Cuba with Lindblad Expeditions

One of the newest frontiers for travel, Cuba’s popularity is increasing at a furiously rapid rate – hence the reason to visit now! A cultural hub made up of a vast mix of descendants, its music, art and everyday life draw on these diverse influences. Lightfoot Travel and Lindblad Expeditions have created this 11-day itinerary that highlights the best the island nation has to offer.

This expedition travels between December 2016 to March 2017.

Day 1: Arrival

Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred from the airport to your hotel, Hotel Nacional. Located in the centre of Havana, this historic hotel was opened in 1930 and over the decades has hosted a remarkable number of entertainers, writers, athletes and world leaders.

You will have the remainder of the day at leisure to explore Havana or just relax.

Founded by the Spanish in 1519 and today a UNESCO World Heritage site, Havana is vital to Cuba’s history. This area is a treasure trove of historic architecture and expansive plazas, and also a center for Cuba’s arts and culture. You may explore Old Havana on foot to see four of its great squares: the Plaza de la Catedral, the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza San Francisco, and the Plaza Vieja.

Stay: Hotel Nacional

Day 2 - 3: Exploring Havana

You will have the next two days to explore Cuba’s capital city, and you will have the flexibility to choose the programs that interest you most. On each of these visits, you will meet with Cubans who are making a difference in their fields, and you’ll develop a rich understanding of life in Cuba today and the forces that have shaped it.

Here are just a few options of activities for your free time:

  • Get a perspective on Castro’s revolution at the city’s history museum
  • Visit a dance group or an extravagant art space
  • Wander through Ernest Hemingway’s estate at Finca Vigia
  • Visit a Cuban cigar factory, or learn about environmental education projects at the Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez
  • Visit an auto workshop where inventive mechanics repair classic American cars
  • Enjoy several meals in some of Havana’s best paladares, or privately owned restaurants, which have developed a deserved reputation for innovative cuisine.
  • Listen the signature rhythms of Cuba at a music hall with the chance to meet the musicians. There is surely no better place anywhere for music than Havana, and its rich traditions—seemingly every Cuban plays a musical instrument—have been celebrated all over the world.

Stay: Hotel Nacional

Day 4: Set Off aboard the Panorama II

Today you will have a final morning to explore Havana. After lunch, you will be transferred to the beautiful city of Cienfuegos, which is located on Cuba’s south coast. In the late afternoon, you will embark Panorama II, your home for the next seven nights, and have a welcome dinner aboard ship.

Stay: Panorama II

Day 5: Admiring Bay of Pigs

This morning you will visit Bay of Pigs, an ecologically important area that became known worldwide when the 1961 U.S.-backed invasion by Cuban exiles was rapidly and thoroughly defeated by the Cuban revolutionary government, whose forces were led by Fidel Castro. We’ll visit the museum that recounts the history of the battle, with photographs and artifacts that include a Cuban fighter plane and vessels. We’ll meet with people who will tell us about what transpired and its meaning to Cubans. The bay lies along the Zapata Peninsula and the Zapata Swamp National Park, and we’ll have a chance to explore the area in search of its renowned birdlife.

Stay: Panorama II

Day 6: Visiting Cayo Largo

Cayo Largo is a small island in the Caribbean sea. This beautiful island is home to diverse marine ecosystems and a local community that serves the primarily European and Canadian visitors who come for its snorkeling and diving. This morning you will visit the local clinic to discuss Cuba’s medical system with local doctors and nurses. Then, you will see a sea turtle breeding center and endangered species protection program. In the afternoon you’ll have a chance to snorkel or dive on the coral reef.

Stay: Panorama II

Day 7: Tour of Trinidad

After breakfast you will visit Trinidad. As one of UNESCO World Heritage sites and a Cuban national monument, Trinidad is a splendid and meticulously preserved colonial city. It occupies a spectacular setting on a hill overlooking the Caribbean, with a backdrop of green mountains. Founded in 1514 by the conquistador Diego Velázquez, this city has rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces, and plazas. You will walk through the town with a representative of the Office of the City Historian, interacting with residents along the way. There will be stops for visits to local artists, including young female artists who through their art are raising the status of women; to home studios; and to the Municipal Historical Museum, located in a restored mansion just off the main square, the Romantic Museum with its 19th-century furnishings, or the Museum of Architecture.

Stay: Panorama II

Day 8 - 9: Snorkeling at Gardens of the Queen

Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park is one of the crown jewels of the Caribbean—a place of transcendent importance to the marine ecology of Cuba and the world. You will see some of the finest coral reefs in the world, and you will have two days to learn about the unique habitat and meet with the ecologists there. You will have the chance to snorkel and dive in these prolific waters, and to see some of the greatest diversity of corals, fish, and other creatures to be found anywhere.

Stay: Panorama II

Day 10: Arriving in Cienfuegos

In the early afternoon you will arrive in Cienfuegos, Cuba’s “Pearl of the South” and another UNESCO World Heritage site, and spend the rest of the day exploring it. Columbus is said to have been here in 1494, on his second voyage to the New World, and the area was subsequently a haven for pirates and smugglers. French settlers arrived in 1819, and the city retains a distinct liveliness and sophistication. You will explore the town center on foot, visiting the Graphic Arts Workshop for discussions and exchanges with local artists. ‘

In the evening, you will have a farewell dinner aboard the ship.

Stay: Panorama II

Day 11: Departure

Today you will be transferred to either Cienfuegos or Santa Clara Airport to catch your return flight home.


Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival Hotel Nacional
Day 2 - 3: Exploring Havana Hotel Nacional
Day 4: Set Off aboard the Panorama II Panorama II
Day 5: Admiring Bay of Pigs Panorama II
Day 6: Visiting Cayo Largo Panorama II
Day 7: Tour of Trinidad Panorama II
Day 8 - 9: Snorkeling at Gardens of the Queen Panorama II
Day 10: Arriving in Cienfuegos Panorama II
Day 11: Departure



  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Transfers
  • 24 hour emergency contact
  • Activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • English speaking tour guide

Not Included

  • International and domestic airfare
  • Personal expenses
  • Visa fees and/or visa authorization
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Other expenses not mentioned on the itinerary
  • Travel insurance (please note that travel insurance is mandatory for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)


Hotel Nacional Panorama II

From USD 9,500 per person

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant.