I have dreamed of going to Cuba for a really long time – the colonial architecture, the classic cars, the colors and vibrancy, the food, the mystery since it was closed for so long and many other reasons I probably don’t need to keep listing here. So when I found a cruise to take with my daughter that lined up exactly with our vacation dates and was a reasonable price, I was going to jump on it. Little did I know the drama that was about to unfold.
The Dream Cruise Itinerary to Cuba
This was the original itinerary (this was a screen shot taken right before my itinerary email mysteriously disappeared). We have family in Miami that we were going to stay with on the front and back of the vacation so that saved us some money. On the ship we were going to share an ocean-view room for the $649 + taxes and gratuity, it meant our trip costs about $1700 total for both of us. When we added the flights of $355 each and tour in both ports, it ended up being almost $3000 total for both of us. Not a small amount, but I thought it was reasonable for a country that I dreamed of visiting. I was super excited about it and was already planning how much I could see of Havana in just one day.
Trump Destroys the Dream
I had a 24-hour hold on the cruise and on June 4th, 2019, I went online to double check everything and pay for it. I entered my credit card information and was just about to click “Book Now” when I got a text from someone who knew I was looking at going to Cuba. The text included a video of the local news saying that Trump was halting all travel to Cuba that day. My next action was to call the cruise line and talked to a rep, who hadn’t heard the news yet, but when I relayed the information, they recommended not to book if Cuba was the primary reason for the cruise. So my dream was crushed.
I don’t want to get into the politics about wrongness or rightness of that decision by Trump here. However, we were super
So Now What Do We Do?
We still wanted to go to Miami to see our family and thought it was also the closest way to experience Cuba without being able to go there. So we decided to make our own “land cruise” with excursions.
Creating our Own Land Cruise
We were able to book our flights for more flexible days and times that the cruise would allow, so that made our tickets $236 instead of $355 (which definitely saved some money). We knew we had four whole days and part of each travel day, so I started looking at my favorite tour site – Get Your Guide – and found four tours that sounded amazing (the links below are affiliate links, but I have purchased the exact tours I am listing here at the full regular price – will give my reviews after the visit.)
Day 1: Miami City Tour with the added Biscayne Cruise tour of Millionaires Row (5 hours total). We get to see Coral Gables, Little Havana, Coconut Grove, the Art Deco district in South Beach. Our way to see a little bit of Cuba and to see what we would like to go back to on another day.
Day 2: Express Ferry to Bimini (Bahamas) with Beach Day Pass (all day). We looked at the other ferry to Freeport, Bahamas that advertises the swimming with the pigs, but in reading the reviews we found that it doesn’t look like you have time to see the pigs. We thought Bimini would have more to do and see. This effectively replaces one of the ports on the cruise as well.
Day 3: Open ended in the morning/lunch time (might do some outlet shopping or go to the beach. At night, however, we have a Sunset Air Tour over Miami by private plane (1 hour).
Day 4: South Beach visit in the morning/lunch time – we want to just walk around and see the area. At night, we have planned a South Beach Foodie tour for dinner (2.5 hours).
Trip Savings of Miami Land Cruise vs Cuba Cruise
We were able to do this for a total of $1126 and adding about $50 in tips, less expensive flights, and included food budget of $400 (we are lucky to have a place to stay so that saved us a lot of money). In total, we are spending $2048 for 5 nights, which is a savings of almost $1000 from our original plan for doing more tours than we planned.
New Trip to Miami Excitement
While I will miss visiting Cuba, I am excited about this new itinerary. Please check back in late July to read about the actual adventure.