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Eileen Ogintz Takes The Kids To Cuba

“06880” is a huge fan of Taking the Kids. That’s Westporter Eileen Ogintz’s website, jam-packed with information, insights and tips on everything family- travel-related. From spring break getaways to “do millennials families travel differently than everyone else?”, she’s your go-to/how-to guide.

I don’t have kids — and if I did I’d think twice about traveling with them.* But I’m always fascinated by what Eileen writes. I was particularly intrigued by her recent post on Cuba.

She was one of 700 passengers on Adonia, the first ship in a new Carnival brand devoted to immersive and impactful travel– and the first American cruise ship to dock in Havana in nearly 60 years. Lots of children and teenagers were on board.

Adonia passengers line the deck as the ship enters Havana harbor.

Eileen says: “I’ve learned first hand that encouraging kids to be global citizens, to be comfortable outside their own comfort zones, helps them navigate unfamiliar and difficult turf in their lives as they grow up.”

She notes:

Cuba programming is a work in progress. As required by the United States, Americans traveling to Cuba must participate in 8 hours of approved “people-to-people” experiences daily (that doesn’t leave much time for Cuba’s beautiful beaches). Some P-to-P programs are excellent, others need work.

Eileen met the manager of a new private restaurant, and visited a unique private hair salon/art gallery/museum devoted to the history of barber shops and hairdressing.

She concludes:

It isn’t difficult, particularly if you speak Spanish to interact with the Cubans as they couldn’t be more friendly and eager for anything from candy to pens. You should feel safe bringing the kids here.

A classic Cuba photo: American kids from the Adonia surround a classic American car.

The Adonia is not a big ship (the Havana dock can’t accommodate anything bigger yet). It only has a minuscule pool, no waterslide or kids club, no casino and the internet is spotty. That doesn’t seem to faze anyone on board in the least, especially not the kids…

“Children are the future,” Papito the Barber said. “We want to see enterprise between the United States and Cuba. “We are very different cultures,” he continued, as today’s children get to know each other and focus on their similarities rather than their differences, “they can tighten the bonds between us.”

(To read Eileen’s entire story, click here.)

*That’s a joke! Based solely on the woman who sat next to me on my flight this past Saturday, with a 2-year-0ld and 10-month-old. She started drinking as soon as she could (10 a.m.), and spilled wine all over me shortly before landing.

Among the friendly Cubans: this young boy, holding an American flag.

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