DAY 1: Cienfuegos
Transfer by car or minivan from Havana- COHIBA MELIA HOTEL at 12noon for a 3.30 pm embarkation in Cienfuegos on the Variety Voyager. Or optional excursion / transfer of Cienfuegos starting at 07:30 am at the MELIA Hotel – Havana. Cienfuegos is about 250 km from Havana on the Southern tip of Cuba and the only city founded by French settlers. It is also known as the Pearl of the South. In 2005 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Lunch today will be at Los Laureles, or similar. After lunch, we will be treated to salsa lessons and a performance by the singers of the Chorus of Cienfuegos, or by a string quartet. Visit the Graphic Arts Workshop, and have a walking tour of the city center and Parque Marti to see some outstanding examples of its architecture representing the new ideas of modernity and urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th Century. We’ll also stop at a local fruit and vegetable market.Continue to the pier for embarkation on the M/Y Variety Voyager. Boat drill and welcome briefing. Dinner on board. Overnight sail to Casilda/Trinidad.
Disembark for Optional Trinidad excursion. Trinidad is a meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city, with its rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas, it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Museum City of Cuba.” This morning we will walk through the town and then meet with a representative of the Office of the City Historian, interacting with residents along the way. We will attend a presentation and visit a scale model of the city. Stop at the Romantic Museum located in the old palace of the Count Brunet, with samples of furniture and decorative arts, or the Palacio Cantero Museum. Visit the studio of Lazaro, a very unique woodcarver and take part in a sightseeing tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Lunch at a typical Cuban Restaurant, or similar followed by leisure time before returning to the Voyager for embarkation. Dinner on board. Overnight at sea to Cayo Largo.
Optional Cayo Largo excursion. We disembark in the morning to a visit the local clinic to discuss the medical system in Cuba and engage with the local doctors and nurses. Visit the Sea Turtle Breeding Center and Endangered Species Protection program. There will be time for some snorkelling on the coral reef in open waters before enjoying lunch, which will be either on shore or on board the Voyager.
Overnight at sea to Isla de la Juventud, Bay of Singuanea.
We reach Isla de Juventud. Until 1977, the island was called the Isle of Pines. In 1978 Fidel Castro turned the island into one grand Communist university for students from around the world and thus the Island of Youth. Enter the Bay of Singuanea and moor in front of the Colony Hotel. After breakfast disembark on the beach and board the bus for an Optional Juventud Island excursion. We will drive to the capital city of the island – Nueva Gerona. Visit the Universidad de la Isla de la Juventud Jesus Montane Oropesa, enjoy panoramic sightseeing and tour the Presidio Modelo, an abandoned prison where both Fidel and Raul Castro were imprisoned from 1953-1955. Lunch at Nueva Gerona. Return to Singuanea bay to the ship. Passengers not taking the optional excursion will have free time for enjoying the sea at the Colony Hotel.
Overnight at sea to Havana.
Enjoy the on board amenities as the Voyager makes her way toward Havana. Cuba’s capital, Havana is the largest city in the Caribbean. A vacation hot spot before the Communist Revolution, Havana is once again becoming a popular tourist destination. Rich in colonial history and celebrated culture, it is no wonder that figures such as Ernest Hemingway put down roots. On board the Voyager there are movies about Cuba, and the Cruise Director and local guide will conduct informative programs and lectures about Cuba and its people, explaining the meaningful exchanges that will be taking place during the program. Enjoy the on board amenities as the Voyager makes her way toward Havana for an evening arrival. Overnight in Sierra Maestra Port – Old Havana.
After breakfast, we disembark for an Optional excursion in Havana, starting with a walking exploration of Old Havana. Founded in 1519 by the Spanish, Havana became one of the most important ship building centers in the Caribbean, around which a sprawling metropolis grew. Now numbering a population of 2 million, it is a mixture of beautiful old baroque and neo-classical monuments, arcades and private balconies. Old Havana is considered one of the most impressive historical city centers in the Caribbean and in the Americas. We will stop at Fusterlandia, studio of artist Jose Rodriguez Fuster. His brightly colored mermaids, roofs, walls, benches, doorways and roosters stretch across houses and adorn the entire area. It is said that he was greatly inspired by Gaudi in Barcelona and Brancusi in Rome, but most of all by Picasso and Dubuffet. Lunch will be at one of Cuba’s delicious paladares, a small, privately owned Cuban restaurant serving traditional Cuban food, followed by a stop at the Merger Art Studio to view some magnificent sculptures and beautiful paintings before we continue to the San Jose Arts and Crafts Market. Here, in an old 1885 warehouse near the pier, you will find wonderful gifts from carvings, shirts, art, music and more. After a wonderful dinner ashore, time to celebrate at the famous Tropicana nightclub show.
Return to the Voyager- Overnight in Sierra Maestra Port – Old Havana.
Optional excursion in Havana Disembark for a visit the University of Havana, followed by a visit to Finca Vigia, beloved home of Ernest Hemingway, where he lived for 21 years and wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Stop to enjoy a lunch at another paladar before continuing to a very unique nostalgic car garage to view just how the Cubans manage to creatively keep those old cars in such fine working condition. Then it’s a short drive back to Havana for an exciting performance from the Havana Compass dance troupe. These gifted percussionists use drums, chairs, and anything they can find to beat out magnificent dance rhythms, weaving a colourful and exciting dance performance that you are sure to enjoy and long remember.
Return to the Voyager for special Farewell Dinner and overnight on board.
Overnight in Sierra Maestra Port – Old Havana.
Disembarkation after breakfast.