21305
Cuba/United States
Cuba by Land and Sea: A Grand Voyage Around the Island
Aboard a yacht-inspired ship, immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Cuba, discovering historic plazas, traditional music, remote harbors and distinct architecture in Old Havana.
Rating (4.92)
Program No. 21305RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
6,695
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14 days
13 nights
37 meals
13 B 12 L 12 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Miami
D
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center

Activity note: Please note: Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it on the program. All accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. 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 tradeoff for the authentic connections and enrichment you’ll experience.

Afternoon: The Road Scholar Group Leader will be in the hotel lobby at 4:45 p.m. to accompany the group to the orientation room. Please be on time! Welcome and orientation begins at 5:00 p.m. This very important meeting prepares you for travel in Cuba. Review travel documents, discuss OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulations that govern our program, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, tomorrow’s schedule.

Dinner: Buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant.

DAY
2
Fly to Holguín, Cuba / Introduction to Holguín and Gibara
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Note: Charter flight times to Cuba are subject to change.

Breakfast: A buffet breakfast or boxed breakfast will be included based on the final charter flight time.

Morning: Departure from the hotel to the terminal (final flight times will be confirmed during orientation). The Road Scholar Group Leader will meet the group in the hotel lobby to transfer to the airport via hotel shuttle. Please be in the hotel lobby with your luggage and be ready to depart the hotel 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Transfer to the airport and check in to the charter flight to Holguin. Upon arrival in Holguin, meet your Cuban Study Leader who will provide local history and knowledge throughout the program. Overview of the city of Holguín, capital of the third most populous province in Cuba.

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Drive north to the coastal village of Gibara. When Christopher Columbus first laid eyes on the northern coast of Cuba in 1492, he called this “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.” Discover the main town square on foot, and meet local residents along our way. Late afternoon, check in to the hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant.

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

DAY
3
Cigar Factory, Typesetting Workshop, Health Care Center
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Our first People to People connection this morning will be with workers in a cigar factory, where we’ll learn how workers are trained, their working conditions and the regulations that control quality. Head into the center of Holguín city —officially San Isidore de Holguin Cuba — to meet with workers at a unique paper and typesetting workshop that uses equipment from the early 20th century. Next, we’ll head to a graphic arts cooperative to meet the artists and learn about their inspirations and mediums.

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We attend a rehearsal at the school of the Lyric Opera to hear music from upcoming performances. We conclude our day of People to People connections at a small neighborhood clinic to discuss the care provided by the nurses and how the healthcare system works in Cuba.

Dinner: In a family-owned paladar that specializes in seafood. Enjoy family style platters of chicken, fish, crab, salad and flan.

Evening: At leisure. Stroll the streets of the town and mingle with Cubans out on their evening walk.

DAY
4
Journey Through Eastern Cuba to Santiago
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: Travel by motorcoach on paved roads 110 miles, approximately 3.5 hours, rest stop en route. Walking on cobblestone pavement at El Morro; uneven steps with no railing.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Depart Gibara and set out on our journey inland through Holguín province and on to Santiago de Cuba. En route, we’ll stop at El Cobre Sanctuary, dedicated to Nuestra Senora de la Virgen de la Caridad — Our Lady the Virgin of Charity — Cuba’ patron saint. It has been said that the single symbol capable of uniting Cubans is the Virgin of Charity. Pilgrims from all over Cuba come to El Cobre to pray and ask for favors of the country’s most cherished saint, whose statue was discovered in 1615 according to popular tradition. 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: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We discover the Diego Velazquez House Museum. 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. 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 Road Scholar companions.

DAY
5
Guantanamo City, Cuban Musical Heritage
Santiago de Cuba
B,L
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: The drive to Guantanamo is 55 miles, approximately 1.5 hours, each way.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

Morning: We depart with our Cuban Study Leader 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.) People to People Connection: Meet a local artist and learn about his work and inspiration.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: People to People Connection with La Tumba Francesca Pompadour. Meet and interact with the dancers 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 Afro-Haitian heritage -- a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French court dance. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. People to People Connection with the 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. Return to Santiago.

Dinner: Your choice to explore local paladares or the selection of restaurants in the hotel.

DAY
6
Discover Santiago de Cuba / Board MV Celesytal Crystal
At Sea
B,L,D
MV Celestyal Crystal

Activity note: On board the MV Celestyal Crystal, the non-alcohol beverage package, ship’s gratuities and Road Scholar’s exclusive People to People shore excursions are included.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

Morning: We begin with a field trip to San Juan Hill, where monuments commemorate the battalions who fought here. We explore Santiago de Cuba. The city’s colorful, sometimes turbulent history dates back to 1514 when it was founded by Spanish conquistadors. In Revolution Square, learn about the Cuban Revolution. Walk through the Cemeterio Santa Ifigenia, to examine the most impressive monuments and learn about some of Cuba’s heroes and notables including José Martí (1853–95), a poet, journalist, and revolutionary philosopher regarded as a national hero for giving his life in the fight for Cuban independence.

Lunch: In a paladar.

Afternoon: Transfer to the port to board the MV Celestyal Crystal.

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. The MV Celestyal Crystal navigates to Havana.

DAY
7
At Sea En Route to Havana
At Sea
B,L,D
MV Celestyal Crystal

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Enjoy a day at sea as we navigate to Havana. Enjoy the ship’s cultural and educational activities focusing on Cuba.

Lunch: On board the ship.

Afternoon: A presentation by your Study Leader examines aspects of Cuba's history and culture to deepen your knowledge and understanding.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Evening: The MV Celestyal Crystal continues navigating to Havana. .

DAY
8
Old Havana, Dance Company
Havana
B,L,D
MV Celestyal Crystal

Activity note: Walking and standing outdoors in the sun for up to 2 miles over uneven, cobblestone streets in Old Havana for up to 2 hours. The dance company studio is on the second floor. No elevator.

Breakfast: On board the ship

Morning: The ship arrives in Havana. Disembark and meet your Cuban Study Leader for a full day of exploration. Begin with a People to People Connection 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: At a local paladar.

Afternoon: Return to Old Havana for a walk with your Cuban expert through the cobblestone streets of the historic quarter. From the Plaza de Armas, surrounded by historic buildings in keeping with the Old Town’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to San Francisco de Assisi Square. Return to the ship.

Dinner: On board 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.

DAY
9
In Port in the Heart of Old Havana / Dominoes
At Sea
B,L,D
MV Celestyal Crystal

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

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Continue your exploration of Old Havana, as you walk with your Cuban Study Leader through the exquisitely renovated Plaza Vieja. Examine the architecture and learn about the history. Continue to Plaza de la Catedral, then board your private motorcoach. Make a short stop by the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña to take in the view of Havana’s skyline.

Lunch: Light lunch in a Paladar.

Afternoon: 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. In this exclusive People to People Connection, meet with members of a local dominoes league to learn the Cuban rules, then play 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. Return to the ship.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Evening: The ship departs Havana to navigate west toward remote Isla de la Juventud.

DAY
10
At Sea
At Sea
B,L,D
MV Celestyal Crystal

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Enjoy a day at sea as we navigate to Cienfuegos. Enjoy the ship’s cultural and educational activities focusing on Cuba.

Lunch: On board the ship.

Afternoon: The MV Celestyal Crystal continues navigating to Cienfuegos and Trinidad.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy the final night aboard ship as you enjoy the warm Caribbean breezes on deck, or take in a performance.

DAY
11
Disembark Ship / Trinidad
Trinidad
B,L,D
Hotel La Ronda

Activity note: Walking and standing on paved streets for .5 miles, up to 1 hour at a time. Transfer from Cienfuegos to Trinidad, 1.5 hours. Walking and standing on cobblestone streets with high curbs for 1 mile, up to 1.5 hours at a time, with limited shade.

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Bid the MV Celestyal Crystal farewell as we disembark. Meet your Cuban Study Leader for a stroll through the main square of Cienfuegos, to the shopping street where we 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 work in these stores. Depart to Trinidad, the crown jewel of colonial Cuban cities. Founded in 1514, this time capsule of a city is a mix of historical landmarks and majestic natural beauty.

Lunch: Light lunch in a paladar in Trinidad.

Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet a local artist then explore the historical center of Trinidad on foot with your Cuban Study Leader. Walk to Plaza Mayor to explore the historically and architecturally significant landmarks of this colonial town. Late afternoon, check in at the hotel.

Dinner: In a paladar.

Evening: At leisure to enjoy the tropical resort atmosphere.

DAY
12
Return to Havana / Organic Farm / Community Project
Havana
B,L,D
Four Points by Sheraton Havana

Activity note: The drive from Trinidad to Havana is approximately 200 miles/4.5 hours with a rest stop.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Early morning departure to Havana via private motor coach. En route, discuss current events and daily life with your Cuban Study Leader.

Lunch: In the paladar of an organic farm.

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, and how the farm sells its products. Check in to the hotel.

Dinner: People to People Connection at 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.

DAY
13
Museum of Fine Arts and Hemingway’s Farm
Havana
B,L,D
Four Points by Sheraton Havana

Activity note: Walking and standing in the museum for up to 2 hours. Please note that the museum may not be air-conditioned and does not have an elevator.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Field Trip to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts). Cuban art is renowned worldwide. With a museum curator, we delve into the stories each work of art relates and the statement on politics, culture, and society each artist conveys.

Lunch: Light lunch in a Paladar.

Afternoon: Drive to the outskirts of Havana to Finca La Vigia, the Hemingway Farm. This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize-winning author lived with his third wife Mary for over 30 years. Look into the open windows and doors to see the home in perfect condition with Hemingway’s personal belongings as he left them. Walk the grounds to see his private writing studio, swimming pool, and beloved fishing boat, Pilar. The boat is featured in his novel "Islands in the Stream."

Dinner: Celebrate your journey with a Farewell Dinner in a paladar.

DAY
14
Return Flight to Miami / Program End
Depart Miami
B

Breakfast: A buffet breakfast or boxed breakfast will be included based on the final charter flight time.

Morning: Transfer to Havana airport for return charter flight to Miami. Please do not make any onward flight connections out of Miami less than 3-4 hours after your scheduled arrival from Cuba, due to possible delays with the charter flight and amount of time it takes to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration and check in for onward connections. Upon arrival in Miami, if you have connecting flights, claim your luggage, clear U.S. Immigration and Customs then make your way to the transfer desks to recheck your luggage and secure boarding passes.