Ever Wanted to See Cuba? You Can with These Cruises
The S/C Panorama yacht will sail tourists around Cuba. (Courtesy: Group IST)
Cuba, that exotic yet forbidden Caribbean fruit, has long sat so close, yet so far from American travelers’ reach. Finally, in 2011, the U.S. government reinstated its “people-to-people” program, welcoming a wave of new (though often pricey) travel options for U.S. vacationers. They can now explore the island nation on eye-opening, education-based trips focused on cultural exchange.
Visitors can sign up for guided tours with licensed travel companies. The itineraries are jam-packed with cultural encounters with local community leaders, cigar-makers, musicians, merchants, and more. A handful of travel providers are also chartering vessels to navigate the tropical isle both by land and by sea, from its faded colonial cities to its far-flung coastal isles. Caribbean cruising has never sounded so rewarding.
Trinidad, Cuba (Courtesy: Group IST)
Specialty travel provider Group IST has just announced its seven-night, Havana-to-Cienfuegos voyage around Cuba. Travelers will sail aboard the 46-passenger S/C Panorama yacht (owned by Variety Cruises), which is equipped with billowing sails, a duo of bars, a sundeck, and a swimming platform. The Panorama will sail from historic Old Havana to the pretty city of Cienfuegos (aka the “Pearl of the South”), with stops at the Spanish colonial city Trinidad, Guanahacabibes National Park, and the limestone isle of Cayo Largo.
The itinerary is supported by interpreters and Cuba experts (historians, religious leaders, artists, etc.) who engage with guests at an array of museums, religious institutions, schools, community centers, and more. Excursions might include city walking tours, art gallery visits, and a sea turtle encounter at a local breeding center.
Group IST’s guided tours include chartered roundtrip flights from Miami to Cuba; all meals, activities, accommodations, and transportation; Cuban visas; and travel medical insurance. Book one of eight sailing dates between Dec. 6, 2014, and March 28, 2015; rates start from $4,490/person, plus port taxes of $375/person. groupist.com/cuba
The MV Louis Cristal. (Courtesy: Cuba Cruise)