Cuba | Past-Present-Future

CUBA I Past, Present and Future
An East to West odyssey to discover hidden treasures 

November 13 - 25, 2020


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A rare CCJ Cuba odyssey that spans the entire island from the Afro-Cuban Tahíno Indian roots in lush Baracoa on the the Eastern tip, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo; and onwards to the the lively colonial towns of Trinidad and Cienfuegos and of course the splendor of Havana in the West!

Learn about Cuba’s rich history through the music and the arts, and get the insider's perspective on the sociopolitical aspects of the cross-cultural relationship between the United States and Cuba. A true gem in CCJ’s Cuba roster, now on it’s 5th iteration, this might be the one Cuba trip you have been waiting for!

Daily Itinerary:

GUANTANAMO is famous for all the wrong reasons, and most often bypassed by travelers on the Santiago-Baracoa bus. The malnourished grid of crusty buildings might not look appealing, but employ some Sherlock-Holmes-style sleuthing and a little faltering Spanish and you will find Cuban should aplenty.* Some of Cuba’s most famous roots music, the Chengui, can be found here.

Day 1 | Home / Havana / Holguín  Upon arrival in Cuba, you will meet your Cuban guide.  After lunch en route, we head towards our hotel in Guantanamo, stopping to learn about the American occupation since 1903. Both the Cuban and US governments prohibit visiting the nearby US military base holding suspected Al-Qaida terrorists. There will be time for questions and answers. In the town of Guantanamo we visit the dance group Ballet Folkloric, a local group performing Afro-Cuban dances and music. The group has been invited to perform in numerous international countries and venues. It is a spectacular production followed by questions and answers and conversation with the dancers. We then have a private concert of Chegui music. This music is particular to the mountains in the area. Bring your dancing shoes! Upon arrival at the hotel, settle into your room and then join the rest of the group for dinner at the hotel.
Jose Martí Hotel, Guantanamo (L/D)


BARACOA on the eastern tip of the island, relishes in its isolated existence, away from the prying eyes of the rest of Cuba. This sort of geographical solitary confinement has lead to the city’s culturally unique characteristics and has preserved a very distinct way of Cuban life. In the early 19th century French planters crossed the waters from Haiti and began farming the local staples of coconut, cocoa and coffee in the mountains and the thriving economy began to slowly surface. Today, Baracoa enjoys a sleepy, rural Cuban life far removed from the more international regions of the island.

Day 2 | Baracoa Begin your first full day in Cuba with a drive along the eastern coastline to Baracoa, weaving in and out of Cuba’s tropical forest. In 1492, Columbus spotted the area from his ship and claimed Cuba for the Spanish crown. With a town center of quaint streets lined with red-tiled roofed colonial homes, many consider Baracoa to be Cuba's most enchanting Cuban town. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Baracoan settlers built three fortresses to protect the town from pirate attacks. El Castillo de Santa Bárbara, the oldest, sits high above the town, with splendid views of the bay and surrounding countryside. It has now been converted into a hotel with an absolutely beautiful view. For lunch, participate in a picnic at the El Carahual cacao plantation. After lunch take a boat ride along the Toa River to the location where two rivers come together. Here we will visit with the indigenous Indian inhabitants who live on the beachfront.  Dine on your own on local cuisine at a restaurant or beautiful paladar. A paladar is a small family-run restaurant licensed to provide meals in a private home. Here, you will taste some of the best food in Cuba as well as experience being in the intimate, warm spaces of local people. There is an optional visit to Casa de la Trova for music and dancing at the end of the evening. Hotel Castillo, Baracoa (B/L)

Day 3 | Baracoa After breakfast, explore the town with a local historian, discovering the places and spaces most dear to the Cuba people. Absorb your impressions of the tropical air, rhythm and color wafting out of the doorways you pass, laughter and conversation easily bouncing among neighbors, meeting local people along the way. After our time in the city, drive to a Kiribá Indian village to learn about the Taíno, the original indigenous inhabitants, from a well known Baracoa historian and author who will accompany our group.  By the mid-sixteenth century, the village numbers had dropped to less than a few thousand as a result of disease, mass suicides and Spanish exploitation. There will be a dance performance, conversations and interaction with the village people.  After lunch set out to visit to the Casa de la Cultura, an art gallery where the director teaches art to local youth. If time permits, spend time at Galería de Arte Eliseo Osorio, an artist co-op featuring some of the best of Cuba woodcarvings. Dinner on your own at a local restaurant or paladar. Hotel Castillo, Baracoa (B/L)


SANTIAGO de CUBA, less visited by tourists, is the island’s second largest city and the capital of the Oriente province, known for its stunning natural beauty. Santiago is the place of beginnings for the signal events and features of Cuban history including Cuban roots music.

Day 4 | Santiago de Cuba After breakfast, drive to Santiago, located along Cuba’s southeast coast. Today we will have the chance to explore this vibrant Caribbean city with a historic overview and slide presentation by a city architect and planner to help us understand the history and culture of Santiago. Santiago is the cradle of the Cuban revolution and one of the country’s most exotic and ethnically diverse cities. Upon arrival, visit the Casa de Velazquez colonial era house for a guided tour of the oldest intact house in Cuba and the home of the first governor of Cuba in the 1500’s. Here we can envision what life was like at that time. After checking into our hotel, we will gather for dinner at an outdoor restaurant. Then a late night visit to the local CDR, a neighbor group that will invite us to their homes to talk about their lives. Hotel Melia, Santiago (B/L)

Day 5 | Santiago de Cuba In the morning visit the cemetery of Santa Ifigenia, where Cuba’s national hero, José Martí rests inside an impending mausoleum. Then join the pilgrimage to El Cobre to visit El Sanctuario de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, Cuba’s most beloved and important church. The faithful come from across Cuba on pilgrimages to pay their respects and ask for protection from the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Cuba's patron saint (also known as the Black Madonna). Ernest Hemingway, whose fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea made a promise to visit the shrine if he could only land his marlin -- donated his Nobel Prize for Literature to the shrine. Experience lunch on your own at a local paladar or restaurant around the main plaza. After lunch, visit the Ugo Luisi workshop founded in 2005, to meet with students and the program's director. The school trains and provides job opportunities for unemployed youth and ensures a stable source of specialized personnel for the recovery of the historic area of the city after a devastating hurricane in Santiago. After some time spent with the students at the workshop, enjoy a walking tour through Santiago's revolutionary streets, ending at the Moncada Barracks. Here you will embark on a guided tour with a local guide and historian, recounting the story of Fidel Casto's armed attack - an event marking the beginning the Cuban Revolution. Time permitting we will end the late afternoon atop San Juan Hill, infamous for the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. Finish your day in Santiago with dinner at a local paladar and an optional evening at a dance and music venue.
Hotel Melia, Santiago (B/D)

HAVANA is the hub of one of the world’s greatest natural harbors. A showcase of the wealth, power, and sophistication of Cuba from the 16th century founding as the greatest port of New Spain. Today, it is a place of beautiful decay and the stirrings of change, along with all the best in Cuban art, music and culture.

Day 6 | Havana After breakfast, explore Santiago through a guided tour, and enjoy lunch at a Paladar La Canasta. Free time until we depart for Antonio Maceo Airport to depart for our domestic flight (#CU 471). Check-in at 6 pm. Depart for Havana by domestic flight (TBA)
Havana Libre Hotel (B/L/D)

Day 7 | Havana In the morning meet with a well-known expert on Cuban architecture and city planner. Enjoy a talk on the history of the city’s fascinating past and the outlook for the future, with room for questions and discussion at the end. Enjoy a waling tour of Old Havana by the main Cathedral and the surrounding squares.. Enjoy lunch on your own with time to explore. We meet up again in the afternoon to visit Havana’s National Museum of Fine Arts, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. A local museum guide will share the history of Cuba through its impressive art history. Next, visit the Museo de la Revolución, the former Presidential Palace where students attempted to assassinate Batista in 1957. Stop by Hotel Nacional for a drink on your way to dinner at Paladar Jardin de los Milagros. Optional exploring of the vibrant nightlife of the capital city. Havana Libre Hotel (B/D)

Day 8 | Havana After breakfast at the hotel, meet with world-renowned photographer Roberto Salas whose photographs of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are legendary. Enjoy the visit at his gallery and home, and hear about Cuba and Havana through his eyes. Salas and his Cuban-born father, Osvaldo, met Castro in 1955 and in 1959, following Castro's rise to power, the Salas' were invited by Castro himself to work for the government newspaper Revolución. Lunch on your own at a local paladar. After lunch visit the Muraleando Project and meet the students and teachers working in contemporary art. Then journey back in time by taking a ride in a convertible classic car along the Malecon and through the heart of Havana. End the day with a special dinner at El Ajibe, a one of a kind Cuban restaurant specializing in fried chicken, rice and beans! Havana Libre Hotel (B/L/D)


CIENFUEGOS, Cuba’s La Perla del Sur, the “Pearl of the South” summons travelers from around the world, drawn into its seductive melee of French Colonial spirit and architecture. A relatively young city, Cienfuegos was settled in 1819 by French and Louisianan immigrants and to this day retains much of its former charm, leading to its 2005 declaration as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

, in central Cuba, is one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean. Dating back to a time when sugar trade was the main industry in the region, it offers exquisite Spanish Colonial architecture and warm, friendly people. A day spent within Trinidad’s streets is essential to experiencing the full extent of the Cuban spirit.


Day 9 | Cienfuegos / Trinidad After breakfast, leave for Cienfuegos, the French Colonial town known as “The Pearl of the South” for its spacious, sea-misted streets and plazas. Throughout its history, ships used the surrounding bay as a refuge during storms in the Caribbean. Upon arrival head to the city’s central square to wander the artisan marketplace and view the exceptional architecture, unlike anywhere else in Cuba. Lunch on your own in Cienfuegos. Following lunch enjoy a private performance by a local choir with a reception to meet the performers afterwards. Depart for the charming town of Trinidad. Upon arrival check into the hotel and relax with a lovely dinner at Vista Gourmet Paladar.
Hotel Las Cuevas, Trinidad (B/L/D)

Day 10 | Trinidad/Havana Begin your day in Trinidad by meeting with an expert city historian to discuss the city’s preservation efforts. Walk to the Plaza Mayor, Trinidad’s central square and an UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. In the square, visit the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial, the Museum of Colonial Architecture with its elegant portico and delicate wrought-iron balustrade. In the 18th century this building was originally two homes, both owned by the sugar barons of the Sánchez Iznaga family then converted into a museum in the 19th century. Also in the square, the Museo Romántico, a historic residence once owned by a plantation owner with lavish furnishings - evidence to the wealth Cubans once held. Enjoy lunch on your own and free afternoon for a visit to the beach (Playa Ancón), or shopping. Return to Havana mid-afternoon. Farewell dinner at La Barraca (Hotel Nacional). Optional night out at Fábrica de Arte Cubano. Hotel Nacional, Havana (B/D)

Day 11 | Havana / Home Following breakfast, we bid Cuba farewell as we transfer to the airport for our flights back home. (B)


NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Cuba; to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.


INCLUDED: Cuba full time itinerary under the OFAC general category of travel "Support for the Cuban People";  in country transportation per itinerary; best available hotels  (double occupancy); full breakfast buffet daily at the hotel + lunch and dinner (B/L/D) per itinerary; Cuban English speaking local guide; CCJ trip manager; guest speakers; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials; tips for bellman and hotel staff, included meals on itinerary and bottled water on the bus.

NOT INCLUDED: International air fare to/from Havana; Cuba Entry Card, meals not on itinerary; alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local guide and driver (optional, yet customary); and Travel Protection.


TRAVEL PROTECTION: Cross Cultural Journeys recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.

Contact Cross Cultural Journeys at (800) 353-2276 to learn more about how to help protect you and your trip investment.

Please Note: To be eligible for the waiver of pre-existing medical condition exclusion, the protection plan must be purchased within15 days (Travel Basic) or 21 days (Travel Select) from the time you make your initial trip deposit. However, the plan can be purchased any time prior to departure.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries and may be changed without notice. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. If you have questions about coverage available under our plans, please review the policy or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800.228.9792 or email Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company (formerly known as Stonewall Insurance Company), 1314 Douglas Street, Suite 1400, Omaha, NE 68102. 11.17 E7N


NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Cuba; to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.

November 13 - 25, 2020


Add $695 for single supplement


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