We are on our way back to Miami after a marvelous week in Cuba. The Fathom Travel Impact Team onboard MV Adonia did a fantastic job in delivering an authentic Cuban experience. The shore adventures, in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba were absolutely first class. There was no time for beaches, para-sailing, pirate booze cruises or other similar activities that seem too common on many Caribbean islands. Instead, we had an amazing opportunity to meet and engage with many Cubans. Similarly, the onboard activities were all Cuba-themed. The team presented a series of great talks on history, culture, and religion. A renowned Cuban band joined us for a couple days and each night there were Cuban movies.
We had four days of “excursions” but they were unlike most we have experienced on cruise ships. The shore-based activities were focused on the wonderful people of Cuba, the county’s history, and the unique culture of the island nation. Along the way, our learning was facilitated by an awesome group of Cuban guides who answered all of the questions we had. Just for the record, the old saying “there are no stupid questions” was proven wrong repeatedly by some of the most uninformed, rude, and selfish travelers we have ever met. We repeatedly asked ourselves why these folks ventured to Cuba given the hate and lack of respect that was so evident.
The clear highlight was engaging with the youth of Cuba. We heard many, unscripted, stories of why they love their country. We spent some time talking to entrepreneurs who have built a thriving business, legally, and are using the Internet to attract customers. We were delighted to hear that despite the high taxes (about 60%) they are doing exceptionally well. Of course, we also witnessed the challenges that face the Cuban people. Almost certainly there will be some difficult times, but that is nothing new for Cubans.
I suppose the most ironic part of the whole experience was that we were on a ship with about 500 Americans, all of whom wanted to get to Cuba before the American tourism invasion Just in case you are wondering, the invasion has definitely begun … we saw many US tourists and we were there in the lowest tourist season!
If you are looking for a great way to learn about Cuba, I highly recommend you investigate the Fathom program … before it is too late.
Here are links to other posts (mostly pictures) about our trip to Cuba: