20612
Cuba

Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey: Santiago de Cuba to Havana

Embark on a comprehensive exploration of Cuba as you meet its people, learn its history and discover the enduring traditions from Santiago de Cuba to Havana.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20612RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
5,349
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
15 days
14 nights
35 meals
14 B 11 L 10 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Miami
D
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center

Activity note: This daily schedule is a representative guide. Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice, as are flight times. Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After you check in to the hotel, take your bags to your room. We will gather in the hotel lobby at 4:45 p.m. when the Group Leader will accompany everyone to our meeting room. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. This meeting is essential for all participants. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the regulations that govern our program set by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice; therefore, the daily schedule is a representative guide. In Cuba, we will have a bilingual Cuban host who will be with us for the entire program. We will also review the up-to-date program schedule, roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will announce flight times to/from Cuba (subject to schedule changes by the airline). Our accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that any potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment we will experience. Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it on the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel’s restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal with salad, main dish, sides, and dessert. Coffee, tea, water, soft drinks included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Fly to Santiago, Cuba, Introduction to Santiago
Santiago de Cuba
B,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach driving approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 1/2 mile and standing on varied terrain. Total time in flight approximately 3 hours 10 minutes with connection. Layover is 1 hour 35 minutes.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will assemble in the lobby with our luggage for transfer to the airport terminal accompanied by our Group Leader. Be sure you have everything with you and are ready to depart 15 minutes before the scheduled transfer. We will then transfer to the airport and check in to American Airlines flight number 949 to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We'll have a 1 hour 35 minute layover in the Port-au-Prince airport. Then, we'll board another plane for the flight to Santiago de Cuba, Sunrise Airways flight number S6 300 departing at 2:15 pm. Flight times are always subject to schedule changes made by the airlines and will be confirmed at orientation.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own. Due to the flight times, we recommend purchasing a portable lunch in the Miami International Airport.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Santiago in the mid-afternoon, we will meet our Cuban host who will provide local history and knowledge throughout the program. We'll board our private motorcoach to depart for a late afternoon check in at the hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel’s restaurant. Water and coffee included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. After a long day of travel, rest and prepare for a full day tomorrow.

DAY
3
El Cobre Sanctuary, Old Santiago, Community Arts School
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving 10 miles total, under 1 hour total. Walking on busy cobblestone streets. Walking in an old stone fortress with many steps.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, the self-serve buffet includes cereal, yogurt, fruit, juice, and eggs cooked to order served at the table, with coffee, tea, water included.

Morning: We will start our exploration of Santiago by visiting El Cobre Sanctuary, dedicated to the patron saint of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity. Here, pilgrims from all over Cuba come to pray and ask for favors of the country’s most cherished saint. Next, discover Old Santiago by motorcoach and on foot during which we'll learn about the Diego Velazquez House. The oldest house still standing in Cuba, this early colonial abode dating from 1522 was the official residence of the island’s first governor, situated on the main square of Santiago. Next, we will travel to Cayo Granma where we'll meet and converse with local fishermen from the community.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch on Cayo Granma. Water included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: On our return to the center of Santiago by motorcoach, we'll stop for a view of El Morro Fortress. The fortress, overlooking one of the oldest ports in Cuba, protected the harbor of Santiago de Cuba. Next, we'll continue to a community arts center to enjoy a presentation and engage with students and directors to learn about the training students and community members receive there. We will then visit a local project which integrates children and youth with disabilities into the community. Back at the hotel, we'll listen to a lecture on U.S. – Cuba relations.

Dinner: In a paladar we’ll enjoy a typical Cuban meal. “Paladares” are distinctively Cuban private restaurants.

Evening: At leisure. Perhaps you’ll do as the locals, and go for a stroll through town.

DAY
4
Guantanamo, Dance Group, Artist Visit
Santiago de Cuba
B,L
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving motorcoach approximately 2 hours, with stops. Walking on busy cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart by motorcoach with our Cuban host on a full-day field trip to the city of Guantanamo, 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.) We will meet and interact with La Tumba Francesca Pompadour and the dancers who carry on this Franco-Haitian tradition. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. From UNESCO: “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 Afro-Haitian heritage—a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French court dance.” From there, we will drive to meet and interact with musicians who play the Casa del Changüí 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 paladar

Afternoon: We will continue our exploration of Guantanamo. Next, We will meet a local artist and learn about his work and inspiration. We will have a late afternoon arrival back to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own. Choose to explore local paladares or explore restaurant options at the hotel. Your Group Leader and host can offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Horse & Buggy Ride, Lyric Opera School
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving about 110 miles total, under 3.5 hour total with stops. Walking on busy cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we will enjoy a buffet with a variety of options; coffee, tea, water included.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and depart Santiago de Cuba by motorcoach for Gibara, with stops along the way. First, we'll stop in Bayamo, the second city founded by the Spanish in Cuba in 1513. At another stop along the way, we will experience a horse and buggy ride first hand during a short carriage ride through the city, an enlightening change of perspective from riding in a motorcoach.

Lunch: At a local paladar.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll board the motorcoach to continue toward Gibara. En route, we will make a stop at an overlook to take in the scenery. We will make another stop in Holguin to to attend a rehearsal at the school of the Lyric Opera to hear music from upcoming performances. Following our visit, we will continue to the hotel in Gibara for a late afternoon check in.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Gibara, Cigar Factory, Holguin
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving 70 miles total, 2.5 hours total. Walking on busy cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning, we will explore the main square of Gibara with our Cuban host. Next we will visit a cigar factory and have a discussion with the workers there. After that, we will visit a knitting group which teaches young girls to knit and keep the art form alive. We will then depart to Holguin in the late morning.

Lunch: At a local paladar in Holguin.

Afternoon: We will explore the city of Holguin with our Cuban host. Then, we will board our private motorcoach to visit a unique paper and typesetting workshop that uses equipment from the early 20th century and meet with workers there. Next, we will visit a local couple, both artists, to see some of their work and learn about the inspiration for their projects. In the mid-afternoon, we'll depart for Gibara by motorcoach.

Dinner: In a local paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Transfer to Camagüey, Artist Gallery
Camaguey
B,L,D
Gran Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving all day about 200 miles, 8 hours total, with stops and visits en route. Road conditions vary and can be bumpy at times. The hotel in Camagüey is situated in a pedestrian street, about 2 blocks from the drop-off point. Motorcoach access in Camagüey is limited.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out and depart the hotel by motorcoach for Camaguey, in the center of the island.

Lunch: In a restaurant in Camaguey, we will have a plated meal.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we'll depart for the hotel to check in. After a brief break to settle into our rooms, we'll visit a unique artist studio to meet the owner and some of the resident artists, each one using a different medium. This presents the unique opportunity to discuss the role of the artist in Cuban society and to understand the level of freedom they are given in their pursuit of creativity. It is also an opportunity to engage with the owner, who is a member of the Cuban Jewish community. We will return to the hotel by motorcoach in the late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we will have a buffet meal, with water included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Discover the Artists of Camagüey
Camaguey
B,L
Gran Hotel

Activity note: Climbing into a pedicab (about 1 foot up) and riding on sometimes bumpy streets.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will enjoy a buffet featuring a variety of options. Water, coffee, and juice included.

Morning: This morning, we will visit a flamenco company to observe dancers during their daily rehearsal, and learn from the company manager the challenges of operating a performance company. The third-largest city in Cuba, the historic center of Camaguey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that just celebrated its 500-year anniversary. We will explore the main squares, the church, and the city park by pedicab, each uniquely decorated by a local artist. Traveling by pedicab is an intimate introduction to the pulse of the city's streets and residents. After our pedicab ride, we will meet with a local independent leather artist, Pepe Gutierrez, who creates unique sculptures that combine nature, Afro-Cuban spiritual traditions, and art. Next, we will meet the creator of a unique public art program that has received UNESCO awards for cultural heritage. Martha Jimenez is a world-renowned sculptor and painter, who created the Plaza Carmen Sculpture Project and will share with us her inspiration for the project.

Lunch: At a paladar, we will have a plated meal, with water and coffee included.

Afternoon: This afternoon, we will visit a local pottery workshop where we'll meet with the craftsmen making a variety of impressive ceramic artwork. They will explain the history of their craft and stages of production.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Trinidad
Cienfuegos
B,L,D
Hotel San Carlos

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving over winding roads for approximately 5 hours with stops, over the course of the day. Strenuous walking up to 2.5 miles over uneven cobblestone streets in Trinidad with limited shade and places to sit. The historic center of Trinidad is not accessible to motorcoaches and must be accessed on foot.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart to Trinidad, sometimes called the crown jewel of colonial Cuban cities. Founded in 1514, this time capsule of a city is a mix of historic landmarks and majestic natural beauty.

Lunch: At a paladar in Trinidad.

Afternoon: On foot, we will discover the historic center of Trinidad with our Cuban host. We’ll walk to Plaza Mayor to explore the historically and architecturally significant landmarks of this colonial town. Afterwards, we’ll board the motorcoach for Cienfuegos and check into the hotel upon arrival in the late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will enjoy a buffet featuring a variety of options.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
City of Cienfuegos, Musical Performance
Cienfuegos
B,L
Hotel San Carlos

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach Driving 1 hour, 15 miles total. Walking and standing on pavement up to 2 hours, 1 mile at a time.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will enjoy a buffet featuring a variety of options. Water, juice, coffee included.

Morning: We’ll enjoy a short walk through Plaza Jose Marti, the main square in Cienfuegos, and talk briefly about the square's history as we see local life and observe the beautiful buildings that surround it, including the Tomas Terry Theater. Next, we will drive to the community of Pepito Tey. Now named for a slain revolutionary, the town was founded by Boston Brahmin Edwin Atkins and was nationalized in Castro’s revolution. We’ll see vestiges of the past—like a steel skeleton that once was an operating sugar plantation and the old Atkins house—as well as windows into current day, visiting a schoolhouse.

Lunch: At a paladar in Cienfuegos.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will take a field trip to the Vocational School at the City Conservatory where we'll learn about the curriculum. Next, we’ll enjoy a performance by one of Cienfuegos’ talented musical groups and discuss their musical careers, how they studied their art, and what a typical day is for them. We will then return to the hotel in the mid-afternoon.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Troubadour Performance, Senior Center
Santa Clara
B,L,D
Hotel E Central

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving for approximately 1 hour. The center of Santa Clara is inaccessible to motorcoaches and must be accessed on foot.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and depart for Santa Clara. Once there, we’ll enjoy a sampling of troubadour music performed by a local group We will then depart for a senior center, where we’ll enjoy lively interactions with a group of senior citizens. These folks will share their leisure activities and discuss how some Cubans enjoy retirement.

Lunch: At a paladar in Santa Clara.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will visit a Hebrew Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum of Santa Clara. We will then continue to the hotel by motorcoach for a mid-afternoon check in.

Dinner: At a local paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Transfer to Havana, Old Havana, Dominoes
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving 3 hours, 174 miles total. The exploration of Old Havana is on foot through pedestrian-only areas and necessitates walking and standing outdoors over uneven, cobblestone streets with high curbs for 2 hours, about 2 miles.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will enjoy a buffet featuring a variety of options. Coffee, tea, juice, water included.

Morning: We will depart to Havana, arriving in time for lunch.

Lunch: At a local paladar in Havana.

Afternoon: We will discover two of the four historic plazas of Old Havana on foot. Each square has its own unique features. During our walking exploration, we will meet with members of a graphic arts cooperative at their studio and discuss what they do 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. We’ll meet members of a local dominoes league, learn the Cuban rules, then play with club members. Teams will rotate and each American will play with one Cuban, an opportunity to practice a few words in Spanish Following our visit, we will continue to our hotel for a late afternoon check in.

Dinner: At the hotel. Water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Cuban Architecture, Old Havana, Fusterlandia
Havana
B,L
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing outdoors in the sun for up to 2.5 miles over uneven, cobblestone streets in Old Havana for up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will enjoy a buffet featuring a variety of options. Water, juice, coffee, tea included.

Morning: We will begin our day with an expert presentation at the hotel on the evolution of Havana’s modern architecture, the restoration work being done, and the challenges and vision for Havana’s future. We’ll then depart the hotel to explore the second two plazas of Old Havana with our Cuban host.

Lunch: At a local paladar

Afternoon: Following lunch, we will visit a community project that helps showcase artists from difficult backgrounds. Next, we'll visit Fusterlandia, on the outskirts of Havana, where we'll discover the astounding creations of José Rodriguez Fuster, who has redecorated the neighborhood in his own artistic vision. We'll return to the hotel by motorcoach in the mid-afternoon.

Dinner: On your own to discover one of the many paladares in Havana. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Religion in Cuba, Callejon de Hamel, Dance Rehearsal
Havana
B,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving 5 miles, 1/2 hour total. Walking and standing at the Callejon de Hamel.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning, we will enjoy an expert presentation at the hotel on religion and religious beliefs in Cuba. Next we will visit Callejon de Hamel, an alley filled with colorful murals and sculptures with our Cuban host.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost for you try a paladar of your choosing. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We’ll board our motorcoach and depart to the rehearsal space of a private modern dance group. We’ll observe a rehearsal and have conversation and interactions with some of the group’s members. On the way back to the hotel, we will visit the famous Revolution Square, the site of Fidel Castro's speeches.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Program Concludes
Depart for Miami
B

Activity note: The Group Leader will announce check-out time. Getting on/off motorcoach. The walk from the arrival gate in Miami International airport to the U.S. Immigration and Customs area is 10-15 minutes. Assistance can be requested at check-in.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach and transfer to Aeropuerto José Martí — José Martí International Airport (HAV) for the return flight to Miami; flight times subject to change by the airlines. The group will check into American Airlines #1334 departing at 11:45 AM. Please allow at least 3-4 hours after arrival before making onward flight connections to allow for possible flight delays and time to pass through U.S. Customs and Immigration. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback