Tour introduction and overview of activities

The Cleveland Havana Ballet Project with Verb Ballets and their Cuban colleagues will be performing Romeo and Juliet at the Teatro Nacional de Cuba. Opening Night tickets, dinner with the dancers, lodging at the iconic Hotel Nacional, the Tropicana Cabaret and much more is included.

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 – Thursday :: Arrive Cuba, Iconic Hotel, welcome dinner and evening to explore

  • Depart to Havana via your own arranged flights.
  • You should plan arriving Havana by mid-afternoon. It may take you some time to clear Cuban Immigration, get your bag and go through Customs. You will be met in the arrival hall, after clearing Customs, by our Cuban representative holding a ‘Cuba Explorer’ sign to take you to your hotel. They will have your name and will be monitoring your flight arrival in case there is a delay. Your first tour activity will be the welcome dinner and your guide will finalize details with you on arrival to your hotel. On departure from Cuba you will be asked to be at the airport 3 hours in advance.
  • Havana’s International Airport arrival hall does have bathrooms. They may not have seats or tissue. This is normal in Cuba, so you may wish to bring packets of tissues. It is suggested to use the restroom on your flight before landing.
  • On arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport proceed through Immigration. Your carry-on will once again be scanned.
  • Give your ‘Health’ form to the nurses in white uniforms after you go through Immigration & screening. The important question they may ask is if you have been exposed to Ebola.
  • Collect your bags and go through Customs giving them your blue customs form.
  • You will be welcomed at the airport exterior lobby after you exit Cuban Customs. Look for the person holding signage of ‘Cuba Explore.’
    Tour participant’s arrival times may vary throughout the day. Individualized Airport transfers will be arranged.
  • You can change your money into CUC (the convertible currency used on the island) at the airport on arrival, at a Cuban bank, an official exchange bureau or at your hotel. Your guide will be of assistance. Your passport is necessary to exchange currency. Do not exchange money on the street or with an individual Cuban.
    Quote from Lonely Planet: “No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too damned beautiful. How it does it is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the swashbuckling history still almost perceptible in atmospheric colonial streets; the survivalist spirit of a populace scarred by two independence wars, a revolution and a US trade embargo; or the indefatigable salsa energy that ricochets off walls and emanates most emphatically from the people. Don’t come here with a long list of questions. Just arrive with an open mind and prepare for a long, slow seduction.”
  • Private transfer to Hotel Nacional check-in; relaxing time to visit the garden, walk the site depicted in the Godfather Part II movie, enjoy a cigar, a mojito or just have a rest on the veranda where some of the world’s most interesting personalities’ have taken a break while the winds from the Straits of Florida breeze by.
  • Enjoy a welcome cocktail (Included) after your check-in.
  • Free time to settle in and get oriented with your hotel.
    At the Hotel Nacional and at your leisure stroll by cannons of battles from the 1800’s. Also, visit the bunkers used during the Cuban Missile Crisis, built overlooking the Malecon and the Straits of Florida to Key West. For 13 days in October 1962 the world hinged on the brink of a nuclear war. The epicenter of the conflict was on the island you will be standing. Diplomatic understandings were formulated, treaties were contemplated, blockades occurred, embargoes were strengthened and international legal precedent was challenged. You can go through the bunkers and trenches and be briefed on the happenings of that complex time.
  • Welcome dinner will be at Café Laurent where you will enjoy an excellent meal and view of Havana. This boutique paladar evokes a fine tropical island experience of days gone by. (Included)
  • La Zorra y El Cuervo (the Fox & the Crow) is one of the best jazz clubs in Havana. It is one and half blocks from Hotel Nacional. The small, intimate, place is packed every night. The entrance is through a British telephone booth to get to the the underground nightclub. Some suggest arriving before 10pm to get in for the nightly show which starts around 11pm. Entrance is generally 10 CUC and includes 2 drinks. (Optional)

Day 2 – Friday :: Presentation on the Arts, Old Havana tour, Museum of Rum, Marine warehouse and shopping, Opening Night performance of Romeo & Juliet

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Visit the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, UNEAC). It is a social, cultural and professional organization of writers, musicians, actors, painters, sculptors and artist. Founded in 1961 their objective was uniting the intellectuals within the young Cuban Revolution to maintain a genuine Cuban culture. (Included)
  • Walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will visit the historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. It contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. Meet the private street vendors selling souvenirs out of their homes. This is a private tour led by your Cuba Tours’ guide. (Included)
  • 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 Cuban baroque architecture.
  • Visit the Museum of Chocolate, a small shop with intriguing artifacts relating to the history of chocolate production in Cuba. You can watch chocolates being made at the back of the premises while you sip a warming cup of hot chocolate or a soothing glass of cold chocolate. The Museo del Chocolate also sells artisanal chocolates singly or boxed. (Optional, Included)
  • 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.
  • Visit the cigar shop La Casa del Habano which may be the best cigar shop in Old Havana. It is hidden on the mezzanine which was once slave quarters. Cigar aficionados can enjoy the patio with its vegetation, mahogany rocking chairs and peacocks. The building was the colonial mansion of the Count of Villanueva, leader of the creole Havana society in the 19th century. (Optional, Included)
  • Square of Arms, a military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings.
  • Visit La Casa de los Artistas, Estudio La Mina the studio-workshop and exhibition space for five of the significant figures of Cuban art: Zaida Del Rio, Angel Ramirez, Carlos Guzmán, Ernesto Rancaño, Pedro Pablo Oliva and Roberto Fabelo. The colonial mansion that houses the art studio was built in the sixteenth century and was the residence of the bishops of Havana. (Optional, 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, was built by the Jesuit order.
  • As you stroll through the historic cobblestone streets of Old Havana you will experience the sensations Ernest Hemingway felt and those of the colonialists’ centuries earlier.
  • Lunch at Mojito Mojito private restaurant, great Cuban food and just off of Plaza Vieja in Old Havana. You will enjoy a wonderful meal, live music and friendly staff. (Included)
  • Visit the Museum of Rum. An important cultural site where historians affirmed it was built in the 17th century (1772-1780). Your guide will show you all the steps in the manufacture of the original Cuban rum. The explanation goes from the raw material in the sugar cane field, history, slavery and up to today’s distribution. In conclusion you will enjoy a toast with Havana Club rum in the tasting bar. (Included) The shop has all the options of Havana Club available for purchase.
  • Time to shop for souvenirs at Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Depósito San José, a large craft market offering some of the most iconic objects of Havana: garish-colored paintings by local artists, guayaberas (short-sleeve, open-neck Cuban shirts), sculptures, leather, jewelry, and various trinkets & gadgets bearing the image of Che Guevara. The souvenirs are high quality, which is why you will see as many locals as tourists among the shoppers. The metal-framed structure itself, an old, fully renovated maritime warehouse, very retro and Art Deco, is worth the visit alone. (Included)
  • Return to hotel to freshen up for the evening.
  • Transport to the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, located on the Plaza de la Revolución, boasts excellent acoustics and is equipped with modern technology in lighting, stage and sound.
  • Opening night for the Cleveland Havana Ballet Project performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Teatro Nacional De Cuba. (Tickets Included)
  • Dinner with the Verb Ballets Cuba Tour performers who are in Havana, at the paladar La Casa, private restaurant, one of the earliest established in Cuba and still in the original home. (Included)
  • Transport to the hotel.

Day 3 – Saturday :: Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, National Capitol, afternoon to explore and Tropicana Cabaret

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Tour the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, one of the most opulent buildings in Havana. It is named after Alicia Alonso, who was prima balerina assoluta and founder of the Cuban National Ballet. In 1838 the Tacón Theater was Havana’s most important theater and arguably one of the best in the continent for its elegance, comfort and exceptional technical preparation. In 1914, the theater and buildings around it were purchased to build the Centro Gallego, paid for by the Galician immigrants to serve as their community center. It was built around the old concert hall of the Teatro Tacón and took up the entire block. The magnificent facade is decorated with sculptures, four in white marble representing charity, education, music and theater. This was the venue President Obama used to address the Cuban people on his visit to the island.
  • Visit the Capitol for the Republic of Cuba, El Capitolio. Construction began in 1926 and was completed in 1929. The building was the seat of government until after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. When the Cuban Congress was abolished the Ministry of Science Technology and the Environment eventually moved in. Though there is a striking resemblance to the U.S. Capitol it is not a replica. (Included)
  • Lunch at Mediterraneo Havana, a small private restaurant located in a Vedado mansion in a quiet neighborhood. A real treat. (Included) Mediterráneo has established itself as one of the best paladares in Vedado serving local farm produced product, organically.
  • Afternoon Independent time.
  • Dinner (Not Included). This is a perfect evening to explore Cuba’s famed paladares to enjoy delicious food and support a Cuban family business. Your guide will be of assistance.
  • TOUR HIGHLIGHT: An evening to experience the acclaimed Tropicana Cabaret, located in a lush, tropical six-acre garden estate. Built in 1939 and over time the Tropicana helped to spread Cuban culture on a level never seen before. The showgirls actually created the showgirl-era. The lavish costumes and vibrant performance styles quickly spread from Cuba to Las Vegas, New York, and even Paris. A full orchestra, loud colors, sultry rhythms and a stunning production with more than 200 singers and dancers will entertain you. (Included) Plan for a late evening!

Day 4 – Sunday :: Studio & workshop in trendy Miramar, Club Havana, afternoon free to explore and last night in Havana

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Visit the Studio and Workshop of Beatriz Sala Santacana in the trendy Miramar area of Ambassador Residences. In a unique exhibition of her ceramic sculptures, paintings and drawings you will have a relaxing time and discussion with the artist. Also on display are her ceramic murals, plates, vases, glazed tiles and mosaics. (Included)
  • Visit Club Havana, a private membership club on the Straits of Florida for dignitaries, foreign diplomats, correspondents and affluent locals. The 1928 mansion once housed the Havana Biltmore Yacht & Country Club. The club attained further notoriety when it denied entry to Dictator Cuban President Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s because he was ‘black.’ Fidel Castro had dinner there 30 years later; it is one of the few places where Castro dined in public.
  • Seaside lunch at Club Havana. (Included) The powdery white sand beach, cigar shop and club house will all be accessible.
  • Return to Hotel Nacional.
  • Afternoon free for Independent time to visit Old Havana. Explore the private shops and meet the street vendors selling souvenirs out of their homes.
  • Dinner (Not Included). It is your last night in Cuba so enjoy!

Day 5 – Monday :: Havana and Home

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Depending on the time of your airline departure you may enjoy a relaxing early morning swim or a walk along the Malecon with the Straits of Florida next to you.
  • Hotel check-out.
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport in Havana for flight home. (Included)
  • Airlines recommend you be at your departure airport 3 hours before takeoff. Please prepare accordingly. Your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel.
  • It is prohibited to take Cuban currency (CUC) out of the country. After your airline check-in there is a currency exchange available for you to change your CUCs into US dollars (or another currency). Be sure to do so before entering Immigration.
  • After you clear Cuban Immigration, you will be screened and your carry on will be scanned. In the departure hall there is a duty free shop, places to buy snacks and drinks, as well as souvenirs. They will accept U.S dollars.
  • When arriving to your U.S. entry airport you will need to clear U.S. Immigration and U.S. Customs. If asked by an Immigration Officer about your trip to Cuba, note that you were on a sanctioned Tour. If asked what you did, tell the truth and explain it was a public performance sanctioned visit. To be clear: You were not on a vacation.
  • Memories of a wonderful visit and Verbs Ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet in Havana, Cuba! (Included)
While in Cuba, our attentive island team ensures your trip is magical and memorable.
Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
  • Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) one-time membership fee is included with your tour. Membership is a requirement, by Rule, to participate in Global Relations (GR) tours.
  • A Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel, per participant, in accordance with the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) section 31 C.F.R. § 515.572(a)(1).
  • Your needed Cuban Visa is included and processing will be expedited.
  • As a GRTC member we will make available a teleconference with those participating in the tour to go through the itinerary, answer questions and offer suggestions.
  • You will receive a series of briefing e mails before departure to assist you in preparing for the trip.
  • All taxes and amounts are quoted in US dollars.
  • Fly to Cuba and you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. On your last day of the tour the transfer to the Cuban airport is included.
  • Airport departure tax from Cuba and the Cuban mandatory Emergency Insurance coverage during your island stay is covered in the cost of a U.S. carrier airfare.
  • Hotel in Cuba as listed in your itinerary, or similar.
  • Welcome cocktail.
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as per itinerary.
  • All activities and services, as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “Optional” or “Not included.”
  • Air-conditioned transportation and a Cuban professional driver dedicated to you.
  • Cold bottled water on transport.
  • An expert English-speaking Cuban guide who will also serve as interpreter.
  • Gratuity for your Cuban tour guide, coach driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc. for group travel activities is included. Dollars will be converted into Cuban currency and distributed by a GR Team member on your behalf.
  • A GR team member from the States will accompany your tour.
  • You will receive ongoing travel support from the GR team before and after your stay.
  • Emergency collect call access to the United States while in Cuba.