Specialty travel provider Group IST is offering Havana to Cienfuegos, an eight day People to People exchange program of Cuba, throughout 2015. Havana to Cienfuegos is an opportunity to step back in time to a country that has been closed to Americans for nearly half a century. From the mega-yacht S/C Panorama, travelers explore the western part of the island nation famous for its culture, music, warm people, art and, of course, cigars.
Joining the program will be onboard Cuba specialists and an interpreter to facilitate in making people-to-people connections and meaningful exchanges between the American travelers and Cuban citizens. Emphasizing and promoting cultural exchange, the program includes excursions to venues such as museums, private art galleries, community centers, concerts, religious centers, schools and ecological centers. Program participants will have a chance to meet and get to know Cuban historians, artists, preservationists, religious leaders, educators, musicians and many typical Cuban citizens throughout eight days. A partial description of some of the activities arranged in Cuba follows.
On the first full day excursion to the province of Artemisa, travelers visit the UNESCO -designated Biosphere Reserve region and the eco-community of “Las Terrazas” in the mountainous area, “Sierra del Rosario”. Here, they meet with locals and learn more about life establishments in the village, including the local family doctor, nurse, clinic, an elementary school, community museum, local artists homes and studios, as well as the site of an old/colonial 18th century coffee plantation. Travelers return to Old Havana to for a walking tour of its plazas. They later visit the Quisicuaba Community to learn about Afro-Cuban culture.
The following day, travelers visit Guanahacabibes National Park, one of the country’s largest nature reserves, where they meet with the naturalists, environmentalists and locals. The visit continues to Cayo Largo, an island comprised of limestone, formed over millions of years from the remains of marine organisms. Here, they stop by a Sea Turtle Breeding Center and Endangered Species Protection program and enjoy some snorkeling with coral reef & conservation experts In Trinidad, a meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city, travelers view rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas. The group will walk through the town, sometimes referred to as the “museum city of Cuba,” with a representative of the Office of the City Historian and visit local artists in their home studios, the Museum Romantico or the Architecture Museum.
The People to People program rounds out in Cienfuegos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded by French settlers and known as the Pearl of the South. Here, visitors enjoy a walking tour of the city center with a specialist and then visit the Maroya Gallery for Folk Art, where there will be discussions and interchanges with local artists. In the last afternoon of the tour, travelers will enjoy an exchange with some Cuban artists and musicians and take some salsa classes.
On alternate weeks, the Havana to Cienfuegos itinerary is reversed .
Group IST has been issued a license by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to conduct people-to-people programs in Cuba. Note that U.S. regulations do not permit people-to-people travel to Cuba by sea, but once in Cuba U.S. travelers may travel between destinations by boat and may use the vessel while engaged in people-to-people activities.
Havana to Cienfuegos is available from $4490-$5799, depending on sail date and cabin category. Price includes seven nights on the S/C Panorama, all meals from arrival in Cuba to breakfast on day of departure, Cuban visa, mandatory Cuban medical insurance and transportation as per itinerary. For more information, please visit:http://www.groupist.com/cuba .
Group IST (International Specialty Travel) produces content-rich, original, thematic, educational and interactive travel programs that are tailor-made for organizations and groups. The company features one-of-a-kind land and waterborne venues around the world. With a staff of tourism professionals who are recognized travel experts and scholars, Group IST is passionate about its areas of specialization.