Experience Cuba People-to-People

A full program of people-to-people visits allow avenues for exploration to give you the most interesting options. Learn about rich cultural traditions as well as the importance of Cuba’s marine ecology. Spend three days in Havana, and seven days exploring Cuba’s southern coast aboard the sailing yacht Harmony V.

  • DAY 1: Miami/Havana

    Meet at Miami International Airport in the morning for your flight to Havana. On arrival, we transfer to Havana for lunch. This afternoon, we visit Fusterlandia, the home and neighborhood of the artist José Fuster. The entire area is spectacularly decorated with his sculptures and mosaics—of mermaids, trees, human figures and as many things as the mind can conceive. These colorful, large, and extravagant works take up several blocks of the area. Following the visit, we check in to our historic hotel, the Hotel Nacional, located on the waterfront, where we will stay three nights. The Nacional, a Havana landmark, opened in 1930 and over the decades has hosted a remarkable number of entertainers, writers, athletes and world leaders. We’ll then ride in vintage 1950s cars to our dinner at a local restaurant. (L,D)

  • DAY 2-3: Havana

    We have a full program of people-to-people visits lined up for these two days, with opportunities for you to choose among programs that interest you most. You’ll explore Old Havana on foot. It’s a World Heritage site, a trove of historic architecture, and center for Cuba’s arts and culture. We’ll see its great squares and meet with Cubans who are playing a vital role in preserving this area. Drive along the Malecón, the esplanade that runs along the waterfront. On our visits, you’ll meet with Cubans who are making a difference in their fields, and develop a rich understanding of life in Cuba. Get a perspective on Castro’s revolution at the Museum of the Revolution. Visit art spaces. See Ernest Hemingway’s estate at Finca Vigía. Visit a cigar factory, and have a chance to visit an organic farm located on the outskirts of town. Visit an auto workshop where classic American cars are restored. Have a visit with and performance by members of the Habana Compás group, which fuses rhythms of traditional Spanish dances with Afro-Cuban styles in a stirring expression of Cuban soul. Enjoy several meals in some of Havana’s best private restaurants, which have developed a reputation for innovative cuisine. And on one evening we will hear the rhythms of Cuba at a private dinner, with the chance to meet the extraordinary musicians—Cuba’s rich traditions have been celebrated all over the world. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 4: Havana/Cienfuegos/Embark

    We have a final morning to explore Havana, with people-to-people visits. After lunch, we drive to the beautiful city of Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s south coast. On arrival, we’ll meet and hear a performance by a stirring choral group that’s based here. In the late afternoon, we embark Harmony V, our home for the next seven nights, and have a welcome dinner aboard ship. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 5: Bay of Pigs

    This morning we drive from Cienfuegos to the Bay of Pigs, an ecologically important area that became known worldwide when the 1961 U.S.-backed invasion by Cuban exiles was rapidly and thoroughly defeated by the Cuban revolutionary government, whose forces were led by Fidel Castro. We’ll visit the museum that recounts the history of the battle, with photographs and artifacts that include a Cuban fighter plane and vessels. We’ll meet with people who will tell us about what transpired and its meaning to Cubans. The bay lies along the Zapata Peninsula and the Zapata Swamp National Park, and you may choose to explore the area in search of its renowned birdlife, famously including the world’s smallest bird, the endemic bee hummingbird, along with the endemic Cuban trogon (Cuba’s national bird), La Sagra's flycatcher, Cuban green woodpecker and more. We will meet with experts who will tell us about the vitally important role the area plays in the area’s natural history—it has been compared to the Everglades. Another option is to swim, snorkel or dive (for certified divers only, weather permitting) at the Bay of Pigs. After lunch, we meet with the member of an artists' colony and see demonstrations of their work and music. In the late afternoon, we drive back to Cienfuegos and our ship. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 6: Trinidad

    A UNESCO World Heritage site and Cuban national monument, Trinidad is a splendid and meticulously preserved colonial city, perhaps Cuba’s most beautiful. It occupies a spectacular setting on a hill overlooking the Caribbean, with a backdrop of green mountains. Founded in 1514 by the conquistador Diego Velázquez, it has rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces, and plazas. Seemingly every building has an intriguing history. This morning we will visit the Office of the City Historian and walk through the town, interacting with residents along the way. There will be stops for visits to local artists, to home studios; and to the municipal museum. The museum’s bell tower offers fine views over Trinidad. In the afternoon, see the Valley of the Sugar Mills, where local guides will explain sugar’s importance to Cuba’s history and you will see how the sugar barons lived. Alternatively, spend the day with a local specialist exploring the Topes de Collantes Natural Park in the Escambray Mountains, with a short hike and a chance to see something of Cuba’s natural history, and explore Trinidad in the afternoon, meeting its residents. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 7: At Sea

    A day at sea gives us the chance to have talks by our staff about Cuba, work on our photographs with the Lindblad-National Geographic photo instructor on board, and reflect on the things we’ve seen. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 8: Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth)

    The Isle of Youth, formerly known as the Isle of Pines, is a large island off the south coast of the main island of Cuba. It occupies an important role in Cuban history as the place where Fidel and Raúl Castro and others were imprisoned, and also where many people considered “social undesirables” were at one time exiled. It is today a friendly place, which because of its relative isolation from the rest of Cuba gets very few outside visitors—the presence of foreign travelers gets heads to turn. Anchoring at Siguanea Bay, we’ll drive about 40 minutes to the island’s main city, called Nueva Gerona. We’ll visit the art school on the central plaza. We then stroll the "Boulevard," lined with local shops, meeting with local residents and learning about their lives. After lunch, we visit the Presidio Modelo, the prison where Fidel and Raúl Castro and 23 other revolutionaries were confined between 1953 and 1955, following their failed attack on the Moncada barracks near Santiago de Cuba. The area where the revolutionaries were confined is now a museum with interesting exhibits, and the ruins of the large, circular buildings where other prisoners were held are extremely evocative. We then return to our ship, with a brief stop if time permits at the Hotel El Colony, improbably opened as a Hilton in 1958 and reportedly financed by the Mafia. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 9: Cayo Largo

    This beautiful key is home to diverse marine ecosystems and a small local community that serves the primarily European and Canadian visitors who come here. This morning we have a people-to-people visit to the local clinic to discuss Cuba’s medical system with local doctors and nurses. You’ll visit a sea turtle breeding center and endangered species protection program. You’ll have a chance to explore the island’s marine world by swimming or snorkeling. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 10: Cienfuegos

    Today we explore Cienfuegos, Cuba’s "Pearl of the South" and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Columbus is said to have been here in 1494, on his second voyage to the New World, and the area was subsequently a haven for pirates and smugglers. French settlers arrived in 1819, and the city retains a distinct liveliness and sophistication. We begin by exploring colonial Cienfuegos on foot. Among places of particular interest that we’ll see are the Government Palace (City Hall), the Teatro Tomás Terry, and the beautiful main square, Plaza Martí. We continue to the Benny Moré School of Art, named after the great Cuban singer and bandleader who came from this region. It is a lively school, where young people get a strong education in the performing arts. We’ll meet teachers and students, and see performances. After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll have a chance to visit the home of a local family, meet the residents and learn about their lives. We see a moving children’s performance of "Cucarachita Martina," a children’s tale known to all Cubans. A Cienfuegos rooftop provides an ideal venue for sunset drinks, before we return to our ship for a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 11: Cienfuegos/Depart

    We disembark our ship this morning. Our first stop is at the Cienfuegos baseball stadium, if there is a game or practice in progress, with a chance to meet Cubans there—Cubans are passionate about baseball, and it is an important part of Cuban life. We then go to the countryside to Pepito Tey, a village where sugar used to be processed. On a people-to-people visit that gives excellent insight into Cuban agriculture and rural life, we’ll meet with a local historian who will tell us about efforts to bring new employment to the former sugar cane workers who live here. Time permitting, we also visit the Botanical Garden. We have lunch at a local restaurant, then transfer to Cienfuegos or Santa Clara airport for our flight to Miami, which arrives about 7:15 p.m. (B,L)

    Lindblad Expeditions is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, under a general license, to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.

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