9 Day Authentic Cuba and The Southern Caribbean
For what has become our annual cruise to the Caribbean our challenge was to cruise and explore an area that most have not seen since the the early 60’s. We have considered Cuba ever since it was reopened to Americans under the Obama administration, however we were continually discouraged due to a multitude of administrative politics and regulations. Over time some of the premier cruise lines have been able to iron out the adversities and formulate an incredibly fulfilling cruise that captures the essence of Cuba, its people, culture and beauty with minimal complication.
Feb.18, 2020 – Ft. Lauderdale - We fill fly from Cedar Rapids to Ft. Lauderdale FL And be transported to the Ft. Lauderdale Plantation Hotel.
Feb. 19, 2020 – Embark - We will embark on the Holland America “Veendam” for an early evening departure and head toward Havana Cuba. During the evening we will enjoy the luxury of fine dining and entertainment.
Feb. 20-21, 2020 – Havana - We will arrive in Havana at 8:00 AM on the 20th and not depart until 2:00 AM on the 21st. This will allow ample time to explore the best of Havana and perhaps experience some of Havana’s famous night life.
While most Americans have never been there thanks to the U.S. government’s embargo of Cuba which started in 1962, the very word Havana still evokes a set of specific images—candy-colored vintage cars puttering along picturesque streets; smiling musicians playing familiar tropical tunes whose rhythms are so infectious that nearly everyone is seduced into dancing; cigar-smoking and rum-sipping locals against a palm-fringed background. There’s a reason these have become the stereotypical visual symbols of Cuba’s capital city, but dive beneath the surface and you’ll find so much more: world-class sports matches, centuries-old historic sites and even a Chinatown in midst of a cultural revival. And while Havana may not be a global culinary capital (for the moment, at least), you can find plenty of delicious dishes served in friendly casual restaurants run out of private homes or in more-upscale spots with city and water views. As for shopping, you’ll definitely be able to purchase unique souvenirs to take home, from photo books about Cuban culture sold at the island’s only English-language bookstore to a hand-blended perfume or cologne packaged in a bottle that looks like a throwback to another era.
Feb. 22, 2020 – Cienfuegos – We will arrive 8:00 AM at Cienfuegos Cuba on the South side of the Island and Experience a totally different culture. We will depart at 5:00 PM and head for Ocho Rios, Jamaica. On board more elegant dining and entertainment.
The city of Cienfuegos is also the capital of the province of the same name. A port city on Cuba’s southern coast, Cienfuegos has played an important role in Cuba’s history since it was founded in 1819, when the island was still Spanish territory, and today it remains one of the country’s important commercial centers—a transit point for coffee, sugarcane and tobacco. It has both welcomed and resisted incursions from various people and interests over the past two centuries. Both as the heart of Cuba’s sugar industry and as the birthplace of famous Cubans past and present, such as singer Benny Moré and baseball stars José Abreu and Yasiel Puig, the city looms large in Cuban consciousness, but it isn’t always on visitors’ itineraries, which is a shame. Cienfuegos boasts numerous attractions that give a fuller, more complex view of Cuban life, culture and history. This fact was recognized by UNESCO in 2005, when the organization inscribed the old center of Cienfuegos, with its many stately neoclassical buildings and “harmonious overall townscape” (to borrow UNESCO’s description), onto its World Heritage List.
Feb. 23, 2020 – Ocho Rios – We will arrive in Ocho Rios, Jamaica at 10:00 AM and Depart for Georgetown, Cayman Islands at 5:00 PM. Ocho Rios gained a good deal of fame when Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame was so impressed with its beauty he built an incredible resort on the island.
On his fourth voyage, Columbus was marooned for a year outside of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s north coast. You may imagine that the explorer gave the town its name after finding eight rivers here, but surprisingly that isn’t its origin: It’s a corruption of a word for waterfalls, of which there are many—far more than eight. Anyway, if you want to talk like a local, just call it Ochi.
In the last century, the north coast was a favorite of literary and Hollywood figures from Noël Coward to Errol Flynn. The first Bond film, Dr. No, was shot here, while creator Ian Fleming lived near Ochi at his Goldeneye estate. Visitors to Jamaica today are likely to think of reggae first, of course, and Bob Marley was born right here in the St. Ann Parish. The Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, held at various venues in May and June, is a big draw as well. The area near Ochi has seen significant upgrades to its ports and roads in recent years, and getting around to check out this part of Jamaica is much easier than it was in the past. The nearby region is one of the island’s finest for nature hikes among all the plants that provide the spices and fruits that go into making Jamaican cooking so outrageously delicious.
Feb. 24, 2020 – Georgetown – We will arrive at Georgetown, Cayman Islands at 8:00 AM and depart at 5:00 PM. Giving us plenty of time to tour this islands inherent beauty.
The Cayman Islands have everything you would want from a Caribbean destination—warm breezes, clear seas and a laid-back attitude—but the archipelago also has something you might not expect: an exciting culinary scene. Between the celebrity chefs who’ve set up shop on Grand Cayman and the 135 or so resident nationalities that have helped season the island’s giant melting pot, this is, hands down, one of the best places to eat in the Caribbean. In and around George Town, the Cayman Islands’ capital, you’ll find such an amazing array of culinary offerings, you’ll fear for the future of any buttons, snaps or hooks on your waistband.
And that’s where the island’s other chief pleasures come in: There’s enough walking (whether along the fabled Seven Mile Beach, around historic sites or through lush gardens) as well as stunning swimming, snorkeling and diving to be done to counter the effects of . . . So. Much. Good. Food. Or at least you can begin to. Oh, and one warning: Should you wind up at Rum Point—Grand Cayman’s castaway beach imago—there’s a good chance your ship is, by your own design, sailing without you.
Feb. 25, 2020 – At Sea – A day at Sea to relax and enjoy the beautiful waters of the Caribbean.
Feb. 26, 2020 – Ft. Lauderdale & Cedar Rapids - Arrive Ft. Lauderdale Fl. At 7:00 AM and prepare for Disembarkation. We will be transported to the Ft. Lauderdale airport via. Luxury Motorcoach for our flight back to Cedar Rapids.
- Round trip airfare Cedar Rapids Iowa – Ft. Lauderdale Florida – Cedar Rapids Iowa
- One night accommodation at the Ft. Lauderdale Plantation Hotel.
- 7 day luxury cruise aboard Holland America’s “Veendam”
- All taxes and port expenses except modest Cuban Visa fee. To be handled by Holland America Cruise Lines.
- Platimum Travel Insurance
- Transportation from the Ft. Lauderdale Airport to the Hotel.
- Transportation from the Ship after disembarkation to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport.
$2995 pp.dbl.oc Inside Cabin
$3170 pp.dbl.oc Ocean View Cabin
$4975 pp.dbl.oc. Vista Suite Balcony
We have blocked out a small number of each of the above cabin categories and because this is a smaller ship with a cabin capacity of only 1350 people it will sell out fast and our allocation may be subject to early recall.
PLEASE book early.
Booking deposit is $350 pp and is refundable until the final payment date of December 6, 2019.