Ponant Yacht Cruises and Expeditions is inviting travelers to be among the first Americans to experience Cuba by sea.
The nine-day people-to-people program – sailing from March 25-April 2, 2017 – will feature specially designed excursions ashore delving into architectural preservation; artistic traditions and the daily life of the Cuban people.
Travelers will enjoy interactions with historians, preservationists, artists and local residents all while unpacking just once during their stay aboard the three-masted, 64-guest sailing yacht Le Ponant.
The journey beings with a flight from Miami to Santiago de Cuba via Havana, after which travelers will embark Le Ponant.
On the first full day of the program; they will explore Santiago; one of the island’s oldest cities, known for its architecture and artistic and cultural scenes, which they will discuss with some of the city’s foremost experts.
The next day at sea will be spent attending lectures, enjoying the ship’s amenities; and enjoying dinner at a local restaurant upon arrival in Trinidad.
Day Four brings travelers to Casilda, a recently-named UNESCO World Heritage Site.
They’ll embark on a walking tour of the city’s cobblestoned streets, led by the Office of the City Historian representatives.
Highlights will include the Plaza Mayor, Museo Romantico, the Architecture Museum, the church of the Convent of San Francisco and Plaza Santa Ana.
Afterwards, they’ll meet with an owner of a free-enterprise Cuban bed and breakfast and learn about this relatively new form of independent business on the island as well as the owner’s family history.
Finally, they’ll explore the belief system of the people of Trinidad alongside practitioners – and then continue to the Santander Family Ceramics Workshop and Studio to meet with local artisans.
On the fifth day, Le Ponant will depart for Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) and Playa Giron where travelers will learn from a Cuban perspective about the historical events that took place there.
They will also spend time at the Korimacao Community Arts Cultural Project; which provides free art, music, theater, dance and poetry to young artists.
After lunch at a paladar, travelers will visit a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Gran Parque Natural Montemar which features Cuba’s largest and most diverse wilderness.
Back in the city, travelers will pay a visit to the Benny More Art School to meet with students and teachers of music, dance and art.
The next stop is Cayo Largo, a limestone islet of white sand, teeming coral reefs, and ubiquitous turtles, cranes and flamingos.
Travelers will meet with local management to learn about tourism’s role in the Cuban economy and scientists involved in coral reef production.
Afterwards they’ll visit the homes of locals as well as a sea turtle breeding center and endangered species protection program.
The seventh day at Punta Frances will be one full of swimming and snorkeling at the Parque Nacional Marino de Punta Frances Punta Pedernales, a marine conservation area established in 1978.
Travelers will enjoy conversation with Cubans concerned with preserving the natural environment and fragile ecosystem of the island.
The next day will be spent at sea reflecting on the voyage followed by a short day of exploration in Havana before departing on the flight back to Miami.
The $8,190 package includes the cruise, charter flights, welcome and farewell cocktail receptions, all meals and open bar aboard the ship, several meals ashore, complete program of tours and excursions, enrichment program of lectures and discussions led by expert Franklin Knight and professional cruise staff, pre-departure materials, baggage handling and airport transfers, visa for U.S. citizens, port taxes and charges, and gratuities to shipboard personnel, porters, guides, and drivers.