Includes airfare, fuel surcharges, hotels, transfers, many meals, educational activities & more. *
|Itinerary at a Glance|
|1||Miami Overnight/ Pre-tour introductory briefing|
|3||Old Havana & Callejon de Hamel|
|4||Havana, Alamar & Cojimar|
|5||Havana & Las Terrazas|
|Departures||August – October 2013|
|Highlights||Havana, Cojimar, Callejon de Hamel, Las Terrazas, Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia, and a dinner in a "paladar".|
|Travel Style||This fast-paced, escorted educational program includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
After many years, Americans are again able to travel to Cuba under a new 'people-to-people' program authorized by the U.S. government, 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!
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Special note: First day of listed departure date is an overnight stay in Miami, Florida with an included pre-tour introductory briefing.
All prices, fees and deposits are per person, subject to change at any time, and not guaranteed until we receive your final payment.
|Departures & Prices*|
|Fri||May 24||2013||Wed||May 29||2013||$2299||Closed|
|Fri||Jun 7||2013||Wed||Jun 12||2013||$2299||Closed|
|Fri||Jun 21||2013||Wed||Jun 26||2013||$2299||Closed|
|Tue||Jul 2||2013||Sun||Jul 7||2013||$2599||$2399||Closed|
|Tue||Jul 16||2013||Sun||Jul 21||2013||$2599||$2399||Closed|
|Fri||Aug 2||2013||Wed||Aug 7||2013||$2599||$2399||Closed|
|Fri||Aug 16||2013||Wed||Aug 21||2013||$2599||$2399||Available|
|Tue||Aug 27||2013||Sun||Sep 1||2013||$2599||$2399||Closed|
|Fri||Sep 6||2013||Wed||Sep 11||2013||$2399||$2099||Closed|
|Tue||Sep 10||2013||Sun||Sep 15||2013||$2399||$2099||Closed|
|Tue||Sep 24||2013||Sun||Sep 29||2013||$2499||$2199||Available|
|Fri||Oct 4||2013||Wed||Oct 9||2013||$2499||$2199||Available|
|Tue||Oct 8||2013||Sun||Oct 13||2013||$2499||$2199||Available|
|Tue||Oct 15||2013||Sun||Oct 20||2013||$2499||$2199||Available|
|Fri||Oct 25||2013||Wed||Oct 30||2013||$2499||$2199||Waitlist|
* Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and include airfare and Airline Taxes, Fees & Sept. 11th Security Fee. Prices do not include excess baggage fees, extensions or optional items. Prices in orange reflect an early booking discount for bookings made by 5/28/2013.
Want to stay longer? Unfortunately, we don't offer early departures or late returns on this package.
Please note: Our Refer A Friend program is not applicable on our Cuba programs.
|Separately Paid Fees|
|Cuba Departure Tax1 (paid separately)||+$30|
1. All departure taxes are paid locally in cash at the time of departure in local currency 25 CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) per person. Amount in USD is approximate and reflects current exchange rates.
|Cuban Visa Fee||included|
|All other departures||+$299|
|Optional Post-Tour Crowne Plaza Miami|
|Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza||+$65|
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.
To make a reservation, we only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card. This non-refundable deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package. You can pay the balance due later by credit card, check or money order. Your final payment is due 75 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of booking, whichever is later.
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.
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.
Visit the colorful Callejon de Hamel, one of the shortest but most interesting streets in Havana. Here you will discover how the African Cuban religion of Santeria, a fusion of African belief systems like spirit worship and Christianity, is portrayed in the street art and music. Meet with artists, including Salvador Gonzalez Escalona (when in residence), whose prolific murals that adorn the neighborhood reflect the culture and religious beliefs of this area.
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, attend a brief orientation meeting to review your travel itinerary and the documentation procedures for re-entry into the USA.
This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Nacional. Lunch & dinner provided.
Day 3: Old Havana & Callejon de Hamel. 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. Then continue on to the private studio of one of Cuba’s talented independent artists such as Eduardo Roca, affectionately known as “Choco”. During your visit you’ll learn different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative and internationally acclaimed Cuban artists and their teams. Lunch is served 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, 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 at a privately owned restaurant located in Old Havana. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 4: Havana, Alamar & Cojimar. This morning, drive to Finca Vigia, Hemmingway’s Cuba retreat and visit Cojimar, the fishing village that was the setting for his book, The Old Man and the Sea. 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.
Amongst 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. Lunch today is an open-air organic feast served by community volunteers and workers from Alamar.
This afternoon, we’re in for a real treat. We travel to the Centro Pro Danza de Cuba, created in 1994 by Laura Alonso, the daughter of Cuba’s legendary ballet royalty, Alicia and Fernando Alonso. Alonso teaches children of all ages and regardless of talent or ability to pay, and she provides professional-minded dancers, who weren’t accepted into the national ballet school and company, with an opportunity to grow, study and even perform. Tour the school, housed in a crumbling mansion that was once a hospital and is slowly being refurbished, watch a rehearsal. Then, engage in discussions with the directors and dancers about dance opportunities in Cuba compared with those in the USA.
Afterwards, return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 5: Havana & Las Terrazas.Depart for Las Terrazas in Pinar del Rio Province, a “must see” in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty. Pinar del Rio Province is also home to much of Cuba’s tobacco farming.
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.
At our next stop, we’ll visit the oldest member of the community, Maria. She is the sole proprietor of the town’s only coffee shop, Café Maria, where she and her family have 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.
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, 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.
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.
Day 6: Havana/Miami. Today, 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.
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, especially in hotels, may not be sufficient to satisfy demand in certain periods. While all inclusions in your tour will be maintained, it is possible that the itinerary may be rerouted to accommodate hotel availability. Please be flexible and understand that we will always do whatever we can to assure the best possible experience for all our Cuba travelers.
† These visits are subject to availability. When not possible to visit, appropriate alternate visits will be included.
FRIENDLY PLANET'S LICENSE NUMBER FOR SELLING CUBA: CT-2012-295959-1
Best trip we have ever taken. Our guides (Gary White and Ari) were so friendly and professional. We saw things we could never have found ourselves. I can't say enough good things about the experience. It all went like clockwork (to the extent anything in Cuba can do so). If you ever want to see Cuba, see it now, and see it with Friendly Planet!
— Valerie Fisher, Portland, OR