By Dana Myers, RDH
Just last month, the Smiles at Sea crew powered an event for Implant Seminars. We boarded Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and sailed to Havana, Cuba and Nassau, Bahamas. Oh, does that ship and route sound familiar to you? That’s because it’s the same ship and same route as our next Smiles at Sea event in March 2019! Our experience in Havana blew our minds, and we can’t wait to go back with our full conference! As soon as we noticed the cityscape outside the classroom on the ship, the architecture and colors stood out and the excitement took hold of us. We ran out onto the deck to take it all in while the ship pulled into port, bearing happy grins the whole time.
After we got off the ship, those cheesy grins held as we made our way through the customs and currency exchange lines. Tip for your next trip: At the currency exchange, make sure to get plenty of small bills for tipping! They’ll give you larger bills by default unless you ask, and not everyone will be able to give you change.
I earned my very first passport stamp! One of my crewmates told me I looked like I was a walking emoji because I was so excited! We met our very friendly local English-speaking guide, Roberto, in a gorgeous plaza just outside the cruise terminal.
Roberto led us on a walking tour through the gorgeous, art-filled streets, teaching us about the local culture along the way. Tip for your next trip: Wear sensible shoes! There are lots of uneven, cobbled walkways.
We peeked into charming little shops, and our senses were treated to joyful sights and sounds. Art and music and beautiful architecture were everywhere. Much to my delight, I found that there was even a peacock walking around the city!
Of course, we managed to find some dental-inspired artwork; check out these sculptures!
Our first stop was at a cigar shop, where we had a cigar rolling lesson from a gentleman who’d been doing it for 34 years! After the lesson, we were each treated to our own Cuban cigar, along with a cup of Cuban coffee – with a side of dark Cuban rum for good measure!
The walking tour continued after the cigar shop. We got some coconuts from an adorable stand that we couldn’t bear to just walk past.
We took in some history lessons from our guide and enjoyed the sights. Havana is full of colorful buildings with lots of character. It gave me a New Orleans vibe, because of its similar Spanish architecture. There were buskers magnificently made up as living statues on the street, and we even got to check out Earnest Hemingway’s favorite watering hole: El Floridita.
The next part of our tour was a driving tour around the city in classic cars, showing us more of the beautiful Old Havana, and some breathtaking scenic views of our ship and the cityscape.
After the sun had set on a beautiful day, our driving tour ended, and we went to a Cuban paladar, a privately owned and operated restaurant. We were treated to mojito and caipirinha lessons, music and dancing, and a delicious dinner, all on a rooftop overlooking Old Havana.
After making unforgettable memories, we made our way back to the ship, the whole way talking about how we couldn’t wait to come back in March. Havana has so much to offer! Next time we plan to experience some more of the night life and check out the famous Tropicana!
Tip for your next trip: When booking an excursion in Cuba for our upcoming 2019 events, you have the option of booking directly through Royal Caribbean, or through a third party. For the trip discussed in this blog, the crew opted to try a third party, Locally Sourced Cuba. We booked their private, tailor-made Havana tour option.
Dana Myers is a dental hygienist who serves on the Smiles at Sea crew as Exhibitor Concierge, blog contributor, and purple-haired fun-enhancer.