- Tour Havana in a vintage American car.
- Finca Vigía, Hemmingway's home.
- 3 UNESCO sites
- Meet local Cuban artists, musicians, dancers.
- 12 Days
- Victory 1
Discover Cuba's Hidden Treasures 2
On this distinctive program, get acquainted with Cubans in their daily lives, from the city of Havana to the colonial architectural haven of Trinidad, beautiful Santiago de Cuba and much more. Engage with people directly in discussions about their lives and work, culture and traditions. Meet with Cuban historians, artists, musicians and naturalists and experience this diverse island through their eyes.
This afternoon guests will embark on an iconic journey from Miami to Santiago De Cuba on a Victory Cruise Lines chartered flight.Upon arrival guests will be taken to the Victory I which will be docked in Santiago De Cuba. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Reception as well a highly informative talk of the journey that unfolds in front of us.
This morning in Santiago de Cuba, we’ll explore the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca — better known as El Morro — inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles.” This multi-level stone fortress built into the rocky promontory of El Morro has guarded the entrance to Santiago de Cuba Bay since 1638.
Later in the morning we make our way to the cemetery to see some of the most beautiful burial crypts built in Cuba and to learn about Jose Marti, the Cuban National Hero. We end our discovery witnessing the changing of the guard at the tomb of Jose Marti. We end the morning at the Diego Velázquez House and Museum, said to be the oldest standing house in Cuba, the Spanish colonial structure is an excellent example of how Spaniards built and lived in Cuba. Have a light lunch at a Palador. In the afternoon there’s plenty of free time to explore Old Santiago. There will be an expert presentation on the Culture and Religions of Oriente (Eastern Cuba).
Depart by coach to Trinidad. A meticulously well preserved Spanish colonial city, with its rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas, Trinidad is sometimes referred to as the “museum city of Cuba”. Walk through the town with a representative of the Office of the City Historian, interacting with artisans and visiting with locals. At the Romantic Museum, we envision life in the 18th century through its furniture and decorative arts. Enjoy lunch in a Paladar,(a family owned restaurant with homemade Cuban food). In the afternoon, there is time to explore on your own.
The coastal city of Cienfuegos, the center of Cuba’s sugar, tobacco, and coffee trades, is known to Cubans as the Pearl of the South. It’s the only city in Cuba to be founded by French settlers. In 2005, the historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Near the entrance to the city’s spectacular natural bay stands the great stone fortress of Castillo de Jagua, built in 1745 to protect the city against pirate attacks. Among buildings of particular interest are the Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, the Ferrer Palace, the former lyceum, and some residential houses. Cienfuegos is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century. As we walk through the main square, visiting the Graphic arts workshop where there will be discussions and interchanges with local artists. Visit a Cuban peso store, a ration shop and a CUC supermarket to better understand the workings of a two currency country. Lunch In a local restaurant, with an opportunity to try some salsa steps. After lunch, enjoy a performance and exchange with one of the talented musical groups in Cienfuegos.
Located on Cuba’s western tip, María la Gorda is a paragon of environmental protection, evidenced by its abundant flora and fauna. The Guanahacabibes Peninsula where it’s located was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1987. It is about 300km from Havana. Considered one of Latin America’s top diving sites by divers, María la Gorda boasts some 32 dive sites with enviable visibility, abundant coral gardens and rich marine life. Water temperatures average between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius. While a magnet for divers, María la Gorda also attracts visitors for its superlative snorkeling, pristine beaches, and big game fishing.
The M/V Victory I will tender in Maria LaGorda. The tender will take you ashore and with our Cuban expert and motor coach, your will be visiting a nearby village. At the school, in the village, learn about Cuban education system in rural areas, and interact with teachers and students. Explore Guanahacabibes National Park, one of the country’s largest nature reserves on the westernmost
tip of the island. Meet with the naturalists and locals. The peninsula was one of the last refuges of aboriginals fleeing from the Spanish conquistadors and also holds some 140 archaeological sites linked to the life of the aborigines, who were known as Guanahatabeyes.
Cuba’s colorful capital is probably best known for the Spanish-influenced architecture of Old Havana. But its historic castles, fortresses, cathedrals, mansions and public buildings vie for attention with the city’s lively music and entertainment scene, an eclectic and sophisticated mix of museums, art galleries, music, dance, and open-air festivals that take full advantage of the island’s sunny Caribbean climate. In Old Havana, enjoy a presentation by a local architect involved with the government-funded restoration project of old Havana; learn about the work being done and discuss the challenges and the vision for Havana’s future. Next, discover the historic “plazas” in Old Havana on foot and meet with members of a graphic arts cooperative and discuss what they do. You will have plenty of time to explore Old Havana on your own and later experience Havana’s first English bookstore and engage in discussions with the locals.
The second day in Havana, the presentation focuses on the role of religion in the Cuban Identity. Drive to the outskirts of Havana to Finca La Vigia, the Hemingway Farm. This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize-winning author lived with his third wife Mary for over 30 years. Look into the open windows and doors to see the home in perfect condition with Hemingway’s personal belongings as he left them. Walk the grounds to see his private writing studio, swimming pool, and beloved fishing boat, Pilar. The boat is featured in his novel “Islands in the Stream.” Afterwards, enjoy a light lunch in a Paladar,(a family owned restaurant with homemade Cuban food).
In the afternoon, explore Colon Cemetery with a local expert and learn the stories of the monumental architecture and of the famous Havana personalities who are buried there. Afterwards, meet up with a self-taught silversmith who trains young Cuban adults searching for a career in the private sector.
Victory I arrives in Miami, Florida. After breakfast guests will depart to Miami airport for their flight home.