Alternatives to big ships are available for those who want to head to Cuba under full sail, finds Jeannine Williamson
Plenty of cruise lines sail into to Cuba, and it’s an excellent way to experience the country. While the ships that dock in Havana are relatively small, carrying less than 1,000 passengers, choosing an even smaller vessel opens up parts of Cuba that are otherwise off limits.
Responsible Travel offer trips on a 68-metre motor yacht, a private yacht sailing tour, a diving yacht or a three-masted sailing cruiser, while Star Clippers cruise along the Cuban coast on Star Flyer, a 170-guest luxury clipper. Tauck has a cultural cruise on the three-masted Le Ponant, featuring immersive experiences at coastal stops.
These boats often moor off Cayo Largo, the second largest island of the Canarreos Archipelago. The sleepy island south of the Cuban mainland is how the Caribbean used to be in time gone by, with low-key casual beach bars and stalls selling hand-made crafts and souvenirs near the 17 miles of pristine soft limestone sand. For a small admission fee visitors can chat to conservationists at the Turtle Sanctuary and see vulnerable hatchlings that are cared for then released into the sea.
Stars on this type of cruise come courtesy of Mother Nature rather than Broadway-style shows. In a clear sky devoid of any light pollution it’s easy to embark on a nocturnal dot-to-dot. Of course, the ships have all the latest technical navigation equipment, but the stars pinpoint the position off Cuba just as accurately.