Vintage Cuba, 9 Days

Cuba

HIGHLIGHTS: HAVANA - SANTA CLARA - TRINIDAD - VINALES. DAY 1: HAVANA. Random facts about Cuba: one in four cars on the road is a Russian Lada, there are no poisonous snakes, sex-change operations are legal and free. Practical stuff: there are two types of currency here. You'll use convertibles (CUC) and the locals use pesos (CUP). Get acquainted with Havana. Pre-departure meeting in the evening. DAY 2: SANTA CLARA. If only you could find a t-shirt, poster, keyring, book, scarf or pet rock with Che Guevara's face on it. Head inland to the historic city of Santa Clara. Visit the Revolutionary Plaza and the Che Guevara Monument. DAY 3-4: TRINIDAD. Apparently the locals thought white buildings would be too harsh in the heat of the day, so they're painted blue, yellow and terracotta. This is the place to buy a canchanchara - lemon juice, honey and Santero Cuban rum served in a glazed ceramic pot. Set off on your own exploration of Trinidad - quintessential Cuba. Perhaps climb the bell tower of the central Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos (a former convent) for great views over the old rooftops and surrounding hills. Why not visit some of the great local markets. Get your beach beach fix - it's a short ride in a 'coco taxi'. Please note that there is a shortage of reliable accommodation in Trinidad and many of the hotels experience constant water and electrical shortages. From time to time it is necessary for us to stay just out of town. DAY 5-7: VINALES. Vinales is known for cheeky porches, tobacco plants and mojitos made with honey. Practice blowing smoke rings from your balcony seat overlooking the giant bubbles of limestone that cover the landscape. Visit Vinales, situated in one of the most scenic parts of Cuba. Perhaps take in the town's cultural centre and museum. Why not set off on some of the hikes in the area. DAY 8-9: HAVANA. Adios amigos. Toast the end of your trip with a mojito and one last salsa lesson at Casa de la Musica. In your free time, why not stroll along the malecon (ocean-side walkway) and watch the traditional and modern sides of this enigmatic city unfold before you. At the end of a long day, enjoy a relaxing evening at any of the many bars and clubs while listening to the island's rhythms. It's time for a final night of salsa, hit the streets and celebrate a fantastic adventure. Extra accommodation in Havana is available at the finishing point homestay for this trip. There are no activities planned for day 9 and you are able to depart at any time. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing from 15 April 2015 - 15 December 2015

9 days
FROM $995*
9 days FROM $995*

Cuba Express Adventure, 8 Days

Cuba

HIGHLIGHTS: Havana - Playa Larga - Trinidad Day 2 Havana full day tours. Begin your authentic cultural experience in Havana, famous for its wonderful architecture, by going on 2 exciting tours with local friendly guides. Get to know modern Havana with your fun local guide on a Communist Experience Day Trip to see the real Cuba. Learn how to use the local peso, see the city's unknown gems and hop into local shared taxis and unusual forms of local transportation. Stop at a local shop for a coffee, snack or cold beer with your guide to immerse yourself in parts of Havana rarely seen by tourists. Then, get ready for a fun night out on the town in Havana, dancing salsa and partying After a walk along the Malecon to get in the mood, some street music and dancing, we head indoors to one of the great Salsa Bars and Music clubs with Cuban guides as your chaperones. Casa de la Musica, Jazz Cafe and the famous after hours clubs in Vedado depending on your guide and where the night takes you. (Please bring an extra 15CUC per person for cover fees, taxis and drinks on the Havana Night Out Tour). Day 3 Transfer from Havana to Playa Larga & Horse and Buggy Ride. Today, take a public bus passing to Playa Larga where you will get settled in to you homestay with free time to have lunch on your own before your fun afternoon activities Take a half-day horse and buggy ride through the scenic countryside to a nearby crocodile farm with a local guide. Here, thousands of crocodiles are hatched and raised with half released locally back into their natural habitat and half are used for meat, leather goods and artesania. (Not included: Entrance Fee 2 CUC to Crocodile Farm) Day 4 Pez Lion Snorkel Experience & Transfer to Playa Giron. Go on a half-day snorkeling tour with a local fisherman who will take you fishing for the Pez Lion. Take your catch ashore to fillet and cook them up for a delicious and fresh lunch on the beach. Then transfer to Playa Giron where you will have time to visit the Bay of Pigs War Museum on this beautiful beach. Day 5 Transfer from Playa Giron to Trinidad & Salsa Lesson. Enjoy free time in the morning to relax on the beach. Today you will take a public bus to Trinidad, which is well-known for beautiful white sand beaches, colonial architecture, waterfalls and a charming village atmosphere. Take a fun salsa lesson in Trinidad tonight with a professional local instructor. Day 6 Full day Bike or Horse and Buggy Ride in Trinidad. Embark on a full day trip by bike or Horse and Buggy with a local guide to Ancon Peninsula with beautiful beaches stopping off at the old port of Casilda and other beautiful spots on the way. Return to Trinidad in the afternoon and spare some energy for a night out on your own. The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets. (Not Included: Lunch) Day 7 Transfer from Trinidad to Havana. Make your way back to Havana today and enjoy your last evening in Cuba before taking your flight back home the next day. Day 8 Havana Airport Drop-off. You will be transferred to the Havana airport today in order to catch your flight back home. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 6 February 2015 - 30 March 2016

8 days
FROM $1,119*
8 days FROM $1,119*

A Touch of Cuba, 8 Days

Cuba

HIGHLIGHTS: Havana - Soroa - Vinales - Trinidad - Cienfuegos. Day 1: Havana. On arrival at Havana airport you will be transferred to your centrally located hotel. In the evening (7pm approximately) you will meet your local guide and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please check the notice board at reception to confirm the time and place of your meeting. It is usually at about 6pm. The briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner. Day 2-3: Soroa - Vinales. This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Old Havana, including the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. Drive west to Soroa where you will stop for lunch and tour the impressive orchid garden. Continue on to Vinales where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape. The scenery here is some of the most picturesque in Cuba and there are many outdoor, optional activities available to help you enjoy it. Choose from cycling, hiking through tobacco fields, or hiking to mountain caves. Day 4-5: Trinidad. Today you will board the bus and drive to Trinidad. UNESCO declared the town and its surrounding hills a World Heritage site in 1988. Established by the Spaniards in 1514 and lined with cobblestone streets and colourful houses, the town of Trinidad is easy to wander around and almost every scene offers superb photographic opportunities - from locals casually smoking their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes to old Chevrolets cruising by. It is easy to see why Trinidad is one of the most visited towns in Cuba. Day 6: Cienfuegos. A short drive will take you to Cienfuegos today. While you're here you will visit the Palacio del Valle - Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy, dripping with ornate carvings in Venetian alabaster. Day 7-8: Havana. You will stop in at Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial on the way back to Havana. Upon arrival in Havana, you will prepare for a final night celebration of salsa dancing and dinner. Your trip will come to an end after breakfast on day 8. If you wish to extend your stay in Havana it is possible to book additional accommodation - this should be done at the same time you book your holiday. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing from 15 April 2015 - 15 December 2015

8 days
FROM $1,735*
8 days FROM $1,735*

Splendours of Cuba, 11 Days

Cuba

HIGHLIGHTS: Havana - Las Terrazas - Vinales - Cienfuegos - Trinidad - Santa Clara DAY 1: To Cuba. Transfer to the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel for 3 nights. DAY 2: Havana. Morning walking tour of old Havana, including the Camera Obscura and a stop at El Floridita, home of the daiquiri cocktail. Afternoon panoramic tour in a classic American car, visiting Revolution Square and the Rum Museum. DAY 3: Havana. Day at leisure to stroll along old Havana's cobbled streets, perhaps relax by the rooftop pool or take optional visits to the Bellas Artes Museum, Hemingway's Museum or the Revolution Museum. DAY 4: To Las Terrazas. In the morning, drive to Las Terrazas in the western province of Pinar del Rio. Established as a sustainable environmental and development project, Las Terrazas provides an ideal introduction to Cuba's countryside life and landscapes. Visit to the local community and the partially restored 19th-century coffee estate and stay 2 nights at La Moka Hotel. DAY 5: Vinales. Full day tour of the beautiful Vinales valley, its tobacco plantations and rounded limestone hills. Visit a cigar factory and take a boat ride through the Indian Cave. DAY 6: To Cienfuegos. Travel to Cienfuegos via the Peninsula de Zapata. Take a boat trip through the mangroves and drive past Playa Giron, site of the 1961 invasion. Continue to the small city of Cienfuegos, with its distinct French influence. Enjoy dinner at Cienfuegos Yacht Club and stay for 2 nights at La Union Hotel. DAY 7: Cienfuegos. Morning tour of the city, known as the "Pearl of the South", and visit the Cienfuegos botanical gardens. Afternoon at leisure or take optional excursions. DAY 8: To Trinidad. Morning drive to Trinidad for a walking tour of the town, including the Romantic Museum or Cantero Museum and a visit to Casa de la Musica. Founded in 1514, Trinidad contains beautifully preserved colonial buildings, with hardly a trace of 20th-century architecture. Stay for 2 nights at the Iberostar Grand Hotel, a restored colonial building in the heart of the old town. DAY 9: Trinidad. Morning tour of the Valley of the Sugar Mills, dotted with ruins of large former sugar plantations. Visit the watchtower of the Manaca Iznaga plantation, a reminder of Cuba's colonisation and slave trade, then have lunch before returning to Trinidad. Afternoon at leisure. DAY 10: To Santa Clara & Havana. Morning drive to historic Santa Clara, the site of the turning point in the Cuban revolution and see Che Guevara's museum and mausoleum. After lunch, continue to Havana for 1 night at the Iberostar Parque Central. Optional evening music performance. DAY 11: Depart Havana. Transfer to the airport to continue your journey. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

DepartingOnly 6 April 2015.

11 days
FROM $2,120*
11 days FROM $2,120*

Cuba in Colour, 9 Days

Cuba

HIGHLIGHTS: Havana - Cienfuegos (via Bay of Pigs) - Trinidad - Cayo Macho Boat Cruise - Santa Clara. Day 1 Havana. On arrival at Havana Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel in one of the city's most charming and lively squares. Spend the day making your own discoveries before seafood and mojitos at El Patio Restaurant. Day 2 Havana. A walking tour of old Havana ends at Ernest Hemingway's old haunt, La Bodeguita del Medio. Cruise around the newer part of town in classic American vintage cars, stopping at Revolution Square, Miramar Vedado and Havana University before a private tour of the historic Hotel Nacional. Enjoy dinner and a performance by the Buena Vista Social Club this evening. Day 3 Havana. Partagas Cigar Factory, founded in 1845, is Cuba's largest and perhaps most renowned cigar factory. Take a private tour before spending the rest of the day at leisure. Day 4 Cienfuegos (via Bay of Pigs). Experience a change of pace today as you travel through the Peninsula de Zapata swamplands and along the Bay of Pigs. This is where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occurred in 1961. Stop at a swimming hole (cenote) and if the conditions are favourable, you can swim or snorkel at a beach. Day 5 Trinidad. After breakfast take a walking tour of Cienfuegos then drive to Trinidad. Established by the Spaniards in 1514 and lined with cobblestone streets and colourful houses, the afternoon is free to explore at your own pace before dinner at Sol Ananda Restaurant. Day 6 Trinidad. A morning walking tour leads to an afternoon at the Valley of the Sugar Mills, the ruins of plantations that were once worked by slaves. Chat with villagers in Manaca Iznaga as you sip a glass of cold sugar cane. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. Day 7 Cayo Macho Boat Cruise. Board a private charter for your journey to Cayo Macho. Swim and snorkel in the pristine waters and indulge in a seafood lunch before returning to Trinidad. Day 8 Santa Clara - Havana. Santa Clara is where Ernesto Che Guevara defeated government troops during the Cuban Revolution. Visit the Tren Blindado (Armoured Train) Monument, where the actual victory took place, as well as the Ernesto Che Guevara Monument. Day 9 Havana. Spend this morning as you please, perhaps with some last-minute shopping before you are transferred to the airport for your onward flight. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing from 1 May to 15 December 2015

9 days
FROM $4,595*
9 days FROM $4,595*

Cuban Rhythms

Havana

Day 1 HavanaArrive in Havana at any time. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. One of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere, Havana was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. It contains a wealth of colonial architecture, and the old city and streets around the malecon (ocean-side walkway) are best discovered on foot. The main area of interest to visitors is La Habana Vieja (The Old City), where walking or a taxi tour are the best modes of transportation. Points of interest in this part of town include La Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras (which now houses a restaurant), the Museo de Arte Colonial and the Plaza de Armas, with its statue of Manuel de Céspedes (one of the leaders of the Cuban independence movement). The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales is also located on the Plaza de Armas, which now houses the Museo de La Ciudad. You will find the oldest colonial fortress on the plaza’s northeast sector, the Castillo Real de la Fuerza, whose construction began in 1558. The city is home to various museums, and depending on your area of interest, there is practically a museum for everyone. One of the city’s (and the island’s) most prominent attractions though, are its music and clubs. Everywhere you go you will hear and feel the music and see people freely dancing in the streets. The island literally pulses with the beat and blend of Afro-Hispanic rhythms and movement. Please note: the heat of Cuba may affect you upon arrival, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm, it is simply your body’s reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water and do not attempt too much in any given day.Day 2-4 Santa Clara/Trinidad (1B,1D)Stop by Santa Clara en route to Trinidad and visit important historical sites, including the famous Che monument. Santa Clara was a key city in the Revolution. Santa Clara is probably best known as the home of the statue of Ernesto Che Guevara at the Plaza de la Revolución. The remains of Che and his comrades who fell in Bolivia are interred in the mausoleum at this site. About 18 men, under the command of Comandante Ernesto (Ché) Guevara, fought against more than 400 heavily armed Batista government troops and captured the armoured train. There is a large monument deditcated to the derailing of this train full of armaments that was essential to the triumph of the revolution. Both the monument and the site are referred to as 'Tren Blindado'. The Museo Histórico de la Revolución chronicles the Battle of Santa Clara, and it is here that a gargantuan statue of El Ché was erected to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the revolutionary hero’s murder in Bolivia. Continue onto the colonial city of Trinidad where you'll go on an orientation walk upon arrival to get your bearings. Learn some moves during a salsa dancing lesson and take in some live music at an evening out at the Casa de la Trova. Enjoy a home-cooked local dinner as a group hosted by one of the homestay families. Trinidad is the hub of the cultural activity, and you are never out of earshot from a group of musicians playing local salsa or son. The town also has the requisite Casa de la Trova, a mainstay of Cuban musical culture in every town, the Palenque, Las Ruinas, Teatro de Brunet, the Artex, the nightlife, the conga lessons and salsa lessons. Enjoy an included salsa lesson during your time in Trinidad. Those visitors who wish to pursue outdoor activities will find Trinidad a haven for horseback or bicycle riding (don’t expect any modern mountain bikes though!). If an unspoiled, white sand beach sounds like what you're looking for, try snorkelling or diving in nearby Playa Ancón, just 12 km (7.5 miles) from town. The nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) is where you will see some remains of the island's vast sugar cane plantations. The beautiful green landscape has attracted visitors from around the world who visit it for enjoying its historical and cultural attributes. Valle de los Ingenios was fairly inactive until the 1800s, when French refugees fleeing a slav revolt in Haiti landed here en masse and brought with them sugar cane cultivation. The new residents settled and farmed in the valley. Wealth flowed into the local economy from sugar cane cultivation and the area produced one third of the country’s sugar at one point. The sugar boom was terminated by the two wars of independence, but the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town’s once grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill work and cobblestone streets. Day 5-6 ViñalesSee sugar cane and tabacco plantations in this rich agricultural town. Have a cigar or do a some rum tasting. Viñales is in the Pinar del Rio province and located in a fertile valley surrounded by the unusual mogotes, or limestone pincushion hills. Arguably one of the prettiest natural areas in Cuba, we have many opportunities here to enjoy the area, whether it be horseback riding, hiking, or simply sitting back and enjoying the view. While you're here, visit a "vega" or cigar factory, to see how the famous Cuban cigars are made. Try your hand at Spanish while staying in a local homestay. On Viñales’ main plaza there’s a cultural centre as well as a municipal museum, however most visitors to the area come for the views and the nearby outdoor activities. The region has many extensive cave systems, as a result of the slow deterioration of the limestone bedrock by underground rivers, also creating the striking mogotes, reminiscent of the hills of Quilin in southern China. There are plenty of opportunities here for the outdoor enthusiast, such as horseback riding, and hiking which allow for incredible views of the valley and the sprawling tobacco fields. Take a day trip to beautiful Cayo Levisa, an island just off of Cuba's coastline. It is a perfect spot for snorkelling, scuba diving or just blissing out on the beach.Day 7 HavanaStop at lush Las Terrazas en route back to Havana. Discover Old Havana on a short walking tour of the historical centre with your CEO.Day 8 Havana (1B)Depart at any time.

DepartingFrom 01/01/2015 to 24/12/2016

8 days
FROM $749*
8 days FROM $749*

Highlights of Caribbean

Cruising the azure playground of the Caribbean is a riot of colour, rhythm and flavours. Fewer than 10 per cent of the Caribbean's 7000 islands are inhabited – so you can get as close to, or as far from civilization as you want.

A few of the highlights of cruising the Caribbean:

  • The dual-named island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin is split into Dutch and French territory respectively, making a stop in its capital Philipsburg a chance to see 2 Caribbean cultures in one day. There are 37 beaches dotted around the coastline, from sandy stretches to little coves and clothing optional spots. Locally-produced rum and spicy West Indian creole dishes make for a tasty treat ashore.
  • Grand Cayman Island is the banking haven fringed by calm azure waters that really are as enticingly aqua as the postcards claim. It's a perfect place for watersports lovers and a top spot to get close to various types of marine life, from turtles at Boatswain's Beach to Stingray City. 'Kissing' a stingray may delight or terrify you but either way, you won't forget it!
  • Barbados' capital Bridgetown is inescapably English, given their influence since establishing a settlement there more than 300 years ago. For a glimpse into the island's colourful history, take a look at Barbados Museum when you dock in Bridgetown. Barbados' east coast is the rugged, Atlantic-facing side of the island and the south has a lively pocket of restaurants and bars at St Lawrence.

Weather

The Caribbean really is a year-round destination. Temperatures seldom vary from highs in the 80s (lows in the 70s), with humidity hovering at the 70 percent level just about all year. The hurricane season, which officially lasts from June 1st to November 30th, can occasionally disrupt cruise itineraries.

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