Tour introduction and overview of activities

8 days and 7 nights of meeting real Cubans and learning about the funeral process in Cuba on a U.S. licensed ‘People to People’ experience. Tour organized by Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC), adhering to all U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control Rules & Regulations. Accompanied by U.S. Leadership of GRTC, Dan Rutherford and Josh Lanning, well-traveled in Cuba.

Accommodations in Havana are Five Star International Hotels and while in the Vinales Valley you will be staying at the best of the only three hotels. Highlights will be a tour of the Cemetario de Colon, understanding Cuban Funerary, a discussion with Cubans on the burial process, visiting Hemingway’s home and a private cooking lesson.

Our adventure includes Old Havana to the western Cuban country-side and back to the Havana tony neighborhood of Miramar for our Five Star Hotel on the Straits of Florida. Some of the best private restaurants, in all of Cuba, are on the itinerary. The group size is limited and small.

Cuba’s big! Its land mass is 42,426 square miles – about 80 percent the size of Alabama. Cuba is nearly as large as Louisiana, and larger than Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio or Indiana. Altogether it’s bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Day 1 – Friday :: Arrival Florida

  • Arrival Florida. Accommodations arranged and included

Day 2 – Saturday :: Arrival and Hello Cuba

  • Depart Florida to Havana: GRTC Team will meet us in Florida to travel with us and assist with airport check-in and Havana arrival
  • Arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Collect our bags and go through customs. We will be welcomed at the airport lobby by our Cuba Education Tours guide and our professional bus chauffeur, included
  • Private transfer to the Five Star Hotel Melia Cohiba, overlooking the coast line
  • Private check-in with assistance from our guide and a welcome cocktail, included
  • Free time to settle in and get oriented with our superior hotel
  • This evening we will enjoy a group welcome dinner at Cafe del Oriente restaurant, included
  • Evening walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will visit the historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. It contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. This is a private tour led by our Cuba Education Tours guide, included
  • Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana built by the Jesuit order
  • Square of Arms, an ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
  • Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the City
  • Palacio del Segundo Cabo [Palace of the Second Lieutenant] dates from 1770. Today it houses the Instituto Cubano del Libro [Cuban Book Institute] and the Galería Raúl Martínez (famed poster artist)
  • You will continue on to San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historical quarter. The square is named after magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís dating from the 16th century. The basilica is a striking example of Cuba baroque architecture
  • Then on to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are churches and government buildings, and is in contrast surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences

Day 3 – Sunday :: Museum of the Revolution

  • Breakfast, included
  • Visit the Museum of the Revolution, included
  • Lunch at El Template
  • Return to hotel
  • Dinner, not included. This is a perfect evening to explore Cuba’s famed Paladares

Day 4 – Monday :: Viñales Valley of magnificent mogotes

  • Breakfast in hotel, included
  • Morning departure to the western agricultural province of Pinar del Río
  • On drive in Coach a discussion with Q & A on funeral proceedings, grieving, wakes and funeral arrangements in Cuba with our Guide, included
  • Visit and tour of Francisco Donatién Cigar Factory and see how some of Cuba’s premium cigars are made, by hand, included
  • Drive through Viñales village, a picturesque town in the heart of Cuba's prime tobacco growing region. The town itself sits in the center of a flat valley surrounded by stunning formations known locally as mogotes. Mogotes are irregularly shaped steep-sided hills that can rise as high as 985 feet and have bases ranging from just a few hundred yards in diameter to as much as a mile in length. The mogotes comprise part of the Sierra de los Órganos mountain chain, and were formed by eons of erosion. Many consider this the most beautiful nature spot in Cuba
  • Lunch at private restaurant Balcón del Valle (Balcony of the Valley, and we will see why when we get there), included
  • Drive by funeral home in Vinales; unable to go inside for they are government owned and do not allow outside visitors, included
  • Hotel Rancho San Vicente check in: a unique hotel set in a woodland area and overlooked by mountains and a highlight for bird watchers
  • Relaxing time by one of the two pools at the hotel, included
  • Dinner buffet at the hotel and a relaxing evening

Day 5 – Tuesday :: Viñales Valley activities, Tobacco farming and dinner in country-side paladar

  • Breakfast in hotel, included
  • Optional activities: Horseback riding (Highly Recommended), hiking and bird watching, not included; or relax by one of two swimming pools, included
  • Lunch at Finca Agro-ecológica El Paraíso, included (be sure we get a special drink ‘Stress Reliever’ blended from fresh grown organic herbs)
  • Tour Finca Agro-ecológica El Paraíso, learn about the family that claimed part of a rocky mountain side to grow vegetables and herbs organically, and the outstanding view of the valley, included
  • Visit a privately owned tobacco farm that produces product for the world-renowned Cuban cigar, included
  • Return to hotel
  • EXCEPTIONALLY ENJOYABLE EVENING AT, SMALL, LOCAL PALADAR: Dinner at private restaurant El Campesino, on the edge of a tobacco field with the mogotes as a backdrop & meet Yuri and Nino, mother and daughter owners, included. We will have dialog with the family about funeral services and how it is handled in the community, a very personal and direct discussion

Day 6 – Wednesday ::  Havana return and vintage american cars

  • Breakfast in hotel, included
  • Hotel check out
  • Return to Havana
  • Visit Finca La Vigía (home and farm of Ernest Hemingway). This unique National Museum also includes his boat Pilar (in part made famous from his book Old Man and the Sea), the graves of some of his dogs, and the fully furnished home which we will be able to see inside, included
  • Hotel check in: at the Five Star hotel Melia Habana in the tony neighborhood of Miramar
  • Our group will caravan in Vintage American cars along the Malecon, and stop at a small park for photos & continue on through the ‘ancient’ forest to dinner at the paladar, private restaurant, La Casa, included
  • Evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of Havana

Day 7 – Thursday :: Private cooking lesson, Hemingway home, Awareness of funeral services and last night in Cuba

  • Breakfast in hotel, included
  • Travel to Cojímar, small fishing Village one of Hemingway’s favorite’s places
  • TOUR HIGHLIGHT: Cooking & mojito making lesson at paladar (private restaurant) El Ajiaco followed by lunch, which we helped prepare, included
  • Visit a funeral home in Havana and meet with a Cuban funeral director and or the Cuban funeral director's organization
  • Have a discussion with the Cuban funeral director's organization about embalming and the procedure
  • Meet with the Cuban cremation organization
  • Visit to Havana tour Christopher Columbus Cemetery (Cementerio de Colon). Founded in 1876 in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana. on top of Espada Cemetery. Named for Christopher Columbus, the 140 acre cemetery is noted for its many elaborately sculpted memorials. It is estimated that today the cemetery has more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels, and family vaults. Colon Cemetery is one of the great historical cemeteries of the world, and is generally held to be the most important in Latin America in historical and architectural terms
  • Return to hotel
  • Dinner not included. With all the great food we have experienced the past week, this is our last chance to re-visit one of our favorite restaurants or check out a paladar we have heard about. Our Cuban Guide and GRTC Team will be glad to help. Plan ahead, even earlier in the week if you need reservations
  • Evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of the city. It’s our last night in the Republic of Cuba so Enjoy!

Day 8 – Friday :: Havana and Home

  • Breakfast, included
  • Check-out of hotel
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport for flight home, included
  • Memories of a wonderful visit to the Pearl of the Antilles: Cuba, included!
Cuba travel is a challenge. Our staff and Cuban partners work super hard to make your tour unfold seamlessly despite Third World conditions on the island. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Flexible travelers understand this is part of their Cuban adventure.
Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
  • Teleconference with the tour group and Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) leadership to go through the itinerary, answer questions and offer suggestions on opportunities not on the schedule
  • A series of briefing emails, starting weeks before departure, to assist you in preparing for the trip. This will include a packing list and other practical suggestions
  • All taxes. All amounts are quoted in US dollars
  • Hotel in U.S. the night before departure to Cuba
  • Airport transfers: Transfer from your hotel in departing city to the airport. You are met at the airport in Cuba upon arrival and taken to your hotel. For departure you will be taken back to the airport in Cuba. You need to book your own airfare to and from Cuba
  • Hotels in Cuba as listed in tour itinerary, or similar
  • Welcome cocktail upon arrival
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as per itinerary
  • All activities, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “optional” or “not included”
  • Luxury air-conditioned private coach transportation and a full-time professional driver, dedicated to your group
  • An expert Cuban English-speaking guide whose background matches tour content and GRTC Team member from the US escorting the tour
  • Ongoing support from your Cuban Tour staff and the GRTC Team before, during and after your stay
  • Emergency collect call access to the North American staff while in Cuba
  • Emergency cash advances for tour participants who face complications accessing funds from abroad while in Cuba
  • Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) membership: $29 Membership is a requirement, by Rule, to participate in GRTC tours
  • Transportation TO U.S. departure city going to Cuba
  • Airfare FROM U.S. departure city TO Cuba and back. Cuban Visa and departure tax from Cuba will be included in your airfare to Cuba, along with mandatory official Cuban medical insurance coverage during your island stay
  • Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, coach/van driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc of group activates. You will be asked to participate in a ‘gratuity collective’ of $154.89 in which all gratuities for group activities will be collectively paid on your behalf. Details will be sent to you
  • Optional travel interruption and cancellation insurance. See