Custom & Group Travel

Humanitarian Mission to Cuba

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Introduction

Dear Friends,

Peggy Goldman
You might have heard about the recent changes in U.S. law easing restrictions on travel to Cuba for certain types of tourism programs. Friendly Planet is now offering a new series of Humanitarian Relief tours to Cuba beginning in October of 2011. We have organized several such missions to Cuba over the past year, coordinated through a humanitarian organization officially licensed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. They were a great success, and interest far exceeded the available space on these trips. As a result, we have expanded our series of departures and can now make them available to all of our travelers who wish to participate in this special project.

Children in Callejon de Hamel, Havana  Photo by James Emery I am very pleased to invite you to join us on one of our upcoming departures. Through these humanitarian tours, you'll have an incredible opportunity to directly help people in need, by bringing badly-needed medical supplies and educational materials to the Cuban people. In many ways, Cuba has one of the most advanced medical systems in the world, with highly-trained doctors and hospital teams. Unfortunately, many common medical items are in extremely short supply, such as pain relief medicines, syringes, and antibiotics. This is also true of the educational system. The literacy rate in Cuba is high, but the children face a huge shortage of even the most basic of materials, like pens and pencils, paper, simple drawing supplies and even books to read. Since items like these are very inexpensive and readily available to us, our trips will make a great and direct difference to people who really need our help.

Friendly Planet group visiting a school and medical clinic in Havana  Photo by Bill Cobane In addition, each tour will provide an incredible opportunity to interact with the local people one-on-one. Cuba is so much more than antique cars, salsa music and cigars, and you'll understand why Ernest Hemingway made it his home once you have visited this fascinating country, only 90 miles off our shores. I invite you to join us on this very special opportunity. Help us reach out to people in need and learn more about the country and people of Cuba.

Cordially yours,

Peggy M. Goldman
President, Friendly Planet Travel

Dates, Prices & Fees

Select a tour date to start a booking or to see the total price with taxes, fees and options.

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In order to reserve your spot on this humanitarian mission please download the reservation application below for your preferred departure date. Complete and return it to us via email, fax or postal mail, together with your $600 per person deposit. Email to reservations@friendlyplanet.com. Fax to 215-572-9803. Mail to 500 Old York Rd., Suite 200, Jenkintown, PA 19046.

A deposit of $600 per person is required in order to reserve your place. Final payment will be due at 75 days prior to departure, or the date indicated on your invoice which will accompany your confirmation packet.


Included in the price

  • Round trip flights from Miami via U.S. Government-licensed charter service
  • All transfers with meeting, assistance and porterage
  • Accommodations in first class hotels (4 star) with private bath
  • Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily (except 1 dinner in Havana)
  • All transportation within Cuba by air-conditioned, modern motorcoach
  • Accompanied daily by our English speaking humanitarian representative
  • Cuban entry visa
  • Comprehensive travel and Cuban-mandated insurance**
  • All taxes and fees (except Cuba departure tax of $30)
  • All gratuities
  • 44 pounds free luggage allowance plus 15 pounds for humanitarian supplies

Not Included

  • Humanitarian supplies for distribution: Medical, school & food items
  • 1 dinner in Havana

** Health insurance while in Cuba is mandatory and included in your tour price. Since cancellation fees are charged by our suppliers and are out of our control, we have included trip cancellation and interruption coverage in your tour price in order to avoid costly cancellation penalties should you have to cancel your tour prior to departure. Coverage includes Trip Cancellation and Interruption up to the total cost of your tour, medical expense coverage and baggage insurance. Certain exclusions and limitations apply. Complete terms will be sent with your invoice and confirmation packet along with an Acknowledgement of Insurance coverage. This form must be completed and returned to Friendly Planet Travel. This coverage is required and cannot be excluded from the tour price. The premium is non-refundable.

Detailed Itinerary

Humanitarian Mission to Cuba tour itinerary

This daily schedule should be used only as a guide. Exact times and visits are subject to confirmation at the time of travel. A final itinerary will be provided to all participants shortly before the departure date, and flight information will be sent at least 45 days prior to departure.

Day 1: Miami/Havana.

  • Morning: Plan on an early morning flight departure from Miami International Airport.
  • Arrive Havana. After Cuban immigrations and customs, the foundation's representative will meet you in the terminal area with a "Welcome to Cuba" sign. Transfer to our Havana hotel.
  • Plaza de la Catedral, Havana Vieja  Photo by Krasivaja Afternoon: You may opt to relax in our hotel, or our foundation representative will lead those of us who wish to participate (optional) on a walking tour of nearby surroundings in Old Havana (Havana Vieja!).
  • 6:00pm: We will be given an overview of the week to come, and review the documentation procedures for re-entry into the USA.
  • 6:30pm: We engage in a discussion session and power point presentation with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S./Cuban relations. We will be able to ask questions in an uncensored format. Enjoy welcome cocktails before dinner.
  • Dinner: Welcome dinner at our hotel. Hotel Telegrafo Dinner provided.

Day 2: Havana.

Havana Vieja  Photo by Adam Jones
  • Breakfast: In the hotel.
  • Morning: A presentation by knowledgeable English-speaking Cuban citizen describes housing, urban planning and the current problems facing Havana and the Cuban people.
  • Join the foundation's representative for a moderate walk through some of the typical neighborhoods of the Old Quarter, to interact with local residents and experience the topics covered in this morning's presentation. (Note: This involves walking over uneven, cobblestone streets and sidewalk curbs and may not be suited for participants with walking and mobility difficulties.)
  • Lunch: In a local restaurant in Old Havana featuring Cuban-Arabian cuisine.
  • Dinner: This evening transfer to La Divina Pastora restaurant or similar for dinner and enjoy the views of Havana by night. Hotel Telegrafo Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 3: Havana.

    Photo by Adam Jones
  • Breakfast: In the hotel.
  • Morning: After breakfast, depart the hotel to the mansion and museum of Ernest Hemingway in San Francisco de Paula followed by the village of Cojimar where the novel "The Old Man and the Sea" was set.
  • Lunch: Return to Old Havana for lunch at Hemingway's favorite hang-out, La Bodeguita del Medio, where the classic cocktail known as the Mojito was first "discovered".
  • Afternoon: This afternoon we deliver humanitarian educational supplies to a primary school located in Old Havana. This primary school (ages 5-12) is located in a classical historical building which has been renovated by Havana's official Office of the Historian. Also scheduled for this afternoon is a visit to a local medical clinic or medical institution, for delivery of the medical supplies we have brought for donation. (The exact timing of these humanitarian visits are subject to local scheduling.)
  • Before returning to the hotel you will stop at the world famous Floridita Bar (another of Papa Hemingway's hang-outs) and perhaps toast him with a world-famous Floridita daiquiri. (No host bar).
  • Dinner: This evening dinner is on the rooftop of the Ambos Mundos Hotel where Hemingway lived during the 1930s and wrote "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Special live musical performances of traditional Cuban Buena Vista style music and salsa dancing will be provided during and after our dinner. Hotel Telegrafo Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 4: Havana, Cienfuegos & Trinidad (Playa Ancon).

Women & children of Cienfuegos  Photo by Adam Jones
  • Breakfast: In the hotel.
  • Morning: Shortly after breakfast board your deluxe air-conditioned motor coach and drive along Cuba's "autopista" highway before heading through small towns and villages en route to Cienfuegos, the capital of Cienfuegos Province, which is situated on the southern Carribean side of the island. As you enter Cienfuegos you drive along Prado Boulevard before visiting Parque Marti in the heart of the city. We will tour Teatro Terry before strolling the square at our leisure with options of visiting the magnificent Catholic Church on the square, or a wonderful shop which specializes in local artwork.
  • Lunch: At the magnificent Palacio del Valle, located in the Punta Gordo section of Cienfuegos and overlooking the Bay of Pigs.
  • Afternoon: Arrive at your hotel beach resort located on Playa Ancon on the Caribbean Sea.
  • Dinner: At the hotel (which is an "all-inclusive" resort, so all drinks and meals are included in the cost of your tour). Las Brisas del Mar (B,L,D)

Day 5: Valle de los Ingenios (Saneti Spiritus Province) & Trinidad.

Steam train, Valle de Los Ingenios
  • Breakfast: In the hotel.
  • Morning: Spanish colonial Trinidad's former great wealth was garnered not in the town itself, but in the surrounding verdant valley known as Valle de los Ingenios. After breakfast, board an antique steam-engine—the only form of public transportation in this region—for a journey through the valley of the Sierra del Escambrey Mountains. Travel through lush sugar cane fields, past sugar mills, small rural towns and farms amidst the ruins of colonial plantations. (Train operation is subject to local conditions. Should the train not operate, alternative transportation will be used.)
  • Lunch: Served in the original hacienda.
  • Afternoon: Return to Trinidad's Plaza Mayor with its historic center of cobble stone streets and squares. Visit the Romantic Museum and Casa Cantero. There will be ample time to stroll the nearby Artisans Market. Return to our hotel later this afternoon to relax or perhaps take a swim in the pool or warm Caribbean waters.
  • Dinner: This evening our guide will arrange dinner in one of Trinidad's private homes known as "Casa Particulares" or "Paladars".
  • Evening: After dinner visit a few music cafes and join Cubans for what is locally known as a "block party" at the Casa de la Musica or the Casa de la Trova. (NOTE: The after-dinner music cafés are optional, and tour participants must take a taxi back to the resort on their own. Approximate cost: $8) Las Brisas del Mar Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 6: Trinidad, Santa Clara & Havana.

El Capitolio, Havana  Photo by Marc Veraart
  • Breakfast: In the hotel.
  • Morning: After breakfast the motor-coach carries us to Santa Clara where we will visit the Museum and Mausoleum of Che Guevara.
  • Lunch: Lunch will be served at the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.
  • Afternoon: Depart Santa Clara and arrive in Havana.
  • Dinner this evening is not included. Hotel Telegrafo (B,L)

Day 7: Havana.

Dancers in Havana
  • Breakfast: In the hotel.
  • Morning: After breakfast, we will visit either the Partagas or Corona tobacco factory before departing Havana to Las Terrazas Nature Park. Las Terrazas is in Pinar del Rio Province, a "must see" in Cuba and known world wide for its magnificent scenic beauty. Pinar del Rio Province is home to much of Cuba's world reowned tobacco farming. You will also visit the local community, the falls of the San Juan River where you can swim if you like, and the artist workshops of Las Terrazs.
  • Lunch: An authentic country meal prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse.
  • Afternoon: We return to Havana with time to visit the Artisans Market located near the Malecon before continuing on to our hotel for the evening.
  • Dinner: Your farewell dinner this evening is at the Patio Restaurant located in the Plaza de la Catedral. Hotel Telegrafo Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 8: Miami/Havana.

  • Breakfast: In the hotel.
  • Transfer to the Havana airport, accompanied by our foundation representative, and check in for our flight to Miami, Florida. Breakfast provided.

Please note: This is an outline itinerary. Some sites and meetings may be changed according to the availability of the various relief organizations and speakers we are arranging. Regardless of sequence, all services as described will be provided.


Destination FAQs


Important information about traveling to Cuba

  • You will be licensed to travel to Cuba by the United States government to deliver humanitarian supplies to independent, nongovernmental charities to benefit the Cuban people. Portions of the time in Cuba are devoted to our humanitarian efforts, and as a participant in our mission, you must be willing to engage in this effort. A copy of the humanitarian license and letter authorizing travel under the specific license issued by the U.S. government will be sent to you prior to departure, with your travel documents.
  • U.S. and Canadian citizens must be in possession of a valid passport, and the expiration date must be at least six months after your return date.
  • You will need a visa in order to enter Cuba. We will obtain this visa for you, and the cost is already included in the mission price. If you are a Cuban-born participant, please advise us immediately, regardless of your citizenship, as you will need to secure a special visa at a supplemental cost prior to your departure.
  • You will be required to pay a Cuban Departure Tax (in local currency, approximately $30 USD) prior to departure from Havana. This is not included in the price of your program.
  • Responsibility: This Humanitarian Mission is arranged by Friendly Planet Travel Inc. in partnership with a Travel Service Provider (TSP) and a humanitarian organization both licensed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. All tickets and coupons covering transportation or other services and facilities furnished are issued by the Travel Service Provider. Friendly Planet Travel and the Travel Service Provider act only as agents for such other companies furnishing such services and facilities, and neither they nor their subagents shall be held liable for loss or damage to property or injury to person caused by reason of any defect by any transportation company, agent, or any such party providing such service. They reserve the right to withdraw services and make changes and alterations in the itinerary as may be necessary for the proper handling of the tour. The airlines concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the times that passengers are not aboard the plane or conveyances. The passage contract in use by the airlines concerned, when issued, shall constitute the sole contract between the airlines and the purchasers of this tour or passengers. Friendly Planet Travel Inc., the TSP and the Humanitarian organization reserve the right to change any hotel listed with one of a similar category if circumstances necessitate.

Humanitarian Supplies


What humanitarian supplies should you bring?

As a participant on this mission, you will be delivering medical, educational and other humanitarian supplies to Cuba. It is your responsibility to obtain these supplies prior to departure, at your expense or through donations you collect. We will send every participant a comprehensive list of the items that are most needed. We ask each person to bring approximately 15 pounds of supplies. The free luggage weight allowance on our charter to Cuba is 44 pounds, but Friendly Planet Travel will cover up to 15 pounds overweight charges for each participant, so that you may use the luggage allotment for personal items.

Here are some examples of medical and food items needed. A more comprehesive list will be sent to everyone who participates in the program.

  • First aid cloth adhesive tape (1 or 2 inch wide).
  • Medication like antibiotic creams, tissue regenerators, triple antibiotic, neosporin, zinc oxide, desitin, alcohol, iodine, gloves and drying talc.
  • Multivitamins and minerals, calcium, vitamin E, vitamin C (children / adult dosages), Vitamins (C, D, E), calcium with vitamin D, B1, B26, B12, in injectable and in tablet form. Iron tablets for children and adults.
  • Anti-Flu: Robitussin (day-time/night-time), allergy, pseudoefedrine-hydrochloride, pediacare, herbal tea, cold medicines (respiratory health) and Dimetapp.
  • Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory, Motrin, diclofenal sodium or voltarem, ibuprofen / Advil, acetaminophen, aspirin, Tylenol (children / adult dosages.) Anti-diarrhea, Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, Mylanta, Milk of Magnesia, laxatives.
  • Over the counter asthma spray (inhalants).
  • Expectorant syrups (children & adult).
  • Dry food stuffs such as Jell-O, powered milk, bouillon, and cooking spices such as oregano, basil, garlic powder.
  • Children's T-shirts, particularly with sports-related themes.
  • Pencils and colored drawing pencils and markers, pens and crayons.
  • Drawing paper, construction paper and notebooks.
  • Books, especially children's picture books in Spanish.
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