WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., June 20, 2018 — Alumni and guests agree that the 2018 Alumni and Friends Cuba Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas was an unforgettable experience!
The 5-day, 4-night cruise departed from Tampa, Fla. on June 2 and included a stop in Key West, a day in Havana, Cuba, and a relaxing day at sea. A total of fifty-three travelers boarded the ship, hailing from Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“It was the Alumni Association’s Florida Alumni Chapter that suggested the Cuba Cruise over a year ago. Typically, this active and long-standing chapter has an annual meeting in a different city in Florida every year. However, it was at last year’s meeting where they suggested exploring a new destination — Havana, Cuba,” explained Executive Director of Alumni and Community Relations Ron Witt.
The agenda included a variety of sightseeing and social gatherings. Witt also took time to hold a shipside Alumni Meeting and give a “State of the University” update to the group on the first day of the cruise.
“We had the good fortune of working with Letty Annett, owner of Letty’s Cuba Travel & Tours in Weston, Fla. Letty is from Cuba and specializes in travel to Cuba, from individuals, to groups and sports teams. She is married to alumnus Charlie Annett ’66. Both Letty and Charlie went on the cruise, which was a nice personal touch. Letty’s knowledge of Cuba and painstaking attention to detail, made everyone in our group feel at ease,” added Witt.
Born in Cuba, Letty’s passion is to bring Cuba and the U.S. closer together through meaningful travel experiences as well as through baseball. She started the Youth Baseball Friendship Cup as an annual baseball tournament for kids each summer.
Cuba is just 40 minutes from Miami by plane, and as a Cuban-American who emigrated to the United States 38 years ago during the Mariel Boat Lift, she understands the true price of the embargo for Cuba. Upon returning for the first time in 32 years in 2012, she opened Letty’s Cuba Travel and Tours and became a Friendship Ambassador.
Now, she promotes Cuba people-to-people group tours and offers individual support for tourists.
Havana is known for its pastel houses, 1950-era cars, cigars, Spanish-colonial architecture, salsa music, great food, drinks and beautiful scenery. Annett personally arranged the agenda.
Other highlights included:
- Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, one of the four leading plazas laid out in the 17th century. The spacious cobbled square was fully restored in the 1990s.
- Plaza Vieja, Cultural Heritage site in Old Havana, architects and restorers saved the 16th Century Plaza Vieja and today it is surrounded by elegant colonial residences and striking early 20th-century art nouveau buildings.
- Plaza de Armas and Castillo la Fuerza, where treasures from the islands were collected to be shipped to Spain.
- Plaza de la Cathedral, the last of the main squares to be created and one of Old Havana’s most beautiful spots, home to art galleries, museums and restaurants.
- La Bodeguita del Medio visit (one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bars).
- Lunch at Colonial la Moneda Cubana Restaurant at La Cathedral Plaza, dining on authentic Cuban cuisine with music by a local trio.
- The Classic Car Ride, one-hour panoramic view of Havana included the following landmarks: Habana Malecon, Hotel Nacional, Miramar, Bosque de la Habana, Revolucion Square, Capitol Building, Grand Theatre, Central Park and more.
“Overall, this was a trip of a lifetime! Everything from the literal boatload of activities and delicious food aboard the cruise ship, the unique charm of Key West, the historic and scenic sights in beautiful Havana and most importantly, the camaraderie among our alumni and friends, made this such a memorable experience,” Witt concluded.
Plans are already underway for the next alumni and friends excursion. If you would like more information about alumni travel opportunities, please contact Witt in the Alumni and Community Relations Office at 304.336.8888 or email: [email protected].