Important note: All CUBAN excursions must be PRE-BOOKED and PRE-PAID 20-days prior to embarkation, with no possibility for last-minute notice/participation. Experience a harmonious balance between conventional cruising and private yachting, along with an exciting voyage of discovery, unraveling the wonders of the Cuba awaiting to be discovered. Each day you will discover a new port of call, a hidden cove with crystal blue waters to cool you, a glimpse of ancient history to amaze you and rich cultural diversity to intrigue you. The colonial cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad, the verdant landscapes of Vinales / Pinar del Rio and the crystal clear seas and amazing underwater life in Maria La Gorda. DISCLAIMER: Due to restrictions of U.S. law, this program is not available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Group IST in New York is authorized to offer educational travel programs in Cuba to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Some of that travel within Cuba will be via ship. Interested parties should contact Group IST directly if interested in learning more about its educational programs in Cuba.
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1: Cienfuegos (Overland included transfer from Havana)
Meeting at 9 am at the Melia Cohiba Havana for your 4 and a ½ hour bus transfer to Cienfuegos with fellow passengers where you will embark your ship. After checking in you will have the opportunity to take a 3 hour Optional Cienfuegos city tour, the only city in Cuba founded by French settlers. It is also known as the Pearl of the South. In 2005 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our walking tour will take us to a graphic arts workshop and to Parque Marti in the centre to see some outstanding examples of its architecture representing the new ideas of modernity and urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th Century. Dinner on board and overnight at sea to Casilda for Trinidad.
Day 2: CASILDA FOR TRINIDAD
This morning we disembark in port for an Optional Trinidad excursion. Trinidad is a meticulously preserved Spanish colonial city, with its rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas. It is sometimes referred to as the 'Museum City of Cuba." This morning we will walk through the town with a representative of the Office of the City Historian interacting with residents along the way. We will attend a local architect's presentation and visit a scale model of the city. Stop at the Romantic Museum located in the old palace of the Count Brunet with samples of furniture and decorative arts. Visit the unique woodcarving studio of Lazaro. Dinner on board and overnight at sea to Isla de la Juventud- the Island of Youth.
Day 3 : DAY AT SEA - BAY OF SINGUANEA, JUVENTUD ISLAND
Late afternoon arrival in Bay of Singuanea, where we will spend the night.
Day 4 : BAY OF SINGUANEA - JUVENTUD ISLAND/ISLAND OF YOUTH
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. Your Optional Juventud excursionstarts. Disembark on the beach where you will board the bus for the short drive, enjoying panoramic sightseeing until you reach the Presidio Modelo, an abandoned panopticon prison where both Fidel and Raul Castro were imprisoned from 1953-1955. Enjoy lunch in an authentic local restaurant before visiting an art school and the maternity ward of a local hospital. There will be some free time for independent exploration and enjoyment around Nueva Gerona's grand boulevard before returning to embark the ship. Overnight at sea.
Day 5 : MARIA LA GORDA
After breakfast, we disembark in Maria La Gorda for an optional land tour to 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. Time-permitting, we will venture into the park to meet with the naturalists and locals. Free time for swimming, snorkelling and a BBQ lunch on the beach. Check into the Hotel Maria La Gorda or similar for overnight.
Day 6 : VINALES / PINAR DEL RIO - HAVANA
Depart early in the morning by bus for an optional excursion to 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 : Havana
After breakfast, disembark for an optional 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 : Havana
Disembarkation after breakfast at 9 am. Important note: All CUBAN excursions must be PRE-BOOKED and PRE-PAID 20-days prior to embarkation, with no possibility for last-minute notice/participation