Cuba & Its People

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DETAILS

Meet independent, small business owners, students, community leaders, artisans, dancers and more who share their personal stories and unique perspectives. Our expert-led excursions offer intimated exposure to privately owned businesses and inspiring community projects, helping you learn about this island nation’s fascination history, heritage and culture.

Pricing from
$4,995
Trip Type
Group Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
Departure Dates
Nov 10, 2021 - Nov 17, 2021

AIRFARE

Airfare included from Miami

TRANSFER INFORMATION

TOUR MAP

Cuba map

ITINERARY

  • day 1

    Depart Miami, FL | Havana, Cuba

    Passengers depart for Havana, Cuba. Arrive in Havana and proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where a Travel representative will meet you.

    Transfer with your group and check in to the Hotel Melia Cohiba. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

    Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a festive Welcome Dinner at a local paladar, a privately owned and operated restaurant. During a period of reform in the 1990s, many Cubans were allowed to open their own restaurants. Each paladar offers a unique setting and a menu of authentic, regional cuisine. Enjoy an opportunity to meet and mingle with locals on your first night in Cuba, while supporting Cuban entrepreneurialism.

  • day 2

    Havana

    Enjoy a breakfast buffet at your hotel each morning.

    Enrichment: Urban Planning and the Architectural Challenges in Havana.
    Meet Cuban architect Miguel Coyula for a discussion about contemporary city planning in the Cuban capital.

    Discovery: Enigmatic Habana Vieja.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Spanish colonists founded Havana’s historic district, Habana Vieja, in 1519. Here, cobbled plazas teem with locals discussing baseball, men playing dominos and flea markets hawking art, used books and eye-catching souvenirs. Enjoy your first taste of this unique, well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage at the Plaza de Armas, the city’s oldest square, and see the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, residence of the colonial Spanish governors, and the Plaza de la Catedral. Along the way, enjoy a one-of-a-kind cultural experience at an authentic Cuban flea market. Step into the world of free enterprise while browsing leather items, paintings, souvenirs, jewelry, books and a variety of other handicrafts. Stop to chat with the habaneros, or local vendors, and try your hand at haggling for treasures and, in turn, supporting their families.
    Continue to the Callejón de los Peluqueros, also referred to as “Alley of the Barbers” or “Hairdressers’Alley.” Following the lead of Gilberto Valladares Reina, many local Cubans have become successful in their private businesses. Explore the alley, which is filled with barbershops, art galleries, restaurants and a clothing store. Talk with some of the owners and learn how they became enterprising entrepreneurs.

    Dine on Cuban specialties during lunch in Old Havana.

    Discovery: Casa de la Cultura.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Visit the Casa de la Cultura, a center dedicated to generating cultural development and preserving Cuba’s art and heritage. Interact with the center’s staff and learn about their commitment to promoting art, culture and literature within Cuba. Also, meet children who hone their talents with dance and theater through the center’s many workshops.

    Savor the flavors of Cuba during dinner at a paladar with your fellow travelers.

  • day 3

    Havana

    nrichment: U.S. and Cuban Relations.
    Join a University of Havana professor for a discussion about the U.S., Cuba and the Cuban economy. Discovery: In-Depth Havana.
    Activity level: Mild and Moderate

    The streets of Havana are filled with vintage American convertibles. In fact, there are approximately 60,000 vintage cars in Cuba! These 1950s classics, imported before the U.S. trade embargo began in 1960, still run because of the ingenuity of their owners. Although these vehicles may be a hodgepodge of hand-built, improvised parts, most of them are still on the road today. Climb aboard one of these Cuban treasures, drive through Havana’s historic quarter and enjoy interacting with your friendly driver. Car enthusiasts will enjoy peeking beneath the hood to learn some of the secrets behind their maintenance. In doing so, you’ll learn about the challenges that Cubans face in getting access to basic necessities, comforts and luxuries as well as the ingenious ways they have for resolviendo, or resolving, to get what they need.

    Visit a contemporary dance studio for a behind-the-scenes look into Cuba’s infectious dance scene. Meet a few of the studio’s talented dancers and, during a discussion with these specialists, learn about their experiences and commitments to their art and training. Then witness their talents firsthand during a dance rehearsal.

    Dig into a delicious Cuban meal at a privately owned paladar.

    Continue your walking tour of Havana Vieja and admire the 19th-century Fountain of Lions in the historic Plaza de San Francisco. Stop at Dador, an independently-owned clothing store founded by three Cuban women. During intimate conversations with the women, learn about the hardships, challenges and experiences with starting and owning a female-led business in Cuba.

    Discovery: Afro-Cuban Dance.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Enjoy an intimate gathering with local dancers. Born and raised in Havana, dancing has been a part of their lives since childhood and each has been a part of several dance troupes and studios through the years. Now, we can assist them in pursing their individual journeys as they share their passion by teaching tango and salsa. You may even try a few steps yourself!

    Venture out for dinner at your leisure. Your Travel Director will be available to offer suggestions on dining choices.

  • day 4

    Havana

    Discovery/Enrichment: Contemporary Art in Cuba.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Join a discussion about contemporary Cuban artists and their work. Wilfredo Benítez of the nonprofit arts advocacy group, the Ludwig Foundation, will lead the talk. Visit the National Museum of Fine Arts in central Havana to see a collection of Cuban art featuring Cuban artists from the 17th century until today. The museum is also home to collections by Goya, Rubens, Murillo and other impressionists, plus a host of Greek and Roman art.

    Discovery: Inside an Art Studio.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Cuba’s art scene reflects a diverse menagerie of African, North and South American, and European cultures and influences. Be immersed in Cuba’s thriving art culture during a visit to Casa Fuster, the home and studio of Cuban painter and sculptor Jose Fuster, a notable artist who was influenced by the works of Picasso. Witness his vibrantly colored mosaics, followed by an in-depth discussion with a local artist about his work, the obstacles to opening a private studio in Cuba and the opportunities for Cuban artists.

    Sit down to a group lunch at Casa Fuster.

    Enjoy a special reception and dinner this evening at the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (LFC). Founded in 1995 by Peter and Irene Ludwig, the LFC is a non-governmental, non-profit art and cultural institution that is dedicated to protecting and promoting Cuban artists in Cuba as well as internationally. The Foundation works with emerging artists in a variety of mediums and artistic expression, from mobile app development to graphic design and more. During tonight’s event, meet independent local artists and learn about their desires to pursue artistic ventures.

  • day 5

    Caimito | Havana

    Activity level: Mild
    Travel outside of Havana to the municipality of Caimito located in the western province of Artemisa. Visit Finca Marta, a 20-acre farm started in 2011 by agronomist Fernando Funes. Today, the farm grows more than 60 varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs that are free from agrochemicals, and it supplies organic produce to many of Havana’s privately-owned restaurants. Learn about Funes’ vision to transform the Cuban farming model by using resource-efficient artisanal farming methods and his goals for helping Cuban farmers make a living from their land. During your tour, discover how the farm runs mostly on solar power and how compost is created from horse manure, and meet and interact with some of the farm’s workers.

    Dine on a delicious farm-to-table meal during lunch at Finca Marta.

    Discovery: Norma Guillard.
    Activity level: Mild

    Meet with Norma Guillard, Cuban social psychologist in Santiago de Cuba and adjunct lecturer at the University of Havana teaching psychology and gender. Guillard is recognized for her work on issues of gender, race and sexual orientation, as well as issues of diversity and identity in a Cuban and Caribbean context. In 1961, 15-year-old Guillard joined the Cuban Literacy Campaign. Listen as Norma relays stories about her work as a teenage literacy worker, and watch “Maestra,” a documentary about the women and girl volunteers who taught more than 700,000 Cubans to read and write. Guillard also founded an LGBT rights group and she runs sexual health workshops for women in low-income neighborhoods.

    Enjoy dinner at one of Cuba’s finest paladares, a great example of Cuba’s incremental shift to a more free-market economy

  • day 6

    Cienfuegos | Trinidad

    After breakfast, transfer to Cienfuegos.

    Discovery: National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Visit the gardens of the UNEAC, a professional organization that is dedicated to stimulating and protecting artistic creation. Founded in 1961 by National Poet Nicolás Guillén, the UNEAC has more than 8,000 members consisting of writers, musicians, painters and sculptors. Meet with the president of the Cienfuegos union, Orlando Garcia, learn about the center and interact with Cuban artists.

    Discovery: Cienfuegos, the “Pearl of the South!”
    Activity level: Moderate

    French-inspired Cienfuegos is commonly referred to as the “Pearl of the South.” Take a walking tour of Parque Martí, the main square of Cienfuegos. See the cathedral built in 1819 and admire its French stained-glass windows and striking, red bell towers. Then visit the Teatro de Cienfuegos and watch a performance by the orchestra, followed by a special meet-and-greet with members of the group. Enjoy the special opportunity to engage with the musicians and learn about their training and passion for their music.

    Relax over lunch at a seaside paladar and meet the establishment’s owners, Maylin Cruz Garcia and Antonio “Tony” Lleonart Ordones. Discuss the experiences, challenges and rewards of owning a restaurant in Cuba.

    Transfer to Trinidad and check in to the Iberostar Grand Heritage Trinidad. Dinner is at your leisure this evening. While dining at the paladar of your choice, you will be happy to know that you are contributing to those Cubans trying to make a living in the private sector.

  • day 7

    Trinidad

    Discovery: Trinidad Walking Tour and Local Life.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Explore Trinidad, a well-preserved Spanish colonial settlement and UNESCO World Heritage site with brightly colored buildings and cobblestone streets. During a guided walking tour, see Plaza Mayor, the Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad and the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial. Pass by the Museo Romántico de Artes Decorativas, which holds a collection of 19th-century furnishings and china, followed by a visit to a local home in Trinidad. Enjoy learning about Cuban culture and typical life in Cuba while interacting with the Mata family.

    Continue your discovery of Cuban cuisine during lunch at a paladar.

    Discovery: Trinidad’s Art Scene.
    Activity level: Moderate

    Explore a bustling arts and crafts market located in front of Casade la Trova, a local music venue. Browse an array of handmade textiles and crochet work at the market while chatting with Trinidadians about their lives and experiences. Continue to Taller Alfarero, or Casa Chichi, a ceramics workshop, where we’ll watch local artists handmaking ceramics using traditional potter’s wheels and talk with a member of the family who owns the workshop. The ceramics workshop was founded by the great-grandfather of Daniel “Chichi” Santander.

    Enjoy a Farewell Dinner in town tonight.

  • day 8

    Santa Clara | Depart for Miami, Florida

    After breakfast, transfer to Havana.

    Discovery: Hemingway’s “Lookout Farm.”
    Activity level: Mild

    During your journey to Havana, visit La Finca Vigia, or “lookout farm,” the storied home of author Ernest Hemingway. The famed author purchased this property in 1940 and lived there for 20 years with his wife, Martha.

    Enjoy lunch at El Divino, a paladar and an urban organic farm. Meet the owners, take a tour of the farm — which features organic gardens, a wine cellar and fruit trees — and learn how the family has made their dream of owning a business come true in modern Cuba. Then sit down to a delicious meal.

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