Cuba (8 Nights & 9 Days)


DAY 1, Departure from Miami

Arrive in Miami and check-in to your hotel at Miami Airport. Meet your Tour Manager at tonight's welcome orientation. After a Welcome Drink with your fellow travelers, the remainder of the evening is at leisure
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Miami International Airport, Miami


DAY 2, Flight to Cienfuegos, Cuba

After breakfast, participate in a briefing by your Tour Manager about Cuba and the adventure that awaits you. Following your briefing, an interactive discussion on US-Cuba relations from a Cuban-American perspective will take place at the hotel. Enjoy a lunch at leisure before departing to the airport for your short included charter flight to Cienfuegos, on Cuba's southern coast, one of the chief seaports of the country. Upon arrival, you'll be warmly welcomed by your Cuban guide. This lovely city, known as the "Pearl of the South" is adorned by architecture reflecting its French colonial roots. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel for a Welcome Drink with your fellow travelers
Overnight: Hotel Jagua, Cienfuegos
Meals: Breakfast


DAY 3, Excursion to Trinidad

Morning visit to the delightful Cienfuegos Province Botanical Gardens, the oldest of its kind on the island, welcoming us with a soothing setting of palms, orchids, bamboos, and a myriad of other tropical plants. As we walk, we'll learn more about the garden's ties to Harvard University and its founding as a research center for sugar cane. Continue to Trinidad, Cuba's best-preserved colonial city, with its winding cobblestone streets and pastel-hued houses, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During our walking tour you will see the Old Cathedral and the Palacio Cantero, the city's history museum, housed in a restored Neoclassical palace. Stop at a rationing store to see the process of buying local staples. After, visit a ceramic studio to observe a pottery demonstration and meet the owners who will tell us about their traditions, handed down from generation-to-generation.

Perhaps, take a turn at the potter's wheel for a hands-on experience with this craft. Transfer back to Cienfuegos, where we begin a walking tour of the city's highlights. Meet some of the storekeepers in this area to hear about shopping opportunities in Cuba and understand the difference between CUC and CUP stores. Continue to Parque Marti, the serene central park flanked by the provincial government building, Palacio delAyuntamiento and the Arco de Triunfo. Next, to the impressive Teatro Tomas Terry with its grand gold-leafed mosaics on the façade, embellished with Carrera marble and hand-carved Cuban hardwoods; in the past, this theatre has witnessed performances by Enrico Caruso and Anna Pavlova. After some free time on El Bulevar, Cienfuegos' quintessential shopping street. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local "paladar" (a small, privately operated Cuban restaurant)
Overnight: Hotel Jagua, Cienfuegos
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


DAY 4, Visit to Historic Santa Clara

This morning, depart on a scenic drive to the historic city of Santa Clara, in the geographic center of Cuba. The city's fiery personality has been shaped over time by the presence of the nation' s most prestigious university outside Havana, and a long association with Che Guevara, whose liberation of Santa Clara in 1958 marked the end of the Batista regime. Begin the day with a visit to the Monument, Mausoleum and Museum built to honor Ernesto "Che" Guevara; the imposing "Che" statue can be seen for miles around the city. We continue our visit to the Museo de ArtesDecorativas, an 18th-century mansion, now a museum, filled with Baroque desks, art nouveau mirrors and art deco furniture that emphasizes the country's diverse architectural heritage. Here we enjoy a performance by the Catedra Studio group playing traditional and old Spanish Renaissance music.

At the end of the performance, we have the opportunity to interact with the musicians. Continue your visits at Allegria de Vivir, a community project for the Elderly. Our insightful visit reveals how art, music, and dance play a crucial role in the everyday lives of the inspiring residents. Enjoy lunch in Santa Clara before a walking tour in the center of the city, view the Parque Vidal and the Teatro de La Caridad, the Plaza del Mercado Central, and the former City Hall before returning to Cienfuegos for the evening. Return to Cienfuegos for an orchestra performance, before having dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight: Hotel Jagua, Cienfuegos
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


DAY 5, Havana and the Bay of Pigs

This morning, we head to the historic Bay of Pigs Museum in Playa Giron which will give us a Cuban perspective on the Bay of Pigs invasion. Afterwards, on to picturesque Cienaga de Zapata National Park, one of finest bird watching areas in the world situated on Cuba's south coast, for a lecture by one of the park's naturalists. A leisurely lunch follows at Casa Enrique, a private guest house. Meet the proprietors of this family-run and privately-owned business, learn about their many talents as they share their stories and views of private enterprise. After lunch we are on our way to Havana, the energetic city that we've all been waiting to see -- Cuba's distinctive capital has captivated the imagination of travelers for decades. A special dinner tonight in a local restaurant celebrates our arrival in Havana. This renowned restaurant is famous for its open-air ambiance and excellent slow-roasted chicken
Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


DAY 6, Havana

The first thing you'll notice in Havana this morning are the streets filled with colorful and bright vintage "Old Styler" American cars. (Your guide will explain how these cars are obtained and what it takes to keep them running.) Today's walking tour begins with a presentation by a Cuban architect on Havana's rich architectural heritage, as we leisurely stroll through the cobblestone streets of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stop to admire the 16th and 17th century buildings being carefully restored and transformed. Lunch at the Hostal Valencia with its old-world charm, decked out like a Spanish posada with hanging vines and huge carved doorways. We continue on with a visit to the Muraleando Community Project featuring murals and sculptures celebrating Cuban life. After Muraleando, we visit a local artist's home studio and enjoy a discussion on Cuban lifestyles, art, and private enterprise. Tonight's evening of live music and dinner Jazz takes place at Casa Espanola, the former house of Batista's finance secretary. After dinner, we are on to the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana to observe the "Canonazo Ceremony", a tradition held at this location since the 17th century
Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


DAY 7, Havana

This morning, visit the Jose Marti's Language School for a friendly Spanish lesson-- it's not too late to learn some great expressions to take home. Visit the Santovenia Elderly Center in El Cerro, a local center for the elderly that is a major part of Cuba's healthcare system. Experience lunch at Havana's Il Divinopaladar , where we savor some of Cuba's latest cuisine, supplied by the adjacent two-acre farm La FincaYoandra, charmingly named for the owner's wife. Then, we learn more about Ernest Hemingway on our visit to FincaVigia (“Lookout Farm”) in San Francisco de Paula, Hemingway's winter home from 1939 to 1960. He loved Cuba and its people, who returned that affection to the American author by simply calling him "Ernesto." We view the novelist's 9,000-volume library, his yacht Pilar and the typewriter on which he wrote some of his greatest works, including his last masterpiece, The Old Man and The Sea. On our return to the city, we're invited to attend an interesting discussion led by a Cuban scholar on the current political policies between the U.S. and Cuba. Tonight is at leisure to explore Havana's nightlife, cafes and restaurants on your own
Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


DAY 8, Havana

The day begins with at Ciudad Libertad where you will have a chance to better understand the importance of the literacy campaign that occurred in Cuba in 1961. Next, be prepared for an outrageous sight as we arrive at Casa Fuster, the studio and residence of José Rodriguez Fusterwho's inspiration comes from the designs of European Masters like Gaudi, Picasso, and Dubuffet. The roofs, walls, doorways and benches stretching for blocks around the epicenter of his studio enclave are adorned with his brightly colored murals and quotations from famous writers. Afterwards, it's time to learn some of the secrets of Cuban cuisine at a chef-led Cooking Class. Taste your creations during lunch, followed by a walk through the bustling San Jose Market. Tonight, a festive Farewell Dinner has been arranged at a local restaurant. On our last night in Cuba, bid a fond goodbye to your Cuban guide, your fellow travelers and an amazing journey in Cuba
Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


DAY 9, Depart for the USA

Transfer to the airport for your flight that takes you from Havana back to Miami where you will connect to your departing flight home