Explorations on the Island Lost in Time aboard the Hebridean Sky

Overview

Take a step back in time, to Cuba, a place rooted in culture and history, where the people are as warm and welcoming as the climate. You'll explore the World Heritage Site of Viñales Valley, experience the rhythm of Old Havana, where musicians gather on almost every corner and you'll hear the heartbeat of the city pulse with bongos, maracas, and guitars as a vintage '51 Ford or '47 Hudson rolls past down the street. Along the southern coast, explore beautifully preserved colonial architecture in the towns of Trinidad and Cienfuegos, set against white sand beaches on the turquoise Caribbean Sea. And on the Isla de la Juventud, the second largest island in Cuba and full of pirate tales and stories of treasures and treason, natural wonders abound in its pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. Be prepared for an amazing, eye-opening experience of this intriguing nation.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1, Apr 17, 2018
Depart USA / Havana, Cuba

Board your independent flight to Cuba. Check in to the five-star Meliá Cohiba, which overlooks the city’s famous three-mile-long Malecón, for dinner and overnight.

Day 2, Apr 18, 2018
Havana / Viñales

After an early breakfast, depart overland to Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s primary tobacco growing region. Visit a local family-run farm to witness the process of creating Cuba’s legendary cigars. After lunch at the farm continue to the Viñales Valley. This World Heritage Site offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Cuba, with dramatic karst outcroppings punctuating the verdant landscape. In Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave), board a boat for a cruise along the subterranean river. Return to Havana with dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 3, Apr 19, 2018
Havana / Embark Hebridean Sky

Get acquainted with Old Havana—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—on a walking tour this morning. After lunch make a stop at El Floridita Bar—the birthplace of the daiquiri and one of Hemingway’s favorite watering holes—on the way to visit Arte Corte, a hair salon and museum that preserves the history of hairdressing in Cuba. This evening, board the Hebridean Sky and begin your circumnavigation of Cuba.

Day 4, Apr 20, 2018
Varadero / Matanzas

Disembark in Varadero and drive to Matanzas, intersected by three rivers, and called the “City of Bridges” for the 17 bridges crossing them. Enjoy a half-day city tour, including the Matanzas Museum which traces the city’s history from 1693 to the present. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. Or, choose an excursion to La Arboleda, a riverside ranch where you can go on a nature walk, go horseback riding, take a swim, or simply relax in this peaceful setting. This optional afternoon tour includes a typical Cuban lunch, before heading out on a 4x4 Jeep excursion through Rio Canimar Nature Park and take a cruise to admire the flora and fauna along the riverbanks. Continue to Cuevas de Bellamar, a fantastical cave system.

Day 5, Apr 21, 2018
Cayo Guillermo

Zodiacs take you ashore at Cayo Guillermo for a day of snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful reef fish. Or, choose to visit the village of Moron, which offers horse-drawn carriages and small shops to browse.

Day 6, Apr 22, 2018
Antilla / Gibara / Cayo Saetia

Disembark in Antilla and depart overland for a half-day tour of Gibara. Enjoy stunning views from a hilltop Spanish fortress, and stroll through the leafy Parque Calixto Garcia on your way to the wonderful Museum of Natural History. Your tour ends at Baker’s Cave, where you may choose to take a dip in the underground lake before returning to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. Alternatively, board a private catamaran for a full-day excursion to Cayo Saetia, an island nature reserve with a wealth of local and exotic wildlife, such as zebra, wild boar, water buffalo, and a variety of birds.

Day 7, Apr 23, 2018
Santiago de Cuba

Founded in 1514, this World Heritage Site was the starting point for expeditions led by Cortés and de Soto. Your morning tour begins at San Juan Hill, where during the Spanish-American War, the conquest of Spanish troops led to Spain’s surrender in 1898. Then visit Moncada Garrison, where a young Fidel Castro led an armed assault on the barracks in 1953—the first salvo in the Cuban Revolution. Inside you will find the Museo de la Clandestinidad, covering the period from the Spanish conquest to the guerrilla movement of the 1959 revolution in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. Admire some of the island’s most amazing architecture and historical sites in Parque Céspedes, the heart and soul of Santiago de Cuba. Visit the Cathedral and the First Governor’s House, home to the Colonial History Museum, as well as the Emilio Bacardi Moreau Museum. After dinner on board, step out to enjoy some local nightlife with Cuban music at Casa de la Musica.

Day 8, Apr 24, 2018
At Sea

Enjoy a relaxing day at sea and attend lectures from the ship's experts.

Day 9, Apr 25, 2018
Casilda / Trinidad

Arrive in Casilda this morning and drive to Trinidad, a picture-perfect Spanish colonial town which seems frozen in time. Take a walking tour around Trinidad; a living-museum of Spanish colonialism, the entire city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. Or, opt for a full day at Guanayara National Park. Hike through the jungle and learn about the various species of indigenous plants, some of which are still used as herbal remedies. Enjoy lunch at Casa La Gallega, a delightful Creole restaurant surrounded by tropical flowers 1,800 feet above sea level.

Day 10, Apr 26, 2018
Cienfuegos / Zapata Wetlands / Playa Larga

After breakfast, disembark in Cienfuegos. With its French spirit and fabulous setting along Cuba’s most spectacular bay, Cienfuegos has earned UNESCO status for its outstanding architecture, which you discover on a guided walking tour. Then depart overland for the UNESCO-designated Zapata Wetland region. View some of the local wildlife at the Fiesta Campesina zoo-park before touring the Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) Museum; located at the site of the unsuccessful military invasion by US-backed anti-Castro forces in April 1961.

Day 11, Apr 27, 2018
Cayo Largo

This idyllic Caribbean island offers pristine white-sand beaches, mangrove forest, and crystal-clear waters. Spend the day snorkeling, beachcombing, or simply relaxing on a picture-perfect beach.

Day 12, Apr 28, 2018
Isla de la Juventud

This beautiful island offers breathtaking beaches, lush forests, and healthy coral reefs. Join naturalists on walks to search for indigenous flora and fauna, explore the rich marine environment, or soak in your surroundings on an exquisite tropical beach.

Day 13, Apr 29, 2018
Maria la Gorda

Isolated Maria La Gorda is one of the most diverse biological regions in the world—home to a variety of different natural habitats, including coral reefs, beaches, mangroves, scrublands, and evergreen forests with more than 170 species of birds and dozens of reptile and mammal species. Spend the morning snorkeling and searching for wildlife on nature walks.

Day 14, Apr 30, 2018
Havana / Disembark / USA

This morning return to Havana and bid farewell to the Hebridean Sky. Various tours will be on offer, or you can explore on your own before transferring to the airport for your independent homeward flight.

Highlights

Highlights

Immerse yourself in Cuban culture as you visit with friendly locals, savor traditional cuisine, tour the Arte Corte interactive museum, and enjoy musical performances, including a visit to the Casa de la Musica
Visit the citadel of San Pedro de la Roca in Santiago and take a walk through charming, colonial Cienfuegos; both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Snorkel over healthy coral reefs to view colorful tropical fish, turtles, stingrays, and other sea creatures
Stroll the atmospheric streets of Havana to discover stunning colonial architecture and sun-splashed plazas, where classic American cars complete the scene of a by-gone era

Details

Length: 14 days
Cost From: $10,980  
Arrive: Havana, Cuba
Depart: Havana, Cuba
Lodging: 13 nights expedition vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship
Activity: Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

14-day cruise, snorkeling options, cultural explorations and walking tours
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