Explore the breadth of Cuba in depth—from east to west, by land and by sea—while interacting daily with friendly and inquisitive Cubans from all walks of life who are quick to smile and talk openly with you about their day-to-day lives, culture, work and family traditions. Gain insight into the lasting influence of Spain; the glamorous landscape that once drew celebrities, gangsters, movie stars, writers, artists and heads of state; the legacy of Fidel Castro; and the island’s emerging future. Experience Cuba’s vivid culture and its irresistible zest for life.
Complementary alcoholic & nonalcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise!
Frequent study leader and historian, John Meffert is a long-time proponent of preservation. As former director of the National Trust’s Southern Office, John now serves as a consultant on heritage conservation services in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, where he has also served as the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston preserving the historic resources of the city. John has been to Cuba on several National Trust Tours for the past 10 years! (January 10 departure)
Accompanied by experienced, English-speaking Cuban hosts, immerse yourself in a comprehensive and intimate travel experience that explores the history, culture, art, language, cuisine and rhythms of daily Cuban life. Interact with local Cuban experts including musicians, artists, farmers, academics and architects.
Miami, FL, U.S./Havana, Cuba –
Day 1 and Day 2
Depart Miami on your short flight to Cuba. Upon arrival in Havana, meet your host and begin your immersion into Cuban daily life. Accommodations for three nights are in the MELIÁ HABANA HOTEL.
Cuba’s capital, the early-20th-century “Paris of the Caribbean,” remains arguably one of a kind, mixing impressive urban architecture and culture with an earthy, informal vibe and a lively arts and music scene, while retaining a distinctly vintage feel bolstered by the prevalence of 1950s American-made automobiles fondly called “Yank tanks” by the locals who painstakingly maintain them. Visit the downtown district of Vedado, a fascinating mix of old and new. See the University of Havana, the pre-revolutionary Capitolio reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol and the iconic Malecón (oceanfront promenade). See Revolution Square, where Fidel Castro gave his famous hours-long May Day speeches. Cruise along in a private, antique American-made car on the Malecón in Old Havana to the Spanish colonial core of Habana Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This colorful neighborhood of winding cobblestone streets, pastel-hued houses and picturesque squares is fi lled with architectural beauty, including the bayside Plaza de Armas, the site where San Cristóbal de la Habana was founded in 1514. (1B,2L,1R,2D)
Havana/Pinar del Río and Viñales Valley – Day 3
The striking Viñales Valley in Cuba’s westernmost province of Pinar del Río is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known for its natural beauty, the valley is a much-photographed 270-square-mile plain surrounded by limestone karst hills called mogotes. The farmland here is among Cuba’s richest, and the ancient agricultural practices produce robust coffee and some of the world’s best tobacco, products central to Cuban history and identity. (B,L,D)
Havana/Cienfuegos – Day 4
This morning, visit Finca Vigía, the former home of Ernest Hemingway, affectionately called “Papa” by locals. Here, he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, based on a local fi sherman, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Known as the “Pearl of the South,” the UNESCO World Heritage-designated colonial harbor city of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 by French settlers from Louisiana and Bordeaux while located in a Spanish territory, which has made for a fascinating blend of history and local culture today. Once a trading port for sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, the city was built in a neoclassical style from the wealth of these industries, and its original grid layout plan is an incredible example of early urban planning. This afternoon, embark LE PONANT and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Cienfuegos for Santa Clara – Day 5
This morning, visit the eclectic Teatro Tomás Terry, which hosted its first opera in 1890. From Cienfuegos, travel to Santa Clara, the gateway to Cuba’s historically and agriculturally rich central region. Santa Clara, long associated with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, has been shaped by the most prestigious university outside Havana and features one of the country’s most spectacular grand colonial theaters. See the beautiful Teatro La Caridad, constructed in 1885 and one of the Eight Grand Theaters of the Cuban Colonial era, where famed musicians such as Enrico Caruso once performed. See the impressive Che Guevara Monument and walk through the comprehensive History Museum of the Revolution. (B,L,D)
Trinidad – Day 6
Developed from the wealth of the sugar industry in the 19th century, UNESCO World Heritage-designated Trinidad retains much of its colonial charm, with terra-cotta tiled roofs, pastel-hued houses, cobblestone streets and ornate tiled courtyards. Walk through 18th-century Plaza Mayor, and visit the neoclassical Museo Romántico and Palacio Cantero, two museums showcasing the history of Trinidad’s residents. (B,L,D)
Cruising the Caribbean Sea – Day 7
Enjoy informative onboard discussions and lectures about Cuban history and culture while at sea. (B,L,D)
Santiago de Cuba – Day 8 and Day 9
Cuba’s second largest city is perhaps the island’s most vibrant and culturally rich, with its lively music and attractive colonial architecture. On the panoramic city tour of Santiago de Cuba, see Céspedes Park including historic City Hall, where Fidel Castro announced victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and 15th-century Casa de Diego Velázquez, the oldest standing house in Cuba. Visit the expansive Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, the grandiose final resting place of former president Fidel Castro; Cuban national hero and important Latin American literature figure José Martí; Emilio Bacardí Moreau, known for his namesake rum; and Compay Segundo, guitarist of the Buena Vista Social Club. View imposing Revolution Square and historic San Juan Hill, a pivotal site during the Spanish-American War. See the original Bacardí rum factory, first opened in 1868, and enjoy a traditional Cuban rum tasting. In the lush Jardín de los Helechos, walk among over 350 species of ferns and 90 types of orchids. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Castillo San Pedro de la Roca (El Morro), a 17th-century fortress built to protect the important port of Santiago de Cuba Bay. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception on board. (2B,2L,1R,2D)
Santiago de Cuba/Holguín/U.S. -Day 10
This morning, disembark LE PONANT and transfer to Holguín for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
Miami Hotel Pre-Program Option Arrive in Miami the day before your flight to Cuba. Enjoy overnight accommodations in the DOUBLETREE MIAMI AIRPORT HOTEL, a complimentary welcome drink, Cuba briefing and a convenient shuttle to the airport.