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Cuba by Land and Sea

Cuba by Land and Sea

Cruise Highlights:

  • Gain an understanding of Cuba’s history and present
  • Extensive people-to-people visits in the great cities of Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos
  • Explore some of Cuba’s superb marine habitats
  • Visit the Bay of Pigs

At a glance

Duration: 11 Days, 10 Nights

Coverage: Havana to Cienfuegos Cuba

From: $9,500

Season: January - March, December

Activities: Adventure, Culture, History, Wildlife

Book this Trip › or call us toll-free 1-888-815-5428

Lindblad Expeditions, in Partnership with National Geographic

Cultural Heritage and Natural Wonders

The world’s fascination with Cuba has lasted for many generations, and for good reason. Cuba is a cultural hub, with a mix of descendants of indigenous people, European immigrants, and slaves, and its music and art draw on these diverse influences. Lying close to the shores of the United States, it has at times been a Spanish colony, a client state of the U.S., a dictatorship, and, since the Cuban Revolution, oftentimes a U.S. adversary. Cuba has exerted an outsize influence on world history. Join us as we embark on a unique land-and-sea exploration that balances experiences in the country’s cultural centers with explorations of wild coastal sites.

To explore Cuba’s many facets, we are arranging an extraordinary people-to-people visit to Cuba that introduces you to Cubans who make a difference in their fields, that allows you to meet the friendly and always interesting residents, and that will leave you with a rich and rewarding understanding of this multifaceted country. It’s a fascinating time to be there, when Cuba is on the cusp of undergoing significant and rapid change.

Possibilities abound with three days in Havana. There are a variety of ways to meet with Cubans who are making differences in their fields, and develop a rich understanding of life in Cuba today and the forces that shaped it. Learn the history of Castro’s revolution at the city’s history museums, take in an interpretive dance, visit a workshop where American cars from the 40s and 50s are maintained, or visit some of the sites associated with Ernest Hemingway, whose legacy looms large on the island. Go on people-to-people exchanges to art foundations, or to exceptional art spaces including Fusterlandia, the home and neighborhood of the artist José Fuster, decorated with his sculptures and mosaics. Or visit a cigar factory to meet the people who roll them.

As the Cuban government has relaxed some private enterprise laws in recent years, many of Havana’s innovative chefs have begun opening their own restaurants. Visit some of these charming restaurants and discover cuisine that simply can’t get any more local or authentic. Plus, on informal outings, meet some of the musicians responsible for the salsa, rhumba, and Afro-Cuban rhythms for which Havana is legendary.

Land at the site of the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion, also an ecologically important area. Hear the stories of the battle and see photographs and artifacts, including a Cuban fighter plane and vessels. Then walk in the forest to see its renowned birdlife, where we’ll search for the world’s smallest bird, the endemic bee hummingbird, plus the endemic Cuban trogon, La Sagra’s flycatcher, Cuban green woodpecker, and more. Note: the visit to the Bay of Pigs is pending permission from Cuban officials, and this portion of the itinerary is subject to change.

Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park is a crown jewel of the Caribbean, with some of the finest coral reefs in the world. Unknown to most, Fidel Castro was an avid scuba diver who took a personal interest in conserving this area. We’ll spend two days snorkeling or, at additional cost, diving in its unique gardens to see a great diversity of coral and large fish. Walks on the islands in the region reveal ospreys, frigatebirds, spoonbills, pelicans, and many other seabirds. Explore Cayo Largo, where we’ll visit a sea turtle breeding center and meet people managing a robust endangered species protection program. Note: the visit to the Jardines de la Reina is pending permission from Cuban officials, and this portion of the itinerary is subject to change.

Overlooking the azure sea and nestled among mountains shrouded in green, Trinidad is a meticulously preserved colonial city—it is one of Cuba’s most beautiful places. Stroll through the town’s cobblestone streets, palaces, and plazas with a representative of the Office of the City Historian who’s along to share the stories of the city. Stop to meet local artists, including many of the young women who are working to raise the status of women through their art.

In addition to our extensive people-to-people program, you’ll learn from Lindblad’s expert onboard team of naturalists, cultural specialists and a Lindblad-National Geographic certified Photo Instructor—all dedicated to sharing their passion and knowledge with you.

Join us for an unforgettable experience.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

Day 1 — Miami/Havana

Meet at Miami International Airport in the morning for your flight to Havana. On arrival, we transfer to our historic hotel, the Hotel Nacional, located on the waterfront. We will stay here for three nights. The Nacional, a Havana landmark, opened in 1930 and over the decades has hosted a remarkable number of entertainers, writers, athletes and world leaders. This afternoon, we explore Old Havana on foot. This area, founded by the Spanish in 1519 and today a UNESCO World Heritage site, is of vital importance to Cuba’s history. It is a treasure trove of historic architecture and expansive plazas, and also a center for Cuba’s arts and culture. We’ll see four of its great squares: the Plaza de la Catedral, the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza San Francisco, and the Plaza Vieja. We’ll meet with Cubans who are playing a vital role in preserving this area for future generations. We’ll drive along the Malecón, the atmospheric esplanade that runs along the Straits of Florida waterfront—a place where Cubans enjoy walking, fishing and socializing. Dinner is at our hotel. (L,D)

Day 2-3 — Havana

We have a full program of people-to-people visits lined up for these two days, with opportunities for you to choose among the programs that interest you most. On each of these visits, you will meet with Cubans who are making a difference in their fields, and you’ll develop a rich understanding of life in Cuba today and the forces that have shaped it. Among the choice of people-to-people excursions: Get a perspective on Castro’s revolution at the city’s history museums. Visit a superb dance group or an extravagant art space. Wander through Ernest Hemingway’s estate at Finca Vigía. Visit a Cuban cigar factory, or learn about environmental education projects at the Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez. Or visit an auto workshop where inventive mechanics repair classic American cars.

We’ll enjoy several meals in some of Havana’s best paladares, or privately owned restaurants, which have developed a deserved reputation for innovative cuisine. And on one evening we will hear the signature rhythms of Cuba at a music hall with the chance to meet the musicians. There is surely no better place anywhere for music than Havana, and its rich traditions—seemingly every Cuban plays a musical instrument—have been celebrated all over the world. Musical styles include son (made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club), salsa, rhumba and a variety of Afro-Cuban rhythms. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Havana/Cienfuegos/Embark

We have a final morning to explore Havana, with people-to-people visits. After lunch, we drive to the beautiful city of Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s south coast. In the late afternoon, we embark Panorama II, our home for the next seven nights, and have a welcome dinner aboard ship. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Bay of Pigs

This morning finds us at the Bay of Pigs, an ecologically important area that became known worldwide when the 1961 U.S.-backed invasion by Cuban exiles was rapidly and thoroughly defeated by the Cuban revolutionary government, whose forces were led by Fidel Castro. We’ll visit the museum that recounts the history of the battle, with photographs and artifacts that include a Cuban fighter plane and vessels. We’ll meet with people who will tell us about what transpired and its meaning to Cubans. The bay lies along the Zapata Peninsula and the Zapata Swamp National Park, and we’ll have a chance to explore the area in search of its renowned birdlife, famously including the world’s smallest bird, the endemic bee hummingbird, along with the endemic Cuban trogon (Cuba’s national bird), La Sagra's flycatcher, Cuban green woodpecker and more. We will meet with experts who will tell us about the vitally important role the area plays in the area’s natural history—it has been compared to the Everglades.

NOTE: the visit to the Bay of Pigs is pending permission from Cuban officials, and this portion of the itinerary is subject to change. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Cayo Largo

This beautiful key is home to diverse marine ecosystems and a local community that serves the primarily European and Canadian visitors who come for its snorkeling and diving. This morning we have a people-to-people visit to the local clinic to discuss Cuba’s medical system with local doctors and nurses. You’ll visit a sea turtle breeding center and endangered species protection program. In the afternoon you’ll have a chance to snorkel or, at additional cost, dive on the coral reef, in the company of environmental guides and scientists. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Trinidad

A UNESCO World Heritage site and Cuban national monument, Trinidad is a splendid and meticulously preserved colonial city, perhaps Cuba’s most beautiful. It occupies a spectacular setting on a hill overlooking the Caribbean, with a backdrop of green mountains. Founded in 1514 by the conquistador Diego Velázquez, it has rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces, and plazas. Seemingly every building has an intriguing history. This morning we will walk through the town with a representative of the Office of the City Historian, interacting with residents along the way. There will be stops for visits to local artists, including young female artists who through their art are raising the status of women; to home studios; and to the Municipal Historical Museum, located in a restored mansion just off the main square, the Romantic Museum with its 19th-century furnishings, or the Museum of Architecture. (B,L,D)

Day 8-9 — Gardens of the Queen

Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park is one of the crown jewels of the Caribbean—a place of transcendent importance to the marine ecology of Cuba and the world. Its significance is well recognized by Cubans, who have extended protection to large areas of the waters and cays, and by naturalists worldwide. Its coral reefs are among the finest in the world, and we’ll have two days to learn about this unique habitat, meeting with ecologists who are working to describe and preserve the “Gardens.” We’ll have chances to snorkel and (at additional cost) dive in these prolific waters, and to see some of the greatest diversity of corals, fish, and other creatures to be found anywhere, alongside Cuban dive experts and scientists who are working to preserve and protect this unique habitat. There will also be opportunities to walk on some of the islands in search of birds including ospreys, frigatebirds, spoonbills, pelicans, and many other seabirds, and to swim in the azure waters. NOTE: our visit to the Gardens of the Queen is pending permission from Cuban officials, and this portion of the itinerary is subject to change. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Cienfuegos

In the early afternoon we arrive in Cienfuegos, Cuba’s “Pearl of the South” and a UNESCO World Heritage site, and spend the rest of the day exploring. Columbus is said to have been here in 1494, on his second voyage to the New World, and the area was subsequently a haven for pirates and smugglers. French settlers arrived in 1819, and the city retains a distinct liveliness and sophistication. We’ll explore the town center on foot, visiting the Graphic Arts Workshop for discussions and exchanges with local artists. Among places of particular interest that we’ll see are the Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, the Ferrer Palace, the former lyceum, and some residential houses. We’ll have a people-to-people visit with musicians and singers, young and old, and enjoy a presentation and exchange with the internationally known, award-winning Cienfuegos Choir. We have a farewell dinner aboard our ship. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Cienfuegos/Depart

We disembark this morning and transfer to either Cienfuegos or Santa Clara airport for our flight to Miami, connecting with flights home. (B)

Dates & Rates

Dates Ship 1 2 3 4 Solo 1
Dec 7, 2016 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Dec 14, 2016 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Dec 21, 2016 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Dec 28, 2016 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 4, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 11, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 18, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 25, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 1, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 8, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 15, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 22, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Mar 1, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Mar 8, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Mar 15, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Mar 22, 2017 Panorama II $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250

Prices are per person, double occupancy unless indicated as solo.

Map

Cuba by Lands and Sea

Ships

Panorama II

Panorama II The stylish Panorama II is a two-masted, state-of-the-art sail cruiser which can comfortably accommodates 44 guests (in 22 cabins) to create a truly intimate setting. View ship details...