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Take to the Caribbean aboard the Panorama II on an expedition that draws together Cuba’s colorful culture and its rare marine wonders. In colonial cities from Havana to Trinidad and Cienfuegos, meet artists, musicians, historians and more who are safeguarding Cuban traditions and shaping them for the future. Then explore seldom-visited isles off the southern coast, and discover pristine wildlife sanctuaries through the eyes of local conservationists.
Delve into Cuba’s past and present while
getting to know the residents of Havana,
Trinidad, and Cienfuegos.
Discuss conservation efforts and spot rich
birdlife with local naturalists in Ciénaga de
Zapata National Park.
Get a local perspective on the Bay of Pigs
invasion, and then cross to Cayo Largo to
learn about efforts to protect endangered
Itinerary - 11 Days
Day 1 — Miami, Florida/Havana, Cuba
From Miami, take a charter flight to Havana and transfer to our hotel. Set out on a walking tour,
tracing the story of the city as told through its
people and its buildings, from 400-year-old
Spanish churches to the art deco high-rises of
the early 20th century. Meander through historic
squares, interacting with merchants and locals,
and learn about ongoing efforts to preserve
Old Havana. Later, drive along the Malecón, the
waterfront esplanade where Cubans from all
walks of life come to stroll and socialize. Hotel Nacional de Cuba (L,D)
Days 2 & 3 — Havana
Spend two days getting acquainted with life in
Havana through your choice of people-to-people
excursions: visit an auto workshop where inventive
mechanics repair classic American cars, wander
through Ernest Hemingway’s estate at Finca
Vigía, or get a Cuban perspective on Castro’s
revolution at the city’s history museums. Visit a
cigar factory, or learn about environmental education
projects at the Fundación Antonio Núñez
Jiménez. Enjoy meals in some of Havana’s best
paladares, or privately owned restaurants, and
hear the signature rhythms of Cuba at an evening
Day 4 — Havana/Cienfuegos
After another chance to meet with residents of
Havana this morning, drive to Cienfuegos and
embark our ship. Gather for a welcome dinner on
board. Panorama II (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Bay of Pigs
This morning we drive to the Bay of Pigs, an ecologically
important area that gained worldwide renown when U.S.-backed Cuban exiles attempted to invade in 1961. In the beach town of Playa Girón, visit a museum that recounts the failed invasion, and talk to local people to learn what the episode means to Cubans today. In nearby Ciénaga de Zapata National Park, meet with naturalists and look for endemic birdlife such as the Cuban trogon and the bee hummingbird—the smallest bird in the world. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Trinidad
Today we’ll go ashore at Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site of cobbled streets and colonial houses originally founded in 1514. Take a walk with a representative of the Office of the City Historian, visiting museums and meeting entrepreneurs and artists. After lunch, stroll this charming town and get to know its residents. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — At Sea
A day at sea gives us the chance to have talks by our staff about Cuba, work on our photographs with the Lindblad-National Geographic photo instructor on board, and reflect on the things we’ve seen. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Isla de la Juventud
Anchor at Siguanea Bay on Isla de la Juventud—or the Isle of Youth—once home to an infamous penal colony. Drive to the city of Nueva Gerona, where we’ll visit a maternity hospital and art school. Stroll the main boulevard, meeting with local residents and taking in cultural performances along our walk. After lunch, visit the Presidio Modelo, the prison where Fidel and Raúl Castro, along with 23 other revolutionaries, were confined following their failed attack on the Moncada barracks near Santiago de Cuba. On our return drive to the ship, we’ll stop at the Hotel El Colony if time permits. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Cayo Largo
On Cayo Largo, pay a visit to a local clinic to
discuss Cuba’s medical system with island doctors
and nurses. Then meet with researchers at a sea
turtle breeding center and endangered species
protection program. In the afternoon, you’ll have a chance to explore the island or go diving (at an additional cost), in the company of environmental guides, scientists, or a Cuban dive expert. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Cienfuegos
Sail into the port of Cienfuegos, a World Heritage
site stretched along a bay and filled with elegant
French-inspired architecture. Head into the
town center on foot, seeing palaces, schools,
churches, and residential houses. At the Graphic
Arts Workshop, get to know local artists and
learn about their lives and careers. Meet up with
musicians and singers in the afternoon and take in a musical performance. Later, return to the ship to toast our Cuban voyage at a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Cienfuegos/Miami, Florida
Disembark this morning and transfer to the
airport for our flight back to Miami.
Fabio Amador was for many years a Senior Program Officer for the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, which is dedicated to funding exploratory research around the world. He has traveled and worked extensively throughout Latin America and is presently collaborating with research projects in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Peru, El Salvador, and Madagascar. He has also traveled regularly to Cuba over the past five years on educational and scientific missions for National Geographic. As a trained archaeologist, his interest in Taino Indian culture (which spanned the Greater Antilles, including Cuba) is focused on the sacred landscape and the use of caves for ritual activity. In his role at National Geographic, Fabio used imaging and visualization technologies to provide new ways of capturing data and to document the experience of conducting research and exploration. His initiative in supporting National Geographic research and exploration projects worldwide has resulted in a workshop titled The Art of Communicating Science. Fabio uses photography, cinematography, and other multimedia tools to reach large audiences through his public lectures at universities and on expeditions, presentations at international scientific and professional symposia, publications in scholarly journals and on National Geographic’s Explorers Journal and NatGeo News Watch blogs.
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single cabin, add $4,750 in Category 1. Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Round-trip charter airfare from Miami to Havana and return from Cienfuegos is $440 per person.
Please note: the pricing above is valid for December 2017 departures and beyond when booked by March 31, 2017.
Please Note: This trip is permitted through the
people-to-people general license category authorized
by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of
Foreign Assets Control. The itinerary was designed to
provide an in-depth cultural experience with numerous
opportunities for meaningful interaction with Cubans.
Travel restrictions in Cuba, such as limits on what
may be purchased and brought back into the U.S., will be provided in your pre-departure materials. While we do our best to adhere to the itinerary listed here, traveling in Cuba requires flexibility, and changes to hotels and activities may occur.