ARRIVE HOLGUIN, CUBA
Arrive in Holguin, where you are met by your A&K program directors and guides. Enjoy lunch in the city center at a local paladar (privately owned restaurant), interacting with your servers as you enjoy your first taste of Cuban cuisine. Continue to Santiago de Cuba and visit the University of Santiago (time permitting), where you meet with students and faculty to learn about the higher educational system in Cuba. Next, check in to your hotel. This evening, get to know your accompanying Abercrombie & Kent Program Directors, Cruise Director and resident Cuban guides at a reception briefing and welcome dinner.
SANTIAGO DE CUBA | Setting Sail
Visit the Holy Shrine El Cobre, which houses the Patron Saint of Cuba, la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. After learning about the role religion plays in the lives of Cubans, visit the Cementerio Santa Ifegenia, the final resting place of many of the Bacardi family, Fidel Castro and national hero Jose Martí. There, you witness the ceremonial changing of the guard at the Jose Martí Mausoleum. Following lunch at a paladar, visit the Moncada Barracks, a military garrison that played an early role in the Cuban Revolution. The site is an active primary school and now houses an interesting, interactive museum. Next, join your local guides for a walking tour of central Santiago and Cespedes Square with time to explore the city center. In due course, transfer to the Santiago marina, where you board your home for the next seven nights, elegant ‘Le Ponant.’ As your yacht sails out of from the marina, glimpse the stunning Morro Castle, a citadel overlooking the entrance to the bay. Meet your Captain and crew of ‘Le Ponant’ and toast a glass as you set sail to explore Cuba. Spend the following day at sea, participating in informative talks and presentations on a wide range of subjects, among them Cuban history, education, healthcare and policy. Conditions permitting, watch as the crew hoists the sails of your stunning, three-masted sailing yacht from atop its deck.
TRINIDAD | Charming Colonial City
Enjoy breakfast and lunch on board. This afternoon, transfer to the heart of Trinidad in the Sancti Spiritus Province, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join your resident Cuban guides for a walking tour. Stroll through Trinidad’s colonial city center as you learn the history of one of the oldest European settlements in Cuba. Visit the Romantic Museum, built in 1740 within the home of a wealthy sugar mill owner. Learn about the Cuba of bygone days as you view its period furnishings, china and other 19th-century artifacts. Next, visit Casa Particular — home of Lia and Pechi — for a musical interlude and canchancha drink. Return to your vessel for dinner. Later this evening, you may join your guides for a singular evening in festive Trinidad, as it comes alive with music. Tonight, ‘Le Ponant’ remains in port. The following day, delve deeper into the wonders of Trinidad. Start this morning with a short drive to the “valley of the sugar mills” and visit the small village of Manaca. See the Iznaga tower, once a sentry post to keep watch over the slaves working in the sugar plantation and mill in the Sugar Valley. Back in Trinidad, visit the Palenque de los Congos Reales to attend an enriching Afro-Cuban performance, meeting afterward with its musicians and dancers. Following lunch at a local paladar in Market Square, return to ‘Le Ponant’ and set sail for Cienfuegos, the aptly named “Pearl of the South.” Time permitting, you may choose to spend the evening with your guides in Cienfuegos.
CIENFUEGOS | Beauty by Sea
Set out on an informative walking tour of Cienfuegos. Visit the Thomas Terry Theatre, continuing along the boulevard to a Cuban CUC store and pharmacy. Enjoy a private performance by the acclaimed Cantores de Cienfuegos a capella choir, with time to interact post-concert with its members. Following lunch at a local paladar, continue your musical interlude with a private performance by the Chamber Orchestra de Cienfuegos. Return to ‘Le Ponant’ later this afternoon and set sail.
PUNTA FRANCÉS | Outdoor Expedition
Arrive at beautiful Punta Francés Nature Reserve on Isla de la Juventud this afternoon. Unreachable except by sea, the marine reserve is fringed by an arc of powdery white-sand beach. Meanwhile, its thick palm and mangrove forest stands in stark contrast to the glimmering, turquoise Caribbean Sea. Land by Zodiac and spend the afternoon participating in structured activities amid this unique environment. You may partake in either a guided snorkeling excursion, experiencing firsthand Cuba’s unspoiled coral reef system or a guided nature walk led by local naturalists along the breathtaking beach and adjacent mangrove forest. As this enriching afternoon comes to a close, return to your ship and enjoy dinner with fellow travellers.
AT SEA | Enriching Lectures & Lovely Vistas
As you spend today sailing through Cuban waters, attend informative lectures, such as those about the impact of music on Cuban society and how it has influenced music in the United States and beyond. Learn about local transportation, including iconic “Yank tanks” (vintage cars), as well as significant points in Cuba’s history and the intricacies of U.S.-Cuba relations.
HAVANA | History Revealed
After breakfast on board, disembark ‘Le Ponant’ and proceed to the heart of Old Havana at St. Francis Square. Stroll through the neighborhood with a local architect, discussing the challenges of city reconstruction projects, while absorbing the vibrant, extraordinary architecture that surrounds you. Spend some time enjoying St. Francis Square or visit the lively San Jose market by the sea. Following lunch, visit Finca La Vigia — Ernest Hemingway’s home — taking time to visualize the author’s life during the more than 20 years he lived there. Check in to your five-star hotel for an evening at leisure.
HAVANA | Arts and Culture
Following breakfast, visit Havana University, where you can interact with students and faculty. Next, set out on an orientation tour of Revolution Square and the city’s historic, culturally rich neighborhoods, including the business district of Vedado. Skirt the malecón (seawall promenade), see the Capitol area and stop at La Cabana for panoramic views of Havana. Tour the famed and historic Hotel Nacional, which brings back a long-ago era of Cuban history. Continue to join the museum curator on a guided visit of Museo de Belles Artes Cubanos, an art museum dedicated to the progression of Cuban art from the colonial times to present day. Then, attend a private dance rehearsal to gain insight into the remarkable art of Cuban dance. This evening, transfer with your fellow guests by convertible “Yank tank” for a scenic evening drive down the Paseo and malecón to a local paladar for a farewell dinner.
Transfer to the airport and board your return flight home.
SPECIAL PROGRAM NOTES: PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE
Please note that this special, people-to-people program will be different from other programs on which you may have previously participated. Abercrombie & Kent USA, LLC operates the people-to-people program to Cuba under a general license issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control and, as dictated by U.S. law, all participants are required to adhere to a full-time schedule of activities designed to inform, educate and promote meaningful interaction with the people of Cuba. Deviation from this itinerary, even in part, is not permitted. Per the general license requirements, this is a full-time program with many inclusions and there will be little to no free time on most days of the program.