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Cuba by Land and Sea

Cuba by Land and Sea

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

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Lindblad Expeditions, in Partnership with National Geographic

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.

Meet Cuba: People-to-People

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.

A Land and Sea Journey

Over three days on land and seven days at sea aboard Harmony V, this expedition will enable you to:

  • Gain an understanding of Cuba’s history and present through extensive people-to-people visits in the great cities of Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos.
  • Using the highly comfortable ship Harmony V as a base, explore some of the places on Cuba’s superb southern coast, including some seldom-visited places.
  • Spend a day and a half exploring Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), one of the most remarkable marine habitats in the Western Hemisphere, and meet with people working to preserve it. (Note that permission for Jardines de la Reina is pending.) 
  • Visit the Bay of Pigs, where exiles landed in 1961 in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government, and also learn of its important natural history.

There is a variety of enriching things over three days in Havana

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 spaces including Fusterlandia, the home and neighborhood of the artist José Fuster, decorated with his sculptures and mosaics. Visit a cigar factory to meet the people who roll them. Meet with independent journalists. Or visit an organic farm on Havana's outskirts, and meet the people doing pioneering agricultural research.

Experience rich traditions from lively music to superb Cuban cuisine

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. One evening, take in a private performance, just for us, by the renowned, Grammy-nominated Septeto Nacional.

Visit the historic Bay of Pigs site

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. Weather permitting, have the chance to dive (at additional cost) or snorkel in the waters of the Bay of Pigs.

Explore Cuba’s unique marine habitat

Spend a day and a half at Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), where you'll meet with those working to preserve this unique habitat and have the chance to scuba dive (at additional cost), and to swim, snorkel, and explore cays and mangroves. (Note that permission for Jardines de la Reina is pending.)

Explore Cayo Largo, where we’ll visit a sea turtle breeding center and meet people managing a robust endangered species protection program.

See colonial Trinidad

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 Cubans who will share the stories of the city. Stop to meet local artists, including young women who are working to raise the status of women through their art.

Learn from an expert & inspiring onboard team

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.

Lindblad Expeditions is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, under a general license, to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

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 Havana for lunch. This afternoon, we visit Fusterlandia, the home and neighborhood of the artist José Fuster. The entire area is spectacularly decorated with his sculptures and mosaics—of mermaids, trees, human figures and as many things as the mind can conceive. These colorful, large, and extravagant works take up several blocks of the area. Following the visit, we check in to our historic hotel, the Hotel Nacional, located on the waterfront, where we will stay 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. We’ll then ride in vintage 1950s cars to our dinner at a local restaurant. (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 programs that interest you most. You’ll explore Old Havana on foot. It’s a World Heritage site, a trove of historic architecture, and center for Cuba’s arts and culture. We’ll see its great squares and meet with Cubans who are playing a vital role in preserving this area. Drive along the Malecón, the esplanade that runs along the waterfront. On our visits, you’ll meet with Cubans who are making a difference in their fields, and develop a rich understanding of life in Cuba. Get a perspective on Castro’s revolution at the Museum of the Revolution. Visit art spaces. See Ernest Hemingway’s estate at Finca Vigía. Visit a cigar factory, and have a chance to visit an organic farm located on the outskirts of town. Visit an auto workshop where classic American cars are restored. Have a visit with and performance by members of the Habana Compás group, which fuses rhythms of traditional Spanish dances with Afro-Cuban styles in a stirring expression of Cuban soul. Enjoy several meals in some of Havana’s best private restaurants, which have developed a reputation for innovative cuisine. And on one evening we will hear the rhythms of Cuba at a private dinner, with the chance to meet the extraordinary musicians—Cuba’s rich traditions have been celebrated all over the world. (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. On arrival, we’ll meet and hear a performance by a stirring choral group that’s based here. In the late afternoon, we embark Harmony V, our home for the next seven nights, and have a welcome dinner aboard ship. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Bay of Pigs

This morning we drive from Cienfuegos to 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 you may choose 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. Another option is to swim, snorkel or dive (for certified divers only, weather permitting) at the Bay of Pigs. After lunch, we meet with the member of an artists' colony and see demonstrations of their work and music. In the late afternoon, we drive back to Cienfuegos and our ship. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Cayo Largo

This beautiful key is home to diverse marine ecosystems and a small local community that serves the primarily European and Canadian visitors who come here. 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. You’ll have a chance to explore the island’s marine world by swimming or snorkeling. (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 visit the Office of the City Historian and walk through the town, interacting with residents along the way. There will be stops for visits to local artists, to home studios; and to the municipal museum. The museum’s bell tower offers fine views over Trinidad. In the afternoon, see the Valley of the Sugar Mills, where local guides will explain sugar’s importance to Cuba’s history and you will see how the sugar barons lived. Alternatively, spend the day with a local specialist exploring the Topes de Collantes Natural Park in the Escambray Mountains, with a short hike and a chance to see something of Cuba’s natural history, and explore Trinidad in the afternoon, meeting its residents. (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 a day and a half 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

Today we explore Cienfuegos, Cuba’s "Pearl of the South" and a UNESCO World Heritage site. 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 begin by exploring colonial Cienfuegos on foot. Among places of particular interest that we’ll see are the Government Palace (City Hall), the Teatro Tomás Terry, and the beautiful main square, Plaza Martí. We continue to the Benny Moré School of Art, named after the great Cuban singer and bandleader who came from this region. It is a lively school, where young people get a strong education in the performing arts. We’ll meet teachers and students, and see performances. After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll have a chance to visit the home of a local family, meet the residents and learn about their lives. We see a moving children’s performance of "Cucarachita Martina," a children’s tale known to all Cubans. A Cienfuegos rooftop provides an ideal venue for sunset drinks, before we return to our ship for a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Cienfuegos/Depart

We disembark our ship this morning. Our first stop is at the Cienfuegos baseball stadium, if there is a game or practice in progress, with a chance to meet Cubans there—Cubans are passionate about baseball, and it is an important part of Cuban life. We then go to the countryside to Pepito Tey, a village where sugar used to be processed. On a people-to-people visit that gives excellent insight into Cuban agriculture and rural life, we’ll meet with a local historian who will tell us about efforts to bring new employment to the former sugar cane workers who live here. Time permitting, we also visit the Botanical Garden. We have lunch at a local restaurant, then transfer to Cienfuegos airport for our flight to Miami, which arrives about 7:15 p.m. (B,L)

Lindblad Expeditions is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, under a general license, to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Dates & Rates

Dates Ship 1 2 3 4 Solo 1
Dec 6, 2017 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Dec 13, 2017 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Dec 20, 2017 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Dec 27, 2017 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 3, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 10, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 17, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 24, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Jan 31, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 7, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 14, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 21, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Feb 28, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Mar 7, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Mar 14, 2018 Harmony V $9,500 $10,200 $11,000 $11,500 $14,250
Mar 21, 2018 Harmony V $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

Harmony V

Harmony V Harmony V provides an ideal way to explore Cuba’s coast. The ship is fully air-conditioned. Part of the Sun Deck is enclosed, and serves as a venue for meals, talks and recaps. The Sun Deck also has an al fresco area with deck chairs for relaxing. The dining room has large windows and lets in ample light. There are full-service bars on the Sun Deck and in the lounge. There is a collection of books and films about Cuba. There are full facilities for presentations, films, and slide shows. Guests are welcome on the “Open Bridge” to meet the Captain and Officers and learn about navigation.