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Marion wrote: I am a sea lover. Seems to be an interesting cruise. david martin Abrahams would love to travel on it.


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Good advice for bringing along your own cigars

If you don't go anywhere without your favorite cigars, beware: sea air can do a number on them. Here's how to store them so you're never without a good smoke. Plus... advice on avoiding fakes in your favorite ports of call.

You're sitting in your office, thinking about that upcoming charter vacation next week. Ahhhh! You close your eyes and lean back. You picture yourself lounging on the aft deck, water slapping the hull, an occasional seabird crying out in a cloudless sky as you light that Churchill to settle down for some premium time. You take a sip of ice cold Vodka with just a hint of lime. Then you start wondering if this boat will provide a humidor.

 

As many charter vessels do not, you'll have to take some precautions in order to keep your valuable "stash" happy. How will you transport your cigars to the ship and maintain them in good smoking condition throughout your time aboard?

When I travel I always bring my own cigars. I will not depend on, nor be satisfied with, local smoke shops. With rare exceptions, the selections at local shops are very limited, storage conditions questionable, and the cigars are always overpriced. In addition, I prefer to smoke cigars with a Maduro wrapper (actually double Maduro). It is rare to find a good selection of Maduros in a port of call. In fact, it's rare to find a good selection at all! When you think about it, why should you settle for what a local shop has in stock? You're on vacation...smoke the best you can get!

The question is how to properly (and practically) transport your cigars. Let's say you're going to be away for eight days. And let's say that you smoke three cigars a day. You'll need a minimum of 24 cigars, plus a few in your cigar case.

 One way to go would be a travel humidor. Most travel humidors are small, although I've seen some that will hold 25 cigars, and run about $75. These are no more than a glorified cigar box. My choice would be a cigar box made of Spanish cedar, with a good seal. I mean, people are making ladies purses out of these and charging a hundred bucks! Have you seen these? Anyway, forget it...that's another article.

 Prior to use, I wipe down the inside of the box with distilled water to prep it. For about nine bucks I use a small cigar-shaped humidification device, a DryMistat Humiditube, to maintain humidity. The Humiditube is clear so you can see when the crystals shrink, thus telling you when water is needed. The walls of the tube breathe through microscopic pores; water vapor can pass through without letting any liquid through, so it will not leak onto your cigars. Now that the problem of transporting and maintaining your cigars is solved, the next problem is keeping your guests away from your inventory! I'll leave that solution up to you.

Caveat Emptor
One problem I always run into while traveling, especially in the Caribbean, is counterfeit Cuban cigars. Counterfeit Cubans are a big problem, and big business. People constantly approach me, at home and abroad, who want to sell me Cubans for anywhere from $200–350 a box. At home, the story goes something like this: "I've got a friend who has a friend who just came back from Havana with these Cohibas. These are the real thing! All the labels, stamps, and holograms are on the box! They're only $200 for the box! They come with a letter from Castro attesting to their authenticity!"

Right! No matter what the markings on the box, these are undoubtedly fakes. Keep in mind that, as an example, a box of Cohiba Esplendidos can be purchased at the factory in Cuba, or at the government-authorized stores in Havana, for almost $400 per box! Some of the online sources charge around $600 per box!

There are various types of fakes. Some are cheap bundled Hondurans with a Cuban ring label, and some are boxes purchased from Cuban street vendors for $30 a box. Cuban families acquire the original boxes and labels from other family members who work at the factories, then roll the cigars in their living rooms. Sure it's Cuban tobacco, but the quality is downright criminal. I had a box of Esplendidos that was purchased on the street in Havana. The draw was like sucking on a wooden dowel!

In most foreign ports of call, Cuban cigars are sold everywhere legally. However, fakes can be found in these stores as well. Storeowners are driven by profit and there is a big difference between the genuine article and the fakes. Be alert! Pay attention to detail. Your trained eye will keep you from throwing away your money.

Look for consistency in construction. Genuine Cuban cigars will be strictly uniform in shape, size, and color. Feel them for hard spots and construction flaws. Forget the markings on the box as fakes can be easily placed into a genuine box. In addition, look for the less popular Cubans. Romeo y Julieta Churchills, Cohiba Esplendidos, and Montecristo No. 2s and No. 4s are some of the more popular counterfeits. Some of the lesser known are the Partagas, Punch, Rey Del Mundo, Saint Luis Rey, Bolivar, and Rafael Gonzalez.

With a stuffed travel humidor and the knowledge to keep your wallet from shrinking, here's wishing you good weather, calm seas, and clear sailing, no matter what your destination.

About Bob Lesnick
Robert L. Lesnick, a cigar aficionado, is YV&C's Cruising Cigar Man.

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