In the meantime, you might consider our “The Best of Cuba” tour! Click here to learn more about our 9-day Cuba tour including Havana, Cienfuegos, Camaguey & Holguin!
|Itinerary at a glance||Tour Highlights||Your tour includes|
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Arrive in Montego Bay (Jamaica)
After an independently booked flight, arrive in Montego Bay and transfer to your all-inclusive, beach front resort (voucher provided). The balance of your day is at leisure.
Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay (D)
Montego Bay (Jamaica)
After breakfast, meet your Tour Director for an orientation briefing. Afterwards, you will tour the Hampden Rum Estate and enjoy some shopping. The afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy your resort’s amenities. (B,L,D)
Montego Bay / Cuba Cruise
This morning, transfer to the pier where you’ll embark on your exciting Cuba cruise. This afternoon enjoy a Welcome Briefing where you will learn about Cuba’s culture and history. You may also enjoy an in-depth discussion on what makes the Cuban language different from its Latin American neighbors.
Celestyal Crystal Cruise Ship (B,D)
This afternoon, enjoy a “Rum Tasting” briefing and get a deeper look into Cuba’s fascinating national drink with a taste of some of the country’s finest rums. Afterwards, learn how to salsa with experts to take you through all the salsa steps. This evening, learn how to Rumba. Spend the first 15 minutes of the class learning the steps and then turn loose on the dance floor! (B,L,D)
This afternoon, find out how the country’s beloved “Habanos” are produced! Learn the story behind Cuban Cigars through a briefing with an expert. Afterwards watch an informative documentary about Cuba. This evening, it’s time to Cha Cha Cha! (B,L,D)
This afternoon enjoy a panoramic tour which includes a photo stop at the famed Old Capital Building, a drive past Revolution Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, the Parque Central (Central Park), and the Gran Teatro de Havana. Stop at Revolution Square, which features the Jose Marti Memorial, the National Library, and the Revolution Palace, for some free time and photos. Continue with a drive past some of Old Havana’s most important buildings, the University of Havana and its escalinata (stairway) and the Alma Mater statue, La Rampa. Pass the Coppelia ice cream parlor, the Yara movie theater, and the Habana Libre Hotel. End the tour at San Jose Market for more free time to explore the market’s unique shops and hospitable vendors. (B,L,D)
Cuba Cruise: Havana
This morning, continue exploring Havana. Old Havana and its fortifications are a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was founded in 1519 by the Spanish, and by the 17th century, it had becoe one of the Caribbean’s main centers for ship-building. Visit the Fine Arts Museum and the famed “Museo de la Revolución” (The Museum of the Revolution). Housed in the former Presidential Palace, the museum is devoted to the revolutionary war of the 1950s and to the country’s pst-1959 history. Following the Museo de la Revolución, make a stop to marvel at some of the outdoor installations of legendary Cuban ceramist and graphic artist, Jose Fuster, a pioneer of Cuban visual art.
Return to the Celestyal Crystal for a brief discussion of the vibrant visual art scene in Cuba including Havana’s incredible museums and outdoor installations. Influenced by both Latin America and Europe, Cuba’s vibrant culture and the arts are the core to the country’s authenticity and to the lifestyle of its people. This evening, enjoy a selection of Cuban dances and live Cuban music by the “Latin Souls” band. Learn the steps for the first hour, then dance the rest of the night away! (B,L,D)
Cuba Cruise: Day at Sea
This morning, enjoy a “El Ajiaco” Cultural Briefing. This hearty Cuban stew has been eaten on the island since the 1500s! It’s a mix of chicken, pork spare ribs, corn, malanga (yellow taro), plantains, yucca, Cuban boniato and pumpkin! Afterwards, enjoy a cooking demonstration and discover some of the many gems of Cuban cuisine. Learn how to take fresh ingredients and create incomparable tastes that burst with the flavors of Cuba. The chef will show you how some of the most popular Cuban festive dishes are prepared! This evening, learn how to do the mambo! The mambo is a fast ballroom dance of Cuban origin. It’s rhythmically similar to the rumba and cha-cha-cha, but its pattern of steps is more complex. Don’t worry, though–expert guides are ready to assist! (B,L,D)
Cuba Cruise: Cienfuegos
This morning, enjoy a city tour of Cienfuegos, a 19th century planned city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. “The Pearl of the South”, this colonial gem was founded in 1819. Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba, Cienfuegos is at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, mango, tobacco, and coffee production area. The town first developed in the neoclassical style and while it became more eclectic as it grew, Cienfuegos still retained a harmonious overall townscape. Stop at the Graphic Society of Cienfuegos and meet with local artists and view their prints – the society is beloved by the people of Cienfuegos for its programs for children with special needs. Continue to Project Trazos Libres where artist Santiago Hermes Martinez converted his family home into an art collective in 2009 to support local artists and collaborate with them. Get ready to view unique handicrafts, murals, photographs, and traditional costumes. Enjoy a panoramic view of Cienfuegos before visiting the magnificent Teatro Thomas Terry. Built between 1887 and 1889 to honor Venezuelan industrialist Thomás Terry, this 950-seat opera house and theater is decorated with Carrara marble and hand-carved Cuban hardwoods.
Return to the Celestyal Crystal for an informative documentary about Cuba. This evening, learn how to make a real mojito and learn the history of his fabulous and refreshing cocktail. Cuban mixologists will share the rituals, stories, and urban myths behind the best Cuban cocktails. Enjoy a farewell drink and an opportunity to dance during the last fiesta! (B,L,D)
Cuba Cruise: Montego Bay/Depart Montego Bay
This morning, arrive in Montego Bay and disembark. The day is at your leisure. Please make your own way to the airport in time for your independently booked departure flight. (B)
When you step aboard the Celestyal Crystal, you enter a world where modern technology meets the grand era of ocean travel. With nine passenger decks, multiple restaurants and bars, a variety of entertainment amenities and so much more, the Crystal will keep you comfortable while exploring Cuba.
Celestyal Crystal Cruise Cabins
Features bathroom with shower, air conditioning, telephone, safety box, and hair dryer.
Features bathroom with shower, air conditioning, telephone, safety box, and hair dryer.
Features bathroom with shower, air conditioning, telephone, safety box, hair dryer, and porthole.
To enhance and make your visit to Cuba more complete and memorable, you tour director will offer optional tours. Additional optional tours may be added for your enjoyment, and the optional tours listed below may not be available on all departure dates. Please note that you will register and pay for your optional tours while you are on your trip (not in advance) unless otherwise noted.
Tropicana Cabaret ($149 USD)
Enjoy the oldest cabaret show in Havana! With high energy dances, elaborate costumes, and a beautiful venue this is one show you won’t want to miss. The show takes place under the night sky surrounded by royal palms and other tropical plants (weather permitting).
Tropicana Cabaret ($149 USD)
The Legends – Buena Vista Social Club Tribute ($110 USD)
Experience a high-energy show featuring fantastic costumes and dancing, and outstanding music.
City Tour at Night with Dinner ($105 USD)
NOTE ON THIS LAND ONLY PACKAGE
Given the ease of finding flights to Montego Bay from all over the US and Canada, smarTours is not providing airfare to/from Jamaica. You have the flexibility to use miles, points, arrive early, or stay later.
NOTE ON TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURE
Please note that the tourism infrastructure in Cuba is more limited than what you might be accustomed to. On occasion, it may be necessary to make changes to the itinerary while the tour is in progress due to circumstances beyond the control of smarTours and our local partner. Please keep this perspective in mind in advance of and during your tour to this very special country.
Your cruise ship will return to Montego Bay at approximately 8:00am. Please allow 6 hours between the arrival time, and your independently booked flight departure time to ensure you do not miss your flight. A cab ride from the port to the airport in Montego Bay is approximately 45 minutes. Please note there is a departure tax of $35 USD when flying out of Jamaica which is usually collected by the airlines through passenger tickets.
PASSPORT, VISA, AND OTHER DOCUMENTATION
The following documents and steps are required for legal travel to Cuba sponsored by smarTours under a general license for people-to-people travel (Educational Activities – CFR 515.565), where each traveler follows a full time schedule of activities involving meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba to learn about their unique culture. The following information applies to U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, except for Cuban-born U.S. citizens.
A valid passport is required for your cruise. You will need your passport and your Cuban visa to disembark at every port of call in Cuba during this voyage.
For US passport holders, passport must be valid for 6 months after travel. Canadian passport holders, passport validity of 1 month from the last day of travel is required when traveling to Cuba. A visa is not required for US or Canadian passport holders for travel to Jamaica.
If you are traveling with a non-Canadian or US passport, please check with your local Cuban Consulate for any specific requirements.
You will obtain your Cuban visa from the reception desk upon check-in at your cruise on Day 3.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR CUBAN-BORN US CITIZENS
Cuban-born U.S. citizens require the following documents depending on when they departed Cuba. (1) Those who departed Cuba prior to December 31, 1970: PE-11 visa (allow 6 weeks to process) or a Cuban passport (allow 4 months). (2) Those who departed Cuba after January 1, 1971: Cuban passport (allow 4 months). We recommend that Cuban-born U.S. citizens who have previously been rejected for a Cuban visa do not reapply, as repeat rejection is likely and trip cancellation fees will apply.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING LEGAL TRAVEL TO CUBA
Although it is not legal to travel to Cuba for “tourist activities”, travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens is permitted for certain types of activities as identified by the U.S. Treasury Department in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. smarTours sponsors an authorized form of travel following a general license for people-to-people travel (Educational Activities – CFR 515.565), where each traveler follows a full time schedule of activities involving meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba to learn about their unique culture. For more information about the rules governing travel to Cuba, please visit the following link: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf
DAILY JOURNAL REQUIREMENTS
OFAC requires that travelers to Cuba maintain a daily travel journal during their trip. This journal will serve as documentation that your trip to Cuba was consistent with the requirements of the People-to-People travel license. We recommend that you keep your journal for a minimum of five years after the trip.
Your final instructions and travel tips will be sent to you 10 – 7 days before the scheduled departure of your tour. Please make sure to advise us in writing in case of a change of your address.
The temperature in Cuba ranges from the mid 60’s to high 70’s in January and February, high 60’s to low 80’s in March, April, November and December, low 70’s to mid 80’s in May and October, and mid 70’s to high 80’s in September. Rainy season runs from May to October.
Immunizations are NOT currently required; however, you should consult your personal physician, local public health authorities or the Center of Disease Control (CDC) as to their suggestions.
COMMUNICATING WHILE IN CUBA
U.S. cell phones do not work in Cuba, and access to Wi-Fi is extremely limited, except that most hotels have business centers with a computer or two. You may wish to make calls from the hotel room or business center, but you should expect calls to cost approximately $2.50 (or more) per minute. You should also expect to pay $10-15 per hour for Wi-Fi.
CREDIT CARDS, ATM MACHINES AND LOCAL CURRENCY
The currency on board your cruise ship is the US dollar. Major currencies are accepted and can be exchanged at the ship’s reception. Travel cheques are also accepted on your ship at a 2% charge. During check-in, you will receive a personal boarding card which will be used to make any purchases on the ship including any beverages, spa services etc. Shortly after the cruise embarks, please visit the reception desk to provide a credit card or cash deposit for on board purchases. If you would like a separate account from your traveling companion, please advise reception of this upon embarkation.
On shore, policies regarding currency and credit cards are changing. Until recently, U.S. credit cards and debit cards were not permitted in Cuba. Although the guidelines are changing and certain credit cards/debit cards will be accepted over time, we continue to recommend that you plan to bring as much as cash as you think you will need for the duration of the trip. As for currency, the Cuban Peso (also known as “Moneda Nacional”) is the official currency. However, the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) is the currency that most tourists use. You can exchange your money to convertible pesos at the kiosk located at each port, banks, and exchange offices. Please note that exchanging U.S. dollars into CUC is subject to a 13% fee, whereas exchanging Canadian dollars, Euros, and other currency is not subject to this fee. Please also note that you will not be able to exchange torn or ripped bills.
According to new U.S. regulations, you may now bring back $400 USD worth of goods for personal use, of which $100 USD can be in the form of tobacco and alcohol products.