Cuba Sailing Odyssey – Gay Cultural Tour

HE Travel: Don’t miss out on this amazing adventure! Pack your bags, grab your friends, and join HE Travel to experience Cuba Sailing Odyssey – Gay Cultural Tour.

After five decades during which our Florida Straits have served as a wall instead of a water bridge, the recent announcements by the Presidents of Cuba and the United States herald the start of rapid changes to daily life in Cuba. At this momentous time we invite you to join us for a People-to-People exchange while riding aboard the S/C Panorama. See this island from a unique perspective while still being immersed in the colorful Cuban culture of art, music, food, drink and dance.

Highlights:

  • Cruise on a small (25-cabin) sailing ship around the western tip of Cuba
  • Tour fascinating colonial and revolutionary landmarks of this island nation
  • Snorkel near some of the prettiest beaches of the island
  • Visit the city and country residences of renowned author Ernest Hemingway
  • Dine in critically acclaimed restaurants and paladares (all meals within Cuba are included)
  • Relax on the spacious ship while taking in panoramic views from the water

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ITINERARY

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Note: On alternating weeks, this trip travels from Havana to Cienfuegoes, and on other weeks, the ship sails this itinerary in reverse (Cienfuegos to Havana).

Day 1: Welcome to Miami

Plan your flight to arrive in Miami this evening. There are no structured group activities this evening, in order to offer maximum flexibility for arrivals. We will stay in a comfortable hotel near Miami Airport to allow easy access to our flight the next morning. We recommend arriving by late afternoon so that you can meet up with other tour members over dinner (not included in tour price).

 

Day 2: ¡Hola Habana!

The capitol building in havana on the he travel gay sailing tour of cuba

We will gather at a designated meeting place in Miami Airport to check-in for our flight, allowing plenty of time for this process and security screening.

After the short flight to Havana and Cuban arrival formalities we will hop on a bus and enjoy our first views of Havana. We will stop in “Habana Vieja” (Old Havana) and continue our exploration with a walking tour through the historic streets between the four main colonial squares.

Our lunch will be at a local “Paladar” (privately owned restaurant) in the heart of Old Havana, “Moneda Cubana”, taking in some local delicacies and of course Cuban music.

After lunch we’ll continue on to the Cruise Ship Terminal where we will meet our local guide and board our vessel, the S/C Panorama.

In the evening we will enjoy a scrumptious meal on board the ship while being serenaded by special guest musicians, Carpe Diem, a young Cuban trio. All but one dinner will be served aboard the vessel.

 

Day 3: Hemingway, Horticulture and Fuster, oh my!

Hemingway Home Finca Virgia on the HE Travel gay tour in Cuba

Each morning we will enjoy breakfast on board the ship. After breakfast today we’ll depart for a full day tour of Havana and beyond.  We will follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, visiting his beloved home, “Finca Vigia.” This is where he worked on some of his most famous literary works such as “The Old Man and the Sea” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

After filling our  minds, we fill our stomachs at one of the finest restaurant in the area, “Finca El Divino”. This is an amazing open-air restaurant overlooking orchards and gardens in the middle of the countryside. Boasting over 104 different varieties of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs this oasis is one of the best examples of Cuban Urban Agriculture.  During our visit we will meet with the local farmers and community members to talk about the importance of having a self-reliant agricultural sector.

After lunch we travel to Jaimanita and the neighborhood artwork of Jose Fuster, one of the most famous modern Cuban artists. His work can be seen not only at his studio, but all over the surrounding neighborhood where he has put colorful tiles on his neighbors’ concrete walls. The area is now fondly referred to as “Fusterlandia”.

If you love cigars then you’ll love visiting Cuba’s largest and perhaps most renowned cigar factory, Patragas Cigar Factory, or Romeo and Juliet, which produces around 5 million of the finest cigars each year.

Enjoy some free time at the largest art and souvenir marketplace in Havana, the San Jose Art Market, or return to our ship for a little R&R.

In the evening we will head to El Guajirito where we’ll mingle with musical artists from the Buena Vista Social Club and enjoy a late dinner and show before returning to the ship.

 

Day 4: A Little Song, a Little Dance and So Long Havana

afro cuban dancer in havana cuba on the he travel gay sailing tour of cuba

After an early breakfast, we head to the home of Havana’s Compas Dance Group. We will watch as dancers, musicians and performers interpret Lillet Riviera’s choreography that merges the spirit of Spanish dances with Afro-Cuban rhythms and contemporary dance through new aesthetic codes. Female dancers not only dance, but also use percussion, using any element at hand: drumsticks, castanets, heels, wood slipper, claves, chequerés and percussive chairs.

After the performance we will visit young emerging Cuban artist Daymi, who’s artistic influence comes from Pablo Picasso and Moises Finale.

By noon we return to the boat for a “Bon Voyage” Cocktail and set sail from the Bay of Havana. We will head west along the northwestern coast of Cuba, circle the far western tip of the island, then head south through the Yucatan Channel that separates Mexico from Cuba, toward the small city of Maria La Gorda.

Our Cuba sailing ship has a powerful motor that will be used much of the time, but when timing and wind conditions allow, the Captain will unfurl the sails for the majestic feeling of being silently propelled by the wind!

During our sailing we will enjoy a scrumptious lunch in the classy, spacious dining room surrounded by large windows providing beautiful views. In our free time we can read a book in the lounge or relax on one of many sundecks.

Dinner will be served on board the ship while sailing to Maria La Gorda.

 

Day 5: An Education in Rural Cuba

beach at la bajada on the he travel gay sailing tour of cuba

Today’s adventure includes a ride via tenders and a visit to the community of La Bajada. As part of our People-to-People program we’ll visit the local school and meet Cuban children and their teachers. We will learn about and discuss the differences between Cuban and American educational systems, particularly in rural areas of each country.

After saying goodbye to our new friends at the school we will head to  “Guanahacabibes” National Park, one of the country’s largest nature reserves, which also boasts classification as an official Biosphere Reserve. The peninsula was one of the last refuges of aboriginals fleeing from the Spanish conquistadors and also holds some 140 archaeological sites linked to the life of aborigines, who were known as Guanahatabeyes.

Lunch today will be a BBQ on the beach with some time for a swim before returning to the boat.

Dinner will be at sea while sailing for Cayo Largo.

 

Day 6: Doctors within Borders

coral and fish in eilat israel

We’ll disembark in the late morning and head to the local clinic in Cayo Largo to discuss the medical system in Cuba and engage with the local doctors and nurses.

Next we’ll head to the Turtle Breeding Center and Endangered Species Protection program for a visit. We’ll also get a chance to meet the locals and discuss their particular way of life on this isolated Key.

We will enjoy an early lunch at the Cayo Largo Marina, then do some snorkeling at the coral reef. After snorkeling we will have free time at Playa Sirena Beach, considered to be one of the five most beautiful beaches in Cuba.

Dinner will be on the ship as we spend the night sailing off Cuba’s southern coast to Casilda, the port for nearby Trinidad.

 

Day 7: “Museum City of Cuba” – Trinidad

beatiful rooftops in Trinidad Cuba

After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll disembark for our excursion in Trinidad, a meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city, with rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas. It’s no wonder that it’s referred to as the “Museum City of Cuba.”

Our tour will include a walk through the town with a representative of the Office of the City Historian to give us insights on this amazing city. We will visit local artists, including talented young female artists, then continue to home studios, the Museum Romantico or the Architecture Museum.

Enjoy lunch together in this most picturesque city, after which there will be free time to walk around this classic colonial town.

Dinner will be served on the ship this evening as we set sail for Cienfuegos.

 

Day 8: 100 Fires

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Located about 250 km (150 miles) from Havana on the Southern tip of Cuba, Cienfuegos is the only city in Cuba to be founded by French settlers. In 2005 the historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will get a chance to explore the city and see some amazing architectural sites such as the Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, the Ferrer Palace, the former lyceum, and a few key houses.

Cienfuegos is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, cleanliness and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century.  We’ll participate in a walking tour of the city center visiting the Graphic Arts Workshop where we will meet local artists. Our next stop will be the local open farmers market to see where local Cubans buy fruit, vegetables and meat.

All produce in the market is sold in Cuban Pesos, and our guide will explain the parallel economies of the Peso, used for most transactions among Cubans, and the CUC, which is the currency that international visitors obtain when exchanging US and Canadian dollar, the Euro and other currencies. As an example, we can visit neighboring Peso and CUC department stores on Cienfuegos’ main street. Comparing similar products such as fans, one can see that everything in the Peso store is made in Cuba, while most items in the CUC store are imported.

Lunch will be at a local restaurant, Los Laurelos, where we will enjoy not only excellent food, but also Cuban music and a little Salsa lesson as well. We’ll engage with the musicians and singers, young and old, and enjoy a performance by the Chorus of Cienfuegos, awarded with the title of “Best Chorus in the Country” two years in a row.

We will return to the ship for our Farewell Dinner and a relaxing night with our new friends.

 

Day 9: Homeward Bound

After breakfast on board, we will transfer to Havana Airport for the return flight to Miami.

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PRICE

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DATE

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