Cienfuegos to Havana
Cienfuegos to Havana
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 | Cienfuegos
Arrive in Cienfuegos, also known as the Pearl of the South, where you will be met and assisted by a member of our team. Founded by French settlers, Cienfuegos boasts a unique architecture and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the graphic arts workshop and attend a local musical performance. Walk around the city center and admire outstanding examples of French neo classical architecture from the 19th Century. We will stop at a local farmer’s market before having lunch. A special treat will be a concert by the singers of the Chorus of Cienfuegos, or string quartet. We make our way to the pier for embarkation on the Panorama, followed by a boat drill and welcome briefing. Overnight sailing to Trinidad.
DAY 2: Saturday | Casilda/Trinidad
Today we visit 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." We will walk through the town, visit a scale model of the city, and have lunch at a local paladar. Stop at the Romantic Museum located in the old palace of the Count Brunet, or Palacio Cantero, the Trinidad General Municipal Museum. Visit the studio of Lazaro Niebla, a very unique woodcarver. Return to the Panorama for dinner onboard and overnight at sea.
DAY 3: Sunday | Day at Sea/ Isla de la Juventud
Today we will spend the majority of the day at sea, with a late afternoon arrival in Bay of Singuanea, where we will spend the night.
DAY 4: Monday | 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 for a panoramic sightseeing drive of the capital city of Nueva Gerona. Visit the Presidio Modelo, an abandoned panopticon prison where both Fidel and Raul Castro were imprisoned from 1953-1955. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before visiting an art school and the maternity ward of a local hospital, if available. There will be some free time for independent exploration and enjoyment around Nueva Gerona’s grand boulevard before returning to embark the ship for an overnight sailing to Maria La Gorda.
DAY 5: Tuesday | 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 archeological sites linked to life of aboriginals known as Guanahatabeyes. Time-permitting, we will venture into the park to meet with the naturalists and locals, followed by free time for swimming, snorkeling and a BBQ lunch on the beach. Check into the Hotel Maria La Gorda or similar for overnight.
DAY 6: Wednesday | Havana
Depart early in the morning by bus for the Vinales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Pinar del Rio Province of Cuba. Encircled by mountains, its landscape is interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops. Traditional techniques are still in use for agricultural production, particularly of tobacco. Visit a tobacco plantation where you will learn about the production of those world famous Cuban cigars. After lunch at an organic restaurant, we depart for our 3 hour transfer to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba for an engrossing lecture with well-known architect Pedro Vasquez. Return to the Panorama for dinner, followed by a trip to the Café Taberna to experience the wonderful salsa music of the Buena Vista Social Club style performance. Overnight in port.
DAY 7: Thursday | 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. We will stop at a local restaurant for lunch, followed by 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. Return to the ship for farewell dinner and overnight in Sierra Maestra Port- Old Havana.
DAY 8: Friday| Havana
Disembarkation and transfer to the airport for short return flight to Miami International airport.
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
*Note on Cuba prices: Port taxes of $395 - $410 and Visa charge of $75 per person not included in prices shown. Weekly Saturday departures October 1, 2016 through April 22, 2017. Ports of call vary slightly on the reverse itinerary; see both full itineraries for complete details. Group IST has been issued a license (#CT-2014-309395-1) by the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) authorizing us to organize and operate People to People programs to Cuba.