In January 2014, 2 groups of Capital Public Radio listeners embarked on an indepth cultural exploration of the isle of Cuba. We enjoyed the rhythms of Latin jazz and the beat of hot salsa songs. We visited the National Museum of Fine Arts and Cuba's leading music school. We strolled through Old Havana, enjoyed salsa dance lessons, visited Hemingway’s home. See photos of the two trips here!
Earthbound Expeditions is a license by the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) authorizing us to organize and operate People to People programs to Cuba.
Click Here to learn more about our trip with tour hosts Earthbound Expeditions.
CUBA TRIP AT A GLANCE
1 Night Miami
5 Nights Historic Havana
2 Nights Colonial Sancti Spiritus
Miami: Crowne Plaza airport hotel
Havana: The Historic 1930s **** Hotel Nacional
Sancti Spiritus: Colonial Sancti Spiritus Plaza Hotel *** plus
- With Capital Public Radio
- Accompanied by an Earthbound program director
- An expert bilingual Cuban guide
- Accommodations as listed in your itinerary
- Cuban government emergency medical insurance plan up to $1,000
- Multi course traditional meals as listed in your Capital Public Radio itinerary
- Bottled water daily & national drinks (local beers & mojitos)
- Live music while dining and an included evening jazz concert
- Transport by private motor coach while in Cuba
- Roundtrip charter flight from Miami
- All entrances as listed in your itinerary
- Airport transfers while in Cuba
- Special insider “people to people” experiences
- Gratuities for your driver and guides
- City and country maps
- Alumni discounts applied towards future trips with Capital Public Radio
- An informational gathering in Miami the night before we fly to Cuba
9 Days/8 Nights
$3,995 per person double occupancy (land and charter air from Miami to Havana!)
$ 675 Single Supplement (waived if you are willing to share & a roommate is found)
Starting in Miami on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 at 8:00pm
Returning to Miami Int’l airport on Friday, January 31st, 2014 (exact charter time TBA)
Payment is accepted by check only for our Cuba journeys. A deposit of $500 per person is required to reserve your space. Please make checks payable to Earthbound Expeditions and mail to: PO Box 11305, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.
- Air from your home city to/from Miami
- Cuba visa fee of $75
- Travel Insurance up and above
- Cuban airport departure tax of $30
- Extra baggage fees
- Additional concerts
Day 1- Thursday, January 23: Arrive in Miami
Earthbound Expeditions has a special contract with the Crowne Plaza at Miami
International Airport which is located just 10 minutes away from the airport. The Crowne Plaza offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport. Note: There will be group orientation meeting at 8:00pm at the hotel meeting room. Sleep in Miami.
Check in for our charter flight (normally a Boeing 737) from Miami to Havana, Cuba
immigration officer will ask you to present your passport and Cuban visa. If you’re holding a US passport, a Cuban Immigration Officer will then stamp an entry approval on the visa, and give it back to you. The visa officially authorizes your entry into Cuba and serves as a “stamp” in your passport (please note they will not stamp US passports.) The visa card must be surrendered upon your departure from Cuba so be sure to keep it someplace safe during your stay in Cuba.
Collect your luggage and proceed through Cuban Customs which can, but rarely does, involve a luggage search and wait for the remainder of the group outside the customs area where your guide is waiting to greet you outside the terminal.
National guide holding an CAPITAL PUBLIC RADIO sign outside the terminal, who willassist with the transfer to Old Havana (Habana Vieja) where we have lunch together in the heart of Old Havana. After lunch, our guide leads us on a stroll through the colorful cobblestone streets of Old Havana.
Check into our hotel later this afternoon and freshen up and relax (with a cool mojito) on the patio in comfy couches overlooking the sea.
7:00PM: Meet your Capital Public Radio host and Earthbound Expeditions guide and walk to dinner this evening to one of Havana’s best known Paladars (private home restaurants).
Day 3 – Saturday, January 25: Cuba's National Art Schools & an Education in
Santeria: This morning we visit the Plaza de la Revolucion, the Cemetery of Christopher Columbus, and the Miramar area before continuing on to Cuba's National Art Schools (Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, now known as the Instituto Superior de Arte), whose structures are considered by historians to be one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. These innovative, organic Catalan-vaulted brick and terra-cotta buildings were built on the site of a former country club in the far western Havana suburb of Cubanacán, which used to be Havana's "Beverly Hills" and was then mainly reserved for Communist Party officials. The schools were conceived and founded by
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1961, and they reflect the utopian optimism and
revolutionary exuberance of the early years of the Cuban Revolution. Over their years of active use, the schools served as the primary incubator for Cuba’s artists, musicians, actors, and dancers. The schools’ design fell out of favor by 1965 and were nearly completely decommissioned until preservation efforts were mounted in force in the 1990’s. Now tentatively on the list of World Heritage sites, they are in use, though still in various states of disrepair.
To learn more about the National School of Arts visit the New York Times or click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/world/americas/cuba-debates-carlos-acostas-dream-project.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
Lunch today is served at El Aljibe Restaurant located in the elegant Miramar section of Havana.
Then depart for the “Cabildo Quisicuaba Socio-Cultural Project” which is conducted by Dr. Enrique Alemán in collaboration with the community in the Centro Habana municipality, specifically in the Los Sitios neighborhood. Its aim is to rehabilitate traditional folk culture there, taking into account the spiritual, cultural and material needs of this population.
Here we’ll have the chance to visit a private Santeria house. The Santeria religion is a system of beliefs that merges the Yoruba religion (which was brought to the New World by enslaved West Africans sent to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations) with Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. These Africans carried with them various religious customs, including a trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice and sacred drumming and dance.
In addition we’ll attend a neighborhood Rumba performance.
Cultural Note: In 1985 the Cuban Minister of Culture stated the obvious: "Rumba without Cuba is not rumba, and Cuba without rumba is not Cuba." Today Cuban rumba is a genre involving dance, percussion, and song. There are three main forms: yambú, guaguancó, and columbia. Rumba is an amalgamation of several transplanted African dance and drumming traditions, combined with Spanish influences.
We’ll have dinner together accompanied by another live musical performance.
Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)
Day 4 – Sunday, January 26: The History of Dance & a School Visit
Early birds may wish to soak up the sun and walk along the Malecon before breakfast. Thanks to the new “people to people” program authorized by the US Treasury Department, today we will have a chance to mingle with the locals. We’ll first set off to the Havana Country Club to learn about the history of music and dance in Cuba. Multiple instructors will explain how this small island became a major powerhouse when it comes to music and dance. The Cha Cha Cha, Rumba, Salsa and Merengue all come from Cuba. After a thorough demonstration you’ll be invited to learn some of the dances with the instructors.
We’ll lunch together and then continue to an elementary school (ages 5 – 12) where we have the opportunity to meet 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. (This is the opportunity for you to personally deliver school supply gifts to the children or school. Any donations are greatly appreciated). Note: should an elementary school not be available, or not in
session, we will substitute this activity with another opportunity to interact directly with local Cubans.
Dinner this evening is at another of Havana’s wonderful Paladars.
Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)
Day 5 – Monday, January 27: A day with Hemingway & Museum of Fine Arts
This morning we're off to visit Finca Vigía [Lookout Farm] where North America's literary giant, Ernest Hemingway, spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as their son, it was Hemingway himself who declared the island his true home. Before returning to Havana we stop by the quaint fishing village of Cojimar which served as the setting for “The Old Man and the Sea.”
After lunch this afternoon, we visit the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts), known for its international and Cuban art. The comprehensive Colección de Arte Cubano comprises three floors of art, spanning works from the 16th to the 20th Centuries by prominent Cuban artists concentrating mostly on pieces from the 20th Century.
Across the street from the Fine Arts Museum is the impressive Museum of the Revolution. Sitting outside are the American Jeeps and planes used during the failed Bay of Pigs landing. Also worth noting, the very yacht named “Granma” that was used to transport 82 fighters of the Cuban and Fidel to the shores of Cuba from Mexico in 1956. We’ll have a brief tour of this museum after lunch.
Tour highlight this evening: We behold a most dramatic ceremony – El Cañonazo – the Firing of the 9PM Cannon at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña. This enchanting colonial reenactment dates back to 1519 when the city of Havana was enclosed by a tall, thick rock wall to ward off attacks from pirates and the English. The cannon firing signaled the closing of the city gates for the night. If you were outside at the time, you were in "vedado" or the forbidden zone. Today, Vedado is an important cultural hub and a beautiful section of modern
We return to the hotel. For those interested we can venture off to one of Havana’s many popular jazz clubs. Sleep in Havana (B, L)
Day 6 – Tuesday, January 28: Havana to Colonial Trinidad
After breakfast, we’ll depart for Cienfuegos province, also known as the "Pearl of the South”. In Cienfuegos, you’ll see remnants of French-style architecture built by
immigrants from Bordeaux. The majority of the city, however, displays 19th-century early Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning and was declared UNESCO heritage for that reason. Upon arrival in Cienfuegos, we’ll take a brief city tour before enjoying lunch at the former Cienfuegos Yacht Club ocean-side restaurant (Club Naútico de Cienfuegos).
After lunch, enjoy a special performance by the Choir of Cienfuegos or the Chamber Society of Cienfuegos. Later this afternoon, we’ll make the short drive to Colonial Sancti Spiritus and check into our hotel. There will be time to freshen up before dinner.
Enjoy dinner at the hotel. Sleep in Sancti Spiritus (B, L, D)
Day 7 – Wednesday, January 29: Trinidad and Topes de Collante National Park
After breakfast, we’ll head off to the stunning and lush Topes de Collante National Park. Boasting caves, rivers, falls, grottos, canyons, and natural pools with crystal clear water, this is a park for nature lovers! There will be time to hike to the gorgeous Caburni Waterfall. Lunch will be at Mi Retiro restaurant. In the afternoon, we’ll have a walking tour of the Old Center of Trinidad and an opportunity to enjoy a dance and music performance by the Ballet Folklorico! Enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.
Sleep in Sancti Spiritus (B, L, D)
Day 8 – Thursday, January 30: Return to Havana
Returning to Havana this afternoon we’ll make a stop at the private home and studio of famed Cuban artist, Jose Fuster who is known as the Picasso of the Caribbean. Mr. Fuster is a ceramicist and painter whose work has contributed to the upgrading of his entire community. Aside from discussing how he makes his art, he’ll talk about how he started giving back to his community. When you drive through the neighborhood which is known as “Fusterlandia” you’ll see ceramic tiled walls in fanciful designs. His first ceramic work was a gift to his neighbor who was a nurse. He transformed her front yard into a Disneyland of ceramic animals and mythical figures. Later, another neighbor asked for the identical work for his house. Soon Fuster was doing this free work for all his neighbors, which attracted travelers worldwide (and locals) and led to his growing popularity. As you learn about his work, you may be able to purchase his art directly if desired.
Arrive in Havana, check-in to the Hotel Nacional and commemorate our time in Cuba with a special farewell dinner hosted by Capital Public Radio. Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)
Day 9- Friday, January 31: Depart Cuba for Miami We transfer to Havana’s Jose Marti Airport where we check in for our flight to Miami. (Charter flight time TBA). (B)
*** Itinerary Details Subject to Change ***
Where You’ll Be Staying in Havana: The Hotel Nacional
The historic **** hotel Nacional is located on the Malecón seafront. The decision to build a luxury hotel was taken in the late 1920s. The American firms McKim, Mead & White and Purdy & Henderson Co., tasked with the planning and construction, completed the palatial edifice in 14 months. Note: The same firm designed Penn Station, Washington Square in NY. The hotel exhibits an eclectic architectural style, reflecting Art Deco, Arabic references, features of Hispano-Moorish architecture, and both neo-classical and neocolonial elements. There are even details from the centuries-old Californian style. The resulting unique example of so many schools of architecture is the most unusual and interesting hotel in the Caribbean region. Among its first illustrious guests were artists,
actors, athletes and writers such as Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Keaton, Jorge Negrete, Agustín Lara, Rocky Marciano, Tyrone Power, Rómulo Gallegos, Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway. In February 1946, Sir Winston Churchill visited Cuba, staying in the hotel's Republica Suite, and was accorded diplomatic privileges by the Cuban government. In December 1946 it hosted an infamous mob summit run by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and attended by Santo Trafficante, Jr., Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese and many others. Francis Ford Coppola memorably dramatised the conference in his film The Godfather Part II.
THING YOU SHOULD KNOW…
Cuba is a developing country and still lacks many modern conveniences. It’s not
unusual to experience short power black-outs or to find that your hot water,
internet, TV or phone in your hotel room does not work properly (or at all).
Further, the Cuban government and incoming Havana agency has the right to
change the itinerary without notice (and often does). We’ll be travelling under a “people to people” license, which means that our days will be filled with many educational experiences. They will begin around 8:30am and end around 5:00pm. This is not a trip for those looking for a leisurely, beach holiday. Travelers who arrive in Havana with sense of humor, an open mind and are ready to be flexible will absolutely fall in love with the people and culture of Cuba.
Reservations and Deposits: Early reservations are essential to guarantee space on the date you wish to travel. A per person deposit of $500 is needed to confirm your space on most journeys (please see section entitled RESERVATIONS on your Earthbound itinerary for specifics). We prefer payment to be made by check, but we also accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. You can make your secure credit card deposit online, by phone or by mail. Deposits are refundable for 30 days from the date received or 90 days prior to departure, whichever comes first. A $75 dollar per person processing fee will be applied to all cancellations, regardless of when they are made. Once the deposit is processed, a deposit packet is sent with pertinent journey details. Trips which include barges, boats and/or flights may require an additional deposit.
Final Payment: You will be sent an invoice approximately 75 days prior to departure, which will include any currency price reductions or additions. A non-refundable final payment, payable by money order, check or credit card, is due 60 days before departure. It is the responsibility of each passenger to make a timely payment. A final packet of information will be sent approximately one month before departure. Pay online or Mail checks to: Earthbound Expeditions PO Box 11305, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, USA.
Cancellations: All cancellations must be made in writing and are effective upon receipt in our office. Deposits are fully refundable for 30 days from the processing date or 90 days prior to departure, whichever comes first. Deposits made 90 days prior to a trip departing are not refundable. A $75 per person processing fee applies to all cancellations.
No refunds are made for cancellations after the non-refundable deposit date. It is for this reason we strongly encourage the purchase of Travel Insurance at the same time you reserve your journey with us. Please refer to your specific journey details, especially private and hosted journeys, as policies may differ.