Cuba (cruise)–WAIT LIST ONLY

Trip Highlights

Be among the privileged few on this uniquely designed people-to-people itinerary, featuring three nights in spirited, soulful Havana followed by a six-night cruise to Santiago de Cuba—an extraordinary opportunity to traverse the entire breadth of Cuba. Sail aboard the exclusively chartered, three-masted m.y. Le Ponant, featuring only 32 deluxe Staterooms, and enjoy an unprecedented people-to-people experience. See the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Old Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and the Viñales Valley. Accompanied by experienced, English-speaking Cuban hosts, immerse in Cuba’s history, culture, art, language, cuisine and daily life while interacting with local experts including musicians, artists, farmers, academics and architects.

Dates

February 15 to February 24, 2018

Region

Caribbean, Central & South America

Tour Operator

Gohagan

Physical Activity Level

Active

Duration

9 Days

Price

$ 6,995.00

Type

Land and Cruise Combo

Make a Reservation

Call Alumni Travel at 855.764.0064

Itinerary

Day 1-U.S./Havana, Cuba
Depart the U.S. on your flight to Cuba. Upon arrival in Havana, meet your experienced, English-speaking Cuban hosts and guides, who will accompany you on people-to-people exchanges and be part of your immersion into their way of life.

In Havana, enjoy lunch in a local paladar, then visit Finca Vigía, the former home of Ernest Hemingway, affectionately called “Papa” by locals. Here, he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, based on a local fisherman, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

This evening, check into Havana’s Meliá Habana Hotel. (L,D)

Day 2-Havana
Cuba’s capital, the early-20th-century “Paris of the Caribbean,” remains arguably one of a kind, mixing impressive urban architecture and culture with an earthy, informal vibe and a lively arts and music scene, while retaining a distinctly vintage feel bolstered by the prevalence of 1950s American-made automobiles fondly called “Yank tanks” by the locals who painstakingly maintain them.

The Spanish colonial core of Habana Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a colorful neighborhood of winding cobblestone streets, pastel-hued houses and picturesque squares filled with architectural beauty, including the bayside Plaza de Armas, the site where San Cristóbal de la Habana was founded in 1514.

Havana’s downtown district of Vedado is a mix of old and new, including the University of Havana, the pre-revolutionary Capitolio reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol, the iconic Malecón (oceanfront promenade) and the legendary Hotel Nacional de Cuba. See Revolution Square, where Fidel Castro gave his famous eight-hour May Day speeches.

Visit the community of Jaimanitas, home to the Hemingway Marina and one of Cuba’s best known artists, José Rodríguez Fuster, a sculptor and painter whose distinct works of art are inspired by Antoni Gaudí. (B,L,R,D)

People-to-People Cultural Enrichments:

  • Local architects and architectural restoration scholars discuss the preservation and evolution of art and architecture on a walk through Old Havana.
  • Interact with residents of José Rodriguez Fuster’s artistic community.
  • Enjoy an invigorating performance by a local stomp band.
  • Enjoy a reception and dinner in a paladar in Old Havana.

Day 3-Havana/Pinar del Río and Viñales Valley
The striking Viñales Valley in Cuba’s westernmost province of Pinardel Río is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Known for its natural beauty, the valley is a much photographed and painted 270-square-mile plain surrounded by limestone karst hills called mogotes. The farmland here is among Cuba’s richest, and the ancient agricultural practices produce robust coffee and some of the world’s best tobacco, products central to Cuban history and identity. (B,L,D)

People-to-People Cultural Enrichments:

  • Meet a traditional tobacco farmer and cigar-roller in Vuelta Abajo, the country’s tobacco heartland. Spend time with his family as he welcomes you into his home to sample Cuban coffee.
  • Tour an organic farm and enjoy a discussion with the farmer on the growth and sale of crops as you explore his gardens. Afterward, share a homestyle lunch with his family, an enriching opportunity.
  • In the historic town of Pinar del Río, visit a community art project where creativity is fostered in young people with Down syndrome.

Day 4-Havana/Cienfuegos
Once a trading port for sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, the attractive colonial port city of Cienfeugos was built in a neoclassical style from the wealth of these industries, and its original grid layout plan is an incredible example of early urban planning.

Upon arrival in Cienfuegos, visit the eclectic Teatro Tomás Terry, which hosted its first opera in 1890. Enjoy lunch in a local paladar.

This afternoon, embark m.y. Le Ponant and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 5-Cienfuegos for Santa Clara
Known as the “Pearl of the South,” the UNESCO World Heritage-designated colonial harbor city of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 by French settlers from Louisiana and Bordeaux while located in a Spanish territory, which has made for a fascinating blend of history and local culture today.

From Cienfuegos, travel to Santa Clara, the gateway to Cuba’s historically and agriculturally rich central region. Visit a Casa de Abuelos for a unique opportunity to learn more about social welfare in Cuba from the active senior citizen residents and staff.

Santa Clara, long associated with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, has been shaped by the most prestigious university outside Havana and features one of the country’s most spectacular grand colonial theaters constructed in 1885. See the beautiful Teatro La Caridad, where famed musicians such as Enrico Caruso once performed, and visit the impressive Che Guevara Monument and the History Museum of the Revolution. (B,L,D)

People-to-People Cultural Enrichments:

  • In a Casa de Abuelos, elder Cubans and staff will introduce you to a time-honored Cuban dance tradition, the danzón.
  • Enjoy lunch in the Auténtica Pergola paladar.

Day 6-Trinidad
Developed from the wealth of the sugar industry in the 19th century, UNESCO World Heritage-designated Trinidad retains much of its colonial charm, with terra-cotta tiled roofs, pastel-hued houses, cobblestone streets and ornate tiled courtyards. Walk through 18th-century Plaza Mayor, and visit the neoclassical Museo Romántico and Palacio Cantero, two museums showcasing the history of Trinidad’s residents. (B,L,D)

People-to-People Cultural Enrichments:

  • Enjoy lively rumba and salsa performances at the Palenque de los Congos Reales, an outdoor music center devoted to traditional Cuban music and dancing.
  • Visit the authentic Casa Chichi, a multigenerational pottery workshop established in 1892 that still uses clay sourced from caves.

Day 7-Cruising the Caribbean Sea
Enjoy informative onboard discussions and lectures about Cuban history and culture while at sea. (B,L,D)

Day 8-Santiago de Cuba
Cuba’s second largest city is perhaps the island’s most vibrant and culturally rich, with its lively music and attractive colonial architecture. On the walking tour, see Céspedes Park including historic City Hall, where Fidel Castro announced victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and 15th-century Casa de Diego Velázquez, the oldest standing house in Cuba. Enjoy picturesque views of the city and refreshments from the rooftop terrace of the illustrious Hotel Casa Granda.

Visit the expansive Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, the grandiose final resting place of Cuban national hero and important Latin American literature figure José Martí; Emilio Bacardí Moreau, known for his namesake rum; and Compay Segundo, guitarist of the Buena Vista Social Club.

After lunch on board the ship, view imposing Revolution Square and historic San Juan Hill, a pivotal site during the Spanish-American War. Tour the Casa del Caribe, a vibrant, multifaceted institute that celebrates Afro-Cuban music, dance and culture. See the original Bacardí rum factory, first opened in 1868, and enjoy a traditional Cuban rum tasting. (B,L,D)

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • Enjoy a colorful dance performance of the rumba, salsa and other traditional forms of Cuban entertainment at Casa del Caribe.

Day 9-Santiago de Cuba
From Santiago de Cuba, travel to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre to visit La Virgen de la Caridad (Our Lady of Charity), the patron saint of Cuba, a brilliant shrine and Cuba’s most sacred pilgrimage site. Tour the holy basilica, where Pope Francis recently visited, and listen to the captivating legend behind this revered shrine.

Walk through the lush Jardín de los Helechos, featuring over 350 species of ferns and 90 types of orchids. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Castillo San Pedro de la Roca (El Morro), a 17th-century fortress built to protect the important port of Santiago de Cuba Bay.

Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Santiago de Cuba. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

People-to-People Cultural Enrichments:

  • Interact with local Cuban pilgrims at the Our Lady of Charity shrine.
  • Enjoy a performance by an all-female Cuban vocal quartet.
  • Dine in a local paladar for lunch.

Day 10-Santiago de Cuba/U.S.
This morning, disembark m.y. Le Ponant and transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

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