Cuba isn’t an island you want to see from a distance, and this trip includes plenty of on-shore activities (a classic Cadillac garage, traditional dancing and the Benny More School of Art to name a few).. While the boat sails straight from Havana to Maria La Gorda, we’ll take a more interesting route: a drive through the spectacular UNESCO Viñales Valley.. Cruising on a small ship allows us to visit offshore islands most Cuba travellers never see, like the beautiful Isla Juventud. We’ll also drop anchor at Maria La Gorda for a swim and a beach barbecue.. While bigger cruise liners have to moor out at sea and commute into shore via tender, we’ll drop anchor in the middle of port towns like Cienfuegos or Maria la Gorda. You can hop on or off the boat as you please.
Exploring Cuba’s vintage cities by foot is one thing, but sailing across the island nation’s blue waters is a completely unique experience. Soak up the Caribbean sun on this 8-day adventure cruise along the coastline, anchoring at Cuba’s most captivating destinations, snorkeling from the back of the boat, and enjoying tranquil nights at sea. Whether it’s the colourful plazas of Trinidad, the provincial charm of Vinales’ tobacco farms, or the salsa rhythms of Old Havana’s nightlife, Cuba’s history and culture will leave you spellbound.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 6 Lunches Included: 7
Havana to Cienfuegos and embarkation
We will meet at the Melia Cohiba Hotel in Havana where you will be assisted by a member of our team to Cienfuegos by bus. Continue to the pier for embarkation on the ship, followed by a boat drill and welcome briefing. Late in the afternoon, we will drive to Trinidad for an optional walking tour in the evening followed by dinner at a local restaurant. Late at night the ship will sail to Casilda. Overnight at sea.
Cienfuegos and Trinidad
This morning we depart for an optional tour to Cienfuegos & Trinidad. We drive to Cienfuegos and visit the “Pearl of the South” as the city is called by Cubans, the only city founded by French settlers and today, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mid-morning we return to Trinidad for a daylight visit of a city sometimes referred to as the ‘Museum City of Cuba. Trinidad is a meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city with cobblestone streets, palaces and colourful plazas. We will walk through the town and then meet with a representative of the Office of the City Historian and be shown a scale model of the city. Later we will stop at the Romantic Museum located in the old palace of the Count Brunet, with samples of furniture and decorative arts. Visit the unique woodcarving studio of Lasaro. Late afternoon sailing to Isla de la Juventud- the Island of Youth. Dinner on board and overnight at sea.
Day at Sea
All day sailing. We reach Isla de Juventud late afternoon and anchor in Bay of Singuanea. Overnight at anchor
Isla de la Juventud
We disembark in the morning and board the bus for our optional excursion to Nueva Gerona, the capital city of the island. We will visit the “Universidad de la Isla de la Juventud Jesus Montane Oropesa,” enjoy panoramic sightseeing and tour the Presidio Modelo, abandoned panopticon prison of Cuba. While thousands of prisoners were interred in the corrupt prison during its operation, the most infamous inmates were Fidel & Raoul Castro, housed there from 1953 to 1955. Stop for lunch in Nueva Gerona before returning to the beach at the Colony Hotel for an afternoon of leisure. Dinner on board. Overnight at sea en route to Maria la Gorda
Vinales to Havana
Morning arrival in Maria la Gorda. We disembark and leave our ship for a one day included land tour ending in Havana on Thursday (where we will re-embark the ship). We will visit the Vinales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Pinar del Rio Province of Cuba. Encircled by mountains, its landscape is interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops. Traditional techniques are still in use for agricultural production, particularly of tobacco. Visit a tobacco farm where you will learn about the production of those world famous Cuban cigars. After lunch at an organic foods restaurant, we’ll visit and organic farm to hear about how the climate and fertile soil have contributed to the success of organic farming in the region. Overnight in hotel.
Early in the morning we reach Havana by bus where we re-join our ship. We start our day with an optional walking exploration of Old Havana. Founded in 1519 by the Spanish, Havana became one of the most important ship building centres in the Caribbean, around which a sprawling metropolis grew. Now numbering a population of 2 million, it is a mixture of beautiful old baroque and neo-classical monuments, arcades and private balconies. Old Havana is considered one of the most impressive historical city centres in the Caribbean and in the Americas. We will stop at Fusterlandia, studio of artist Jose Rodriguez Fuster. His brightly coloured mermaids, roofs, walls, benches, doorways and roosters stretch across houses and adorn the entire area. It is said that he was greatly inspired by Gaudi in Barcelona and Brancusi in Rome, but most of all by Picasso and Dubuffet. Lunch will be at one of the restaurants or paladares on shore, followed by a stop at the Merger Art Studio to view some magnificent sculptures before we continue to the San Jose Arts and Crafts Market. Here, in an old 1885 warehouse near the pier, you will find wonderful gifts from carvings, shirts, art, music and more. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant with live Cuban music at the “Café Taberna” or similar, complete with salsa music in the style of the Buena Vista Social Club. Return to the ship. Overnight in Sierra Maestra – Havana
Disembark for an optional city tour; visit the University of Havana, followed by a visit to Finca Vigia, beloved home of Ernest Hemingway, where he lived for 21 years and wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Stop to enjoy lunch at another paladar before continuing to a very unique nostalgic car garage to view just how the Cubans manage to creatively keep those old cars in such fine working condition. Then it’s a short drive back to Havana for an exciting performance from the Havana Compass Dance Troupe. These gifted percussionists use drums, chairs, and anything they can find to beat out magnificent dance rhythms, weaving a colourful and exciting dance performance that you are sure to enjoy and long remember. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Overnight in Sierra Maestra – Havana
Disembark in Havana
Disembark after breakfast.