Road Scholar : Home
Cuba by Land and Sea: A Grand Voyage Around the Island

Program Number: 21305RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/9/2015 - 3/21/2015; 2/29/2016 - 3/13/2016; 3/7/2016 - 3/20/2016; 3/14/2016 - 3/27/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Cuba/United States
Price starting at: $5,196.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Voyages; Independent City Discoveries
Meals: 34; 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Cuba may be best known for the faded colonial splendor of Havana, but the island’s real story is told in its small villages and varied landscapes. On this remarkable voyage, explore Cuba by land and sea, discovering coastal towns, remote beaches and the lush, tropical interior. Gain a special perspective of the Cuban people, their culture, history and daily life. And learn why Christopher Columbus, upon first laying eyes on the northern coast of Cuba in 1492, said this is “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.”

Activity Particulars

Moderate walking activities in a tropical climate. Streets in colonial districts are made of uneven cobblestone. Participants must be able to walk unassisted or opt out of the activities that involve a lot of walking. Many stairs at sites do not have railings.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Miami, Fla., 1 night; Holguín (Cuba), 2 nights; coach to Santiago de Cuba, 2 nights; aboard MV Celestyal Crystal, 5 nights; coach to Santa Clara, 1 night; coach to Havana, 2 nights; departure.

Days 1-2: Arrival Miami, Fla. / charter flight to Holguín(Cuba):

Meet your Road Scholar Group Leader and fellow participants for program orientation and dinner. The next morning, board your charter flight to Holguín. Lodging: Airport hotel.

Day 3: Holguín province.

Explore “Oriente” – Eastern Cuba - and Holguín Province. Drive through the picturesque north coast and countryside to meet with nurses at a small family clinic and discuss healthcare in Cuba. Meet artisans at a very unique printing workshop. Attend a rehearsal of the Holguin lyric opera theater school. Lodging: Boutique Hotel in Gibara.

Days 4-5: Santiago de Cuba and embark MV Celestyal Crystal.

Continue through the mountains to the eastern coast of Cuba and the former capital, Santiago de Cuba. Take in the views from El Morro, the fortress that guards the entrance to the port. In the city of Guantanamo, meet members of an ancient Cuban-Haitian society called la Tumba Frances, to learn about their unique blend of Haitian and classical French music and dance.

Days 6-9: At Sea/Havana/Maria La Gorda

Get to know Cubans working on board the ship in one on one conversation exchanges and delve further into understanding Cuba during exclusive Road Scholar lectures by your Study Leader. During two full days in port in Havana, walk the cobblestone streets in Old Havana to discover its historic squares. Attend a rehearsal of a Cuban dance group and spend an afternoon playing dominos with members of a local club. Learn about private enterprise from the first American company in Cuba. Learn about Santeria and witness an interactive music and dance performance by Santeria deities. Continue People to People interactions on board the ship during a private salsa lesson and one-on-one conversation. Tender ashore to one of the most pristine spots in the Caribbean, Maria La Gorda.

Days 10-11: Disembark MV Celestyal Crystal in Cienfuegos and Explore Trinidad.

Disembark in Cienfuegos, the “Pearl of the Caribbean,” explore Trinidad de Cuba’s cobblestone streets and brightly painted houses. Coach to Santa Clara. Lodging: Comfortable resort-style hotel in Santa Clara.

Day 12-14: Return to Havana/Departure from Havana to Miami.

Return to Havana. Examine the history of Cuban art at the Havana Museum of Fine Arts. Explore Hemingway’s Farm, Finca La Vigia. Interact with residents at a neighborhood community arts center constructed in a converted water tower and enjoy a choral performance. Lodging: Modern hotel in Havana. Depart from Havana to return to Miami on day 14.

MV Louis Cristal

This 521-foot ship offers a yacht-like experience for up to 1,200 passengers. Its elegant public spaces include three restaurants, several lounges, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym and spa. Passengers will enjoy Caribbean breezes on the sun deck and open promenades. All cabins have private baths, air conditioning, TV and radio.

Meals and Lodgings
    DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
  Miami, USA 1 night
   Hotel Nacional de Cuba
  Havana, Cuba 3 nights
   Hotel Los Caneyes
  Santa Clara, Cuba 1 night
   MV Louis Cristal
  At Sea, At Sea 5 nights
   Melia Santiago de Cuba
  Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 2 nights
  DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Situated one mile from Miami International Airport (MIA), this modern Miami, Florida hotel adjoins the Miami Airport Convention Center and the Miami International Merchandise Mart, which is also open to the public.

The hotel is a 10 minute drive from the airport and offers a free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel. To call the shuttle upon arrival at the airport: On the 2nd Level / Departure Level, go to the nearest outside door and identify the Door number. Call the hotel on (305) 261-3800 and tell them your location. The shuttle will come and pick you up upon request.

  Contact info: 711 NW 72nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33126 USA
phone: 305-261-3800
  Room amenities: 334 oversized guest rooms with complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access, individual temperature and air-conditioning control, alarm clock radio with MP3 connection, coffee maker with coffee, iron and ironing board, 2 line speaker phone and an in room safe.
  Facility amenities: Warm chocolate chip cookie at check-in; restaurant, bar, Automated Teller (ATM), baggage storage, beauty salon, clothing store, gift shop, laundry/valet service, room service, fitness room, heated outdoor pool, the hot tub and whirlpool spa, 24-hour complimentary airport transportation to and from Miami International Airport and the Waterford Blue Lagoon Office Park.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: To be determined Contact Road Scholar Participant Services at (800) 454-5768 for details.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the center of Havana, The Nacional Hotel is situated on a vantage point overlooking the Malecon – Havana’s seafront promenade. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba has hosted numerous illustrious guests: actors, artists and many other famous people. The hotel is a National Monument and is inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
  Contact info: Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Plaza
Havana,  10400 Cuba
phone: + 53 7 836 3564 al 67
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, in-room safe (additional fee), radio, TV, direct-dial telephone, private bathroom with hairdryer. Please note that there are no designated non-smoking rooms.
  Facility amenities: 3 Restaurants, bar, 24 hour room service, outdoor swimming pool, gift shop, beauty salon, Cabaret Parisien show, business center with computers and Internet access (open from 9:00a.m. - 7:00 p.m.) Please note that Internet service in Cuba is expensive and very slow. The hotel has unreliable WiFi service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Los Caneyes
Type: Resort
  Contact info: Avenida Eucaliptos y Circunvalacion
Santa Clara,   Cuba
phone: +53 4 221 8140
  Facility amenities: Swimming Pool Restaurant
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 MV Louis Cristal
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: This 521-foot ship offers a yacht-like experience for up to 1,200 passengers. Its elegant public spaces include three restaurants, several lounges, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym and spa. Enjoy Caribbean breezes on the sun deck and open promenades.
  Ship Information: Capacity: 1200 passengers in 480 staterooms Tonnage 25.611 Length 162 m Breadth 25,6 m Draught 6,10 m Cruising Speed 18 knots Passenger Decks 9 Elevators 4 Stabilizers YES Electric Current 110 - 220V ΑC Classification Society DNV
  Contact info: 300, 840 - 6 Avenue S.W.
Calgary, AB  Canada
phone: 403-770-1083
  Room amenities: Road Scholar participants are accommodated in cabin category XF: Deluxe Outside Cabins on Deck 7. All 480 staterooms are equipped with air conditioning, telephone, television, hairdryer, private bathroom with wash basin, toilet and shower.
  Facility amenities: Lunch and Afternoon Tea served at the Traviata Buffet, Included Dinner in La Scala Restaurant, Optional Alberta Prime Steakhouse Restaurant. Jacuzzi and outdoor swimming pool, Riviera pool bar, Evening entertainment in the Metropolitan Show Lounge and Stars Lounge & Disco. Other facilities feature the Casino, Internet Corner, conference rooms, photo gallery, Emporium Duty Free & Travel Value Shop, fitness center, beauty salon, spa & massage services. The vessel is fully air-conditioned, is equipped with stabilizers, telephone, fax, satellite telephone and physician on board.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Melia Santiago de Cuba
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Melia Santiago is part modern city hotel, part resort-style hotel, situated in a residential area in the heart of Santiago. The hotel is one of the tallest buildings in the city, providing views of the entire area including the Sierra Maestre mountain range. Please note that Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that the potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment you’ll experience.
  Contact info: Avd. de las Américas y Calle M
Santiago de Cuba,  90400 Cuba
phone: +(53) 226 87070
  Room amenities: 300 rooms with air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, LCD TV with 24 multi-language channels, in-room safe (additional charge), direct dial telephone, mini-bar (additional charge), private bathroom with bathtub and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, café, bars, Panoramic rooftop bar, foreign currency exchange, Internet center with PC, WiFi in lobby (additional charge), gift shop, 24-hour doctor on-call, 3 swimming-pools set in spacious gardens and terraces, evening entertainment program with live music, fitness center, massage and sauna. Hotel voltage 110v (60Hz) and 220v (60Hz).
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Day 1: Meet the Group Leader at 4:45 p.m. in the hotel reception to go to Program Orientation. Please schedule your arrival at the hotel no later than 4:00 p.m. You will be staying at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center that night.
  End of Program:
The program ends on Day 13 upon arrival of the charter flight in Miami. You will be staying at Melia Santiago de Cuba the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Elderhostel is licensed under the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the U.S. Department of Treasury for participants to travel to Cuba on a Road Scholar program. Participants will receive a copy of this license prior to travel to Cuba in Miami, during orientation. In addition to the Personal Information Forms, each participant is required to submit an Affidavit of Participation, Charter Reservation Form, ETA Visa Application Form and a clear copy of the passport picture information page prior to departure (check-list provided). These forms are at the end of the First Information Packet and must be completed, signed, and submitted to Road Scholar no later than eight weeks before the program start date. IMPORTANT NOTE: At this time Cuban authorities will not permit any person born in Cuba, regardless of dual nationality or country of residence, to embark or disembark at any Cuban port.
  Parking availability:
Driving to program is not permitted.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Miami
  Transportation to site: The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center is a 10 minute drive from the airport and offers a free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel. To call the shuttle upon arrival at the airport: On the 2nd Level / Departure Level, go to the nearest outside door and identify the Door number. Call the hotel on (305) 261-3800 and tell them your location. The shuttle will come and pick you up upon request.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Santiago de Cuba
  Nearest airport:  Antonio Maceo Airport
  Transportation from site: A group transfer from the hotel in Santiago to the airport for our return charter flight is scheduled for all participants. The charter flight from Santiago to Miami is normally scheduled to land in Miami at 11:15 a.m. Charter flight times are subject to change, and will be confirmed in the final mailing, which is sent approximately 5 weeks prior to the start of your program. We do not recommend booking connecting flights out of Miami before 3:30 p.m.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrivals in Miami for Program Orientation and Introductions
(Monday, March 9)

Note: Please note: The day-by-day schedule in Cuba is a representative guide only as program elements are subject to change on short notice.

 Arrive To: Independent arrivals in Miami. Take the free hotel shuttle from the airport to the hotel. (Details provided in Information Packet.)
 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00pm. Please arrive at the hotel no later than 4 p.m. The Road Scholar Group Leader will be in the hotel lobby at 4:45 p.m. to accompany the group to the orientation room. Welcome and orientation begins at 5:00 p.m. This very important meeting prepares you for travel in Cuba. Review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulations that govern our program, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, tomorrow’s schedule.
 Dinner: In the hotel. Meet your fellow travelers and discuss with your group leader any questions you may have about our program.
 Evening: Get a good night's sleep before the early morning departure to the airport.
Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Charter Flight to Cuba / Museum of Fine Arts / People to People Activity at Booksellers Market
(Tuesday, March 10)

Note: Note: Charter flight times to Cuba are subject to change and will be confirmed in the Final Information Packet. The day-by-day schedule in Cuba is a representative guide only as program elements are subject to change on short notice.

 Breakfast: Breakfast bags will be provided for early departure.
 Morning: Early departure via hotel shuttle to the airport. Please meet your Group Leader in the hotel lobby with your luggage 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. It is mandatory to check in for charter flights to Havana 3 hours prior to departure. Upon arrival in Havana, we meet our Cuban Study Leader.
 Lunch: In Old Havana at the newly renovated Sloppy Joe’s, a historic bar that became famous during the era of Prohibition.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Plaza de Armas Book Market. Havana’s oldest square -- dating back to the 16th Century -- is the site of a famous second-hand book market. Here book sellers offer a variety of books for sale. Meet and talk with some of the sellers for a first-hand, glimpse into this fascinating aspect of life in Cuba. The square itself is surrounded by historic buildings in keeping with the Old Town’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Field Trip: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana (National Museum of Fine Arts). Examine the Cuba’s history through the evolution of art, and the style that has made Cuban art popular around the world.

Hotel Check-in: Check into the hotel for three nights.

 Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, Sierra Maestre on the 25th floor, with awesome views of the city and Havana harbor.
 Evening: After a long day of travel, rest and prepare for a full day tomorrow.
Accommodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Hemingway / People to People Activities at Cooperative Farm and Community Center
(Wednesday, March 11)

Note: Walking and standing on cobblestones, walking and standing for up to 1 mile / 1 hour at a time. Steps with no railings.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Field Trip: Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña. Construction of this fortress, known simply as La Cabaña, took 11 years, from 1763-1774. It is the largest defensive structure in the Americas. Thanks to its massive size and armaments, La Cabaña was never attacked in war, though it figured in more recent Cuban history. Today, it offers ideal views to gain an understanding and appreciation of the city's layout.

Field Trip to Hemingway Farm, Finca Vigía. Ten miles east of Havana is the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula where Ernest Hemingway bought a modest house in 1940 and lived for 30 years with his wife Mary. Here he wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” and “A Movable Feast” while enjoying his passion for fishing with local people. After the writer’s death in 1961, the Cuban government took ownership of the property.

 Lunch: People to People Connection with lunch in the gardens of an organic farm, at a Paladar - a private enterprise restaurant.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection at an organic farm: Meet with members of a cooperative, a joint venture between the government and private enterprise. Learn about urban agriculture, organic and cooperative farming, Producing fresh vegetables, fruits, ornamental plants, seedlings, timber, medicinal plants, and more, the farm sells products directly to members of the community as well as local restaurants.
 Dinner: People to People Connection: Proyecto Muraleando. After beginning neighborhood art workshops in 2001, a small group of artists set out to transform their barrio through a “muraling” project. Murals began appearing, and eventually a community centered event brought together artists, musicians, dancers, singers, actors, poets, and food for a cultural celebration. Meet project members and their families, enjoy dinner that they prepare and serve in this unique setting.
 Evening: Socialize and enjoy music with the people of the neighborhood.
Accommodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: People to People Activities with a Dance Company/ Dominoes – a Cuban Passion
(Thursday, March 12)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: People to People Connection: Attend a rehearsal of a new independent Cuban dance group, MalPaso, and meet its members to discuss their training, hopes, aspirations, and careers.
 Lunch: Private Enterprise People to People: Meet two renowned artists who have set up their own private restaurant business. Learn about their artistic successes and talk about challenges they face as private entrepreneurs. Members of MalPaso join us so that we can continue our conversations over lunch. Find out why they have chosen to work as independent artists instead of with a state-operated company.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Dominoes. Cuba’s national game has its own set of rules, played enthusiastically in private and public. More than competition and skill, it is a greatly enjoyed social activity. Meet with members of a local dominoes league; spend the afternoon learning the Cuban rules, then playing with club members. Teams will rotate and each American will play with one Cuban, talking and getting to know one another during the camaraderie of the game.
 Dinner: On your own to explore your choice of the many new Paladars (privately owned restaurants) now open in Havana. Suggestions will be provided.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Transfer to Santa Clara / People to People Activities with a Senior Center / Troubadours
(Friday, March 13)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Depart Havana and transfer to Santa Clara via private motor coach, approximately 175 miles/3.5 hours with a rest stop. En route, discuss current events and daily life with your Cuban Study Leader.
 Lunch: Upon arrival in Santa Clara, lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet retirees at a local social club, who teach us traditional Cuban dances and games. Learn about life as an active senior citizen with this vivacious group.

People to People Connection: Trovadores (Troubadours). In the medieval era, troubadours were itinerant musicians who wrote and performed their own music on chivalric and romantic themes. Cuba’s trovadores carried on this tradition in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, performing traditional ballads called “trova” that owe their vibrance to Cuba’s combination of Spanish and African heritage. We will meet some local trovadores, have an informal discussion about their lives, and enjoy a performance. Late afternoon, check-in at the hotel.

 Dinner: Enjoy a traditional Pig Roast and buffet in the lovely garden setting near the hotel pool.
 Evening: At leisure to enjoy the gardens and resort atmosphere.
Accommodations: Hotel Los Caneyes
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Explore Cienfuegos / People to People Activities / Transfer to Port and Board Ship
(Saturday, March 14)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Depart Santa Clara and transfer to Cienfuegos, approximately 45 miles / 1.25 hours.

People to People Connection: Meet with members of a noted choral group, many of whom have learned English in the last few years, for interaction and conversation. Learn about their involvement with the choir and enjoy a rehearsal.

Field Trip: Stroll through the main shopping street of Cienfuegos and learn about the differences between Ration, Cuban Pesos, and CUC stores. Explore the complexity of the two-currency system with opportunities to talk with Cubans who shop at these stores as we enter and speak with the workers and hear what they do.

 Lunch: Private enterprise: Lunch in a privately-owned restaurant (Paladar).
 Afternoon: People-to-People Connection: Meet artists who operate a print collaborative, learn their lives, their work and working conditions, and what it means to be an artist in a smaller Cuban town.

People-to-People Connection: We conclude our day in Cienfuegos with a special opportunity to interact with children involved in a community performance art project. We meet children, volunteers, and parents, learn about the project, and participate with kids as they teach us some of their songs.

Continue to the port and board the ship.

 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: At leisure. Settle in and begin exploring the ship that will be our floating hotel for the next five nights. Included in the Road Scholar program: Shipboard beverage package including eight servings per day of water, soda, coffee and tea. The MV Louis Cristal navigates overnight to Isla de la Juventud.
Accommodations: MV Louis Cristal
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: People to People Activities in Punta Frances National Marine Park
(Sunday, March 15)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: People to People Connection: Parque Nacional Marino de Punta Francés. Meet workers from the Punta Francés National Marine Park who are involved in environmental protection on Isla de la Juventud (Island of Youth). This is a unique opportunity to discuss life in the most remote part of Cuba and to learn about work being done to help preserve local reefs. Punta Francés was one of the first marine areas to be protected in Cuba.
 Lunch: Continue the conversation with members of the park service to learn more about their lives. Return to the ship.
 Afternoon: On-board Presentation: Understanding Cuba. With your Study Leader, deepen your understanding of Cuba with a presentation and discussion.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: At leisure. Enjoy the rhythm of life aboard ship as you enjoy the warm Caribbean breezes on deck, or take in a performance as the ship navigates to Havana.
Accommodations: MV Louis Cristal
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: People to People Activities with a Dance Company / Santeria
(Monday, March 16)
 Breakfast: On board the ship
 Morning: People to People Connection: Back in Havana for a day, meet with young Cuban dancers who belong to one of Cuba’s prominent modern dance companies. Learn about their training and life as a professional dancer.
 Lunch: Free Enterprise: Discussion and lunch at a Paladar (privately owned restaurant). Learn the challenges and rewards of being a private business owner.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Explore the Guanabacoa Museum. Learn about religious syncretism -- the fusion of diverse beliefs and practices – view the ethnographic collection of Afro-Cuban religious cults, the best known of which is Santería. Forbidden to practice their native African religion, imported slaves embraced the outward forms of Christianity without any meaningful change in their beliefs. Learn directly from contemporary practitioners of Santería and witness an interactive performance of music and dance representing Santeria deities. Return to the ship.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: At leisure. This ship is docked in the heart of Old Havana so you may wish to enjoy the city in the evening or observe the city lights from a vantage point on the deck.
Accommodations: MV Louis Cristal
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: At Sea En Route to Holguin, People to People Activities with Cuban Crew Members and Cuban Dance Instruction
(Tuesday, March 17)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Enjoy a day at sea as we head towards Holguín.

On-board Presentation: Meet with your Study Leader for a presentation on aspects of Cuba's history and culture to deepen your knowledge and understanding.

People to People Connection: Meet with Cuban members of the crew to learn about their lives, their work, and what attracted them to working on board a ship. Engage in candid, small group conversations.

 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Cuban Dance Instruction. Meet and interact with talented instructors to learn national dances including Salsa. As you practice the steps during a one-on-one lesson, take this opportunity for personal conversations about life and work.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: The MV Louis Cristal continues navigating along the north coast toward eastern Cuba.
Accommodations: MV Louis Cristal
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: People to People Activities at a Health Care Center, Rural School, Paper and Print Factory Meeting Workers and Artists
(Wednesday, March 18)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: The ship arrives in Holguín. When Christopher Columbus first laid eyes on it in 1492, he called this “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.” Now it is the third most populous province in Cuba.

People to People Connections: Drive to a village in the countryside and meet with doctors, nurses, and other staff at a small family clinic, discuss healthcare in Cuba, learn about their training, and gain insights into the care they provide in this rural area.

People to People Connection: Visit a small elementary school, meet with faculty and administrators, and learn more about education in eastern Cuba. This opportunity to converse and exchange ideas is as unique for our hosts as it is for us.

 Lunch: In a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet with workers and artists at a unique paper and print factory that uses equipment from the early 20th Century. Learn about this specialized industry with opportunities to share conversation about life, work, and wages. The workers enjoy demonstrating how they’ve restored the equipment and how it works.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Share highlights of today's experiences with your fellow participants as you reflect on differences between our two countries. The ship navigates overnight to Santiago de Cuba.
Accommodations: MV Louis Cristal
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Santiago: People to People Activities with a Performing Arts School and Community Arts Project
(Thursday, March 19)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: We disembark the ship and meet our eastern Cuban Study Leader.

Field Trip: Santiago de Cuba. The city’s colorful, sometimes turbulent history dates back to 1514 when it was founded by Spanish conquistadors. Walk through the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, to examine impressive monuments to famous Cubans such as poet and national hero José Martí.

Explore the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, better known as El Morro, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles.”

 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Attend a rehearsal of Cutumba, a vibrant dance company that performs Afro-Cuban dance centered on percussion and drumming. After they demonstrate their energetic moves, join them to learn some basic steps yourself and converse with the dancers to learn about their international travels to perform worldwide. People to People Connection: Meet members of a community project that helps share the arts with kids in a needy neighborhood. Learn about their work, the great need in this mostly Afro-Cuban part of the city, meet some of the kids in their classrooms. Late afternoon hotel check-in.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant.
 Evening: It has been another full day. Enjoy the resort atmosphere, a lovely setting for after-dinner conversations with your travel companions.
Accommodations: Melia Santiago de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: People to People Activities in Guantanamo City with Cuban Musical Heritage / Family Visit
(Friday, March 20)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Full day Field trip to the city of Guantanamo (55 miles, approximately 1.5 hours), founded by Catalan (Spanish) and French colonists who eventually intermingled with native people and slaves. The area’s deep-rooted musical and dance traditions were also influenced by Franco-Haitian immigrants. (Please note: The US base of Guantanamo is in a different location and is neither accessible nor visible.)

People to People Connection: La Tumba Francesca Pompadour. Meet and interact with dancers and perfomers who carry on this Franco-Haitian tradition. The dance, song, and drumming style known as “Tumba Francesa” (French drum) was brought to Cuba by Haitian slaves who were resettled in the island’s eastern regions during the 1790s. It embodies one of the oldest and strongest links to the Afro-Haitian heritage -- a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French dances. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

People to People Connection: Casa del Changüí. Meet and interact with musicians who play this style of popular Cuban music and see how each instrument is played. Changüí originated in the early 19th Century, combining elements of Spanish canción with African rhythms and percussion instruments.

 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Return to Santiago. En route, a People to People Connection Meet and interact with a local family. Their home, as is typical with many Cuban families, houses three generations. Over coffee and conversation, learn what life is like for typical Cubans in this area.
 Dinner: Private Enterprise People to People: Enjoy good food and good company during a farewell dinner in a Paladar. Meet the family that owns and operates this charming privately owned restaurant in their home.
 Evening: Prepare for your journey back to Miami tomorrow.
Accommodations: Melia Santiago de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Return Charter Flight to Miami / Program End
(Saturday, March 21)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Transfer to Santiago airport for return charter flight to Miami. Charter flight times are confirmed in the final documents mailing. Please do not make any onward flight connections out of Miami prior to 3:00 p.m. due to possible delays with the charter flight and wait time at U.S. Customs and Immigration.

Upon arrival in Miami, if you have connecting flights, clear U.S. Immigration and Custom then make your way to the transfer desks to recheck your luggage and secure boarding passes.

Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Author: Pierre Hausherr (Photographer), Francois Missen

Description: With full-page photographs, introductory essays on history, architecture, music, food and more, this oversized, illustrated paperback by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Francois Missen and photographer Pierre Hausherr captures the spirit of Cuba, its people, nature and culture.

Cuba Classics, A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles

Author: Christopher P. Baker

Description: Himself a fan of the open road, Baker celebrates the extraordinary cars, the remarkable people who love them and the Cuban love affair with the U.S. automobile in dozens of dazzling color photographs.

Cuba Map

Author: Borch Maps

Description: A detailed, double-sided laminated map at a scale of 1:1,000,000.

Cuba and Its Music, From the First Drums to the Mambo

Author: Ned Sublette

Description: A thorough and entertaining history of Cuba and its music by the popular radio producer, music historian and cofounder of Cuban record label QbaDisc.

Cuba, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Ann Louise Bardach

Description: Bardach (Without Fidel) samples terrific contemporary writers for this anthology, organized geographically.

Cuba, What Everyone Needs to Know

Author: Julia Sweig

Description: Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Julia Sweig traces the geography, history and identity of Cuba in this admirably succinct portrait of the island nation and its role in world affairs. This just-released second edition includes Sweig's 2010 interview with Fidel Castro and key events of the last few years: Raul Castro's assumption of power from his brother Fidel, economic and political reforms since Raul came to power, and the changes in US-Cuba relations following the election of Barack Obama. One in a series of balanced, concise guides by Oxford, which also includes China, Turkey and Burma.

Culture Smart! Cuba

Author: Mandy Macdonald

Description: A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.

Dreaming in Cuban

Author: Cristina Garcia

Description: A short, poetic novel of three generations of Cuban women, their reaction to the revolution and the complex relation between those who remained in Cuba and those who settled in the United States. Excellent reading.

Moon Handbook Cuba

Author: Christopher P. Baker

Description: Baker's comprehensive, indispensable guide leaves no stone unturned, covering the natural, cultural and political life of the island with style.

Our Man in Havana

Author: Graham Greene

Description: The classic story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman who gets accidentally drawn into cold war espionage with disastrous results.

Telex from Cuba

Author: Rachel Kushner

Description: Kushner re-imagines the world of her mother in this astonishingly wise first novel set in the American enclave in 1950s Cuba. Riveting.

The History of Cuba

Author: Clifford L. Staten

Description: Staten covers the sweep of Cuba's history from its earliest days as a Spanish colony, through its wars for independence and the U.S. occupation to Batista, the Cold War, and the Special Period, when Cuba fell into crisis after the breakup of the Soviet Union -- all in under 200 pages. A Palgrave Essential History.

The Sugar King of Havana

Author: John Paul Rathbone

Description: John Paul Rathbone recounts ""elegant, decadent and whirligig years" of pre-revolutionary Havana and the dramatic life of Julio Lobo, the richest man in Cuba (until Castro’s revolution did away with such men). Surviving assassin's bullets and making and losing two fortunes, Cuba's last tycoon went from glittering man about town in pre-Revolutionary Havana -- and one of the world's richest men -- to solitary exile in Spain. With a mother that traveled in those same circles in Havana, Rathbone brings depth and the prespective of an insider to this fantastic story.

Trading with the Enemy

Author: Tom Miller

Description: Miller captures the openness, sensuality and pride of Cuba and the Cubans in this eloquent account of entertaining travels in Fidel's Cuba.

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