Mexico, Colombia, Belize, Grand Cayman.
- On March 31, 2017, the luxury cruise ship Azamara Quest (694 passengers) made its maiden call here. The other Royal Caribbean-owned ship visiting Havana with a regularlu scheduled cruises from the USA (since April 2017) is RCI's Empress of the Seas (2005 passengers.). Emress' maiden call at Havana port was on April 23, 2017 (port time 7 am - 5 pm).
Havana tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Paseo de Martí (Paseo del Prado): located in Old Havana. The amazing boulevard goes uphill from Havana cruise port to Parque Central. It dates from 1852.
- Plaza de San Francisco de Asis: located on Calle Oficios in Old Havana. The square dates from 1628. it main purpose was water supply to the ships that came for trading.
- Plaza Vieja: the Old Square location is Calle Inquisidor e/ Muralla y Teniente Rey. It used to be old commercial square with market that was covered.
- University of Havana, Cuba: it was founded in 1728 by Dominican friars. Its location is Calle L y San Lázaro in Vedado.
- Bacardi Building: located on 261 Esq. San Jan De Dios. The famous rum Bacardi became popular at the end of 19 century. The creator of the rum, Don Emilio Bacardi, was a Spanish settler. The logo of the famous drink came from his talisman – a bat.
- Callejón de Hamel: located in Central Habana, between the hospital and Calle Aramburu. It dates from 1990, project of Salvador Gonzáles.
- Castillo de la Real Fuerza: located in Old Havana, at O’Reilly #2, the seaward side of the square. It is the oldest fort still existing in the Americas. It dates from 1577.
- Cathedral of Havana: located in Old Havana, at Empedrado 156. It dates from the 18th century.
Hotels near Havana cruise port terminal
- Ambos Mundos Hotel, Havana
- Armadores de Santander Hotel, Havana
- Beltran de Santa Cruz Hotel, Havana
- Colina Hotel, Havana
- Comendador Hotel, Havana
- Comodoro Hotel, Havana
- Conde de Villanueva Hotel, Havana
- Hotel Plaza , Havana
- Hotel Saratoga, Havana
- Hotel Sevilla, Havana
- Islazul Lido Hotel, Havana
- Meson de la Flota, Havana
- Riviera Hotel, Havana
- Telegrafo Hotel , Havana
- Hostal Valencia, Havana
- Hotel Breezes Jibacoa, Havana
- Hotel Inglaterra, Havana
- Hotel Melia Havana, Havana
- Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana
- Hotel Park View, Havana
- Hotel Parque Central, Havana
Port Havana cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Havana, Cuba. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
The Havana cruise port map is interactive. It shows the port's exact location, along with the real-time cruise ship traffic (if any) in its vicinity - today, and right now. By zooming-out you can see other cruise ship ports located near Havana, Cuba.
If you lose the Havana location on the map, simply reload the page (also with F5 button). This feature is integrated with the CruiseMapper's cruise ship tracker tracking the vessels' current positions at sea and in ports.
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