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Cuba: A Cultural Odyssey

12 days with Tauck   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Arrive in Miami
Trip begins at 4:30 PM at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami. Travelers flying to Miami should plan to arrive at Miami International Airport by 2:00 PM, and take a Yellow Taxi from the airport to The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami (for a flat fee of USD $35 plus tip, for which you will be reimbursed by your Tauck Director). Guests who are arriving by car may park at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami for USD $38 per vehicle per night for the duration of the tour; travelers arriving into Fort Lauderdale Airport or the Miami Train Station will be responsible for their own transfer to the hotel. Your small group of 20 to 30 travelers gathers this afternoon at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami for a welcome reception and Tauck Director briefing about tomorrow morning's included flight to Havana and the start of your educational exchange trip to Cuba; dinner is included this evening. (D)

Day 2 ¡Bienvenido a Cuba!
After an early breakfast, board an included flight from Miami to Havana's José Martí International Airport, where your local Cuban guide welcomes you to Cuba's capital. From the airport, you'll visit El Morro ("The Rock," a.k.a. Morro Castle), the iconic stone fortress that has guarded Havana's harbor since the 16th century; and Cristo de La Habana (the Christ of Havana), a 66-foot white Carrara marble statue of Jesus overlooking Havana Bay, built in the 1950s. After lunch at a paladar on Havana's seaside Malecon, continue to the Meliá Habana, where you'll settle into your room in "The Level," and enjoy dinner tonight at one of the hotel's restaurants. (B, L, D)

Day 3 Colón Cemetery & Hemingway's Cuba
With Cuba's origins as a Spanish colony rooted in Catholic traditions, religion has played an important role in its society - as you'll see on a walk with a local historian through Havana's Colón Cemetery, one of the world's largest, and the final resting place of noted Cubanos from all walks of life. The cemetery contains hundreds of elaborately sculpted memorials, mausoleums, chapels and family vaults, and is considered by many the most ornate necropolis in the world. Depart the city for Finca Vigia ("Lookout Farm") in San Francisco de Paula, American novelist Ernest Hemingway's winter home from 1939 to 1960, shared with third wife Martha Gellhorn, and later with fourth wife Mary Welsh. On a walk around the house and grounds, you'll see the author's 9,000-volume library and his yacht, Pilar, and talk with a docent about Hemingway's life here. After lunch at a paladar, head back to Havana for a visit and a People-to-People exchange at the Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution), housed in what had once been Cuba's Presidential Palace, before returning to your hotel. Enjoy dinner at a Havana paladar this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 4 Historic Havana & the Arts
Begin today's People-to-People exchange with a visit to Habana Compás, a thriving Havana dance and cultural performance group; talk with company members about their mission, and watch a demonstration of music, dance or art. Next, arrive at Maqueta de La Habana, a museum featuring a 1:500 scale model of Havana. Meet a local expert on the city's architecture and historic restoration efforts, and embark on a guided walking tour through Habana Vieja - the city's nearly 500-year-old heart, now a pedestrian-only UNESCO World Heritage Site. See Havana's beautiful Catedral de San Cristóbal, begun under the Jesuits in 1748 and completed by the Franciscans in 1777; learn about the cathedral's ongoing preservation and restoration. After lunch with ocean views at a paladar on the Malecón, return to the hotel for time spent as you wish; enjoy dinner at a local paladar tonight. (B, L, D)

Day 5 Che's Legacy & more in Santa Clara
Departing Havana this morning, your People-to-People interactions continue en route to the province of Villa Clara, as you stop to meet with local artisans and craftsmen, see demonstrations of their various projects, and talk about local enterprise. Arrive at the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, a memorial sculpture complex and museum honoring Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna, the Argentine-born physician, Marxist revolutionary and military leader who played a key role as Fidel Castro's second-in-command in the Cuban Revolution and the subsequent establishment of Cuba's revolutionary government; the complex commemorates the victory of Che's troops in the pivotal Battle of Santa Clara in 1958. Discuss Che's life and legacy as you view the monuments and some of his personal effects in the museum, and visit the cave-like memorial crypt, built in 1997, containing the remains of Guevara and fellow revolutionaries killed with him while fighting in Bolivia in 1967, marked by an eternal flame. Following lunch at a paladar in Santa Clara, travel this afternoon to the ancient town of Sancti Spiritus near the center of the island for an overnight stay. (B, L, D)

Day 6 Across the countryside to Camagüey
The beautiful little town of Sancti Spiritus is also one of the country's oldest - dating back to 1514, it was the fourth of Cuba's original seven villages founded by the Spaniards in the 16th century. It's also known as the home of the guayabera - the traditional white, four-pocketed Cuban shirt (known in other parts of Latin America as the habanera) - which many claim was created right here in the early 18th century. After breakfast this morning, head out of Sancti Spiritus and into the countryside across the center of Cuba, arriving in the historic city of Camagüey in time for lunch. Then attend a performance by an acclaimed local dance company, followed by a Q&A with company members. Check into your hotel, where you'll enjoy dinner tonight. (B, L, D)

Day 7 Camagüey's artisans & their work
Get to know Camagüey - affectionately dubbed "the Maze" or "the City of Squares" for its labyrinthine historic center of twisting lanes and squares that once confounded pirates and invaders - on an orientation tour by bici-taxi (pedicab). Then it's time for People-to-People exchange with some of the city's artists and artisans. First, visit the studio of leather sculptor José "Pepe" Guiterrez for a demonstration and discussion of his work: creating unique masks, busts and animal sculptures from goat hide. As he works, Pepe explains the process of soaking, shaping and sculpting the leather into pieces largely inspired by Afro-Cuban culture and symbolism drawn from African mythology. Next, walk to the studio of artist Martha Jimenez, whose images of strong, mysterious women have been shown around the world, for an exchange with the artist or a member of her family or staff; then have lunch at a paladar just across the square. Throughout the day in Camagüey, you may notice those big, red clay pots in front of or on the porches of homes throughout the city. They're tinajónes, the traditional symbol of Camagüey - and at the Casanova Pottery Studio, the Casanova family will show you traditional methods of creating these iconic vessels, and discuss their history and use. Return to the hotel late afternoon; have dinner at a local restaurant this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 8 Arts education & more in Camagüey
Today in Camagüey, visit the Endedans Modern Dance Company and school for an enchanting private performance by its highly talented students, including contemporary, ballet, hip-hop and other dance styles; interact with the young dancers afterwards in a Q&A session to learn about their backgrounds, dreams and goals. Have lunch at a local Italian restaurant this afternoon; after more exploration in Camagüey, enjoy dinner at a paladar this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 9 To Guardalavaca on the north coast
Depart Camagüey after breakfast and set out across the countryside for Cuba's northeastern coast. En route, stop at Finca Agroecológica Conchita, a working farm in rural Puerto Padre, to meet and talk with agricultural workers about agrarian life in today's Cuba, tour the facility and have lunch. Continue on to Paradisus Río de Oro Resort & Spa on the Playa Esmeralda coast in the seaside town of Guardalavaca in Holguín province, where you'll enjoy a Royal Service Room for the next three nights. Have dinner at your resort this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 10 Cultural discoveries in Holguín
Travel from Guardalavaca to the nearby city of Holguín. Visit the Rodrigo Prats Opera Company, named for an esteemed 20th-century Cuban composer and orchestra leader, for a performance of the distinctive Cuban style of zarzuela - a lyric-dramatic musical genre that developed in Spain centuries ago - and learn more about its traditions in a Q&A session with the performers. Next, visit La Loma de la Crus (Hill of the Cross) a scenic overlook featuring spectacular views of Holguín and a monumental cross; legend has it that an 18th-century Franciscan friar climbed this rocky hill carrying the original rustic wooden cross on his shoulders. After lunch at a local paladar, meet the Gongora family at Cuadernos Papiro (Papyrus Papers Publishing House), their family-operated print shop and museum, where they use historic presses to produce art books; interact with family members as they discuss their printing processes and demonstrate their machines. Return to your resort for dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 11 More music & art in Holguín
You're back in Holguín today for more People-to-People exchanges. Begin with a walking tour of the city, followed by a musical performance and interactions with students at the Jose Maria Ochoa School of Music. Later, visit with a talented young neo-Classical artist at his home and studio in Holguín to view and talk about his work. Return to your resort for lunch. Tonight, bid Cuba a fond adiós at a farewell reception and dinner at the resort's Mediterranean restaurant. (B, L, D)

Day 12 Return to Miami for Journey Home
Take an included morning flight from Holguín's Frank Pais International Airport to Miami. Tauck's Cuba travel program of educational exchange ends at Miami International Airport. Please book flights from Miami to your final destination for no earlier than 5:30 PM. Allow two hours for flight check-in in Miami prior to your flight home. (B, L)
Map
All This Included
Our 12-Day People-to-People Trip to Cuba... For many decades, few U.S. citizens were able to enjoy a Cuba travel experience. Since 2012, under a license granted by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, our People-to-People educational exchange trip to Cuba has brought Tauck travelers face-to-face with the people of Cuba to share thoughts and insights, learn about their nation and their lives, and connect with their rich cultural heritage. For 2018, our 12-day trip heads across the length of the island for in-depth People-to-People exchange in Havana, San Francisco de Paula, Santa Clara, Camagüey, Holguín and more. Talk with students, teachers, artists, preservationists, musicians, community leaders... delve into Cuban education, history, music, architecture, Ernest Hemingway's life and work in Cuba, community art, agriculture and much more... dine at privately run paladares, meet Cuban families, and interact with Cubans and their culture.
  • All hotel accommodations in Miami and in Cuba
  • Flights from Miami to Havana and Holguín to Miami
  • Tauck's "Leave Your Worries at Home" service, with all day-to-day travel details taken care of for you
  • Escorted travel from the moment your People-to-People trip begins in Miami, accompanied by a professional Tauck Director and experienced local Cuban guides, all fluent in both English & Spanish
  • 10 days of "People-to-People" educational exchange in Havana, San Francisco de Paula, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Camagüey, Guardalavaca, Holguín and more
  • Exclusive Tauck Experiences fostering meaningful cultural connections with Cuban families, artists, musicians, students, educators, agricultural workers, artisans, entrepreneurs, community leaders and others
  • Exploration of Cuban daily life, history and culture with People-to-People interaction at agricultural sites, artists' studios, artisans' workshops, museums, dance / music schools, monuments and historic sites
  • All ground transportation
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure in Miami as noted
  • All meals - 33 (11 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 11 dinners), including authentic Cuban cuisine at local restaurants and private paladares throughout your trip
  • All gratuities to Tauck Director, local guides and drivers, hotel and restaurant staff; all taxes, admission fees, porterage and departure tax
Highlights
  • Eleven days of "People-to-People" educational exchange; visits and discussions at agricultural sites, artists' studios, artisans' workshops, community arts projects, museums, dance / music schools, monuments and historic sites. 
  • Exclusive Tauck Experiences fostering meaningful cultural connections with Cuban families artists, musicians, students, educators, agricultural workers, artisans, entrepreneurs, community leaders & others.
Accommodations
Coral Gables:The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami
Havana: Meliá Habana
Sancti Spiritus: Hotel Encanto Don Florencio or Hotel Encanto del Rijo
Camagüey: Hotel Encanto La Sevillana or Hotel Encanto El Marqués
Playa Esmeralda: Paradisus Río de Oro Resort & Spa
Notes
  • Departures of January 7, February 4 and March 4 will stay at Hotel Playa Pesquero on Playa Pesquero on nights 9 – 11.
  • Due to the nature of People-to-People travel in Cuba, itinerary is subject to change; order and individual components of itinerary may change depending on day of the week, but a full People-to-People itinerary will be preserved. 
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Tauck terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.