Cuba| The Musical Heart of Cuba

Join CCJ and  renowned percussionist Carol Steele on an exploration through the diverse music and dance that make Cuba extraordinary!

Dates: October 5 – 15, 2017

Cost: $5,775 (Double Occupancy)

Join renowned percussionist Carol Steele and Cross Cultural Journeys on an exciting People to People learning journey as we explore the colorful, vibrant history and culture of Cuba through meeting with the local people. Discover elegant, exuberant Havana: its friendly citizens, contemporary artists, exceptional architecture, music, and colorful outdoor markets. It will surprise you with its richness and depth of culture. Travel outside the area of Havana to the rural biosphere planned community of Las Terrazas, to French colonial Cienfuegos, the bustling Spanish colonial town of Trinidad, and the city of poets and bridges, Matanzas. Enjoy music and dance everywhere as an expression of the soul of the Cuban people. Mingle with renown musicians at local performances as you meet local people who welcome visitors with friendly smiles, laughter and conversation. Spend time with well-known and also up-and-coming contemporary artists in their studios.

Daily Itinerary:

Day 1 | Thursday, October 5 | Miami / Santa Clara Upon arrival in Cuba, meet your Cuban guide and drive to your hotel. On the way, your guide will show you the historical memorial to Che Memorial called  Tren Blindado, the lonely train wreck where Che Guevara and his men blew up and broke the back of Batista’s defenses.  After lunch at a local restaurant, we will head to visit Los Piquetes, a Community Arts Center where local Cuban elders maintain traditional instruments for Danzón. Danzón is the official musical genre and dance of Cuba which evolved from the traditional Cuban dance, contradanza. After the presentation we will stroll around the square, see the highlights and have some free time, before getting on the bus and heading to Los Canayes Hotel. Dinner will be at the buffet at the hotel. Santa Clara Hotel (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.


Day 2 | Friday, October 6 | Trinidad / Cienfuegos After enjoying breakfast at the hotel we will drive a short while to Trinidad to meet with a local historian who will give us a walking tour of the colonial city and the artist studios that fill the streets and make Trinidad so unique. We will have the opportunity to visit local graphic arts studios and artists in their homes. Lunch at a local paladar. After lunch we will have some free time to explore, then a dance class to practice your Cuban rhythms. On the way out of town we will visit a pottery studio and meet with the artists there.  Check into the Hotel Jagua then dinner will be a traditional pig roast.  Cienfuegos Hotel (B/L/D)


Day 3 | Saturday, October 7 | Cienfuegos After breakfast we head to the Grafic Arts Studio to meet with some of the students and artists who are working hard to create new pieces. We will explore the main square of the town and the beautiful french influenced buildings that line the plaza. Then, we go to the artisan market along the promenade where we can have lunch on our own. In the afternoon we are invited to a private performance with local folkloric group, RumbaLaye. There will be a question and answer session following, where you are welcome to ask questions about the traditional music, instruments or dance moves, or anything else that comes to mind. Dinner will be a local paladar. A paladar is a small family-run restaurant licensed to provide meals in a private home.  Cienfuegos Hotel (B/D)


MATANZAS, sometimes called the Venice of Cuba, is home to seventeen bridges that cross its three rivers.  It is also affectionately called the Athens of Cuba, due to it reputation as a center for for poets, culture, and Afro-Cuban folklore.


Day 4 | Sunday, October 8 | Matanzas Today we depart from Cienfuegos to Matanzas after breakfast, driving north towards the lush countryside to the small town on a wide bay of Matanzas.  We will have special lunch in a private home,  hosted by a family of musicians and dancers. After, we will take a tour of Matanzas to see the many famous bridges and the view from the bay, before continuing out to Varadero. Check into our hotel.  Dinner will be at the hotel. Varadero Hotel (B/L/D)


Day 5 | Monday, October 9 | Matanzas After breakfast at the hotel, we return to Mantazas for a visit to a local senior center. We will hear stories from the elders of how Cuba has changed, from pre-revolution, through the initial restructuring and what kind of future they see for the island nation.  Next we will head to the San Severino Castle. Construction of San Severino started in 1693 by the Spanish Crown, but was not completed until 1745. Occupied and nearly destroyed by the British in 1762, its current reincarnation was used as a prison from 1821 up until the 1980s. Now a museum, it houses a small gallery dedicated to it’s history and the story of slavery in Cuba. We will return to the hotel for lunch, then enjoy an afternoon to read, explore on your own or relax. Dinner will be at the hotel. Varadero Hotel (B/L/D)


HAVANA is a bustling hub on one of the world’s greatest natural harbors. A showcase of the wealth, power, and sophistication of Cuba from the time of its 16th-century founding, to becoming the greatest port of New Spain. Today, it is a center of beautiful decay and the stirrings of change, among all the best in Cuban art, music and culture.


Day 6 | Tuesday, October 10 | Havana After breakfast, head towards the capital city of Havana. At the outskirts of the city we will stop at the El Morro Fort, which guards the entrance of the bay, to take photos of panoramic views of Havana.  We will continue on a short driving tour of Havana with a pass through the Plaza de al Revolution before stopping for lunch as a local restaurant. Then check in to your conveniently located hotel, before a inspiring concert by a a women-only ensemble. Dinner on your own. There will be an optional visit to the Casa de la Musica at night. Havana Hotel (B/L)


Day 7 | Wednesday, October 11 | Havana After breakfast we begin our day with a talk on the history of the city’s fascinating past as told to us by an expert architect and city planner.  Then explore Old Havana on a walking guided tour of the main Cathedral and the surrounding squares. After lunch on  your own, we will visit the beautiful Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes’ contemporary section where your guide will explain the history of Cuba through its art.  We will return to the hotel to meet with a traditional Cigar Roller who will teach you the art and science behind what makes the Cuba cigar the best in the world. The afternoon will conclude with a private Jazz concert, with an opportunity to speak with the musicians when the music has concluded. Dinner is on your own.  Havana Hotel (B)


Day 8 | Thursday, October 12 | Havana We start our day with a lecture from a local economist on the constantly changing US/Cuba relations. Then, we are invited to attend a private rehearsal in an old synagogue with MalPaso, a  collaborative experiment in contemporary dance making. MalPaso has traveled all over the world to present their unique dance styles and choreography. Lunch will be at El Aljibe, famous for its traditional Cuban cuisine. In the afternoon, meet with world-renowned photographer Roberto Salas whose photographs of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are legendary. 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. Dinner will be on your own. Optional visit to the nightclubs, Tropicana or Jazz Club.  Havana Hotel (B/L)


Day 9 | Friday, October 13 | Havana We stop at Las Terrazas, an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and ecological planned community focusing on sustainable living and environmentally friendly farming practices. We will visit the artists that infuse the place with imagination and spectacle. Explore this creative green space with a walking tour of the town by a local ranger. Lunch will be a Casa Campesine and your eating experience will be enhanced by the accompanying music of Los Polos. To end your day in Las Terrazas, enjoy a locally grown coffee at Marias, before retuning to Havana. Dinner is on your own. Havana Hotel (B/L)


Day 10 | Saturday, October 14 | Havana In the morning, take the local ferry across to the island of Regla, where we visit the Church of the Seafarers with the Black Madonna, their patron saint. You can talk with the Santeria priestesses outside the church, learning about the rich roots of an African tradition very much alive in Cuba and serving as a mainstay of faith in their everyday lives. Lunch will be at the El Divino Pizza, then you will have the afternoon free to explore old Havana on your own. We will have a farewell dinner, then enjoy a evening show at the Melia Chohiba.  Havana Hotel (B/L/D)


Day 11 | Sunday, October 15 | Havana/Miami Before your departure home, spend a few hours free for any last minute adventures before we bid Cuba farewell. Transfer to the airport for our flight to Miami, then onward flights home. (B)

Journey Leader


Carol Steele has been traveling and playing music in Cuba for more than 25 years and  introducing the island to fellow travelers for 15 years. Carol exudes  enthusiasm for music, and for the culture, history and people of Cuba. A renowned percussionist, Carol has performed or recorded with Peter Gabriel, Steve Winwood, Joan Baez, Tears for Fears, Bette Midler, and many other well-known artists.  The first American women to perform with Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, (one of Cuba’s most famous folkloric groups), she played and sang on tour in the United States with Lazaro Ros and Amelia Pedroso, Afro-Cuban folkloric singers. After years of careful study, Carol has been initiated into the Regla de Ocha, the traditional Santeria rituals. She enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge about the history of the religion, music, and art as a form of prayer.


Journey Details


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: In country transportation per itinerary; first class accommodations in Havana and best available in the provinces (double occupancy); full breakfast buffet daily at the hotel plus 8 lunches and 6 dinners (B/L/D per itinerary); Cuban English speaking local guide; 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, Cuban visa, departure tax and medical insurance while in Cuba; meals not on itinerary, 2 lunches and 4 dinners (B/L/D per 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


Dates: October 5 – 15, 2017


Cost: $5,775 (Double Occupancy)

Add: $1000 (Single Supplement)



Our Team is Here to Help

Call: (800) 353-2276



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