Havana to Cienfuegos
Havana to Cienfuegos
Caption: Video courtesy of Program Participant Mark Dickinson
It has never been so easy to go back in time to a place rooted in culture and history. Where the people are as warm and welcoming as the climate. Cruise through Cuba during 8 days aboard our two great vessels on a people to people program that allows you to step back in time to a country that been closed to Americans for half a century. You'll explore the western part of the island nation famous for its culture, music, warm people and art.
DAY 1: Friday | Havana
Arrive in Havana where you will be met and assisted by a member of our team. Our People to People program begins immediately with a panoramic sightseeing tour of this exciting city, including a stop at the Plaza de la Revolucion. Enjoy a welcome lunch at La Barraca Restaurant, located in Hotel Nacional de Cuba, which specializes in Cuban cuisine and offers breathtaking views of the Bay of Havana. Remain at the hotel for an engrossing lecture with well-known architect Pedro Vasquez. Following the lecture, we continue to the pier for embarkation on the ship, followed by a boat drill and welcome briefing. Dinner on board and overnight in Sierra Maestra Port, Old Havana.
DAY 2: Saturday | Havana
After breakfast, disembark for a walking exploration through Havana Vieja, or Old Havana, and Centro Havana. Witness a mixture of beautiful old baroque and neo-classical monuments, arcades and private balconies. For an enhanced sightseeing experience, flag down a uniquely decorated local “bicitaxi,” or bicycle taxi. Visit a ration store “bodega” to discuss day to day life in Cuba and this particular way of shopping for subsidized groceries and food. Stop at a local restaurant for lunch, followed by an exchange with the owner of the restaurant or his wife on the topic of being a private entrepreneur. Take a scenic drive in vintage American cars to Finca Vigia, beloved home of Ernest Hemingway where he lived for 21 years and wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Upon our return from Finca Vigia, enjoy some free time before we make our way to Café Del Oriente for dinner, and then to the Café Taberna to experience the wonderful salsa music of the Buena Vista Social Club style performance. Overnight in Sierra Maestra Port, Old Havana.
DAY 3: Sunday | Havana/Day at Sea
Today, we enjoy a leisurely day at sea while sailing for Maria La Gorda. There will be an opportunity for discussion with the local guide, regarding USA-Cuba relations in light of recent political changes.
DAY 4: Monday | Maria La Gorda
After breakfast, we disembark in Maria La Gorda, where we will visit a local school to meet the Cuban children and their teachers, and discuss the differences and levels of the Cuban and American educational systems, particularly in the rural areas of the country. Visit the headquarters of Guanahacabibes National Park, one of the country's largest nature reserves on the westernmost tip of the island. The peninsula is one of the last refuges of aboriginals fleeing from the Spanish conquistadors and also holds some 140 archaeological sites linked to life of aboriginals known as Guanahatabeyes. We will meet with a Cuban environmentalist to discuss the effort invested in protecting and conserving the park. Following this exchange, there will be free time for swimming, snorkeling and a BBQ lunch in Maria La Gorda before embarking the ship. Dinner and overnight on board as we sail to the Island of Youth-Isla de la Juventud.
DAY 5: Tuesday | Isla Juventud
Until 1977, the island was called the Isle of Pines. In 1978 Fidel Castro turned the island into one grand Communist school for students from around the world and thus the Island of Youth. Disembark in Marina Colony to visit the Presidio Modelo, an abandoned panopticon prison where both Fidel and Raul Castro were imprisoned from 1953-1955, followed by a panoramic sightseeing drive of the capital city of Nueva Gerona. Visit the maternity ward of a local hospital, where we will discuss the Cuban health system with the patients, doctors, and nurses. Return to the ship for an early afternoon departure. Overnight at sea to Casilda.
DAY 6: Wednesday | Casilda/ Trinidad
Today we have an early evening arrival in Trinidad, a meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city. With its rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas, it is sometimes referred to as the "Museum City of Cuba." Enjoy an evening sightseeing walking tour of the city and dinner with musical entertainment at El Dorado paladar. After dinner, meet with local musicians to discuss the unique and artistic style of Cuban music. Overnight in port.
DAY 7: Thursday| Casilda/Trinidad - Cienfuegos
Disembark this morning to continue exploring this picturesque city. Visit a scale model of the city and engage in discussion with a local architect. Visit Trinidad's General Municipal Museum Palacio Cantero, followed by the studio of Lazaro Niebla, a very unique woodcarver. Depart Trinidad by bus for a scenic drive to Cienfuegos. Also known as the Pearl of the South, Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage site founded by French settlers, which has influenced its unique architecture. We will visit the Benny More School of Art, meet with professors and students, and discuss secondary art education in Cuba. Following lunch at Dos Laureles, walk around the city center and admire outstanding examples of French neoclassical architecture from the 19th Century. A special treat will be a concert performed by the singers of the Chorus of Cienfuegos, or string quartet. Overnight in port.
DAY 8: Friday | Cienfuegos
This morning, we disembark for our drive from Cienfuegos to Havana, with an early afternoon arrival. We will have lunch in a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the San Jose Art Market. Enjoy Havana Vieja before heading to the airport for your return flight to Miami.
NOTE: This itinerary may be subject to change as a result of weather and other factors not in our control. Our vessels have been granted the longest stays of any cruise boats in the port of Havana. Since space at the dock itself is severely limited, this itinerary might involve a combination of having to tender in to shore, as well as docking at one of only two piers.
People-to-People interaction and meaningful exchanges with locals
Meals onboard, at local restaurants and a salsa lesson or two
Old Havana and the renovation of its historic architecture
Guanahacabibes National Park and its 140 archeological sites
Trinidad, the meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city
Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the South, with it's cluster of Neoclassical structures
No packing & unpacking to change hotels
Includes all meals from arrival in Cuba to breakfast on day of departure, mandatory Cuban medical insurance and transportation as per itinerary