Royal Caribbean and Azamara to Cuba

| Friday, 09 Dec. 2016

Royal Caribbean, as well as Celebrity and Azamara all put Cuba in future cruises

Salsa music, dominoes, Mojitos and historic Havana neighborhoods are easier to reach than ever before for guests on Royal Caribbean International. The newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017. The ship will then reposition to Tampa offering two itineraries with calls to Havana on April 30 (7-night sailing) and May 20 (5-night sailing). These Empress of the Seas sailings are now open for sale.

Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season – the cruise line’s first-ever summer program from the destination – offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. The largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States, Empress will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.

“Royal Caribbean is the world’s most exciting adventure company, and we’re thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba. As the unrivaled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

Guests sailing onboard Empress of the Seas and visiting Cuba can enjoy curated people-to-people experiences created to immerse vacationers in the natural beauty of Cuba, its architecture, cuisine, music and art.  All cruises will be designed in accordance with current U.S. to Cuba travel regulations. 

While in Cuba, guests will explore Old Havana – a UNESCO World Heritage site – some of the city’s most notable squares, historic neighborhoods, a local artisan market, Havana’s rum museum as well as Hemingway’s former residence and favorite haunts. Local experts will immerse guests in the history, culture and people of Cuba. These authentic encounters will give guests an unforgettable taste of what has made Cuba the gem of the Caribbean.

The authentic experiences aren’t limited to land. The vibrant culture will extend to Empress of the Seas, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music, guests will have a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life during the entire journey. The revitalized Empress will bring the shipboard Cuban flair together with signature amenities, such as a thrilling rock-climbing wall for adrenaline seekers; new pools and whirlpools, including an adults-only Solarium; a Vitality Spa with an extensive treatment menu; and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. Empress also will offer a variety of dining options with the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Café, family-friendly Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Shop, and fine dining at Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse Chops.

The summer program on Empress of the Seas provides travelers with more opportunities to sample the unique Royal Caribbean experience from Tampa. Two other Royal Caribbean ships, Rhapsody of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, will offer Caribbean itineraries from the homeport during the winter season. Guests interested in being one of the first to experience Cuba with Royal Caribbean can contact their travel professional, call Royal Caribbean at 1-866-562-7625 or visit

Azamara Also Sailing to Havana

American travelers have long imagined what it would be like to salsa, mambo and rumba the night away in Havana’s many clubs or sit down for an authentic Ropa Vieja (shredded beef) and Moros y Cristianos (rice and beans).  The tide has turned as Azamara Club Cruises, the boutique cruise line owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and known for its premier destination-immersive voyages allowing guests to stay longer and experience more, introduces a voyage visiting Havana, Cuba.  The Azamara Quest will do a Miami, Florida roundtrip departing on March 21, 2017 for a 13-night Azaleas, Bourbon Street and Havana voyage in the Caribbean making Azamara one of the first American luxury cruise lines to visit Havana.  The voyage will include visits to Key West, Florida, Tampa, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana (2 overnights), Cozumel, Mexico and an overnight stay in Havana, Cuba.


Devoted to bringing its guests to ‘bucket list’ destinations, Azamara is building Havana into an existing 2017 itinerary.  In time, the line looks to also add additional ports of call in Cuba into several of its itineraries.


“Destination Immersion is the heartbeat of our brand as expressed by our overnight stay in Havana, Cuba.  Our guests rely on our programs to provide authentic, interactive experiences that dive deep into the cultures of the destinations we visit,” says Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.  “We’ve spent years defining and refining each voyage to enable our guests to explore their favorite ports in new ways and discover hidden gems in places they’ve never been before.  Cuba has been a destination on our radar for years and being one of the first cruise lines to bring American guests to this amazing country, is an important offering that will resonate in a real way with our loyal guests. 


Culture Rich and Cafecito-fueled Experiences in Havana

Azamara has developed a variety of unique land programs to bring our guests true Destination Immersion. By spending a longer amount of time in port, including staying overnight, guests will enjoy a deeper travel experience.


As part of the line’s Land Discovery offerings, guests will have a selection of experiences to choose from while in Havana that will bring to life meaningful and engaging interactions with local Cuban residents. Land Discovery tour highlights in Havana will include:

·         Hemingway’s Havana: Explore the literary connections between Cuba and the late American novelist Ernest Hemingway on a dynamic four-hour tour that offers the chance to see where he lived, fished, dined and sipped his favorite cocktails.

·         Old Havana City Sightseeing: Havana’s city-center is jam-packed with timeworn fortresses, government buildings, historic squares, notable cemeteries and an artisan market. Sights include visits to Morro Castle, La Cabaña, El Capitolio and more.

·         Best of Havana 8-hour Tour:  Come along for a full-day, all-encompassing trip through bustling Havana, as you spend eight hours exploring the city’s sprawling cemetery, notable square, artsy neighborhood, artisan market, literary connections and enjoy an authentic Cuban meal.

The line’s Cuba voyage will be available for booking on Friday, December 9 in our Call Center, or on as of Saturday, December 10.


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