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CUBA

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CUBA

10 day cruise/tour - November 8, 2017

We have the right Cruise and Tour! With Cuba Approved Itinerary!

We looked at many tour and cruise companies that offered approved travel itineraries. We wanted to try and figure the full prices that would include everything except the airfare. We figured the cost of the tours, meals, taxes, needed hotel nights before the trip, tips, all tours, buses, guides, entrance fees, etc. etc. The price range was staggering.

Here is what we found:

  • LEGAL, US government approved itinerary – 7 Night Land Tours: We looked at “Back Roads Cultural Land Tours” and “Insight Cuba Tours”, both were reputable companies that have been doing trips to Cuba for years. The cost of tours with approved itineraries and deluxe hotels for 7 nights, was between $5,000 & $7,000 per person. The land tours usually visited Havana and two or three other cities. We could not understand why it was so expensive until we started checking on quality hotel costs. A good hotel in Havana could easily cost $500 to $800 a night. Even then, everything we read stated that hotel ratings were not accurate, they are not up to US standards and food was not very good.
  • LEGAL, US government approved itinerary – 3-5 night cruises: These least expensive cruises had only a one day stop in Havana. We found several of these cruises with a short 1 day stop in Havana, Cuba, before continuing on to other Caribbean islands. These cruises did not offer what we wanted, which is an expanded experience of Cuba. The price of these cruises were not a lot less than the cruise and tour we are offering.
  • LEGAL, US government approved itinerary – 7-10 night cruises: We found only 2 cruise ships that went all the way around Cuba.
    A 10-night cruise on a luxury Boutique Ship. The least expensive cabin, along with shore excursions, hotels, transfers, port charges, drink package, etc. etc. the cost was $8,400 per person.
    The second was a 7-night ship that sailed all the way around Cuba. When we figured the cost of the lowest cabin, two nights in a beach resort before the 7-night cruise, along with all of the “People-to-People” shore excursions, port charges, a drink package and including all tips, the cost was a little over $2,000. This became the BEST choice!

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Cuba is not open to regular tourism –
It is open to organized pre-approved travel Itineraries

Americans can legally go to Cuba only if the trip falls within one of 12 categories. Here are the 12 categories: Visits to close relatives, academic programs, professional research, journalistic or religious activities and participation in public performances or sports competitions. They can also go to organize a professional event or competition, to film and produce television programs and movies, to record music and to create art there – And US citizens can go to Cuba for educational or cultural exchanges. It is referred to as “People-to-People” travel. Ordinary tourism remains off-limits. Our trip to Cuba falls under the educational or cultural exchanges, called “People-to-People” travel.

The cruise line we are going on is working with Mediterranean Cruise Consultants Inc., a sponsoring U.S. based company that will monitor participation of all U.S. Passengers in their Unique “People-to-People” program. They issue a certification of compliance related to the rules set up by the U.S. Government. There is an employee of Mediterranean Cruise Consultants Inc. on board your cruise to monitor and certify your “People-to-People” visit. The shore excursions for US passengers has been designed to comply with OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulations that govern how U.S. Citizens can visit Cuba.

This is the only safe way to visit Cuba. Any other way is breaking U.S. Law and subject to fines and harassment. President Obama opened the door for “People-to-People” travel. It is legal now and should be for some time. The big question is what will President Trump do in the future. That is why we have decided to do our “People to People” trip this year.

The Celestyal Crystal Cruise Ship

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The Celestyal Crystal (our choice to experience Cuba) does a 7 night cruise to Cuba from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Our whole package that includes two nights’ hotel in Jamaica and the 7-night cruise of Cuba is thousands less than the 7-night land tours we found and over $6,000 less than the 10-night luxury cruise we found. The Celestyal Crystal is a good ship. We did not say it was a 5 star luxury ship, we said it was a good ship! One of our loyal past guests, that has talked to us several times about wanting to go with us to Cuba, mentioned they had a relative that had gone on the Celestyal Crystal ship to Cuba in January 2017. They had their relative contact us to let us know how they liked the ship, shore excursion and meals. The relative had sailed previously on Princess and Royal Caribbean. Below is their evaluation of their experience:

  • The ship was older and smaller, but they found the ship to be clean and enjoyed their cruise AND they loved the service on the ship.
  • The food choices were not as good as the big ships, but the food was still good.
  • There were 6 buses of Americans doing the “People-to-People” shore excursions on their cruise. They absolutely loved the shore excursions and did have some free time to do more exploring on their own when they were finished with the organized “People-to-People” tours.
  • They really enjoyed the lectures on Cuba.
  • To summarize their experience: They would go back in a heart beat, would use this ship again, they loved the shore excursions, the lectures, loved Cuba and loved the Cuban people! It looks like we made the right choice!!

TWO Nights Fantastic Beach Resort

In addition to our 7-night cruise around Cuba, our special package includes two nights in a wonderful beach resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Half Moon has undoubtedly earned its reputation as one of the most prestigious resorts in the world. It is the Jewel of the Caribbean! Regularly visited by royalty and dignitaries over its 60-year history, it is truly one of the most legendary and cherished destinations in the world! As far as unforgettable vacations go – this should be on your bucket list. A stay at this special resort that includes breakfast, taxes, resort fees, etc. can easily reach $500 or more a night. We have TWO fantastic nights in this legendary resort on the Island of Jamaica and it is included in your Cuba package!!

Important Note

Our cruise leaves from and returns to Montego Bay Jamaica. It has 3 ports of call in the 7-night cruise: Havana for two full days, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. We will have two full days at sea to enjoy our special Guest Educator Dr. John Lund.

Package Price Includes:

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We picked November for several reasons: it is less humid and the Caribbean waters are still warm from the summer sun. Historically, only about 5% of all Atlantic tropical storm activity occurs after November 1 and it is less crowded. The high season starts about 10 days after our tour – December through April.

Here is the breakdown of our 10 DAY Cuba Package Price:

  • 7 nights on the Celestyal Crystal Cruise Ship Category ID upgraded cabin and also includes:
    • Ship Port Charges.
    • Ship fees.
    • Ship TIPS.
    • All of your “People-to-People” Shore Excursions in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos including buses, guides and any entrance fees.
    • Mediterranean consultant staff to monitor and certify your legal “People-to-People” shore excursions. They will issue your certificate for doing the legal approved shore excursions.
    • Special Drink Package – Includes non-alcoholic cocktails, sodas, juices, mineral water, coffee, hot chocolate ect. Alcoholic drinks will be an additional charge.
    • All of your meals.
  • 2-nights 5-star luxury Half Moon beach resort hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Includes breakfasts, taxes and resort fees.
  • Tour in Montego Bay, Jamaica before getting on the ship in the early afternoon.
  • Transfers from airport to hotel, hotel to ship and ship back to airport.
  • Tips for baggage handling, guides, drivers, etc. Includes all tips.
  • Special Guest Educator: Dr. John Lund
  • Fun For Less Tours Staff: The Tyndall Family
  • “Whisper Perfect” Head set receivers
  • Does not include Insurance: Cuba requires you have insurance in order to get off the ship in Cuba. It can be done with our insurance company Travelex that insures everything or it can be done through us with the ship that covers only health related issues during the time of the cruise and while you are in Cuba.

Package Price: $2,295*

**Per person cash discount price, based on double occupancy. Does not include airfare.
SLC round trip airfare: $1,178
Call our office for quotes from other cities.

November 8: Day 1: Fly from the US to Montego Bay
Upon arrival you will be transferred to your beach resort to relax and enjoy.

November 9: Day 2: Holiday Beach Resort Montego Bay
Free day to enjoy, relax, swim and play at your Beach Resort Hotel.

November 10: Day 3: Montego Bay Tour – Celestyal Cruise Ship
This morning we will do a ½ day tour before checking into our Celestyal Ship. This afternoon join in an in-depth discussion on what makes Cuban language different from her Latin American neighbors. We will also have time to hear from our Special Guest Educator Dr. John Lund.

November 11: Day 4: Santiago de Cuba: 7:00AM – Depart 3:00 PM
Morning: will be “Panoramic Santiago”. Santiago is the capital of the islands “Wild East” and its glittering cultural nerve center, one that’s core to the evolution of Cuban architecture, literature and music. Our first stop is the African Cultural Center, Fernando Ortiz, where we will meet with Dr. Martha Cordie Jackson and enjoy a traditional dance performance and meet the dancers. We’ll then stroll through the patio of the artisans and to Conga Gallery and its collection of contemporary Cuban art. Our next stop is the Loma de San Juan and it’s manicured grounds. This is the site of the only land battle of the Spanish-American War where on July 1, 1898, flanked by his rough riders, Teddy Roosevelt supposedly led a victorious cavalry charge against the Spanish. Our tour continues through this fascinating city along its most famous avenues. We will pass the University of Orente and visit former Moncada Barracks, Revolution Square and El Morro Castle – built at the end of the 17th century, the castle occupies a promontory high above the sea. The afternoon includes lectures from our guest educator.

November 12: Day 5: Fun Day At Sea Activities
Morning: “The Musicality of the Cuban People and Unusual Local Musical Instruments.” Cuban musicians will demonstrate a number of traditional Cuban instruments including bongos, the claves and the tres, Cuba’s famed three-string quitar. Also there is a A Taste of Cuba: Join in a Cuban cooking lessons and learn about some of the unique gems endemic to Cuban cuisines. Afternoon: Documentary about Cuba from the ship and also a lecture from our guest educator.

November 13: Day 6: Havana – arrive 9:30am – overnight on the ship
Before departing the ship, the morning lecture will discuss topics on which Cuba excels, such as social security, family code and agricultural co ops.
Morning: The old city center comprises a breathtaking mix of Baroque and neoclassical monuments and homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought-iron gates and internal courtyards. We will Meander along the narrow streets of this fascinating city with our expert guides who will regale you with tales of this magical city’s storied history. We will begin with a walking tour of the historical center of Old Havana, where we’ll see the Royal Forces Castle, Saint Francis of Assisi Square, the Cathedral Square, the Old Square and Arms Square. We will have the opportunity to see and interact with book sellers of old books.

Afternoon: “More of Authentic Havana”
The Panoramic tour includes a photo stop at the famed Old Capital Building. Then we drive past Revolution Museum, the Fine Art Museum, the Parque Central (Central Park) and the Gran Teatro de Havana. We then stop at Revolution Square for some free time and photos – you will find the Jose Marti Memorial, the National Library and the Revolution Palace here. We will then continue by driving past some of Old Havana’s most important buildings, the University of Havana and its escalinata (stairway) and the Alma Mater statue. La Rampa; the Coppelia ice cream parlor, the Yara movie theater and the Habana Libre hotel. We end at San Jose Market for more free time and the market’s unique shops and hospitable vendors.

November 14: Day 7: Havana
Morning: “More of Real 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 become one of the Caribbean’s main centers for ship building. Our “More of the Real Havana” features a visit to the Fine Arts Museum and the famed “Museo de la Revolution”. The Museum is housed in the former Presidential Palace. Following the museum, we will make a stop to marvel at some of the outdoor installations of legendary Cuban ceramicists and graphic artist Jose Fuster, a pioneer of Cuban visual art. We then return on board Celestyal Cruise. From what we understand you will have some free time to explore Havana on your own this afternoon & evening when the “People-to-People” tour is finished.

November 15: Day 8: Fun Day at Sea
We will have lectures from our guest educator, lectures from the Cuban experts, cooking classes and other fun activities.

November 16: Day 9: Cienfuegos Arrive: 7:00 AM – Depart: 3:00 PM
Morning: You will have the unique opportunity to visit Cienfuegos, a 19th century planned city and a UNESO World Heritage site. “The Pearl of the South, this colonial gem as funded in 1819 situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production area. We will stop at the Graphic Society of Cienfuegos, where we’ll 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. We then continue at Project Trazos Libres: artist Santiago Hermes Martinez converted his family home into an art collective in 2009 to support local artists and traditional costumes. We will then enjoy a panoramic view of Cienfuegos before we visit the magnificent Teatro Thomas Terry, built between 1887 and 1889 to honor this Venezuelan industrialist. The 950 seat opera house and theater is decorated with Carrara Marble and hand carved Cuban hardwoods. After the theater we will return to Celestyal Crystal. Afternoon: Documentary lectures about Cuba and time to meet with our Special Guest Educator Dr. John Lund.

November 17: Day 10: Montego Bay – Fly Home
Upon arrival into Montego Bay you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.