CIENFUEGOS, CUBA expert cruise advice
Port Tips for Caribbean Itineraries
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A journey isn't all about the destination, but a few good ports can turn a good cruise into a great one. These are the destinations to look for on your 2019 itinerary.
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Both Western and Eastern Caribbean cruise routes are guaranteed to offer adventures and postcard-perfect sandy beaches, like Tulum in the West (left), and Jost Van Dyke in the East (right). So how do you choose between them?
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Again, we did a private tour, this time with Caribbean Pearl Tours at a cost of $170. When compared to Havana tour, it was over-priced. We walked, again 3 blocks from the terminal, to find the private tour operators and again were offered many tours on that walk. We were driven in a 30 year old Lada, a Russian car, with no air conditioning, but a very friendly driver. His father bought the car 30 years ago and passed it on the his son. We chose the Cienfuego walking tour and Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden is actually an Arboretum, no flowers just trees. Because we were on a private tour we had the advantage of having one of the Botanical Garden staff walk with us and explain all the different trees. If not for that I don't believe the trip would have been worth the 30+ minute drive, although we did get to see a lot of the out-lying living areas and farms. Our guide, Ana, was very eager to please and show us what we wanted. Her English was ok. I didn't do as much research on this area, which I regretted. We walked the pedestrian boulevards, visited several mansions and hotels and toured a church. Ana was willing to find us a lunch place, but it was hot and had been a hot ride. We did stop for lemonade and coffee in a cafe on the square; it was delishish. The street vendors were not as pushy as in Havana. Ana was an actress and was paid 8 Cuc a month. She also worked as a babysitter. Our driver, Urban, drove as a taxi driver after teaching for several years. They were both concerned about the possible decrease in future cruises to their city. Both the driver and Ana were definitely not as well off as the tour people in Havana. We tipped a little extra for that reason, $50 each and we had small gifts in addition to tips for both and they were genuinely touched and slightly tearful. I cannot recommend Caribbean Pearl Tours for several reasons. Although we were told we would have an A/C car, it was a 30 year old Lada which the driver had to hand us the ONE window crank to lower the windows. Ana was pleasant, but kept asking us what we wanted to see instead of making recommendations. We may have seen the places listed on their web site, but because Ana didn't have a set agenda, and limited English I am not sure we saw everything. Interesting to note the horse drawn carriages were the major mode of transportation for the populous whether in the city or outside.
Visited: Apr 21, 2019
I had never heard of Cienfuegos and welcomed the chance of seeing more of Cuba.
Visited: Nov 17, 2017
We had to change our excursion at the last minute, so we took a Colonial Cienfuegos tour, which first took us to the Yacht Club for a buffet lunch, which was very tasty. Then, a drive out, past the not-quite-completed Russian-inspired nuclear power plant, to the fortress guarding the entrance to the bay. Again, a very historical visit and this fortress didn't charge for pictures. A trip back to the city for a walking tour the highlights of Cienfuegos and then a very brief shopping break, before travelling back to the ship.
Visited: May 20, 2018
dirty and nothing to see; bought some T shirts at a reasonable price...tried not to haggle since those people certainly need the money more than we do.
Visited: Aug 04, 2018
Did the overnight to Havana. Highly recommend this if you're going to spend any time in Cuba. The hotel was very nice, an embarrassment of riches compared to the rest of our journey. Had a lovely view overlooking the ocean. Breakfast buffet was outstanding. Cold War history tour was a disappointment -- small museum consisting mostly of photographs and some old military hardware outside, not much of a narrative by our guide inside. I doubt that we got much of an accurate picture.
Visited: Feb 21, 2019
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