Prices include savings up to $300
for bookings by Aug. 30, 2014!

Highlights of Havana & Varadero

Havana, Cojimar, Varadero, Cardenas, Coliseo & Matanzas

Overview

Style Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures October 2014 – April 2015
Departs Miami (MIA) (flight schedule)
Highlights Havana, Cojimar, Callejon de Hamel, Las Terrazas, Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia, Varadero, Cardenas, Coliseo & Matanzas
Included in the Price
  • Non-stop round trip flights from Miami to Havana via U.S. Government-licensed charter service
  • U.S. Treasury Department license and letter of authorization
  • Cuba Entrance Visa
  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
  • 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing
  • 5 nights superior first class hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • 14 meals: 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 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)
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.

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Testimonials

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This was a wonderful tour. Our tour leader Trish was just outstanding as was Osmin and the driver Roberto. They tried to accommodate our needs and requests. I could not have imagined a better organized trip. The hotels were more than adequate and the restaurants and food served was exceptional. Thank you Friendly Planet for making Cuba a very enjoyable and memorable experience. I will not hesitate to recommend the company and have already decided to book another tour with you.

Patricia Pitt, The Villages, FL

Dates, Prices & Options

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. Prices below are subject to availability and confirmation. After we receive your booking, we will confirm all prices and availability within 1–2 business days. Prices are subject to change at any time and not guaranteed until we receive your final payment. More about our prices.

Departures & Prices*
Depart Return Price Book by
Aug 30
Sun Jul 20 2014 Sat Jul 26 2014 $2599   Departed
Sun Aug 10 2014 Sat Aug 16 2014 $2599   Closed
Sun Aug 31 2014 Sat Sep 6 2014 $2799 $2499 Closed
Sun Sep 7 2014 Sat Sep 13 2014 $2799 $2499 Closed
Tue Oct 21 2014 Mon Oct 27 2014 $2799 $2499 Available
Tue Nov 11 2014 Mon Nov 17 2014 $3099 $2799 Available
Tue Dec 2 2014 Mon Dec 8 2014 $3099 $2799 Available
Sun Dec 14 2014 Sat Dec 20 2014 $3199 $2899 Available
Tue Jan 6 2015 Mon Jan 12 2015 $3099 $2799 Available
Tue Jan 27 2015 Mon Feb 2 2015 $3099 $2799 Available
Tue Feb 17 2015 Mon Feb 23 2015 $3099 $2799 Available
Tue Mar 10 2015 Mon Mar 16 2015 $3099 $2799 Available
Sun Mar 22 2015 Sat Mar 28 2015 $3099 $2799 Available
Tue Mar 31 2015 Mon Apr 6 2015 $3099 $2799 Available
Tue Apr 21 2015 Mon Apr 27 2015 $3059 $2759 Available

* 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 8/30/14.

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

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.

Highlights of Havana & Varadero
Cuba Visa Fee included
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Jul 20, Aug 10, Aug 31, Sep 7 +$359
All other departures +$499
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Jan 6, Jan 27, Feb 17, Mar 10, Mar 22, Mar 31 +$85
All other departures +$70
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Jan 6, Jan 27, Feb 17, Mar 10, Mar 22, Mar 31 +$85
All other departures +$70
Departure Airports
Miami (MIA) included

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.

Booking Deposit
Standard Deposit $600

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.

Itinerary

Highlights of Havana & Varadero tour itineraryJust 90 miles from U.S. soil, the Caribbean island of Cuba has remained elusive to most Americans. But thanks to the People to People program, now entering its third year, more and more American travelers are visiting Cuba as part of these unique educational exchanges. Friendly Planet Travel is proud to be among the first operators to be awarded a People to People license, and we’re especially excited about our newest program, Highlights of Havana & Varadero, featuring a 3-night stay in Havana and a 2-night stay in Varadero, long considered one of Cuba’s most beautiful beaches.

You’ll begin your Cuba travel tour in Havana, where you’ll be introduced to a rich culture with indigenous, African and European roots. You’ll meet artists in their studios in Old Havana, visit schools, tour organic farms and explore an ingenious, creative society with much to share and an eagerness to learn. In Varadero, you’ll meet a young teacher who has become another of Cuba’s emerging private sector stars. You’ll tour a “coincidental” farm in nearby Cardenas and discover what growing fruit and making pottery have in common, and in Matanzas city, you’ll discover the ingenuity and artistry that goes into puppetry. Your 5* beachfront resort hotel is perfectly situated to offer opportunities to enjoy the Caribbean in your spare time.

We guarantee you it’ll be a travel experience unlike any other. But don’t wait too long to book. Cuba is in hot demand, and these tours will sell out quickly!

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, HavanaDay 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.

In the center of Old Havana, set out on a leisurely orientation walk through the cobblestone streets of this vibrant area. You will find many Cubans out strolling with their families offering you a perfect opportunity to interact with locals and immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Cellejon de HamelNext, 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.

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.

This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Nacional. Lunch & dinner provided.

Students of Angela Landa Elementary SchoolDay 3: Old Havana & Cuban Ration Store. After breakfast this morning visit one of Havana’s most famous cigar factories where you see hundreds of workers rolling the Cuban cigars by hand.

Then, visit a primary school in Havana (ages 5 – 12) and meet 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.

Enjoy lunch at a local Restaurant.

Scale in a ration store photo by  Jeremy Woodhouse, pixelchromeAfter lunch visit a local ration store in the Vedado section of Havana. 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.

Return to the hotel and gather in a pre-reserved, private meeting room where you will 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.

This evening take a short stroll from your hotel to Café Laurent, a privately owned restaurant, for dinner. The restaurant this evening is a classic example of Cuba’s recently revised policies allowing private enterprise to flourish. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Las TerrazasDay 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.

Enjoying coffee at Cafe Maria, Las TerrazasAt our next stop, we’ll visit the town’s only coffee shop, Café Maria. Café Maria is owned by the oldest member of the community, Maria. 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.

Friendly Planet traveler posing for picture, FusterlandiaVisit 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, you’ll 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.

This evening, 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. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Finca VigiaDay 5: Havana, Alamar, Cojimar, Matanzas & Varadero. 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.

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

Matanzas panoramaOn the way to Varadero, stop to visit the wonderful world full of puppets in Matanzas city, often called the City of Bridges and the Athens of Cuba. Visit the Pelusín del Monte Cultural Center, a space for the magical and wonderful world of dolls. Pelusín del Monte, a puppet created in 1956, became a national icon, In this cultural site that bears his name, there are different areas for the promotion, development and enjoyment of theater puppets. There is a workshop led by puppet master Zenén Calero, recognized artist in Cuba and abroad, and an outdoor theater with 150 seats amidst a tropical forest. The puppeteer, Dora Alonso, supervises over a 1000 books on this popular theater specialty. Visit the center and engage in a discussion about how the puppets are created and why this particular character remains a beloved figure throughout the country. Discuss the various American iconic puppets, some of which may also be known in Cuba

Then, continue to the beautiful town of Varadero. Accommodations: Melia Varadero. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Varadero beachDay 6: Varadero, Coliseo & Cardenas. This morning drive to visit a Craft Workshop. Artisans Mariela Alemán Orosco and Marilín Martínez Barrio, members of the Cuban Cultural Fund and the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists, have received prizes and recognition for their creative work. During the visit you’ll tour the workshop and experience the creative process as it is taking place.

Then, visit the community project, Arte Urbano, in the Cardenas Cultural Center. Arte Urbano is a musical theater project for children who struggle with shyness or hyperactivity. During the visit meet the director, Aida Phinney, and enjoy a theatrical performance by the children. After the performance, engage in a discussion with Ms. Phinney and the children at the center.

Colorful buildings of CardenasContinue to the provincial town of Coliseo, passing by the city of Cardenas. Here you’ll observe village life first hand, including the varied (and often quite creative) means of transportation that residents rely on, like handmade bicycles and horse-drawn carriages. Then, drive to the Coincidencia Farm, founded in 1987 by Héctor Correa, an agriculturist with an interest in preserving certain native species of fruit that he knew and loved as a child. With a cart full of seedlings, he began to plant his farm. In order to multiply the effort, he created a seed bank so that any interested farmer could also cultivate the plants. In addition to farming, Correa created the first ceramics workshop in Matanzas, blending art with nature, essential sources of inspiration for any artist. Correa’s children have kept the family tradition, studying and working hard both on the farm and in the workshop.

After touring the farm and ceramics workshop, engage in a discussion about opportunities for creative expression in Cuba and the US, and how in both countries, artists often find perfect incubators for their creative drives through farming. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 7: Varadero & 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, 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 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 it’s hotels, highways, public restrooms and other features reach US 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.

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

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Video: Friendly Planet in Cuba

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

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