Carnival Paradise and the trip to amazing destinations, Cuba and Grand Cayman. This was a 6 day sailing out of Port Tampa. I have to say, so far, Tampa has been my favorite port. Valet parking, wonderful staff, easy in/out.
We were on floating assignment to learn and photograph as much as possible in the time we had on the island. Cuba is a destination few have gone to by cruise ship. That avenue of visitation was only open for a short time and i am very proud to have that stamp in my passport.
We toured Havana with our guide Hershel, who was extremely helpful and professional. We walked, and rode from destination to destination wasting very little time in the process. We hit all the major malls in Havana, and most all the major sites in the 8 hours we had with Hershel. He had rode, by bus, for 2 hours to meet us at the port. He was fairly young with a thick spanish english accent but was quite fluent in English-more so than I or Patti was in Spanish.
Some of the sites, sounds, smells and tastes, i will never personally forget. The primary one that comes to mind when i think of Cuba is diesel. Havana Bay was sludgy with diesel fuel byproduct and the smell was quite strong. It's something i will never forget about Havana.
To visit Cuba, the US Government (US Treasury-as they still had some economic sanctions in place) required a detailed itinerary to visit, and we must maintain that for up to 10 years post visit. There were very specific categories the trip had to fit into to be legal. Our trip was on journalist visa, we were there in official capacity as journalists doing a story on the people, culture, and architecture of Cuba and its people.
From here, i will paste the link to the story by the Times who interviewed me post trip.
The Havana Times contacted me recently about posting some of our pictures in their online and print media pages. Here is the link for that:
Pictures can indeed say a thousand words when words can't seem to contain the sentiment I want to portray.
Cuba, in some instances, is oppressive to the population. They are very heavily regulated as to what and when they can do even the most basic things. Some people opened their homes as trinket shops to cruiser customers, we bought a family member a car tag from one. Some of these little homemade shops were very good, very talented folks.