The Celestyal Crystal arrived in Cienfuegos, in southwestern Cuba, at 7:00 am, just in time for a glorious sunrise.
Our group met at 8:00 for the Cienfuegos city tour. Cienfuegos was originally inhabited by Taino indigenous people before being founded by French colonists in 1819. Bright and modern, “The Pearl of the South” is one of the cleanest cities in Cuba.
Our tour started at Boulevard Paseo del Prado. This long tree-lined boulevard has a central paving-stone strip flanked by benches. It crosses the entire city, about two kilometers in length.
Benny Moré, a Cuban musical icon, was a talented singer and songwriter.
We then took Cienfuegos Boulevard, one of the most frequented places in the city. El Boulevard is only open to pedestrian traffic, and it reminds me somewhat of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica with its mix of services, stores, restaurants and street entertainers.
Hotel la Union
Parque José Martí (former Plaza Armas) is the traditional central square of Cienfuegos.
Arco de Triunfo, the only existing Arch of Triumph in Cuba.
The Palacio de Gobierno, where the provincial government operates.
Cathedral de la Purism Concepcion (The Cathedral of the Most Pure Conception)
Officially called Teatro de Cienfuegos, Teatro Tomás Terry is the only building we entered.
Like many places we visited in Cuba, there’s a fee for taking photos. Not knowing whether it’d be worth it, we opted not to pay the 5 CUC fee (approx. $6.75). Turns out, the theatre’s interior is far more impressive than its exterior. It’s beautifully designed, with superb fresco ceilings and original wooden chairs. Hubby snapped this pic of the lobby prior to entering.
Colegio San Lorenzo stands next to the theatre.
The public is allowed to climb to the dome-shaped cupola of the Casa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte (formerly the Palacio de Ferrer) for spectacular views of Cienfuegos.
Bar Meson el Palatino
Several small museums and galleries line the square, and we peeked into a few of them.
Street views from my bus window.
While parts of Cienfuegos are decidedly rundown, I got the impression the city is more prosperous and in better general shape than Havana. The Punta Gorda, a preferred location of the wealthy on the southern side of the city, has many choice properties and great views of the bay.
These homes, small by our standards, are impeccably kept.
The somewhat gaudy and eclectic Palacio de Valle is a top landmark in Cienfuegos. Today it’s used for cultural events. It also has a restaurant and bar.
Zoomed-in shot of Celestyal Crystal from Punta Gorda.
We stopped for drinks and entertainment at Club Cienfuegos.
It used to be an exclusive yacht club, and many boats still moor nearby.
Not sure of this rum drink’s ingredients, but it was tasty and refreshing.
The Cuban band performing that day (didn’t catch their name) spoke of touring in British Columbia and then played a song they’d composed about our hometown. The Russian couple up dancing had quite the Cuban moves.
Celestyal Crystal from Club Cienfuegos.
Next door is the popular Palacio Azul Hotel.
Back onboard the cruise ship, we spotted several landmarks we’d visited earlier that day.
Palacio de Gobierno
Teatro Tomás Terry
Casa de Cultura
Palacio Azul Hotel and Club Cienfuegos
Picturesque views along the harbour.
While taking photographs, we noticed a couple of pelicans feeding right beside the ship.
Their kamikaze fishing style is amazing.
A wily seagull buddied up with this pelican, hoping to share (or perhaps steal) its meal.
We became so entranced with these antics we missed Dr. Arocha’s documentary on Cuba. Disappointing, but the show taking place on the water was very entertaining. As the ship left Cienfuegos later that afternoon, I grabbed a spot in the bow on deck five to watch the scenery.
Remarkable how these houses are situated right on the edge of the water, considering the rise and fall of the tides.
Castillo de Jagua can be seen in this photo. The fortress was built in 1742 to protect the Bay of Jagua from the real pirates of the Caribbean.
I’m always happy to spot a lighthouse. The Guamuhaya Mountains (also known as Sierra del Escambray) are in the background.
Both evening cocktails, a Mojito and Party on the Beach, earned top yummy marks.
The evening show was Azucar – the traditions of Cuba.
Fitbit says we covered 9.94 kilometers that day.