Cuba, Face to Face

People to People Package Includes

  • Small groups of 10-18 people guaranteed
  • International charter flights Miami-Cienfuegos and Havana-Miami, subject to change
  • Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
  • 8 nights in accommodations that evoke the local character
  • Hotel porterage
  • All transfers and people to people activities per itinerary in air-conditioned vehicles
  • 19 meals: 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches & 5 dinners (including welcome & farewell dinners)
  • Bottled water during educational excursions. Rum cocktail and beer or wine included with dinner
  • Services of a Cuban English-speaking Guide and a USA tour manager throughout
  • Comprehensive, guided activities & cultural exchanges including entrance fees per itinerary
  • Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)
  • Visa to Cuba (for US Citizens) and Cuban departure tax

Discovery Tours by Gate 1 has been granted a license by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury to provide People to People programs in Cuba. License # CT-2012-293418-1.

Tour Highlights

  • A full-time schedule of daily people-to-people activities and cultural exchanges, including discussions with locals, visits with artists, musical performances, and more
  • Explore Trinidad, one of the best preserved cities in the Caribbean, with a local historian.
  • Hear traditional Cuban music at the Museo de Artes Decorativos, and meet the amazing musicians.
  • Hear about Old Havana’s restoration projects firsthand from local city planners and architects.
  • Witness Havana’s urban garden farming movement.
  • Enjoy an Afro-Cuban religious ceremony and learn about local beliefs from a specialist.
  • Gain insight into US-Cuba relations during a frank policy talk with an expert.
  • Chat with jazz musicians after a toe-tapping performance, courtesy of the Instituto Cubano de la Musica.

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    Itinerary is subject to change. If any activities do change, they will be replaced by other up-close, people-to-people activities.

    DAY 1, Thursday - Arrive in Miami
    Arrive in Miami and check-in to your reserved hotel at Miami Airport. Rest and relax before this evening’s Welcome Meeting with your fellow travelers, followed by a briefing by your Tour Manager about Cuba and the adventure that awaits you
    Crowne Plaza Miami International Airport, Miami

    DAY 2, Friday - Flight to Cienfuegos, Cuba
    Bienvenidos! Your Cuba experience begins with a short included charter flight to Cienfuegos, on Cuba's southern coast, one of the chief seaports of the country. Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly welcomed by your Cuban guide. This lovely city, known as the "Pearl of the South" is adorned by architecture reflecting its French colonial roots. We begin a walking tour of the city‘s highlights where you will meet some of the storekeepers in this area to hear about shopping opportunities in Cuba and understand the difference between CUC and CUP stores. Continue to Parque Marti, the serene central park flanked by the provincial government building, Palacio del Ayuntamiento and the Arco de Triunfo. Next, to the impressive Teatro Tomas Terry with its grand gold-leafed mosaics on the façade, embellished with Carrera marble and hand-carved Cuban hardwoods; in the past, this theatre has witnessed performances by Enrico Caruso and Anna Pavlova. After some free time on El Bulevar, Cienfuegos' quintessential shopping street you will attend a performance of the Cienfuegos Orchestra and have a chance to interact with its members . After the performance, return to the hotel for a welcome dinner with your fellow travelers
    Overnight: Casa Verde or Perla del Mar, Cienfuegos
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

    DAY 3, Saturday - Excursion to Trinidad
    Morning visit to the delightful Cienfuegos Province Botanical Gardens, the oldest of its kind on the island, welcoming us with a soothing setting of palms, orchids, bamboos, and a myriad of other tropical plants. As we walk, we'll learn more about the garden's ties to Harvard University and its founding as a research center for sugar cane. Then, on to Manaca Iznaga’s former sugar factory and estate in the "Valley of the Sugar Mills" where sugar production used to be of major importance for the Cuban economy. After lunch at the estate, we travel to Trinidad, Cuba's best-preserved colonial city, with its winding cobblestone streets and pastel-hued houses, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our walking tour includes the Old Cathedral and the Palacio Cantero, the city's history museum, housed in a restored Neoclassical palace. Stop at a rationing store to see the process of buying local staples. After, visit a ceramic studio to observe a pottery demonstration and meet the owners who will tell us about their traditions, handed down from generation-to-generation. Perhaps, take a turn at the potter's wheel for a hands-on experience with this craft. Dinner tonight at a local "paladar" (a small, privately operated Cuban restaurant)
    Overnight: Casa Verde or Perla del Mar, Cienfuegos
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 4, Sunday - Visit to historic Santa Clara
    A scenic drive takes us to the historic city of Santa Clara, in the geographic center of Cuba. The city's fiery personality has been shaped over time by the presence of the nation's most prestigious university outside Havana, and a long association with Che Guevara, whose liberation of Santa Clara in 1958 marked the end of the Batista regime. In the center of the city, view the Parque Vidal and the Teatro de La Caridad, the Plaza del Mercado Central, and the former City Hall. Begin the day at Allegria de Vivir, a community project for the Elderly. Our insightful visit reveals how art, music, and dance play a crucial role in the everyday lives of the inspiring residents. We continue our visit to the Museo de Artes Decorativas, an 18th-century mansion, now a museum, filled with Baroque desks, art nouveau mirrors and art deco furniture that emphasizes the country's diverse architectural heritage. Here we enjoy a performance by the Catedra Studio group playing traditional and old Spanish Renaissance music. At the end of the performance, we have the opportunity to interact with the musicians-fashioned instruments. After lunch at the charming Hotel America, a guided stroll takes us through the local produce market, with its colorful stalls of agricultural products and crafts. Before leaving Santa Clara, we stop to visit the Monument, Mausoleum and Museum built to honor Ernesto "Che" Guevara; the imposing "Che" statue can be seen for miles around the city. Return to Cienfuegos for an evening at leisure
    Overnight: Casa Verde or Perla del Mar, Cienfuegos
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 5, Monday - Havana and the Bay of Pigs
    This morning, we head to the historic Bay of Pigs Museum in Playa Giron that clarifies the history behind one of the major events of the Cold War and how the "Victory of Giron," as it is locally known, impacted Cuba. Afterwards, on to picturesque Cienaga de Zapata National Park, one of finest bird watching areas in the world situated on Cuba's south coast, for a lecture by one of the park's naturalists. A leisurely lunch follows at Casa Enrique, a private guest house. Meet the proprietors of this family-run and privately-owned business, learn about their many talents as they share their stories and views of private enterprise. After lunch we are on our way to Havana, the energetic city that we've all been waiting to see -- Cuba's distinctive capital has captivated the imagination of travelers for decades. A special dinner tonight at El Aljibe celebrates our arrival in Havana. This renowned restaurant is famous for its open-air ambiance and excellent slow-roasted chicken
    Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 6, Tuesday - Havana
    The first thing you'll notice in Havana this morning are the streets filled with colorful and bright vintage "Old Styler" American cars. (Your guide will explain how these cars are obtained and what it takes to keep them running.) Today's walking tour begins with a presentation by a Cuban architect on Havana's rich architectural heritage, as we leisurely stroll through the cobblestone streets of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stop to admire the 16th and 17th century buildings being carefully restored and transformed. Lunch at the Hostal Valencia with its old-world charm, decked out like a Spanish posada with hanging vines and huge carved doorways. We continue on with a visit to the Muraleando Community Project featuring murals and sculptures celebrating Cuban life. After Muraleando, we visit a local artist's home studio and enjoy a discussion on Cuban lifestyles, art, and private enterprise. Tonight’s evening of live music and dinner Jazz takes place at Casa Espanola, the former house of Batista's finance secretary. After dinner, we are on to the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana to observe the “Canonazo Ceremony”, a tradition held at this location since the 17th century
    Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 7, Wednesday - Havana
    This morning, visit the Jose Marti's Language School for a friendly Spanish lesson -- it's not too late to learn some great expressions to take home. Visit the Santovenia Elderly Center in El Cerro, a local center for the elderly that is a major part of Cuba's healthcare system. Experience lunch at Havana's Il Divino paladar, where we savor some of Cuba's latest cuisine, supplied by the adjacent two-acre farm La Finca Yoandra, charmingly named for the owner's wife. Then, we learn more about Ernest Hemingway on our visit to Finca Vigia ("Lookout Farm") in San Francisco de Paula, Hemingway's winter home from 1939 to 1960. He loved Cuba and its people, who returned that affection to the American author by simply calling him "Ernesto." We view the novelist’s 9,000-volume library, his yacht Pilar and the typewriter on which he wrote some of his greatest works, including his last masterpiece, The Old Man and The Sea. On our return to the city, we're invited to attend an interesting discussion led by a Cuban scholar on the current political policies between the U.S. and Cuba. Tonight is at leisure to explore Havana’s nightlife, cafes and restaurants on your own
    Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 8, Thursday - Havana
    The day begins at Ciudad Libertad where you will have a chance to better understand the importance of the litteracy campaign that occurred in Cuba in 1961. Next, be prepared for an outrageous sight as we arrive at Casa Fuster, the studio and residence of José Rodriguez Fuster whose inspiration comes from the designs of European Masters like Gaudi, Picasso, and Dubuffet. The roofs, walls, doorways and benches stretching for blocks around the epicenter of his studio enclave are adorned with his brightly colored murals and quotations from famous writers. Afterwards, it's time to learn some of the secrets of Cuban cuisine at a chef-led Cooking Class. Taste your creations during lunch at La Imprenta, followed by a walk through the bustling San Jose Market. Tonight, a festive Farewell Dinner has been arranged at the elegant Cafe Del Oriente. On our last night in Cuba, bid a fond goodbye to your Cuban guide, your fellow travelers and an amazing journey in Cuba
    Overnight: Hotel Nacional, Havana
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 9, Friday - Depart for the USA
    Transfer to the airport for your flight that takes you from Havana back to Miami where you will connect to your departing flight home
    Meals: Breakfast

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    *Not Included:
    Prices do not include gratuities for guides/tour managers.

    Additional Information:
    When booking domestic flights to Miami, passengers should select flights that arrive by 5 pm on Day 1 and depart no earlier than 4:30 pm on Day 9. Please see the About Your Flights section under Trip Preparation for more details.

    Triple rooms are not available for this package.

    The Ultimate Learning Tour: Consistent with the requirements of the OFAC People-to-People license, this program features a full-time schedule of cultural exchange between Discovery Tours participants and your Cuban hosts. There will be little or no free time on most days, except perhaps during a free evening when you're welcome to seek a local restaurant for dinner.

    Entry Requirements:
    Passengers traveling abroad require a passport valid for six months beyond their travel dates. All travelers are responsible to check if a visa is required for all countries on their itinerary. For visa information, check our Visas page.

    Is This Trip Right for You?

    This is an active trip. Our small group covers a lot of ground each day, and we spend 2-3 hours on our feet during tours. The pace is moderate, with 1 one-night stay, 1 three-night stay, and 1 four-night stay. Some of our tours require walking over uneven surfaces. Not recommended for people who have difficulty walking or who have heart conditions.

    Getting Ready to GoAbout Your FlightsArrival and DepartureAccommodationsAt Your Destination

    Know Before You Go
    Although most of the planning and preparation is taken care of for you, there are still a few things you should know and some details you should take care of to ensure your comfort, safety and peace of mind. Please review the following information before your departure to ensure that any surprises along the way will only be pleasant ones.
    Getting Ready to Go
    Passports and Visas
    Entry Requirements:
    US citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond travel dates.
    Cuban Visas - A visa is required. The cost is included in the program price and will be arranged on your behalf. Information regarding the visa application process will be provided after a reservation has been completed. The visa will be provided in Miami prior to departure from the U.S. Upon arrival in Cuba, Cuban immigration officials will collect one half of this two-part card. The other half will be collected upon departure from Cuba.

    Non U.S. Citizens should check with the Cuban consulate to determine what travel documents may be required for travel to Cuba. Non U.S. residents will need to enter the U.S. twice, once at the beginning and once at the end of the trip.

    Important Information for Cuban-born U.S. Citizens

    Upon completion of your booking, contact details for assistance for Cuban-born U.S. citizens will be provided. The following will be required:

    a. Those who departed Cuba prior to December 31, 1970: PE-11 visa (allow 6 weeks to process) or a Cuban passport (allow 4 months); or

    b. 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 a repeat rejection is likely and program cancellation fees will apply.

    Trip Preparation
    A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas, driver’s license) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last through the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, personal ID and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, you'll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of the USA and Western Europe). We recommend that you pack a portable alarm clock. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage. Airplane pressure can cause similar pressure in your body, most notably in ears, as well as liquid tubes and bottles. Your physician can suggest medication for decongestion. As for the liquid containers, we suggest that you squeeze out excess air from those containers and place into Ziploc bags to catch any leaks.

    Important Information About Travel to Cuba

    The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has granted Discovery Tours by Gate 1 a license (# CT-2013-304783-1) to provide People-to-People programs to Cuba. People-to-People travel is an initiative that allows U.S. citizens and legal U.S. residents to travel to Cuba on a limited basis to participate in cultural experiences and have direct contact with the Cuban people in order to learn more about them and their culture.

    Information about OFAC and the rules governing U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba is located on the U.S. Department of the Treasury website at http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx.

    Required Daily Journal of Activities

    OFAC requires that travelers to Cuba keep a travel journal during their visit. This will serve as documentation that, under the requirements of the OFAC, you have visited Cuba for educational purposes. We recommend you keep your journal on file for five years, in case a U.S. official asks for proof of the educational nature of your journey.

    Mandatory Health Insurance

    Cuba requires the purchase of Mandatory Health Insurance (called Asistur) which is included in the package and which will be arranged on your behalf. This covers basic medical needs if required during your stay. Local representatives will assist if any medical services are required while on tour.

    Cell Phones & Calling Cards
    You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting. U.S. service is dominated by the CDMA technology standard, while most of the world uses the incompatible GSM standard. Some U.S. providers do offer GSM, but you may incur high international roaming fees. With GSM, however, you can often choose to have your phone unlocked and then add a local SIM card for lower fees. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally.

    When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card; normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel’s reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.

    Cuba - Foreign Cell Phones do not work in Cuba. You can purchase phone cards and calls cost on average $2.40 per minute. You may also call from your hotel at approximately $2.50 per minute (fees subject to change).

    Making Telephone Calls from One Country to Another
    When dialing a number from one country to another, you should proceed as follows: dial your country's Exit Code + destination Country Code + Phone Number.
    For most countries, the exit code is 00. Exceptions include the USA and Canada (011), Hong Kong and Cambodia (001), Australia (0011), and Russia (8 Pause 10*). For Brazil, please consult with the local telephone company. If the international number you wish to call starts with a 0 (zero), you must drop this starting digit when dialing the number.

    Wireless Internet Access
    Passengers traveling with WiFi enabled devices (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) may be able to connect to the internet via a wireless network access point (or hotspot). WiFi access in hotels and/or cruise lines often involves a fee which, in some cases, can be very expensive. Availability of WiFi varies by country, hotel and/or cruise line. Even if WiFi is available, signal strength is subject to local conditions and not guaranteed. Internet availability on cruises is unpredictable due to the ship frequently changing locations while sailing through multiple countries. Passengers requiring internet access may seek out internet cafes or may be able to locate free WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops. Hotspots can often be located and planned in advance via an online search. Planning ahead may help avoid unnecessary fees.

    Cuba - Wi-Fi is not available throughout Cuba except at some hotels. Most hotels have internet cafes or business centers where you can access the internet for a fee. Expect to pay between $10 and $15 per hour. The connection in Cuba is likely slower than you are accustomed to and in rural areas, the connection may not be available.

    Staying Healthy While Traveling
    All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and/or theWorld Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) for their recommendations.

    There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.

    • Watch what you eat. Try new foods in modest quantities, and depending upon your destination, you may want to avoid street foods, salad bars, raw vegetables and fruits, unless they have thick peels like bananas or grapefruit.
    • Stay hydrated. Drink bottled water and avoid consuming ice cubes made with tap water.
    • If you have allergies to foods, medications or insect bites, or have any other unique medical issues, consider a medical alert bracelet and/or a physician’s note detailing required treatment should you become ill.
    • Wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer.
    • Where appropriate, pack sunscreen and insect repellant (for both active and warm destinations).
    • You may also want to bring a small first-aid kit with bandaids, antibiotic cream, pain killers, bug bite cream, digestive aids like antidiarrheal or anti-bloat medications, antacids, and cold medicine. This is in addition to any prescription medications which should be adequate for the entire trip.

    Notice on Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment - Please note that some countries may require aircraft cabin insecticide treatment for in-bound foreign flights. A list of such countries is available at: http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.

    Climate & Clothing
    United States - The weather in the United States varies according to geographical area. The hottest period is from June to August and the coolest from November to February. Bring comfortable walking shoes, clothes you can layer, and an all-weather jacket. Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses are also recommended.

    USA Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/americas/default.aspx#usa-weather

    Cuba -The weather in Cuba is semi-subtropical. Temperatures are generally warm year-round. The rainy season in Cuba typically runs from May to October and the dry season between November and April. However, it may rain at any time and rain gear is recommended. Temperatures may range between 60-90 degrees so comfortable, cool clothing is appropriate. Air-conditioning is common in hotels and restaurants so layering is recommended. Not all locations have air-conditioning.

    Cuba Average Temperatures

    Dress for comfort and convenience with a casual wardrobe that allows for layering. Comfortable, cotton clothing is suggested. Your packing list may include casual daytime wear: shorts, slacks, long and short-sleeved shirts; a light sweater or jacket; comfortable walking shoes; sunscreen, sunglasses and hats; rain poncho and collapsible umbrella; insect repellent; and travel packs of tissue. Please note medicines, toiletries and other items obtainable in drugstores in the U.S. are in very short supply in Cuba. We recommend that you pack an adequate supply of your prescription and non-prescription medication. Prescription medication should be in its original container. It is also recommended to bring copies of your doctor's prescription or a letter on your doctor's office stationary explaining that the medication has be prescribed for you, along with a list of the generic names of your medication.