When Peggy Goldman fell into a chance 36 years ago to organize a journey to Israel for 200 Holocaust survivors, her lack of experience in the industry didn’t deter her ambition to transform lives through the power of travel.
That serendipitous event resulted in the founding of Friendly Planet Travel and ultimately Peggy’s early connection with Cuba as an emerging dynamic travel destination. In fact, Friendly Planet became one of the first U.S. tour companies to obtain a people-to-people license for Cuba travel, back in September 2011.
Today, Peggy’s early insight into Cuba’s potential for transformative travel has paid off. Friendly Planet handles thousands of annual journeys to Cuba for people seeking to explore the island’s colorful culture and off-the-beaten path treasures.
Friendly Planet’s relatively long experience operating on the island translates into a curated adventure for each traveler – they benefit from the relationships Peggy has cultivated with the Cubans, which is vital in a country dominated by traditional ways where independent travel can still be difficult and confusing.
Friendly Planet’s focus on the People-to-People aspects of learning and cultural engagement in travel makes it a perfect fit for Cuba, where the island nation’s infrastructure and relative isolation demands something more akin to an immersive “travel” experience rather than to a “tourism” experience that is more common among nearby Caribbean destinations.
The travel company’s offerings, both land-based and by cruise ship, bring travelers in contact with Cubans and their way of life: such as visiting an artist in their Old Havana studio, dropping by a performing arts school in Santa Clara, or meeting an agriculturists at a “coincidental” farm in Cardenas. But they also include all the must-see sites and even insider access to less tourist trodden areas for good measure: riding in a vintage car through the streets of Havana, embarking on a city tour of Santigo De Cuba on the eastern side of the island, basking on Varadero, the country’s premier beach, or taking a private cigar rolling lesson.
Feature for feature, Friendly Planet offers some of the best value tours to Cuba in the industry. A typical tour consists of a small group of up to 24 travelers, led by a local, English speaking guide, and includes flights, high quality accommodations and 24/7 support. All of their exceptional journeys to Cuba are compliant with US travel rules. And they have a variety of Cuba tours to suit any budget or travel style.
Here are Friendly Planet’s Cuba offerings: