Colors of Cuba

Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cojimar & Santa Clara

Book now online
9 days from $4899 $4499
per person, double occupancy, including airfare*
Book by Sep. 1, 2015 to save up to $400!

Overview

Style Small Group
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures Scheduled Dates: Select a departure from December 2015 – April 2016
Price Includes
  • Non-stop round trip flights from Miami to Havana via U.S. Government-licensed charter service; May - Oct, 2015 departures will return to Miami via Cienfuegos
  • Priority check-in and one checked bag per person (please review luggage restrictions)
  • U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC License Certification and Authorization Letter
  • Cuba Entrance Visa & Departure Tax
  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
  • 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing
  • 7 nights 5-star hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • 17 meals: 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 3 dinners (May - Oct, 2015 - 16 meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 3 dinners)
  • Comprehensive educational exchange program, including entrance fees
  • Friendly Planet escort
  • Professional, English-speaking local guide, who will facilitate the educational exchanges with Cubans
  • Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)
Departs Miami (MIA) (flight schedule)
Highlights Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Cojimar, an authentic Rumba block party, Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia, and a dinner in a "paladar".
Themes History & Culture,  Premium
What to Expect This fast-paced, escorted educational program includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.

Colors of Cuba tour itinerary After many years, Americans are again able to travel to Cuba under a new 'people-to-people' program authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, which provides an opportunity to interact with Cubans through educational exchanges concerning art, music, culture, and more. Friendly Planet is proud to be one of the few tour companies in the United States to have been awarded a People to People license by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. Join us for a unique adventure to experience this island which sits 90 miles off our shores and shares such an amazing and extraordinary history with the United States!

Cuba's culture is rich with contributions from its indigenous, African and European roots. But above all, the people of Cuba are the island's greatest asset. They are friendly, welcoming, resourceful and full of life. This program will introduce you to the people and provide ample opportunities to interact with them in meaningful and rewarding ways, learning and teaching each other about life in Cuba vs the USA. But don't wait to reserve your spot. With a rare opportunity like this, and prices this low, space is sure to fly!

Dates, Prices & Options

Departure Dates & Prices

Early Booking Discount: Book by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sep. 1 to save up to $400 per person!
Departures & Prices
per person, double occupancy*
Depart Return Price Book by
Sep 1
Sat Aug 29 2015 Sun Sep 6 2015 $3699   Departed
Sat Sep 26 2015 Sun Oct 4 2015 $4099 $3699 Closed
Sat Oct 3 2015 Sun Oct 11 2015 $4099 $3699 Closed
Sat Oct 10 2015 Sun Oct 18 2015 $4099 $3699 Closed
Sat Oct 24 2015 Sun Nov 1 2015 $4099 $3699 Closed
Wed Nov 25 2015 Thu Dec 3 2015 $4899 $4499 Closed
Tue Dec 1 2015 Wed Dec 9 2015 $4899 $4499 Closed
Thu Dec 10 2015 Fri Dec 18 2015 $4899 $4499 Available
Wed Jan 6 2016 Thu Jan 14 2016 $5099 $4699 Available
Wed Jan 20 2016 Thu Jan 28 2016 $5199 $4799 Closed
Wed Feb 10 2016 Thu Feb 18 2016 $5199 $4799 Available
Wed Feb 24 2016 Thu Mar 3 2016 $5199 $4799 Available
Wed Mar 2 2016 Thu Mar 10 2016 $5199 $4799 Available
Wed Mar 16 2016 Thu Mar 24 2016 $5199 $4799 Available
Sun Apr 3 2016 Mon Apr 11 2016 $4999 $4599 Available
Tue Apr 19 2016 Wed Apr 27 2016 $4999 $4599 Available

Want to stay longer? Unfortunately, we don't offer late returns on this package.

Please note: Our Refer A Friend program is not applicable for our Cuba programs.

Options & Fees

Colors of Cuba
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Aug 29, Sep 26, Oct 3, Oct 10, Oct 24 +$759
Nov 25, Dec 1, Dec 10, Jan 20, Feb 10, Feb 24, Mar 2, Mar 16, Apr 3, Apr 19 +$799
Jan 6 unavailable
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Jan 6, Jan 20, Feb 10, Feb 24, Mar 2, Mar 16 +$85
All other departures +$70
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Jan 6, Jan 20, Feb 10, Feb 24, Mar 2, Mar 16 +$85
All other departures +$70
Taxes & Fees
Cuba Visa Fee included

Flights & Departure Cities

Departure Airports
Miami (MIA) included

This package includes round-trip flights from the cities listed above. Please review the flight schedule, especially if you're booking connecting flights.

Coming from somewhere else? Unfortunately, we don't offer departures from cities that are not listed, but you can book your own connecting flights separately.

How to Make a Reservation

To make a reservation, simply select an available departure date and reserve online using our secure booking system. Or call us one of our travel specialists at 800-555-5765, Mon–Fri 9:30–6:00 Eastern time. But first, check out our Things to Know section.

We only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card or PayPal account. This deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package, and is generally non-refundable (details). The balance is due 75 days prior to departure (or within 72 hours, if you're booking less than 75 days prior to departure), and can be paid by credit card, PayPal, check or money order.

Deposit
Standard Deposit $600

Itinerary

Jun–Oct. 2015 Itinerary

Day 1: Miami overnight & pre-tour introductory briefing. Your unforgettable journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami, Florida. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal, simply hail the driver as they pass. This evening at 7:30pm, participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers and review your documents and program itinerary. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning. Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Miami Airport.

Capital Building, Havana Day 2: Miami/Havana. Today, transfer to the Miami International Airport to board your non-stop flight bound for Havana, Cuba’s capital city and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bienvenidos a Havana! You are welcomed by your private Cuban people-to-people representative holding a Friendly Planet sign outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in.

Enjoy a leisurely orientation walk with your guide through the vibrant cobblestone streets as you immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you.

Now that you’ve had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it’s time to check in to your hotel.
Afterwards, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. Accommodations: Melia Cohiba. Dinner provided.

Students of Angela Landa Elementary School Day 3: Old Havana. Begin our day with a visit to a primary school (ages 5-12) located in Old Havana. Interact with the children in their classrooms and participate in a discussion session with some of the school’s administrators and teachers about Cuba’s education system and how it compares to that of the United States. Please note that should a school not be available or not in session, Friendly Planet will substitute the school visit with an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project in Havana.

Then continue on to the private studio of one of Cuba’s talented independent artists. During your visit you’ll learn different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams.

Ration store scaleContinue to a local ration store. Your Cuban host will explain the system of rationing and the two-currency system as well as the difference between Ration Stores, Cuban Peso Stores, and CUC stores.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon, visit the Vocal Leo, a group of 14 talented singers who perform under the direction of Corina Campos, general and musical director of this unique, award-winning group known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music. The group is named for the Cuban guitar virtuoso, composer and orchestra conductor, Leo Brower. After watching a performance or rehearsal, discuss the professional music scene in Cuba and the USA.

Later, we meet in our pre-reserved meeting room at our hotel and engage in a discussion with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S./Cuban relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.

Enjoy dinner on your own this evening. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provide or ask your guides for alternative recommendations. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Las Terrazas Day 4: Havana & Las Terrazas. Depart for Las Terrazas in Artemisa Province, a “must see” in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty.

Las Terrazas was founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 as a model community, where local farmers, known as campesinos, moved closer together in order to help each other overcome the hardships of sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, of living without electricity and of living without local schools or medical services.

First, stop briefly at the Clinica Las Terrazas† to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Locals visit this small, multi-purpose center for medical advice, often non-traditional and homeopathic, and referrals to larger medical centers in the city, dental care by the area’s sole dentist, and even a haircut by the town hairdresser, with whom the space is also shared.

Continue to the kindergarten of the community. After a tour of the facility conducted by the director and teacher, discuss early childhood education in Cuba and the USA with school staff. Then, enjoy a brief presentation by the children.

Enjoying coffee at Cafe Maria, Las TerrazasAt our next stop, we’ll visit the town’s coffee shop, Café Maria. Maria's family has been welcoming visitors for years to enjoy the “best coffee in the country.” Discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world and how cafes act as places for social interaction.

Las Terrazas is now part of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve, much of it reforested coffee plantation. Real reforestation began in the late 1960s by the local farmers who were concerned that their land had been degraded by former French coffee barons.

Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (When in residence).

Now you’re in for an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.

On the way back to Havana after lunch, visit the Clave Sol community project. This neighborhood project was established by parents in the San Augustin neighborhood, in an effort to provide safe, wholesome afterschool activities for their children. Children select among various string instruments and then learn to play them, to perform not only Cuban but international music. During our visit, meet the children, their teachers and hear them rehearsing for upcoming performances.

Return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Day 5: Havana. After breakfast, embark on a one hour classic car tour through the streets of the city. After your ride, meet in one of Cuba's workshops to learn about how the old cars are cared for and maintained.

Then, we travel to one of Cuba’s well known dance companies to enjoy watching a rehearsal, followed by a discussion with the directors and dancers about dance opportunities in Cuba compared with those in the USA.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Mosaic, Fusterlandia Photo by Virginia LagoAfter lunch, we have the distinct pleasure of visiting “Fusterlandia”, the home and surrounding neighborhood of “The Picasso of the Caribbean”, Jose Fuster. Starting with a small wooden home as his canvas, Mr. Fuster has turned his dream into reality and transformed not just his own home but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.

Explore the Used Booksellers Market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet local independent booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature.

Afterwards, enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Hemingway's house Day 6: Havana, Alamar & Cojimar.This morning, drive to Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s Cuba retreat. Then, drive to the district of Alamar on the outskirts of Havana. Started as an expansive social housing project in the 1970’s, these Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans.

Among the buildings in Alamar are community gardens, called Organoponicos, where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their own consumption and local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these Organoponicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar’s residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organoponicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.

Friendly Planet group in CojimarVisit Cojimar, the fishing village that was the setting for Hemingway’s book, The Old Man and the Sea and enjoy lunch at a local paladar.

This afternoon, visit the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery, a miniature city of mausoleums, crypts, family chapels, vaults, sculptures and ornate gravestones. Continue to the Artisan Market, where you’ll find plenty of souvenirs, including handicrafts, posters and other collectibles.

After some well-deserved ‘down time’ at the hotel, join your fellow travelers for your last dinner in Havana, served in a privately owned restaurant. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes as you enjoy live, traditional Cuban Buena Vista-style music and salsa dancing. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Musician, Santa Clara Day 7: Havana, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad. Shortly after breakfast this morning, depart from Havana and drive along Cuba’s “autopista” highway. Visit the town of Santa Clara and the Che Guevara Mausoleum.

Enjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. Please note that this visit is only possible during the school year (September through early June). Should this school not be available, or in session, during your trip, an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project will be substituted.

Lunch will be served buffet style in the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.

We continue on to the picturesque town of Sancti Spíritus, one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and home to Cuba's oldest church, the Parroquial Mayor.

Continue the drive to the charming old Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of Latin America. Check in to your hotel before dinner this evening. Accommodations: Iberostar Trinidad. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Trinidad Day 8: Trinidad. After breakfast this morning, visit the Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house that was founded and has been managed by the Santander Family for generations. Today you’ll learn the process of ceramic production and have the opportunity to create a piece of your own.

Continue to one of Trinidad’s many “casas particulares” or bed and breakfasts, where you’ll enjoy a tour and a discussion with the owners. Learn how bed and breakfasts are one of Cuba’s new entrepreneurial opportunities in a society where the state typically owns most enterprises. Ask questions and share insights about U.S. businesses, including the ever popular bed and breakfasts that are ubiquitous in the U.S.

Continue to Templo de Yemaya, where a Santeria Practitioner along with some of the religion’s devotees explains the basic principles of Santeria. Discuss the role of religion and religious organizations throughout both Cuba and the US.

Manaca Iznaga Observation TowerLunch today is at the beautifully restored Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga, located in the heart of the Valley de los Ingenios, a series of valleys once known as a center for sugar production. Built in the late 1700s, the mansion displays an exhibition of paintings depicting the lives of slaves on sugar plantations. Learn about the region’s harsh past, where great fortunes were made on the backs of African slaves, and where many descendants of the Afro-Cuban slaves still reside.

After time to rest at the hotel, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a privately owned paladar. Feel free to ask your Cuban guide for recommendations.

Later this evening, join Cubans at either Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a community block party, a celebration where locals from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, build friendships, and discuss neighborhood matters. Enjoy the celebration, regarded as one of the best experiences of the trip, and engage in discussions with the locals about community life in Cuba and the US. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Day 9: Depart Cienfuegos/Arrive Miami. Today, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Cienfuegos International Airport and check-in for your charter flight back to Miami. Adios Cuba! Breakfast provided.

 

Nov. 2015 – Apr. 2016 Itinerary

Tour sequence is subject to change depending on hotel availability. First day of listed departure date is an overnight stay in Miami, Florida, with an included pre-tour introductory briefing.

Day 1: Miami overnight & pre-tour introductory briefing. Your unforgettable journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami, Florida. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal, simply hail the driver as they pass. This evening at 7:30pm, participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers and review your documents and program itinerary. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning. Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Miami Airport.

Vintage car, Old Havana © Jeremy Woodhouse, pixelchrome.com Day 2: Miami/Havana. Today, transfer to the Miami International Airport to board your non-stop flight bound for Havana, Cuba’s capital city and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bienvenidos a Havana! You are welcomed by your private Cuban people-to-people representative holding a Friendly Planet sign outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in as you head directly to your first destination in Cuba.

Enjoy your first lunch at a local restaurant in the center of Old Havana, followed by a leisurely orientation walk with your guide through the vibrant cobblestone streets as you immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you.

Explore the Used Booksellers Market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet local independent booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature.

Now that you’ve had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it’s time to check in to your hotel. After time to rest at the hotel, enjoy your first dinner at the hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Parque Central. Lunch & dinner provided.

Students of Angela Landa Elementary School Day 3: Havana. Begin our day with a visit to a primary school (ages 5-12) located in Old Havana. Interact with the children in their classrooms and participate in a discussion session with some of the school’s administrators and teachers about Cuba’s education system and how it compares to that of the United States. Please note that should a school not be available or not in session, Friendly Planet will substitute the school visit with an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project in Havana.

Then continue on to the private studio of one of Cuba’s talented independent artists. During your visit you’ll learn different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams.

Scale in a ration store © Jeremy Woodhouse, pixelchrome.comContinue to a local ration store. Your Cuban host will explain the system of rationing and the two-currency system as well as the difference between Ration Stores, Cuban Peso Stores, and CUC stores.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon, visit the Vocal Leo, a group of 14 talented singers who perform under the direction of Corina Campos, general and musical director of this unique, award-winning group known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music. The group is named for the Cuban guitar virtuoso, composer and orchestra conductor, Leo Brower. After watching a performance or rehearsal, discuss the professional music scene in Cuba and the USA.

This evening, we meet in our pre-reserved meeting room at our hotel and engage in a discussion with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S./Cuban relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.

Afterwards, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provide or ask your guides for recommendations. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Las Terrazas Day 4: Havana & Las Terrazas. Depart for Las Terrazas in Artemisa Province, a “must see” in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty.
Las Terrazas was founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 as a model community, where local farmers, known as campesinos, moved closer together in order to help each other overcome the hardships of sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, of living without electricity and of living without local schools or medical services.

First, stop briefly at the Clinica Las Terrazas† to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Locals visit this small, multi-purpose center for medical advice, often non-traditional and homeopathic, and referrals to larger medical centers in the city, dental care by the area’s sole dentist, and even a haircut by the town hairdresser, with whom the space is also shared.

Continue to the kindergarten of the community. After a tour of the facility conducted by the director and teacher, discuss early childhood education in Cuba and the USA with school staff. Then, enjoy a brief presentation by the children.

Enjoying coffee at Cafe Maria, Las TerrazasAt our next stop, we’ll visit the town’s coffee shop, Café Maria. Maria's family has been welcoming visitors for years to enjoy the “best coffee in the country.” Discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world and how cafes act as places for social interaction.

Las Terrazas is now part of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve, much of it reforested coffee plantation. Real reforestation began in the late 1960s by the local farmers who were concerned that their land had been degraded by former French coffee barons.

Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (When in residence).

Now you’re in for an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.

Friendly Planet traveler posing for picture, FusterlandiaOn the way back to Havana after lunch, we have the distinct pleasure of visiting “Fusterlandia”, the home and surrounding neighborhood of “The Picasso of the Caribbean”, Jose Fuster. Starting with a small wooden home as his canvas, Mr. Fuster has turned his dream into reality and transformed not just his own home but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.

Return to Havana and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Women  & children of Cienfuegos Photo by Adam Jones Day 5: Havana, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad. Shortly after breakfast this morning, depart from Havana and drive along Cuba’s “autopista” highway. Visit the town of Santa Clara and the Che Guevara Mausoleum.

Lunch will be served buffet style in the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.

Enjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. Please note that this visit is only possible during the school year (September through early June). Should this school not be available, or in session, during your trip, an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project will be substituted.

Continue on to the picturesque town of Sancti Spíritus, one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and home to Cuba's oldest church, the Parroquial Mayor.

Then, drive to the charming old Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of Latin America. After check in, enjoy dinner this evening at the hotel. Accommodations: Iberostar Trinidad. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Plaza Mayor, Trinidad  Photo by Nick GrunwaldDay 6: Trinidad. After breakfast this morning, visit the Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house that was founded and has been managed by the Santander Family for generations. Today you’ll learn the process of ceramic production and have the opportunity to create a piece of your own.

Continue to one of Trinidad’s many “casas particulares” or bed and breakfasts, where you’ll enjoy a tour and a discussion with the owners. Learn how bed and breakfasts are one of Cuba’s new entrepreneurial opportunities in a society where the state typically owns most enterprises. Ask questions and share insights about U.S. businesses, including the ever popular bed and breakfasts that are ubiquitous in the U.S.
Continue to Templo de Yemaya, where a Santeria Practitioner along with some of the religion’s devotees explains the basic principles of Santeria. Discuss the role of religion and religious organizations throughout both Cuba and the US.

Manaca Iznaga Observation TowerLunch today is at the beautifully restored Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga, located in the heart of the Valley de los Ingenios, a series of valleys once known as a center for sugar production. Built in the late 1700s, the mansion displays an exhibition of paintings depicting the lives of slaves on sugar plantations. Learn about the region’s harsh past, where great fortunes were made on the backs of African slaves, and where many descendants of the Afro-Cuban slaves still reside.

After time to rest at the hotel, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provided or ask your Cuban guide for recommendations.

After dinner, join Cubans at either Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a community block party, a celebration where locals from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, build friendships, and discuss neighborhood matters. Enjoy the celebration, regarded as one of the best experiences of the trip, and engage in discussions with the locals about community life in Cuba and the US. Breakfast & lunch provided.

City Hall, CienfuegosDay 7: Cienfuegos & Havana. After breakfast, we drive along the Caribbean coast and through small towns and villages en route to Cienfuegos, known as the “Pearl of the South” and the capital of Cienfuegos Province on the southern Caribbean side of the island.

Visit an interesting community project in Cienfuegos then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, explore the main square and the Punto Gordo peninsula.

Return to Havana for a short rest. Then, enjoy dinner on your own at one of Havana’s fantastic paladars, including many within walking distance of your hotel. Accommodations: Parque Central. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Hemingway's houseDay 8: Havana, Alamar & Cojimar. This morning, drive to Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s Cuba retreat. Then, drive to the district of Alamar on the outskirts of Havana. Started as an expansive social housing project in the 1970’s, these Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans.

Among the buildings in Alamar are community gardens, called Organoponicos, where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their own consumption and local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these Organoponicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar’s residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organoponicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.

Hemingway monument, CojimarVisit Cojimar, the fishing village that was the setting for Hemingway’s book, The Old Man and the Sea and enjoy lunch at a local paladar.

This afternoon, visit the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery, a miniature city of mausoleums, crypts, family chapels, vaults, sculptures and ornate gravestones. Continue to the Artisan Market, where you’ll find plenty of souvenirs, including handicrafts, posters and other collectibles.

After some well-deserved ‘down time’ at the hotel, join your fellow travelers at the farewell dinner, served in a privately owned restaurant. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes as you enjoy live, traditional Cuban Buena Vista-style music and salsa dancing. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Plaza de la Catedral, Havana Vieja Photo by Krasivaja Day 9: Depart Havana/Arrive Miami. This morning, we travel to one of Cuba’s well known dance companies to enjoy watching a rehearsal, followed by a discussion with the directors and dancers about dance opportunities in Cuba compared with those in the USA.

Then, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport and check-in for your charter flight back to Miami. Adios Havana! Breakfast provided.

† These visits are subject to availability. When not possible to visit, appropriate alternate visits will be included.

NOTE: This itinerary provides a full time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interactions between you and individuals in Cuba. U.S. law requires that all persons who participate in this program adhere to this full time schedule, and imposes on Friendly Planet the obligation to ensure such adherence.

Infrastructure in Cuba, including even the best hotels, may not always be up to U.S. standards. The hotels really do try to maintain quality accommodations, and in the properties we select for our Cuba escorted tours, they generally do a good job. However, Cuba's resources and climate do sometimes impact a hotel's ability to keep up with maintenance and indoor air quality. For example, in Cuba's tropical climate, you might notice musty odors in some buildings, including hotels. We do our best to select the highest quality hotels, restaurants and paladars that Cuba has to offer, but we appreciate your flexibility and understanding when you encounter a minor imperfection. Cuba has a long way to go before its hotels, highways, public restrooms and other features reach U.S. levels, but all in all, you will not suffer any major difficulties in tolerating the small issues that may occur. If you have any medical or dietary concerns, however, please inform us when you make your reservation, so we can take whatever special precautions are required to assure your comfort and well-being.

FRIENDLY PLANET'S LICENSE NUMBER FOR SELLING CUBA: CT-2014-309385-1

Videos

Video: Friendly Planet in Cuba

Reviews

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We all had a wonderful time and marveled at how clean, pretty and safe Havana was. We particularly liked our visit to the Center for Adult Day Care where we were asked to go onto a stage so the 200 or so people at the Center, a former convent, could welcome us. The Director asked if any of us wanted to say something to them in Spanish. I volunteered and in the best Spanish I could muster at the time told them "we were happy to be in Cuba, that we were from the United States of America, and that we hoped they were happy we were there." The crowd burst into a loud, sustained applause. When we came off the stage and filed past the audience, everyone reached over to shake our hands. It was very touching and almost brought us to tears as we didn't expect such a hardy welcome from Cubans.

Dede Emerson

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