For the first time since its 1972 inception, Central Holidays, a tour operator specializing in travel throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, is expanding its destination expertise to the Caribbean with the launch of five People to People itineraries in Cuba.
Designed for clients with a zest for exploration, Central Holidays’ five- to nine-night programs aim to immerse guests in Cuba’s culture while shedding light on its history, art, religious, and music scenes.
The November 2015 – December 2016 tours start at $2,999 per person, including international air from Miami to Havana. As Central Holidays is eager to promote educational experiences to become familiarized with Cuba, the tour operator is offering $1,000 off any program to travel agents who book for themselves. Travel companions will receive $750 off any program as well.
Licensed via the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Central Holidays’ signature Cuban programs include:
Afro Cubanismo (10 Days/9 Nights; from $4,199)
Start off the journey through Cuba in the capital of Havana where highlights include a visit the Museum of the Revolution housed in the former presidential palace, speaking with the Afro-Cuban community of Regla, and meeting a well-known Afro-Cuban filmmaker and expert in Cuba race relations. After a short flight to Santiago de Cuba to explore the birthplace of some of Cuba's most famous musicians, it's on to Camaguey to explore its many UNESCO World Heritage sites, see the city’s lavish churches and enjoy a live Afro-Cuba jazz show at a local nightclub.
L’Chaim Cuba (9 Days/8 Nights; from $3,999)
Begin the adventure in Cienfuegos with a walking tour of Cuba’s “Pearl of the South” before meeting with local residents and business owners and joining the members of the small Jewish Community of Cienfuegos. Following a full-day excursion to the colorful colonial city of Trinidad, the adventure continues in Havana with a tour of the old city and visit to Ernest Hemingway's winter home where the author kept a 9,000-volume library. Next is a tour of the Orthodox Adath Israel Synagogue, the only shul with a mikvah in Cuba, a meeting with the only kosher butcher in Cuba, a visit of Sephardic synagogue Centro Safardi and the opportunity to attend Shabbat services at Temple Beth Shalom.
A Taste of Havana (6 Days/5 Nights; from $2,999)
Step into the past upon arrival in Havana with a stop at Revolution Square where American classic cars abound. Next, in the small fishing village of Jaimanitas, explore the home, gallery and workshop of the "Picasso of Cuba,” artist Jose Fuster, followed by a special performance by Habana Compas dance troupe, and a Buena Vista Social Club dinner show. A walking tour of Old Havana with a local architect will showcase the crumbling buildings of yesteryear and the renovations ongoing to bring them back to life. Then, a short drive transports guests into the world of Ernest Hemingway at his farm Finca La Vigia, where he penned many of his greatest works. Throughout the journey, enjoy the opportunity to meet the locals during dinners at Havana's paladares, privately-owned small restaurants serving authentic Cuban dishes.
The City & The Sea (9 Days/8 Nights; from $3,899)
Begin with two days in the resort town of Varadero for a cultural infusion - traditional dance lessons, touring an art school, meeting local students, and visiting a rationing store to learn about the government food distribution program. Next, tour Havana’s fascinating arts and dance projects, see Old Havana, and visit El Morro fortress. After a visit to Ernest Hemingway's house enjoy a special jazz performance. Next, an all-day excursion to the eco-village of Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and site of Cuba’s earliest surviving coffee plantations, is planned, followed by a short drive to the small fishing village of Cojimar, the inspiration for Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.
Hola Cuba (9 Days/8 Nights; from $3,999)
In Havana explore the nation’s storied history and lively culture by meeting local artists, dancers, musicians and cigar rollers, visiting museums and rum factories, tasting its authentic fare at locally-run paladares, and much more. Continue to Cienfuegos to visit the verdant botanical garden before day-tripping to the colonial city of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evenings, optional activities include taking in a live jazz or Buena Vista Social Club show, enjoying some of Cuba's finest rum cocktails, strolling through Old Havana's winding cobblestone streets, or getting dessert at Coppelia, one of the largest ice cream parlors in the world.