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Cuba Voyage

Cuba Cruise ship Panorama

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Cuba Voyage

Journey between French-influenced Cienfuegos and Havana aboard the 46-guest Panorama on International Expeditions’ Cuba Voyage for a distinct look at this enigmatic island as it stands poised on the brink of historic transformation. Marvel at the expanse of shoreline claimed by this vast land mass, the Caribbean’s largest island — mountains sloping down to tropical jungles, rich wetlands and fruited plains...sunny inlets and ports long used for exporting Cuba’s abundance of fruit, sugar and coveted tobaccos.

From the French influences in the architecture and culture you’ll experience in Cienfuegos to the Spanish colonial splendor of Trinidad and the raw excitement of politically polarizing but uniquely romantic Havana your experience in Cuba will feel complete!  Other highlights of this people-to-people itinerary include local choir and theater performances, pottery workshops and calling on artists in their studios. 

A Panoramic View of Cuba

Enjoy six nights aboard one the gracious yacht Panorama. Each outside cabin features air-conditioning, TV and marble-finished en suite facilities. Life on board often centers around the delightful outdoor spaces, including the sun deck and an aft deck leading to the bar.

Expert Leadership

Along with a Cuban guide and locals experts in the areas we explore, accompanying your Cuba cruise is an accomplished, knowledgeable IE Expedition Leader.

Cruise Western Cuba with IE

Daily Itinerary

Cuba Voyage Itinerary

  • Day
    1

    Arrive Miami

    Our Cuba people-to-people travel program begins in Miami. After a welcome briefing and reception, you spend tonight at the Miami Airport Marriott.

  • Day
    2

    Miami / Arrive Cuba / Cienfuegos / Embark

    Board your flight to Cuba. Meet your driver and guide, and depart for Cienfuegos after lunch. During this drive through the countryside, your guide begins to brief you on the history and culture of this enigmatic island. Embark Panorama, your home for six nights in Cuba. (B,D)  

    Cienfuegos
  • Day
    3

    Cienfuegos / Trinidad

    Begin our day at the farmer’s market, where locals come to purchase produce for their daily meals. Enjoy a walking tour of Cienfuegos’ city center, where wide avenues lead to the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along the way, a local specialist discusses the significance of buildings such as Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, Ferrer Palace and the former lyceum. Discover the transformative power of art in the lives of ordinary Cubans while visiting a graphic arts workshop. Enjoy a performance by the Cienfuegos Choir, where we’re invited to join the choir for songs in the spirit of musical exchange. Stop for lunch in a local paladar, a privately owned restaurant. Travel to Trinidad, an architectural jewel proclaimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Red tiled roofs atop pastel stucco structures line the cobbled streets. This port city reflects its 16th century past and founding by Conquistadors. Eighteenth century smugglers and pirates made frequent calls here or even used this port as their base of operations in the Caribbean. The wealth and importance of Trinidad continued into the 19th century, when sugar barons reigned. Experience the community like a local, visiting with shop owners and sampling local fare as we walk through the colonial heart of the city and calling on artists in their studios. At Casa Del Alfarero Santander, an artisan workshop, meet local artists and learn about traditional pottery techniques. This pottery studio has been run by the same family for decades, and the Santanders share their family history while we take a turn at the wheel. Meet Panorama in the local port and cruise for Juventud Island. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    4

    Day at Sea

    As Panorama continues toward Juventud Island, enjoy informative discussions with your Cuban guide as well as educational lectures, games and visits to the bridge. (B,L,D) 

  • Day
    5

    Juventud Island: Bay of Singuanea

    Spend a day exploring Cuba’s second largest island, Juventud – the Isle of Youth. This island has a distinct history colored by the presence of Aboriginal Indians, Christopher Columbus, who landed here in 1494, and even pirates, but it is most famous for its role in Cuba’s revolution. Stroll the streets around Nueva Gerona’s Parque Central, mingling with students and street vendors. At the now-abandoned Presidio Modelo, learn about former prisoners Fidel and Raul Castro, who were imprisoned here for 19 months. This is where Fidel penned much of his text History Will Absolve Me. As you rest this evening, Panorama cruises for Maria la Gorda. (B,L,D)

    Panorama sun deck
  • Day
    6

    Maria La Gorda / Vinales

    Explore Maria La Gorda, on the Bahía de Corrientes. Call on a local school, mingling with students and learning about the country's education system. Guest may even share songs with the children. Wind our way into the Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with limestone mogotes and fertile tobacco fields. Sample the homegrown vegetables grown at an organic farm while meeting the family who is responsible for the land. Stop at a tobacco farm to learn about the processes and history of Cuban cigars. Enjoy a boating excursion into one of the huge limestone caves running through a mogote – limestone karst outcroppings. Spend tonight at Hotel Los Jazmines or similar. (B,L,D)

    Viñales
  • Day
    7

    Vinales / Havana

    Pay homage to Ernest Hemingway while discussing his work with Cuban Hemingway specialists at his former home, Finca Vigia, preserved as it was on the day of his death. Travelers can only peer through the open windows of this museum, but the inside is arranged almost as if the home was waiting for him to return with guests. Hemingway’s fishing boat, El Pilar, is still on the grounds. Stop to chat with the farmers at a sustainable garden which supplies one of Cuba’s best private restaurants – Il Divino – where we enjoy lunch. Mingle with locals at an art market before continuing to Havana. Re-board the Panorama, which is docked near Old Havana. Tonight, we head to Café Taberna, home to the Buena Vista Social Club revue. (B,L,D) DAY 

  • Day
    8

    Havana

    Cruise in classic cars past the famed sea-side Malecon and through the streets of Havana to Revolution Square. Head to the outskirts of Havana to the interesting neighborhood of Jaministas. It was here where he grew up that distinguished artist Jose Fuster launched a community beautification project. The entire neighborhood is a living canvas and our conversations with both residents and local artists focus on the transformative power of art in the lives of ordinary Cubans. Stop at the University of Havana to chat with students before lunch in a paladar. Delve into the modern history of Cuba’s classic cars at a local garage, learning how Cubans keep these classics on the road despite limited resources. At Habana Compass Dance, a private school of dance, we attend rehearsals and meet the director. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore Havana before saying good-bye to Cuba at a Captain’s farewell dinner onboard. (B,L,D)

    A classic car ride in Havana
  • Day
    9

    Havana

    Say goodbye to our new friends as we disembark Panorama. Stroll through the atmospheric squares of Old Havana, calling on artists in their studios as we pass. These parks and plazas are popular with locals who frequent the stalls selling books along the edges of the park while musicians fill the air with sound. See Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Ernest Hemingway kept a room for years. The hotel served as a refuge for writing such works as For Whom the Bell Tolls and as a base for frequenting his favorite bars. Perhaps nothing is more symbolic of Cuba than cigars, and the rest of our morning is spent at a factory learning about the country's coveted tobacco and the artisanal process by which they are rolled one by one in a process that hasn't changed for centuries. Bid farewell to Havana as you enjoy city vistas at Cuban sculptor Jilma Madera’s Christ of Havana statue before a sunset visit to El Morro Fortress, where a nightly cannon ceremony recalls times of Spanish colonial occupation. Ready for more fun? We’ve arranged an optional excursion to the famed Tropicana (at your own expense). Spend tonight at the Melia Cohiba. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    10

    Havana / Miami

    After breakfast, transfer to the Jose Marti Airport for our flight to Miami, where you connect with flights home. (B)

Things to Know

What kind of weather can I expect on my Cuba cruise?

The climate in Cuba is tropical and moderated by trade winds. Cuba’s dry season typically lasts from December through mid-April. Temperatures average 71 °F in December, 69 °F in January, 70 °F in February and 72 °F in March. Weather in Cuba can get cool at night from December through February, so be sure to pack a sweater or light jacket.

What kind of currency is used in Cuba?

The US dollar is not accepted in Cuba and you cannot use credit cards tied to US banks (despite press announcements that you may soon be able to use your credit cards). You may use Visa and MasterCard on the Panorama

Off ship, you must pay for items you purchase in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs). Be be aware that you are taxed heavily when you convert your US dollars into CUCs. 

The airport will have an exchange bank and converting your money there is very convenient. If you exchange $100 US dollars you will get back about 87 CUCs after all the taxes and fees are deducted. At the airport, when you leave the country, you can exchange any extra CUCs back into dollars. All dollars should be in good condition, clean with no tears or writing, dated post 2000 and no larger than $50’s.

Can I exchange money onboard the Panorama during my Cuba cruise?

Money cannot be exchanged while onboard the Panorama; however, you will be able to use Visa and MasterCard while aboard the ship only.

What is People-to-People Cuba Travel?

Without a doubt, the most popular question International Expeditions’ Travel Planners receive has to do with the definition of people-to-people Cuba travel. What is it? What does it mean? How will this impact my experience in Cuba?

The people-to-people initiative allows Americans to travel to Cuba. Every program includes a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities, including interactions with Cuba’s musicians, artists, naturalists and new generation of entrepreneurs. As the name suggests, International Expeditions’ people-to-people travel means that our itinerary focuses on cultural exchanges that will be as educational for the Cubans we encounter as they will be for you! IE’s itinerary allows participants to visit a wide scope of organizations, institutions and community projects, which will provide a deeper understanding of Cuban culture through people and places that the average tourist rarely sees.

We have many people who call regarding our programs that want to arrange an individual trip or custom program; however, while not impossible, keep the following things in mind:
  •  Current people-to-people regulations by the US government dictate that all groups must be accompanied by both an IE representative AND a Cuban guide. This requirement is not waived based on group size.
  •   People-to-people travel is not tourist-oriented. There is no time allotted to skip an activity in favor of shopping or to wander the streets of a colonial city. IE included a full-schedule of engaging activities.
   
Have other questions about legal travel to Cuba? Our Travel Planners are happy to chat anytime.

Accommodations

Cuba Voyage ship Panorama

Panorama

The 48-guest Panorama yacht is a three-masted motor sailer with cabins located on three decks. Upper or Main Deck cabins have windows, while cabins on the Lower Deck have portholes. All cabins have individually controlled air conditioning and feature en suite bathrooms. Life on board often centers around the delightful outdoor spaces, including the sun deck and an aft deck leading to the bar. In the evening, relax in the ship’s welcoming lounge or the library. The swimming platform on the stern makes water access easy when weather and anchorage conditions permit.

Read More About The Panorama

Field Leaders

galapagos islands guides boli

Bolivar Sanchez

Expedition Leader

A true native Galapagos Naturalist, guide Bolivar Sanchez is an expert in Earth science. He developed a strong interest in wildlife and the outdoors as a small boy, and has been learning as much as possible ever since. For the past 18 years he has worked as a certified naturalist and Galapagos travel guide in Galapagos National Park, sharing his knowledge of the flora and fauna with guests of his beautiful homeland. His great personality and wonderful sense of humor make him a joy to travel with. Boli's other interests include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking.

Wildlife

Cuban Green Woodpecker

The Cuban Green Woodpecker is one of a few species of woodpeckers with similar traits and colorings. But this is one of only two endemic to the island. This medium-sized bird is streaked with color – a green upper plumage and green stripes behind the eyes, white underneath, black stripes lining the tips of the wings and tail, and a red streak down its head and neck. They can be commonly found all over Cuba in forest regions, usually alone or in a very small group.

Cuban Emerald Hummingbird

Despite having “Cuban” in its name, the Emerald Hummingbird is actually native to both this island and a number of spots in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. The male of this species is black with iridescent green/blue on top, while the females are much the same but with a grey-brown belly. Sightings of the Cuban Emerald Hummingbird have been known to occur all over Cuba. As they are solitary creatures, you are like to only see one at a time.

Cuban Parrot

The Cuban Parrot is characterized by its green body, white upper face, red lower face and neck, and blue on its primary wing feathers. These parrots are large, growing up to 33cm long in adulthood. Not only can it be found in Cuba, but also other Caribbean spots such as the Bahamas and Cayman Islands. This parrot can be most commonly found in Cuba on the Zapata peninsula, but also dotted around south central and western areas. The species is thought to be in decline, but stable, with around 10,000 pairs left in Cuba.

From: $6,199 per person
Duration
10 Days, 9 Nights
Guest Capacity
46 Guests
Trip Type
Sea

Special Offers

Trip Highlights

  • Spend six nights aboard fully air-conditioned yacht, Panorama, plus time in carefully selected hotels.
  • Delight in the warm Cuba culture with traditional foods, music & dancing.
  • Survey revolutionary history of the gorgeous Isle of Youth.
  • Mingle with local artists at a graphic arts studio & art market.
  • Visit UNESCO Sites, including Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Vinales Valley & Old Havana.
  • Sample the flavors of Cuba at privately owned restaurants, where you meet Cuba's newest entrepreneurs.
  • Learn the age-old art of cigar rolling at a family owned tobacco farm.
  • Travel with an experienced IE Expedition Leader plus a cruise manager & local Cuba guide — all dedicated to ensuring an enriching voyage.