Summary : Enjoy the best of both worlds on this culture-rich program that combines seven nights of ocean cruising aboard a boutique sailing yact with full days of meaningful connections with Cuban residents. Visit schools, snorkel in a marine park and meet and interact with local dancers, musicians and singers, and enjoy the hospitality of Havana's first five-star hotel.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Snorkeling
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$10,995 to $16,495
Arrive in Holguin, where you are met by your program directors and guides. Enjoy lunch in the city center at a local paladar (privately owned restaurant), interacting with your servers as you enjoy your first taste of Cuban cuisine. Continue to Santiago de Cuba and visit the University of Santiago (time permitting), where you meet with students and faculty to learn about the higher educational system in Cuba. Next, check in to your hotel. This evening, get to know your accompanying Program Directors, Cruise Director and resident Cuban guides at a reception briefing and welcome dinner.
Meals: L, D
Visit the Holy Shrine El Cobre, which houses the Patron Saint of Cuba, la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. After learning about the role religion plays in the lives of Cubans, visit the Cementerio Santa Ifegenia, the final resting place of many of the Bacardi family, Fidel Castro and national hero Jose Martí. There, you witness the ceremonial changing of the guard at the Jose Martí Mausoleum. Following lunch at a paladar, visit the Moncada Barracks, a military garrison that played an early role in the Cuban Revolution. The site is an active primary school and now houses an interesting, interactive museum. Next, join your local guides for a walking tour of central Santiago and Cespedes Square with time to explore the city center. In due course, transfer to the Santiago marina, where you board your home for the next seven nights, elegant ‘Le Ponant.’ As your yacht sails out of from the marina, glimpse the stunning Morro Castle, a citadel overlooking the entrance to the bay. Meet your Captain and crew of ‘Le Ponant’ and toast a glass as you set sail to explore Cuba. Spend the following day at sea, participating in informative talks and presentations on a wide range of subjects, among them Cuban history, education, healthcare and policy. Conditions permitting, watch as the crew hoists the sails of your stunning, three-masted sailing yacht from atop its deck.
Meals: B, L, D
Enjoy breakfast and lunch on board. This afternoon, transfer to the heart of Trinidad in the Sancti Spiritus Province, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join your resident Cuban guides for a walking tour. Stroll through Trinidad’s colonial city center as you learn the history of one of the oldest European settlements in Cuba. Visit the Romantic Museum, built in 1740 within the home of a wealthy sugar mill owner. Learn about the Cuba of bygone days as you view its period furnishings, china and other 19th-century artifacts. Next, visit Casa Particular — home of Lia and Pechi — for a musical interlude and canchancha drink. Return to your vessel for dinner. Later this evening, you may join your guides for a singular evening in festive Trinidad, as it comes alive with music. Tonight, ‘Le Ponant’ remains in port. The following day, delve deeper into the wonders of Trinidad. Start this morning with a short drive to the “valley of the sugar mills” and visit the small village of Manaca. See the Iznaga tower, once a sentry post to keep watch over the slaves working in the sugar plantation and mill in the Sugar Valley. Back in Trinidad, visit the Palenque de los Congos Reales to attend an enriching Afro-Cuban performance, meeting afterward with its musicians and dancers. Following lunch at a local paladar in Market Square, return to ‘Le Ponant’ and set sail for Cienfuegos, the aptly named “Pearl of the South.” Time permitting, you may choose to spend the evening with your guides in Cienfuegos.
Meals: B, L, D
Set out on an informative walking tour of Cienfuegos. Visit the Thomas Terry Theatre, continuing along the boulevard to a Cuban CUC store and pharmacy. Enjoy a private performance by the acclaimed Cantores de Cienfuegos a capella choir, with time to interact post-concert with its members. Following lunch at a local paladar, continue your musical interlude with a private performance by the Chamber Orchestra de Cienfuegos. Return to ‘Le Ponant’ later this afternoon and set sail.
Meals: B, L, D
Arrive at beautiful Punta Francés Nature Reserve on Isla de la Juventud this afternoon. Unreachable except by sea, the marine reserve is fringed by an arc of powdery white-sand beach. Meanwhile, its thick palm and mangrove forest stands in stark contrast to the glimmering, turquoise Caribbean Sea. Land by Zodiac and spend the afternoon participating in structured activities amid this unique environment. You may partake in either a guided snorkeling excursion, experiencing firsthand Cuba’s unspoiled coral reef system or a guided nature walk led by local naturalists along the breathtaking beach and adjacent mangrove forest. As this enriching afternoon comes to a close, return to your ship and enjoy dinner with fellow travelers.
Meals: B, L, D
As you spend today sailing through Cuban waters, attend informative lectures, such as those about the impact of music on Cuban society and how it has influenced music in the United States and beyond. Learn about local transportation, including iconic “Yank tanks” (vintage cars), as well as significant points in Cuba’s history and the intricacies of U.S.-Cuba relations.
Meals: B, L, D
After breakfast on board, disembark ‘Le Ponant’ and proceed to the heart of Old Havana at St. Francis Square. Stroll through the neighborhood with a local architect, discussing the challenges of city reconstruction projects, while absorbing the vibrant, extraordinary architecture that surrounds you. Spend some time enjoying St. Francis Square or visit the lively San Jose market by the sea. Following lunch, visit Finca La Vigia — Ernest Hemingway’s home — taking time to visualize the author’s life during the more than 20 years he lived there. Check in to your five-star hotel for an evening at leisure.
Meals: B, L
Following breakfast, visit Havana University, where you can interact with students and faculty. Next, set out on an orientation tour of Revolution Square and the city’s historic, culturally rich neighborhoods, including the business district of Vedado. Skirt the malecón (seawall promenade), see the Capitol area and stop at La Cabana for panoramic views of Havana. Tour the famed and historic Hotel Nacional, which brings back a long-ago era of Cuban history. Continue to join the museum curator on a guided visit of Museo de Belles Artes Cubanos, an art museum dedicated to the progression of Cuban art from the colonial times to present day. Then, attend a private dance rehearsal to gain insight into the remarkable art of Cuban dance. This evening, transfer with your fellow guests by convertible “Yank tank” for a scenic evening drive down the Paseo and malecón to a local paladar for a farewell dinner.
Meals: B, L, D
Transfer to the airport after breakfast and board your return flight home.
Cuba remains a developing country, and guests traveling here should adjust their expectations accordingly. Delays commonly occur, and flexibility and patience on the part of visitors is a must. While every effort will be made to operate the program as scheduled, all activities are subject to change without notice. In the event that an individual or location becomes unavailable, a comparable activity will be substituted.
As part of your obligations as an authorized traveler under the general license, you are obligated to comply with certain requirements, including maintaining a record of your activities and expenses for five years. We encourage you to keep a travel journal. In addition, there are limits on what you can bring to Cuba, what you can spend and what you can bring back from Cuba that are explained in more detail in your Destination Information.
Medical insurance is required for all travelers from the U.S. to Cuba in case of emergency and is included in the cost of your air ticket. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. Should you encounter any medical emergency during the course of the program, local representatives will be on hand to assist; however, you will need to show your return air ticket and passport in order to receive treatment.
Accommodations and meals as per the itinerary; fully guided activities and meetings/exchanges (including park and entrance fees) as noted in the itinerary (please note activities are subject to change without notice due to unforeseen circumstances); airport transfers to the hotel; services of Cruise Director and two Program Directors; complimentary standard bar drinks, beer, house wine, soft drinks, coffee drinks, juices, bottled water (excluding premium wines, premium liquors and premium Champagnes) while on board; local bottled water during sightseeing; porterage of two (2) pieces of baggage; complimentary Internet access at hotels where available and not included on board ship (service levels are not guaranteed); hotel taxes and service charges; and gratuities including the ship's crew, Cruise Director and Program Directors. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; meals not mentioned in the itinerary; additional expenses incurred due to a change, delay or cancellation of any flight; excess baggage charges; beverages other than those listed above as included and premium wines, premium liquors and premium Champagnes; Wi-Fi on board ship; travel insurance; passport and visa fees; personal expenses such as communication charges and laundry; fuel surcharge may apply.