Cuba by Land & Sea: Cultural Heritage & Natural Wonders


Cuba by Land & Sea: Cultural Heritage & Natural Wonders



7 months ago


11 Days


January - April


USD 9,500.00 per person


Mar 22, 2017
Cuba by Land & Sea: Cultural Heritage & Natural Wonders
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Cruise back in time to a place rooted in culture and history, where the people are as warm and welcoming as the climate. This 11-day program spends three days in Havana, and seven days exploring Cuba’s southern coast aboard the sailing yacht Panorama II. This extraordinary people-to-people visit to Cuba introduces you to locals who are making a difference in their fields to gain a rich and rewarding understanding of this multifaceted country. It’s a fascinating time to visit Cuba, as it is on the cusp of undergoing significant and rapid change.

This Cuba cruise, led by National Geographic naturalists, guides and guest hosts, offers an authentic people-to-people interaction with opportunities for meaningful exchanges with locals. Explore Old Havana and experience the renovation of its historic architecture. Land at the site of the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion, also an ecologically important area, where you will hear the stories of the battle and see photographs and artifacts, including a Cuban fighter plane and historic vessels. Snorkel in Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park, the crown jewel of the Caribbean, with some of the finest coral reefs in the world. Tour Trinidad, the meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city, as well as Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the South with its cluster of Neoclassical structures. The cultural people-to-people visits paired with the trademark National Geographic exploration of Cuba’s marine ecology will surely be an experience of a lifetime.


Rates vary by season and cabin. Please see website for full details on rates.


Day 1: Fly From Miami To Havana & Embark
Havana, Cuba

Meet at Miami International Airport in the morning for your flight to Havana. On arrival, transfer to the historical Hotel Nacional, located on the waterfront where you will stay for three nights. The Nacional, a Havana landmark, opened in 1930 and over the decades has hosted a remarkable number of entertainers, writers, athletes and world leaders. This afternoon, explore Old Havana on foot. Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site founded by the Spanish in 1519 is of vital importance to Cuba’s history. It is a treasure trove of historic architecture and expansive plazas, and also a center for Cuba’s arts and culture. Walk to four of the great squares: the Plaza de la Catedral, the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza San Francisco and the Plaza Vieja. Meet with Cubans who are playing a vital role in preserving this area for future generations. Enjoy a drive along the Malecón, the atmospheric esplanade that runs along the Straits of Florida waterfront—a place where Cubans enjoy walking, fishing and socializing. Dinner is at the hotel.


MEALS: lunch and dinner

Days 2-3: Havana, Cuba
Havana, Cuba

Over the next two days there will be a full program of people-to-people visits with opportunities for you to choose among the programs that interest you most. On each of these visits, you will meet with Cubans who are making a difference in their fields, and you’ll develop a rich understanding of life in Cuba today and the forces that have shaped it. Among the choice of people-to-people excursions: Get a perspective on Castro’s revolution at the city’s history museums. Visit a superb dance group or an extravagant art space. Wander through Ernest Hemingway’s estate at Finca Vigía. Visit a Cuban cigar factory. Learn about environmental education projects at the Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez. Or visit an auto workshop where inventive mechanics repair classic American cars.

Enjoy several meals in some of Havana’s best paladares, or privately owned restaurants, which have developed a deserved reputation for innovative cuisine. And on one evening hear the signature rhythms of Cuba at a music hall with the chance to meet the musicians. There is surely no better place anywhere for music than Havana, and its rich traditions—seemingly every Cuban plays a musical instrument—have been celebrated all over the world. Musical styles include son (made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club), salsa, rhumba and a variety of Afro-Cuban rhythms.


MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4: Embark Panorama Ii
Cienfuegos, Cuba

Enjoy a final morning to exploring Havana, with people-to-people visits. After lunch, you will travel by land to the beautiful city of Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s south coast, where you will embark Panorama II. Get settled into your home for the next seven nights, and have a welcome dinner aboard ship.


MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 5: Bay Of Pigs
Bay of Pigs, Cuba

This morning finds us at the Bay of Pigs, an ecologically important area that became known worldwide when the 1961 U.S.-backed invasion by Cuban exiles was rapidly and thoroughly defeated by the Cuban revolutionary government, whose forces were led by Fidel Castro. Visit the museum that recounts the history of the battle, with photographs and artifacts that include a Cuban fighter plane and vessels. We’ll meet with people who will tell us about what transpired and its meaning to Cubans. The bay lies along the Zapata Peninsula and the Zapata Swamp National Park, and have a chance to explore the area in search of its renowned birdlife, famously including the world’s smallest bird, the endemic bee hummingbird, along with the endemic Cuban trogon (Cuba’s national bird), La Sagra's flycatcher, Cuban green woodpecker and more. Meet with experts who will explain the vitally important role the area plays in the area’s natural history—it has been compared to the Everglades. NOTE: The visit to the Bay of Pigs is pending permission from Cuban officials, and this portion of the itinerary is subject to change.


MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 6: Cayo Largo
Cayo Largo del Sur, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba

This beautiful cay is home to diverse marine ecosystems and a local community that serves the primarily European and Canadian visitors who come for its snorkeling and diving. This morning, have a people-to-people visit to the local clinic to discuss Cuba’s medical system with local doctors and nurses. Then visit a sea turtle breeding center and endangered species protection program. In the afternoon you’ll have a chance to snorkel or, at additional cost, dive on the coral reef, in the company of environmental guides and scientists.


MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 7: Trinidad
Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

A UNESCO World Heritage site and Cuban national monument, Trinidad is a splendid and meticulously preserved colonial city, perhaps Cuba’s most beautiful. It occupies a spectacular setting on a hill overlooking the Caribbean, with a backdrop of green mountains. Founded in 1514 by the conquistador Diego Velázquez, it has rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas. Seemingly every building has an intriguing history. This morning, walk through the town with a representative of the Office of the City Historian, interacting with residents along the way. There will be stops for visits to local artists, including young female artists who through their art are raising the status of women; to home studios; and to the Municipal Historical Museum, located in a restored mansion just off the main square, the Romantic Museum with its 19th-century furnishings, or the Museum of Architecture.


MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Days 8-9: Gardens Of The Queen
Gardens of the Queen Marine Park, Cuba

Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park is one of the crown jewels of the Caribbean—a place of transcendent importance to the marine ecology of Cuba and the world. Its significance is well recognized by Cubans, who have extended protection to large areas of the waters and cays, and by naturalists worldwide. Its coral reefs are among the finest in the world, and we’ll have two days to learn about this unique habitat, meeting with ecologists who are working to describe and preserve the “Gardens.” You’ll have chances to snorkel and (at additional cost) dive in these prolific waters, and to see some of the greatest diversity of corals, fish and other creatures to be found anywhere, alongside Cuban dive experts and scientists who are working to preserve and protect this unique habitat. There will also be opportunities to walk on some of the islands in search of birds including ospreys, frigatebirds, spoonbills, pelicans and many other seabirds, and to swim in the azure waters. NOTE: The visit to the Gardens of the Queen is pending permission from Cuban officials, and this portion of the itinerary is subject to change.


MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 10: Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos, Cuba

In the early afternoon arrive in Cienfuegos, Cuba’s “Pearl of the South” and a UNESCO World Heritage site, and spend the rest of the day exploring. Columbus is said to have been here in 1494, on his second voyage to the New World, and the area was subsequently a haven for pirates and smugglers. French settlers arrived in 1819, and the city retains a distinct liveliness and sophistication. We’ll explore the town center on foot, visiting the Graphic Arts Workshop for discussions and exchanges with local artists. Among places of particular interest that you’ll see are the Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, the Ferrer Palace, the former lyceum and some residential houses. Enjoy a people-to-people visit with musicians and singers, young and old, and enjoy a presentation and exchange with the internationally known, award-winning Cienfuegos Choir. A farewell dinner is then served aboard the ship.


MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 11: Disembark Cienfuegos & Fly To Miami
Cienfuegos, Cuba

Disembark this morning and transfer to either Cienfuegos or Santa Clara airport for your flight to Miami, connecting with flights home.


MEALS: breakfast


  • All accommodations (three nights in hotel in Havana and seven nights aboard ship); meals indicated; people-to-people visits; services of Lindblad Expeditions’ leader, naturalist staff and expert guides;
  • use of Zodiacs, snorkeling equipment and wetsuits; entrance fees; all port charges and service taxes.


Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the captain's discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

*This Cuba cruise itinerary also runs in reverse from Cienfuegos to Havana.

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