Cuba 360: A Circumnavigation of the Cultures of Cuba

10 Days/9 Nights

From $4,599

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Overview

Previously off limits for U.S. leisure travelers, Cuba is now one of the hottest new destinations. This ten day People to People exchange program provides you with a unique opportunity to interact with Cubans in their daily lives and to visit six of Cuba’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Highlights include a walking tour of “Havana Viejo”, a performance by the Buena Vista Social Club at the Tropicana Theater, a visit to the Viñales Valley, where the island’s best tobacco is grown, and a visit to the citadel of San Pedro de la Roca in Santiago de Cuba, one of the best preserved examples of Spanish American military architecture. Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 9 nights (9 nights aboard the Saint Laurent), and 26 meals (9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 9 dinners).

Best Time to Go: November-April.

Destinations: Cuba

Interests: Culture & History, Expedition Cruising

Day-by-Day Itinerary

This afternoon guests will embark on an iconic journey from the Port of Miami sailing overnight to the cultural capital of Cuba, Havana. This evening enjoy a Welcome Reception as well as a highly informative talk of the journey that unfolds in front of us. Following guests will be treated to a welcome dinner. Overnight aboard the ship. (D)

Following breakfast, guests aboard will be treated to a fascinating lecture on the colorful history, people and the culture that shaped Havana today. We will then disembark and begin our cultural exploration of this beautiful city by foot through the atmospheric squares of ‘Havana Viejo’, calling on artists in their studios as we pass. Visit Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Ernest Hemingway kept a room for years. The hotel served as a refuge for writing such works as “For Whom the Bell Tools” and a base for frequenting his favorite bars. After dinner, we encourage guests to enjoy an evening performance at the historical Tropicana Theater or alternatively stroll to nearby Café Taberna, where one can enjoy Cuban music by the famed Buena Vista Social Club. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

This morning we head west into the province of Piñar Del Rio to the famed Viñales Valley. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Viñales boasts Cuba’s most strikingly beautiful landscapes and is where the island’s best tobacco is grown. Survey an orchid garden with staff from the University of Piñar del Rio. At a tobacco farm run by three generations, the family discusses their lives and why their crop is among the world’s best. Also interact with workers at a tobacco-sorting facility. The valley is punctuated by huge limestone caves that form inside one of the many spectacular mogotes – limestone karst outcroppings. A small boat takes us on a river running inside the cave. Sample the homegrown vegetables grown at an organic farm while meeting the family who is responsible for the land and prepared our lunch. Cap-off our day by meeting locals in the small community of Viñales before returning to Havana. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Explore Maria La Gorda, on the Bahía de Corrientes, beginning in La Bajada. Meet with a local naturalist at Guanahacabibes National Park, the largest of Cuba’s six nature reserves. In addition to butterflies and birdlife such as endemic bee hummingbird and yellow-headed warbler, Guanahacabibes is home to a large profusion of orchids and epiphytes, a total of 16 species, some indigenous and some recently discovered. At a Meteorological Center, learn about forecasting weather, weather patterns, and storms and hurricanes that have left their mark in Cuba, along with how historic storms have impacted ordinary Cubans. Participate in an expert discussion at the “Honey House” on beekeeping and honey production. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Enjoy a walking tour of Cienfuegos’ city center this morning. Founded in 1819 by the Spanish, but initially settled by the French – it became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee. The city first developed in the neoclassical style, later becoming more eclectic but retaining a harmonious overall landscape. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we’ll meet with a local specialist to discuss the significance of buildings such as Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, Ferrer Palace and the former lyceum. Discover the transformative power of art in the lives of ordinary Cubans while visiting a graphic arts workshop. After a performance by the Cienfuegos Choir — we’re invited to join the choir for songs in the spirit of musical exchange. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Today, a city historian leads a walking tour of Trinidad, an architectural jewel proclaimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Red tiled roofs atop pastel stucco structures line the cobbled streets. This port city reflects its 16th century past and founding by Conquistadors. Eighteenth century smugglers and pirates made frequent calls here or even used this port as their base of operations in the Caribbean. The wealth and importance of Trinidad continued into the 19th century, when sugar barons reigned. Mingle with local residents and call on artists in their studio as we wind our way through the city. Guests will stop at the Museum Romantico and the Architecture Museum. At Casa Del Alfarero Santander, an artisan workshop, meet local artists and learn about traditional pottery techniques. This pottery studio has been run by the same family for decades. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

The second largest city of Cuba established in 1515 by Conquistador Diego Velazquez de Cuéllar, the city remains today as an important seaport to the island. Well known for its traditional dances unique to this region of the island we’ll witness locals explaining their dance as well learn about the Afro-Cuban religions such as Santeria widely practiced in the area. Following, we’ll visit the local citadel of San Pedro de la Roca a UNESCO World Heritage site as the most complete and best-preserved examples of Spanish American military architecture based on the Italian and Renaissance design principles. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Tailor your exploration with the included morning excursion of your choice:

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park: Named for Alexander von Humboldt the German naturalist and adventurer who explored this area in 1801, this pristine National Park offers one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Caribbean. With a variety of terrain, this tropical paradise is home to numerous species, many of them endangered and protected. Lead by our experienced and sharp-eyed naturalists, this active walking tour offers a chance to spy Cuban Amazon parrots, Hook-billed Kites, Ivory-billed woodpeckers and other colorful species.

Historic Baracoa: Surrounded by tropical forests on the far eastern shores of the island, Baracoa is Cuba’s oldest city; it’s a charming place where the pace of life is refreshingly simple, and many people still make their living by fishing or cultivating coconut and banana – as their families have for generations. As an alternative to the National Park, you can choose a guided tour that will show you the city and introduce you to its friendly residents.

Return to ship for lunch and participate in another enriching talk about Cuba, or you can simply relax on deck and enjoy our ship’s ambience before sitting down to another elegant dinner. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

After a leisurely morning of cruising and lunch onboard, you’ll step ashore in the colorful port of Gibara where Christopher Columbus landed on October 27, 1492. Our comfortable coaches will be waiting to take you about 20 miles into the interior to explore the sites and culture of Holguín, a city where the rhythms of life have changed little over the years. Accompanied by our experienced Cuban guides, you’ll spend time with artisans and musicians, hearing their stories and learning about their daily life and passions. You’ll return to ship with time to refresh before this evening’s farewell dinner. This evening, our ship completes its 360° circumnavigation of the island and begins its return journey across the Florida Straits. An evening briefing will include important disembarkation information and a recap of our voyage. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

After breakfast, you’ll disembark at 9:00 AM in the Port of Miami. We include your return transfer to Miami International Airport for your homeward flight. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Itinerary Map

Cuba 360 Itinerary Map

Prices & Dates

Price per Person

Category Single Double
Category H (Inside Cabin) n/a $4,599
Category G n/a $4,999
Category F $8,958 $5,599
Category E $9,438 $5,899
Category D $10,238 $6,399
Category C $10,718 $6,699
Category B $11,198 $6,999
Category A $11,678 $7,299
Category AA n/a $7,899
Owner’s Suite n/a $8,999
** The prices shown above are in U.S. Dollars. See the cost of this tour in your currency here.

Notes:

  1. The above prices are valid until December 30, 2016.
  2. Single sharing is not available.

Departure Dates

February 20 and 29, March 9 and 27, April 23, November 15 and 24, and December 12, 21, and 30, 2016.

What's Included

Price Includes

  • South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
  • Transfer from the Port of Miami to Miami International Airport at the end of the cruise.
  • Accommodations on board the M/S Saint Laurent.
  • All meals scheduled on board.
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • All applicable entrance fees on the mainland.

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Hotel nights before/after the cruise.
  • Cuban Departure Tax ($25).
  • Cuban Mandated Health Coverage ($50).
  • Visa fee, billed at final invoice ($60).
  • Port charges ($399).
  • Meals and beverages not indicated on the itinerary.
  • Gratuities (see Suggested Gratuities below).
  • Gifts and personal items.
  • Travel insurance.

We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance and to make these arrangements for you.

Accommodations

Additional Details

Group Private: All services included in this tour are operated on a group basis.

Elevations: N/a.

Suggested Gratuities: Gratuities are customary expressions of appreciation for a job well done. It is our goal to ensure that the service you receive is as wonderful as the sites you visit. The amount of the gratuity you choose to give is subject to your satisfaction with your travel experience. To assist you in determining the amount of gratuities, the following guideline is provided: Ship’s Staff and Crew: US $13-15 per guest, per day (given at the end of the cruise). Expedition Leader and Staff: $2-3 per guest per day. Local Guide for Excursions: $3-5 per guest per excursion. Local Driver for Excursions: $1-3 per guest per excursion.

Passport/Visa: U.S. citizens require a visa. The operator of the ship will process the visa for $60, which will be billed on the final invoice. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Cuban embassy in their country before traveling.

Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.

To Book This Trip: Call or email us to confirm the availability of this ship for your desired dates of travel. Once we have confirmed availability, you will need to pay a non-refundable deposit of $1,700 per person plus the cost of the international airfare (if we arrange it for you). Final payment is due 120 days prior to departure.