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Private Shore Excurisons

Private Shore Excursions at a Glance:

•Tour #1801: Full day Hemingway, Museum of the Revolution and Old Havana incl. lunch

•Tour 1801A: Same as 1801 includes stop at Synagogue

•Tour #1802:  Half day Old Havana walking tour ending with Sloppy Joe’s Bar

•Tour #1803:  Half day panoramic drive in classic American car

•Tour #1804:  Half day visual arts and art galleries

•Tour #1805:  Half day cigar “marriage” ceremony and the Bar of Fame

•Tour #1806:  Half day concentrating on the architecture of Old Havana

•Tour #1807:  Half day visit to Jewish Cemetery and Synagogue

•Tour #1808:  Half day Cuban cooking class including lunch

•Tour #1809:  Half day concentration of Cuban dance including lesson at the Hotel Nacional

•Tour #1810:  Half day Pub Crawl

•Tour #1811:   Half day Havana by bicycle

•Tour #1812:  Half day Havana by night incl. classic car, dinner and show

•Tour #1813:  Full day Vinales and Pinar del Rio Province

•Tour #1814:  Full day Las Terrazas eco tour

Tour #1801 or #1801A

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate

9:00AM – 6:30PM (Full day 9.5 hours)

Cost:  $265.00 per person including lunch

 

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”      

- Ernest Hemingway 

 

You’re off this morning to visit the former home of Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia, which currently stands as a Cuban National Museum.   “Papa” (as he was known by Cubans) Hemingway lived in the house from mid 1939 to 1960, renting it at first, and then buying it in December 1940 after he married his third wife Martha Gellhorn. Hemingway paid $12,500 for the property. The property was located for Hemingway by Gellhorn, who had come to Cuba to be with him but decided she did not want to live in the small room he rented at the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana. The Finca at the time consisted of 15 acres with a farmhouse.

 

It was at Hotel Ambos Mundos that he wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls (a novel of the Spanish Civil War which he had covered as a journalist with Gellhorn in the late 1930s, but he would frequently visit with Gellhorn as she made this farm house a home that they would live the rest of their marriage in.  He also wrote The Old Man and the Sea (1951) about a fisherman who lived in the nearby fishing village of Cojimar and worked the waters off Havana.

 

After your visit to Finca Vigia, you’ll continue on a short distance to Cojimar for a leisurely drive through this historic small fishing village.  You’ll be sure to stop for a personal “photo op” in Cojimar before you venture to Cuba’s largest public housing community, Alamar.  You’ll enjoy a panoramic drive through of this immense, self-sustaining socialist housing project of over 100,000 people giving you the rare opportunity to view up close and personal, an example of current living conditions and standards in Cuba.

 

Returning to Havana you are escorted by your guide and a docent of the Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolución) which is located in Old Havana. The museum is housed in what was the Presidential Palace of all Cuban presidents from Mario García Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. It became the Museum of the Revolution during the years following the Cuban revolution.

The former Presidential Palace, inaugurated in 1920 by President Mario García Menocal, was decorated by Tiffany & Co. of New York City.

The museum's history exhibits are largely devoted to the period of the revolutionary war of the 1950s with portions also devoted to pre-revolutionary Cuba including its War of Independence waged against Spain.

 

Behind the building lies the Granma Memorial, a large glass enclosure which houses the Granma, the yacht which took Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba for the revolution.

 

A real treat awaits you for lunch today as you have the pleasure of dining in one of Havana’s famed “Paladars” (newly formed private enterprise “in home” restaurants).  It’s fine dining today with a 4-course meal including 3 entrée choices and needless to say, a Cuban Mojito if you like!

 

Your guided walking tour of Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) begins after lunch with ample time to stroll the streets of this most historic and densely populated original enclave of Cuba’s capital which currently enjoys the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site.  You’ll begin by strolling up the famed Obispo Street which is surrounded by some of Havana’s most unique architectural housing and through colorful and unique plazas and squares such as The Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza Vieja and the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis.  There will be ample time to browse the Used Booksellers Market on the Plaza de Armas where on any given day you’re likely to find half century old copies of Look or Life Magazine, original books related to Che Guevarra, the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro, or possibly an original printing of one of your favorite novels from “back in the day”.  Visit the market or feel free to have a seat in one of the nearby outdoor cafes, have a cup of wonderful Cuban coffee and “people watch” to your heart’s content.

 

THE HAUNTS OF HEMINGWAY, REVOLUTION & HABANA VIEJA!

 

LA HABANA VIEJA & SLOPPY JOES!

Tour #1802

9:30AM or 1:15PM (Half day 3.5 hours)

Cost:  $130.000per person

 

“Many call me an adventurer.  And that I am”.                                                                

- Che Guevara

 

Your guided walking tour of Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) gives you ample time to stroll the streets of this most historic and densely populated original enclave of Cuba’s capital and currently enjoys the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site.  You begin by strolling from the pier across the street to the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis.  Venturing over both asphalt and ancient cobblestone streets you’ll see some of Havana’s most unique and iconic architectural buildings and housing.  

 

There will be ample time to browse the Used Booksellers Market on the Plaza de Armas where on any given day you’re likely to find half century old copies of Look or Life Magazine, original books related to Che Guevarra, the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro or possibly an original printing of one of your favorite novels from “back in the day”.  Visit the market or feel free to have a seat in one of the nearby outdoor cafes, have a cup of wonderful Cuban coffee and “people watch” to your heart’s content.

 

Your guide leads us through The Plaza de la Catedral and the Plaza Vieja, past the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Ernest Hemingway wrote most of For Whom the Bell Tolls and down the famed Obispo Street (Habana Vieja’s version of Rodeo Drive) before you walk through the Parque Central (central park) to the iconic Sloppy Joe’s bar where you finish off with one of their famous Mojitos before returning to the ship.

 

 

 

 

CLASSIC AMERICAN CARS, THE MALECON, REVOLUTION, THE US EMBASSY, El CAPITOLIO & CHINATOWN!

Tour #1803

9:00AM – 12:30PM or 1:00PM – 4:30PM (Half day 3.5 hours)

Cost:  $215.00 Two passengers per car (by classic American car)

 

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”                              

- Ernest Hemingway

 

Depart the pier in a classic Chevy, Buick, Cadillac, Studebaker, Ford or possibly even a Nash Rambler from “back in the day” for a 3 ½ hour panoramic drive along the Malecon bordering the Bay of Havana.  What better way to see and enjoy the sights, the sounds and the incredible crumbling and colorful architecture of Havana than in a memory car from the golden days of the 50’s and 60’s.

 

Travel along the streets of Vedado, once the most affluent are of the Havana and currently considered the modern part of Havana.  Today, Vedado serves as Havana’s central business district.  A drive down Calle 23, also known as “La Rampa”, gives a quick glimpse into this bustling neighborhood.  Most importantly you’ll stop at the iconic Plaza de la Revolucion in Vedado - a perfect photo-op memory of your brief time in Havana!

 

Vedado is bordered by the Miramar District, home to the city’s flashiest neighborhoods. Miramar and its western suburbs comprise Havana’s alter ego, replete with sleek Miami-style residences and former pre-revolution mansions, glitzy new business developments and most foreign consulates and embassies. Your driver will be sure to stop outside the “new” American Embassy where renvitalized history was made by President Obama’s visit 2 years ago.  

 

Drive through Havana’s Chinatown, a rarely visited area by tourists. Chinese immigration to Cuba started in 1847 when Chinese contract workers were brought to work in the sugar cane fields bringing the religion of Buddhism with them. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers were brought in from China, Hong Kong, and Macau during the following decades to replace or work alongside African slaves.

 

You end your “Classic Car” drive in and around Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) by cruising from the Malecon up “The Prado” and past the Parque Central and EL Capitolio (National Capital Building).  When Cuba’s Congress was abolished and disbanded following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the building lost its purpose as the House of the People. Later it became the headquarters of the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.  As of 2013, the Government of Cuba is restoring the building for use once again as the home of Cuba's National Assembly.

 

 

HAVANA AND VISUAL ARTS

Tour #1804

9:00AM – 12:30PM or 1:00PM – 4:30PM (Half day 3.5 hours)

Cost:  $130.00

 

“Today, the entire country is an immense university.”                                                      

- Fidel Castro

 

Cuban artists are known world wide for their quality of work as well as their highly unique and imaginative works of art.  There are many current day Cuban artists whose work is displayed in galleries all over the world including San Francisco, New York, London, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Geneva, Paris, Beijing and numerous countries in the Middle East.

 

Departing the pier, you’ll first visit Havana’s massive Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) where your English-speaking guide and a docent of the museum lead you through the Cuban Fine Arts section of this massive structure.  

 

The museum gives you an ample understanding of the quality of work that has been done in Cuba for generations as well as the best works by current-day artists.  Following your museum tour, it wouldn’t be a “legitimate” venture into the world of Cuban arts without personal and private visits to at least two of Havana’s most unique and respected current day artists.  

 

Visit Estudio Taller, the private studio and workshop of Beatriz Sala Santacana whose unique style and works are displayed and sold internationally.  Her sculptures, drawings, paintings, ceramics, reliefs and wall murals are quite simply amazing.  Assuming Ms. Santacana is in residence during this visit she will be most pleased to greet you and introduce you to her works of art.

 

It’s almost needless to say, but an art centered visit to Havana would not be complete without visiting the home and private studio of Jose Fuster, the “Picasso of the Caribbean”, and his surrounding neighborhood known as “Fusterlandia”.  Mr. Fuster has made a major contribution over 15 years of working to rebuild and decorate the fishing town of Jaimanitas in the outskirts of Havana where he lives. Jaimanitas is now a unique work of public art where Fuster has decorated over 80 houses with ornate murals and domes to suit the personality of his neighbors.  He has built a chess park with giant boards and tables, The Artists’ Wall composed of a quilt of dozens of tiles signed and donated by other Cuban artists, a theatre and public swimming pools.

 

These days, Fuster’s art is a cherished part of Cuban culture and joins the rank of other public artworks such as that of Gaudi in Barcelona or that of Brâncuși in the Romanian city of Targu Jiu.

 

Note: Even under current embargo regulations the U.S. Treasury Dept. allows unlimited works of art from Cuba to be brought into the United States.  

 

 

 

CIGARS, “MARRIAGE” & BAR DE LA FAMA!

Tour #1805

9:00AM – 12:30PM or 1:00PM – 4:30PM (Half day 3.5 hours)

Cost:  $225.00 Two passengers per car (by classic American car)

 

“A good Havana cigar is one of the best pleasures that I know”.                                  

- W. Somerset Maugham 

 

Your visit to the Partagás Cigar Factory takes us on a journey back in time.  This 166-year old monument to Cuba’s best-known industry with its cracked marble floors is the acknowledged birthplace of Cuban cigars.  The clamor of workers going about their business reaches your ears and grows in volume with every step: A shout in rapid-fire Cuban Spanish, a call to an amigo, a friendly laugh, the hearty baritone of a golden-throated lector reading the daily news.

 

The factory smells of unlit cigar tobacco; earthy, pungent and remarkably intoxicating. It pulls you closer to the factory’s heart as you walk into the massive main rolling room of the “fabrica”. Before you are scores of workers, each making cigars entirely by hand. It’s an unrushed, age-old process: one that has not changed in any major way for hundreds of years.

 

Leaving Partagas, you’ll drive to the Vedado section of Havana and visit the Havana Café where our English-speaking guide translates for us, the age-old Cuban tradition of the “marriage” of cigars, chocolate and coffee.  This is not an event to be hurried or rushed, but to be savored and enjoyed with the wafting of fine cigars, excellent chocolate and the finest of Cuban coffees.  

 

Before returning to the pier you’ll stop by Havana’s famed Hotel Nacional and visit its iconic Bar de la Fama (Bar of Fame).  A Cuban Mojito is waiting for you as you browse the muraled walls depicting decades of famous and some infamous luminaries who have visited.  Current day paparazzi would be blue with envy to have the rich and famous such as Clark Gable, Marlene Deitrich, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Hedi Lamar and current day Kevin Costner all in the same room!

 

 

 

 

Habana Vieja’s Architectural Wonders

Tour #1806

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate

9:00AM – 12:30PM or 1:00PM – 4:30PM (Half day 3.5 hours)

Cost:  $140.00 per person

“. count the populations in hundreds of thousands, but to each man a city consists of no more than a few streets, a few houses, a few people.” 

 

“Our Man in Havana”.                                                                                                        

- Graham Greene 

 

A fantastic opportunity to experience and concentrate specifically on the architecture and overall atmosphere of Old Havana. Habana Vieja (Old Havana) is considered one of the most well preserved urban areas in the world.

 

Your private guide will lead you on a walking tour which is the best way to discover all of the details, the magnificent buildings and the hidden treasures Habana Vieja (UNESCO World Heritage site) has to offer.

 

Start out with a short walk along Prado Street to the Gran Teatro de La Habana and the Capitolio which is modeled after the US Capital Building in Washington D.C.  A short distance away is the former headquarters of Bacardi, an impressive art deco construction. Near the Bacardi building, you’ll find the Museum of the Revolution, (formerly the Presidential Palace) and the Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes) – all magnificent examples of Havana’s famed architecture.

 

The walking tour continues down Obispo Street, the most popular pedestrian street in Old Havana lined with shops, restaurants and bars – Cuba’s version of Rodeo Drive! Obispo connects with the 4 main squares in the old town: Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Plaza Vieja.  Visit all four as we head back to ourr ship docked at the Harbor of Havana.

 

 

Shalom Habana!

Tour #1807

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate

9:00AM – 12:30PM or 1:00PM – 4:30PM (Half day 3.5 hours)

Cost:  $130.00 per person plus a requested $20 USD per person cash donation to the synagogue

 

“You should dream more . Reality in our century is not something to be faced.” 

- Graham Greene 

 

We’re off to Guanabacoa, a humble town across the harbor from Old Havana, to visit the cemeteries of the Jewish community:  one for Sephardic Jews and the other for Ashkenazic Jews.  Dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, a Spanish gate with the star of David marks the entrance to the cemetery which also contains a Holocaust Memorial.

 

Venturing back across the harbor of Havana to the Vedado neighborhood, you’ll visit the Beth Shalom Synagogue better known as El Patronato de la Comunidad Hebrea and meet with a member of the community who will be happy to give a history of Judaism in Cuba as well as the history behind El Patronato.

 

Beth Shalom gathers the largest Jewish congregation in Cuba.  It’s modern temple (El Patronato) was built in 1952 and was refurbished in the 1990s with the support of the international Jewish community.  Beth Shalom features a substantial library, a pharmacy and other facilities to support its members and the local community.

 

“Lunchando” Cubano Cooking Class

Tour #1808

Difficulty:  Easy

10:00AM – 2:30PM (Half day 4.5 hours)

Cost:  $250.00 per person   subject to limited availability

 

“You know you’re Cuban if you’ve been drinking café leche since you were two!”        

- Cosmopolitan Magazine 

 

You begin your day of Cuban cooking (and eating!) with an introduction to Cuban cuisine and it origins explained to us by the Paladar’s chef and possibly interpreted by our private guide.  Depending on availability (first come first served) you’ll be off to either the lovely open-air Paladar El Ajiaco in Cojimar (the village inspiration for Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea) or Paladar San Cristobal (the selected Paladar for President and Mrs. Obama during their historic visit to Cuba) in Havana.  (Note: “Paladar” is a private enterprise restaurant in Cuba – the setting of which is often in a family’s private home).

 

Depending on the chef’s menu of the day, we will assist in preparing local dishes such as Ropa Vieja (shredded beef), lobster or shrimp enchiladas in a tomato sauce, Ajiaco which is a typical root vegetable, several Cuban sauces, possibly a yucca dish and always Cuban rice and beans.

 

You’ll sample your culinary creations and the enjoy the fruits of your labor as you sit down to a scrumptious lunch of which you have taken part in preparing accompanied by a beverage of your choice, several typical Cuban desserts, traditional Cuban coffee and a sampling of aged Cuban rum to finish the meal.  Your Cuban Paladar host would be remiss if he or she did not teach you the definite “art” of mixing a proper Mojito to finish the day!

 

Baila! Baila! Baila! Dance Cubana!

Tour #1809

Difficulty:  Easy

1:00PM – 5:00PM (Half day 4 hrs. afternoon only)

Cost:  175.00 per person

 

“everywhere you go there is music and people dancing, especially in Havana”.      

- Julia Sawalha

 

Youur immersion in the art of dance in Cuba begins with a private visit to at the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, the home of the National Ballet of Cuba theater.  This historic building is one of the most important and revered cultural institutions in the Cuban capital and an architectural icon of the city.  The complete restoration and renovation of the “Gran Teatro” was completed in 2016.

 

In 1948, Cuba’s first professional ballet company was born:  the “Ballet Alicia Alonso” named after Cuba’s most famous ballerina who at that time, had an already well established international reputation and exerted great influence over her colleagues in the American Ballet theater.

 

Your next stop will be a behind the scenes look at Habana Compas Dance, recognized nationally and internationally for combining dance and percussion.  Founded in 2004, under the general direction of professional dancer and choreographer Liliet Rivera, this dance company developed a new artistic marvel merging the essence of Spanish dance and Afro-Cuban (rumba and salsa) rhythms.

 

Your afternoon is completed with a salsa lesson at the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba.  Since the 1930s, this world famous iconic hotel is considered a symbol of culture and Cuban identity.  Enjoy a cocktail (not included) at the Bar de la Fama (Bar of Fame) which was once the most famous Mafia bar in the world. Sir Winston Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Rocky Marciano, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner and, of course, Ernest Hemingway along with many more recent A-listers have graced this bar.  Now it’s your turn to be the star in this iconic watering hole.

 

Alternatively, enjoy an afternoon cocktail (not included) on the lawn overlooking Havana’s famed Malecon and the Havana harbor, and the city as well.

 

 

Pub Crawl the Steps of “Papa” Hemingway

Tour #1810

Difficulty:  Easy

1:00PM – 5:00PM (Half day 4 hrs. afternoon only)

Includes one drink of client choice at each establishment; house brand Mojito. Daiquiri, Cuban beer or soft drink.

Cost:  $190.00 per person

 

In Cuba “When all else fails  try smoking a good cigar and have a stiff drink.  

If that doesn’t work  have another”.                                                                                -

Timothy Pena

 

You begin your afternoon pub crawl by following the steps of such historical luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, Meyer Lansky, Sir Winston Churchill, Graham Greene and many others to your first stop at the open-air lobby level bar of the Ambos Mundos Hotel where Hemingway lived for 7 years in the 1930s and wrote For Whom the Bell Tools from his room above the bar.

 

Your private guide will lead you down Old Havana’s Obispo Street (Cuba’s version of Rodeo Drive ) before entering the always lively and entertaining La Floridita Bar.  According to local legend, the Daiquiri was “discovered” at La Floridita and to this day, there is quite possibly no better Daiquiri served in the world.  You’ll have a chance to take your picture with Ernest Hemingway whose bronzed statue holds up one end of the bar 24/7 as he evidently did “back in the day”!

 

A historical “crawl” wouldn’t be complete without visiting Sloppy Joe’s which re-opened in 2013 after being closed for nearly a half century.  The advent of Prohibition spurred the owner, Jose “Joe” Abeal Otero to change from restaurant service to an “80 cocktail” bar service catering to American tourists flocking to Havana for the nightlife, gambling and alcohol they could not obtain back home.  During the 1940s and 1950s Sloppy Joe’s was a magnet for American celebrities such as Errol Flynn, Ernest Hemingway (of course) and Graham Greene as well as tourists wanting to mingle with them.  It has been described by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the most famous bars in the world" with "almost the status of a shrine”.

 

Next, you’ll hop in a 3-wheeler - 2 seater Cuban “Coco Taxi” down Havana’s Malecon along the Bay of Havana as you make our way to the historic Hotel Nacional, which was built in the 1930s where you enter its world-famous Bar de la Fama (Bar of Fame).  You’ll join the ranks of the rich and famous whose pictures adorn the wall murals such as Ernest Hemingway (of course), Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Sir Winston Churchill, Joe DiMaggio, Buster Keaton, Marlene Deitrich, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, amongst many others.  You may choose to take some time to stroll the grounds of the “Nacional” overlooking the Bay of Havana before returning to your ship.

 

 

Classic Havana by Bicycle

Tour #1811

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate

9:00AM – 12:00PM or 1:00PM to 4:00PM (3 hours morning or afternoon)

Cost:  $ 275.00 per person

 

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a

lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.”          

- Desmond Tutu

 

Your private guide and bicycle enthusiast gives you a great way to kick-start a visit to Havana. Riding a bicycle is the perfect way to get to know the city in little time. You'll be taken on an authentic route that goes through the less-frequented avenues and the streets full of potholes and surrounded by colorful buildings from yester-year.  You will see and experience more of the “real” Havana in these 3 hours than we could possibly experience otherwise.  

 

Ride through the inner city, stopping at sites such as the Plaza de La Revolución (a great photo op to text home!), Plaza Vieja, el Bosque de La Habana, the Cemetery of Christopher Columbus, the Malecon along the Bay of Havana ... to name just a few! After arriving at the historic town center, take a 20-minute coffee – water break and then continue along the Prado past the Alicia Alonso Gran Teatro de Habana, the Capitolio, and the Parque Central (Central Park) before returning to the pier.

 

 

Classic Cars & Havana by Night!  

Tour #1812

 

Difficulty:  Easy

7:00PM – 12:01AM (Half day 5 hrs. evening only)

Includes one drink of client choice at dinner; house brand Mojito. Daiquiri, Cuban beer or soft drink.  Excellent seating included at after dinner venues.

Cost:  $160.00 per person Paladar dinner with La Zorro y El Cuervo Jazz Club

Cost:  $ 210.00 per person Paladar dinner with La Parisiene Cabaret

Cost:  $285.00 per person Paladar dinner with Tropicana Cabaret

 

“The first thing on my bucket list I to fill the bucket with wine”.                                  

- Author unknown

 

Your private tour this evening begins by departing the ship in a classic American convertible car for a ride down the Malecon to one of Havana’s top rated Paladars (private enterprise “home” restaurants) where you’ll enjoy the wonders of Cuban cooking in an elegant and memorable setting.  Your meal will consist of a starter course, salad, 3 or 4 entrée choices, a drink of your choosing, and dessert.  

 

Let your travel agent know when booking this tour which of these after dinner choices you’d like to confirm:

 

• La Zorro y El Cuervo:  The most well-known venue for jazz in Havana in a city that is known worldwide for its jazz.   The ‘Fox & Crow’ offers an intimate environment in this underground venue notably marked by a red English telephone box at its entrance. Top jazz players perform here on a nightly basis.  It’s dark, it’s packed, it’s gritty, it’s jazz at its best!

 

• La Parisiene Cabaret Review is located within the Hotel Nacional and benefits from the same rich history. This “Las Vegas 1950’s “Carmen Miranda & Ricky Ricardo” cabaret review is more intimate and cozy yet retains the same excellent dance and musical performances as the larger Tropicana.  

 

• Tropicana Cuban Cabaret Review:  Neither the Revolution nor the recent economic crisis ruffled the feathers of the “paradise under the stars,” which opened on New Year’s Eve 1939 in an open-air theater in the gardens of the former residence of the U.S. ambassador. The Tropicana featured effusive, tropical foliage as part of its setting and hosted international celebrities such as Nat “King” Cole, Josephine Baker, and Carmen Miranda.  Today, The Tropicana remains “THE Tropicana” with beautiful and talented male and female dancers and singers all decked out in colorful “Las Vegas” style elaborately colored costumes.  

 

 

 

Mogotes, Pinar del Rio & The Valley of Vinales (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Tour #1813

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate

9:00AM – 6:30PM (Full day 9.5 hours)

Cost:  $265.00 per person including lunch

 

“I live in Cuba because I love Cuba”.                                                                                            

- Ernest Hemingway

 

Embark on a scenic 2.5 hr. drive to Pinar del Rio Provence where you’ll spend your day filled with adventure in the Vinales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The sleepy town of Vinales is encircled by majestic mountains known as “mogotes” and its landscape is interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops.  Time stands still as traditional ancient techniques continue to be used for agricultural production, particularly tobacco.  The quality of this landscape is enhanced by the architecture of its farms and villages where a rich multi-ethnic society resides illustrating the cultural development of rural Cuba.

 

There is no better way to familiarize yourself with Vinales, the tobacco soul of Western Cuba, than to hitch a ride on horseback to take in the lush green valleys and epic landscaped scenery.  Channel your inner sun kissed cowboy for this morning ride and behold the beauty of this special land.   (Note:  Horseback riding is available daily at an additional expense approx. $10 USD per person per hour – must be paid in Cuban currency).

 

Visit with local farmers to discover all of the stages and processes that make Cuban tobacco so sought after throughout the world.  Gain knowledge from some of the best in the world about the cultivation of these aromatic leaves.  You’ll also be taught about farming cultures and traditions during this sojourn.

 

Next, you’ll have the unique privilege of an included lunch at a local organic farm house, or in one of the Paladars (private enterprise home restaurants) that flourish in town.

 

After lunch, venture to a beautiful site on the banks of the San Vicente River where you will discover the Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave), a refuge for the first inhabitants of these lands who painted their walls with ancient rock drawings that have been preserved with great care.  After a short 215-yard hike, you’ll board a boat and sail the subterranean river flowing through the cave.  Relish the native nature and beauty of the formation of stalactites and stalagmites visible through the illuminated cave on your way to the cave’s exit where you disembark your vessel and prepare for your sunset drive back to Havana.

 

Las Terrazas Biosphere Ecotour (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Tour #1814

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate

9:00AM – 4:30PM (Full day 7.5 hours)

Cost:  $250.00 per person including lunch

 

“Someone is sitting in the shade today

because somebody planted a tree a long time ago”.                                                                    

- Warren Buffet

 

Depart for a 90-minute drive to Las Terrazas, a small rural community and nature reserve in the municipality of Candelaria, Artemisa Province, located in the majestic Sierra del Rosario mountains, which was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1984.

 

Arriving Las Terrazas, stretch your legs on a 2-mile route that winds the hill of Las Delicias until you reach the viewpoint of the San Juan Valley.  From this perch, 1,083 feet above sea level, you’ll observe the picturesque village below which is enlivened by the many species of birds singing from the nearby rain forest.  Descending the mountain, arrive at the Buena Vista Coffee Plantation and discover even more breathtaking views and a brief history on coffee farming and slavery in Cuba.  This plantation, established by the French two centuries ago, is the only one of its kind built on the crest of a mountain.  Visit the coffee grinding millstone where you learn of the harsh conditions of the slaves who worked here and the abject lives they led.  

 

Next is a brief stop at the Clinica Las Terrazas to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba.  You’ll have a private meeting with a doctor who will help you understand how patients are cared for.  You’ll also be able to learn about Cuba’s health care system which is world renowned for its success in keeping the people of Cuba healthy.  Feel free to ask questions in this open forum discussion.

 

Proceed on a short stroll across the village to visit the home and private studio of famed Cuban artist Lester Campa, if in residence, whose work is generally exhibited internationally.  Should you see something you like, art purchases can be made on site and shipped to you in the United States.

 

By this point in the day, you’ll have worked up a hearty appetite just in time for a country-style Cuban lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.  Casa del Campesino is the home of Dona Raquel who provides a mouth-watering family style lunch served among the trees of the rain forest featuring the best Cuban Creole cuisine and the friendliest of live local music while you dine.

 

After lunch, there are two activities of which you should consider optional:

 

Zip lining over Las Terrazas and the valley and village below is an enthralling experience, not to mention thrilling!  (Note:  Zip lining is available daily at an additional expense - approx. $40 USD per person – must be paid in Cuban currency).

 

You may elect to end your day in Las Terrazas by swimming with the locals in the crystal-clear waters of the nearby San Juan River.  Be sure to bring a towel and bathing suit should you think you might like to try this optional easy swim.

 

Returning to your ship, you have the option of being dropped off by your private guide either at the pier or the local Artisans’ Market which is located just down the street from the pier entrance.

 

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