Is it possible to travel to Cuba from Cancun on ship/boat/ferry?

December 28, 2009 | Print Print |

Question: I am going to a wedding in Cancun in August 2010 and wondering if there is a ship/boat/ferry to Havana from Cancun as a preference to flying and if so where I can get more information as I can’t seem to find same on the web?

Answer: Cuba’s strategic location makes it an ideal stop for Caribbean cruise routes, with Havana destined to become one of the most popular ports of call for cruise ships in the world. However, because of the U.S. blockade against the country and the fact that vessels calling at Cuban ports are prohibited from visiting the U.S. for six months, few cruise ships include Cuba. Nor can any U.S. company operate cruises to Cuba.

Until about five years ago, some dozen cruise ships were reported to call in Cuba, while others occasionally docked at the island’s ports. But from about 2005 on, numbers of cruise ships calling on Cuban ports decreased by about 90%.

Nonetheless, a few foreign cruise ships feature Cuba, principally Havana, on their itineraries. But of those that have been listed over the past ten years or so, it’s worth checking them out to find out if they’re still operating. You may well be able to find Cuba cruises if you have your heart set on one, but you may have to be flexible as to your departure point.

The website www.cruisehavana.com purports to keep a current list of Cuba related cruises, but it’s not clear if the site still has links to its various pages. Cruiseserver (www.cruiseserver.net) is a site that includes cruise reviews, cruise line profiles and cruise ratings and has been known to include passengers’ reviews of cruises to Cuba.

Below is a list of cruise ships that have included Cuba on their itineraries in the past decade. The list is not complete, nor is it possible to access all the websites from Cuba to find out if the different companies still include Cuba as a port of call. Perhaps from outside Cuba, you will be able to obtain more up-to-date information.

  • Apparently the only cruise line that still stops in Cuba is England’s Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (www.fredolsencruises.com or  www.fredolsencruises.co.uk) with ports of call in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. In Mexico, its ports of call are Cabo San Lucas, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.
  • Spain’s Festival Cruises (www.festivalcruises.com) began operating cruises in 2001, with Havana as the mother port.
  • Germany’s Aida Cruises (www.aida.de) has occasionally featured Havana.
  • The Riviera One, formerly sailing from Cancún, initiated service from Jamaica and included calls in Havana and Isla de la Juventud.
  • West Indies Cruises formerly included Havana, and Sea Cloud Cruises formerly included Cuba in its 2003 programs. However, CruiseHavana says that the West Indies Cruises’ ship, Valtur Prima, is currently not offering cruises to Cuba.
  • Pullmann cruises used to have a cruise from Havana sailing to the Mayan Peninsula port of Cancun / Cozumel, but it was apparently bought out by a Miami-based American company a couple of years ago. As well, it appears that the Cancun-Havana cruise went out of business because it was not profitable.
  • In early 2008, the cruise ship Vistamar stopped in Havana on its way down to Peru.

Some specialist travel agents may be able to provide information about what cruise ships currently call at Cuban ports. There are no scheduled ferry services to Cuba.

As to cruise terminals in Cuba, there are plans to eventually expand the existing terminal along the waterfront of Habana Vieja. Cruise ship terminals also exist in Santiago de Cuba and on Isla de la Juventud, with plans to open a fourth passenger-ship terminal in Cienfuegos.


What's your opinion?

  • hello friends of havana times
    we have been reading your articles since the beginning. thank you, very interesting.
    the issue on the cruise ships to havana is of great interest since our company CUBA REAL TOURS, a swiss owned and havana based touroperator, is presently organising the shore excursions of three cruise ships. last week came from hapag lloyd the number one cruise ship in the world the MS EUROPE. this week we have also from hapag lloyd the MS COLUMBUS and as of Dec. 31sth we do have the SEACLOUD II – one of the biggest sailing ship calling several ports in this country. there was also the LE LEVANT yacht of the french company ponant in cuba just these days, although this ship was handled by someone else.
    we do have the intention to bring in more cruise ships in the future but with the restrictions given, they have to be owned by non american companies and observe the 6 months rule of not returning to a US port after visiting cuba.
    kind regards,

    CUBA REAL TOURS

  • Fitzz

    Thanks for the interesting piece. Now the rest of the story:

    The Cuban government pulled the plug on Festival / Pullman calls to Havana port. The cruise ships didn’t generate the expected revenue from accommodation, etc in state owned hotels and other enterprises. Hence the authority to enter Cuba’s ports was withdrawn. Communist or otherwise, Castro’s state does understand revenue. It is aggressively greedy in maximizing proceeds from foreign visitors.

    When questions are asked, it is ALWAYS the fault of the US embargo.

  • Steve

    Hi,
    I am going on honeymoon to Cancun next August but would love to include Cuba as part of the trip. Do you know if there is any way to get between the two at the moment, even a small flight. It might only be for a couple of days but I would really like to see Cuba.

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • Circles Robinson

      There are several daily flights to and from Cancun to Havana on Cubana Airlines and Mexicana Airlines.

  • Viviane

    The question was about a mode of transportation from point A to point B. Was did the reply only involve cruises? I am sure there are Mexicans who travel to Cuba for business or pleasure and use that route.