I was devastated to hear the latest news on proposed Cuban travel restrictions (I’ll update this post when official policies/rules/laws are available). But it could be back to square one!!!
I haven’t really blogged this year, and with the possibility of the upcoming restrictions, I thought it is fitting to tell you about our trip to Cuba from early this year. We love this country and we are so thankful we got the chance to visit. We will forever treasure the moments with the Cubans who we have met, some of whom have become our friends for life.
I’ve been wanting to visit Cuba ever since the first time I saw pictures of Cuba with its classic cars and colorful buildings. Cuba’s interesting culture and history put it on the top of my bucket list.
After almost 54 years, the U.S. government finally loosened the travel restrictions to Cuba in December 2014 and many Americans who wanted to could finally visit this country. And why wouldn’t they want to? After all, Cuba is one of the most intriguing and beautiful countries in the world. There are still some restrictions which means that Americans (or those under US jurisdiction i.e. living in the US) can’t just go and chill on a Cuban beach but many can – and do – visit Cuba with permissible reasons.
There were two commercial ways to visit Cuba, with an airline or with a cruise line; we chose the latter. We sailed with Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas on their New Year’s Eve sailing to Havana, stopping Key West. This sailing spent 2 days in Havana, which made it a great option. My family sailed with some of our friends and their kids. To people who are wondering if Cuba is safe for kids, check out some of the photos below.
Things to do with the Kids
Traveling with kids can be so challenging to many but it can be so easy as well as often kids enjoy the simplest things in life – like just taking a stroll down a street with friends. It’s true you have to make the journey worthwhile for the adults and the little ones too.
Our group decided to do the Old Havana Walking Tour and Classic Car private tour with a local tour guide. We split our group based on the ages of our kids but we met up at some locations to catch up. This worked out so well; I gotta give a shout out to Havana Journeys for the awesome job they did. Readers indulge me a little here while I give my heartfelt thanks. Thank You, Ricardo and to all your guides: Miguel, Erlinda, Ailyn. Because of you, we have learned so much about Cuba and we heard the voices of some of the locals we have met. Our lives have been touched by the warmth of the Cubans we met.
Havana Journeys is all about flexibility and they tailored our tour according to our likes and interests. It was great working with them. PM me if you need their contact details; I’m sure they would be more than happy to help make your Cuba visit as memorable as the one we had.
Old Havana Walking Tour
We visited Havana´s most emblematic squares:
- Plaza de Armas (Arms Square)
- Plaza de San Francisco de Asís
- Plaza Vieja (Old Square)
- Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square).
And, the best part is to walk the streets of Old Havana while our guide will talk about the colonial and the contemporary history of Cuba.
We visited the Ambos Mundos Hotel and the famous bar of La Bodeguita del Medio, both spots were frequented by the famous writer Ernest Hemingway. Of course, we have to get real Cuban mojitos and coffee. The kids had the usual drinks to quench their thirsts.
Classic Car Tour
The most awaited ride of our lives, riding a Classic “Vintage” car around Havana. Many of us got a convertible and some got a hardtop; either one you decide on will be great! These cars have been treated with love even if at times original parts aren’t to be found and much spit, polish and elbow grease was needed to keep them running.
In the cars we went to the Capitol building area, the Prado Promenade, the Christ of Havana, Plaza de la Revolución – Revolution Square and the Malecón. Our lunch was at Paladar as it is known in Cuba, a restaurant run by self-employed people. We had the opportunity to meet the staff and the owner.
Our lunch at Dona Carmela Restorante, a paladar, was great. We got to try Cuban food and talked to the staff and owner. It was a beautiful home and the food was outstanding. It reminded me of my home country, Philippines.
Is it worth going to CUBA with kids? Of course. For Americans, I guess we just have to wait and see how this administration moves forward. And, for the rest of the world, I have just one more word of advice……GO!