Thinking of booking a cuba cruise in February 2021

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Apr 25, 2019
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#1
Hi,
My 65th birthday is the end of January 2021. I am a teacher and want to take a
cruise during February vacation with my 2 adult children to celebrate. MSC has
a Caribbean cruise on Feb 15th 2021 on the Armonia that includes Cuba which I want
very much to see. The price is VERY good. How do I know if this is legit and I'm
not going to get taken on this? What do I look for? Is it too early to book this? What kind of insurance
should I take out this far in advance? Will MSC have the application for the
Cuba visit at the start of the cruise? How do I get the non US medical
insurance that Cuba requires? When should I book flights? I can't find if MSC will book the flights as a package deal, but that would probably be good.

I just don't want to be taken for a "ride". I haven't booked anything like this
before. Any help you can give me would be appreciated.

I haven't booked this
yet, but I'm very tempted.

Thanks, Kim
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#3
You need to look very carefully at what the cruise actually does. Many "Caribbean cruise .... that includes Cuba" actually spend very little time in Cuba. If Cuba is your primary interest, a cruise may not be the best choice. The cruise you have listed spends only 24 hours in Havana, allowing very little time to "see" Cuba.

As far as insurance goes, presuming that you will be covered by Medicare in Feb '21, you need to be aware that Medicare does NOT cover any medical expenses when out of the US or on a cruise such as you are considering. Therefore any insurance you choose will need to have full medical benefits, including air evacuation back to the US if needed. Your children's medical insurance may or may not cover them outside the US.
 
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Feb 12, 2019
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#4
February is in the "wave" season for cruises, where you can sometimes get pretty good prices. I think most cruises that stop in Cuba take care of your Visa and the required medical insurance, but you'll want to double check. Note: This insurance is only for the time you're in Cuba so you should by other travel/medical insurance for the rest of the cruise.

Be aware that the status of US citizens without relatives in Cuba being able to visit Cuba is in flux. The current administration has announced new restrictions very recently, but no one knows yet what the changes are. If Cuba is the main reason for the cruise, I would make sure to keep on top of changes and very mindful of when any cancellation penalties the cruiseline has kicks in as very few travel insurances cover port changes.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#6
Two words, Kim: Travel Agent. A TA who is a cruise expert will be invaluable to you. Cruise lines still pay commissions to TAs, so you don't have to worry about that. Please don't confuse travel agent with an online booking service. You want a real travel agent. Doesn't have to be local, it can all be done via phone and email. As we all know, visiting Cuba can be an ever-changing can of worms, so it's important to work with an expert. And you can book it early, as soon as all your concerns are addressed and your questions answered. It will be a GREAT trip!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#7
Cruises aren't affected by the tiny changes that were recently announced. MSC is an Italian cruise line that is trying to break into the American market but having a hard time because they don't really understand the market here. The ships are beautiful but the service and food are just not what appeals to US travelers. If you are booking direct with them it's not a scam.

It isn't too early to book - many ships are booking this far out. You will need to ask MSC about the visas. We sailed on NCL to Cuba and they obtained the Visas for us. Other cruise lines don't do this for you. Call them an ask about whether they obtain the visa or you have to get them on your own.

Make sure you are okay with the full itinerary in case you miss the Cuban port. Cuba recently turned away a ship from docking - https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article226355605.html

I'm not sure what you are referring to about the non US insurance. We didn't have to show anything and we only had the insurance we bought through Travel Insured for our cruise.

You should really use a travel agent if you have never booked a cruise before. They can help with all your questions and keep an eye on the cruise for you.
 

Carol Phillips

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 28, 2014
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#10
For both of my cruises to Cuba, we were required to have Cuban health insurance to cover us in the event we became ill/injured while in Cuba. The cost for this was included by the cruise line. It's worth asking MSC if the Cuban Visa AND the Cuban Health insurance are part of their total cost.

Note that the Armonia cruise is in Havana from 3PM Saturday to 4PM Sunday. Some stores and public venues may not be open on Sunday. Worth checking out.

And I agree with those saying keep an eye on the current status of the law permitting Americans to visit Cuba by ship. The cruise lines have made no announcements of any changes, but they MAY be forthcoming.

Use a cruise specialist. Especially since you acknowledge it's your first cruise package, you'll be best served working with an experienced cruise advisor who knows MSC.
 
Apr 25, 2019
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#11
For both of my cruises to Cuba, we were required to have Cuban health insurance to cover us in the event we became ill/injured while in Cuba. The cost for this was included by the cruise line. It's worth asking MSC if the Cuban Visa AND the Cuban Health insurance are part of their total cost.

Note that the Armonia cruise is in Havana from 3PM Saturday to 4PM Sunday. Some stores and public venues may not be open on Sunday. Worth checking out.

And I agree with those saying keep an eye on the current status of the law permitting Americans to visit Cuba by ship. The cruise lines have made no announcements of any changes, but they MAY be forthcoming.

Use a cruise specialist. Especially since you acknowledge it's your first cruise package, you'll be best served working with an experienced cruise advisor who knows MSC.

Thanks for everyone's great Ideas. Where do I locate an experienced cruise advisor who knows MSC? Where are the best 3rd party trip insurance companies?
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#13
I would definitely make sure to ask the travel agent if they have experience with MSC. As Neil mentioned in post #7, MSC is a bit different from the American cruise lines (Royal, Carnival, NCL, etc) and while I haven't booked with them myself I've heard that they can be hard to work with. From what I've read on cruise critic it the impression of MSC before you get on the ship is night and day between booking with a travel agent that's familiar with MSC vs one that's not or booking on your own.
 
Likes: AMA
Apr 25, 2019
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#15
Its not that they are hard to work with, it’s that they sell three different classes of tickets and if you don’t know what each class includes you could have a miserable time. Never book the entry level class.
Again, everyone has had so much helpful information. Many things that I hadn't even thought of. Please keep any other info coming. THANKS so much. Kim
 
Likes: Neil Maley

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#16
Goodness me, I forgot the BEST part: Cruise Critic dot com. You can read others' opinions and experiences to your heart's content ... gives you a great knowledge base to be sure you make the best decisions.

An example: we're cruising on the Queen Victoria in May out of Kiel Germany. I read over and over that Cunard has trouble organizing "getting people off the ship and where they belong" for shore excursions. So we'll go observe the first port and see if QV is organized and efficient, or chaotic and messy. Then we'll know what to avoid and when. I'd much prefer to be sipping a nice latte after breakfast in a quiet dining room than getting herded around willy-nilly.

You also become aware of little things like booking independent activities in port. You always need a wide time margin, because the ship may sail before you return. The ship will generally wait for its "own SEs" but not pax that have booked independently. Another rule of good cruisers is reading the ship's newsletter carefully and taking it with you in port. Please keep us abreast of your progress towards that big birthday cruise.
 
Likes: AMA and Nancy

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#17
If you really want to see Cuba, I would suggest an actual trip to Cuba, not a cruise which may or may not visit the island for 24 hours. My coworker just returned from Cuba and had an incredible time. She went on a "service" trip, which is primarily required for US visitors. I would separate the cruise out as its own thing, to Bermuda or the Bahamas, and then plan Cuba as a entirely separate trip via air. We've had many, many complaints here from people whose ships have cancelled ports due to weather, etc. If your desire is to go to Cuba, then plan that trip separately, using an agency that specializes in Cuban travel.

As you're a teacher/educator, there are probably many more trip options open to you than to a "regular" US citizen. Do a google search for "educator's travel" and see what comes up.
 
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Teri Bergin

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Mar 12, 2016
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#18
Make sure you check out the state department requirements and recommendations on travel to Cuba:
https://travel.state.gov/content/tr...al-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Cuba.html
Among other things, they do not allow "tourist" travel to Cuba. I have a Cuban cruise booked with NCL in 2 months and they advised me that to meet the requirements I had to participate in a cultural exchange activity which their shore excursions meet. I also have to have a visa which they are obtaining for me. The Cuban government does not recognize American citizenship of people born in Cuba, so if someone in your party falls into this category, you will need to jump through some hoops.

I booked my cruise about a month ago and recently our government has been making statements that make me wonder if I will get to Cuba in July:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/22/travel/cuba-travel-trump-rules.html

I hope I get to visit Cuba, but I have to remember that if the US government makes it impossible, it is not the fault of the cruise line.
 
Jun 27, 2017
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#19
kmeredithholmes - In addition to finding a professional travel agent who specializes in cruises and/or trips to Cuba - I strongly suggest you subscribe to the www.Elliott.org daily newsletter. It contains invaluable information about many consumer subjects/situations requiring advocacy - either by the Elliott team of volunteer advocates (like the forums) or the guidance they provide to do-it-yourself. Planning a trip such as yours can have many pitfalls, but when you are armed with information, education and professional assistance, you may be able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. Good Luck.
 
Apr 25, 2019
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#20
kmeredithholmes - In addition to finding a professional travel agent who specializes in cruises and/or trips to Cuba - I strongly suggest you subscribe to the www.Elliott.org daily newsletter. It contains invaluable information about many consumer subjects/situations requiring advocacy - either by the Elliott team of volunteer advocates (like the forums) or the guidance they provide to do-it-yourself. Planning a trip such as yours can have many pitfalls, but when you are armed with information, education and professional assistance, you may be able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. Good Luck.
Thanks for the advice. I actually DO get the daily newsletter and it is filled with great info. Thanks, Kim