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Cuba and the treasured Caribbean expedition cruise - 2 Oct 2018

16 days from £4,986pp

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Cuba and the treasured Caribbean expedition cruise - 2 Oct 2018

16 days from £4,986pp

Price excludes international flights at the beginning and end of the trip

 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Nassau. Transfer to hotel.
 

Arrive in Nassau, capital of the Bahamas, once part of the British Empire.  The city centre shows off some graceful historic buildings from the colonial era, and the balmy tropical island is famous for its pink-sand beaches. Transfer to your hotel in town, the first class British Colonial Hilton.

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Nassau, Bahamas

Day 2

Embark expedition ship Silver Cloud; set sail.
 

Embark your cruise vessel, the luxury expedition ship Silver Cloud. After she weighs anchor you will meet the Expedition Team and other crew members.  Get to know your ship, meet your fellow travellers and enjoy your first meal of contemporary, international cuisine and regional specialties unique to the voyage destination.

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Silver Cloud

Day 3

At sea in the Caribbean en route to Cuba.
 

Relax on deck or browse through the books in the well-stocked library. As you sail towards Cuba you may join the Expedition Team on the outer decks and watch for birds, whales and dolphins; or head to the theatre to learn more about Cuba and its culture.

Mealtimes are a highlight of your day. Eating is a relaxed and informal affair: you are free to dine when, where and with whom you please in the restaurant. 

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Cuban musicians

Day 4

Explore Havana.
 

Arrive at the capital of Cuba, Havana: the island’s largest city. The historical centre has a large number of grand buildings dating back to Spanish colonial times. Nowadays many are crumbling away while others are gradually being spruced up.

Leave the ship and take a guided tour of the highlights including a Spanish fortress with a wide view over the city. The tour continues to Revolution Square and its memorial to Cuba’s hero of independence, José Marti.

Continue to the colonial part of the city to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site on foot. You may head to a bar for a drink and listen to a traditional Cuban band before walking back to the port for an early dinner on board.  

Later in the evening you’ll go to the famous (weather dependent!) open-air Tropicana Show a vibrant mix of Caribbean extravagance and cabaret.  The ship will overnight in Havana’s port.

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havana

Day 5

Further discoveries in Havana.
 

Today is also spent in Havana. There is a guided tour to sample three things Cuba is famous for: vintage American cars, cigars, and mojitos. Take a ride in a 1950s vintage American car to the ‘Cigar Factory’. Watch the cigars being hand-rolled then continue your drive to the famous Hotel National, where you will stroll through the garden and enjoy amojito, Cuba’s best loved cocktail.

If you want to continue to explore Havana on your own, the Havana Rum Museum, with guided tours explaining history of rum and its production, is within walking distance.

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havana cars

Day 6

Drop anchor at Isla Juventud (Isle of Youth).
 

In the morning there are Cuba-focused lectures as the ship cruises along Cuba’s western tip before reaching the ‘Isle of Youth. This island was discovered by Columbus in 1494 and for centuries served as a base from which English and French pirates launched attacks on the Spanish galleons travelling to Europe laden with gold and silver plundered in South America.

The ship will tender ashore at the Punta Frances Maritime National Park.  Join the ship’s marine biologist for a snorkel tour and learn to identify exotic fish and turtles. Alternatively, explore more of this national park on foot looking out for iguanas and pelicans. During your stay you’ll savour seafood lunch including lobster.

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Go snorkelling off Cuba's Caribbean Coast

Day 7

Visit Cienfuegos and Trinidad.
 

Dock at Cienfuegos, or the ‘ Pearl of the South’, founded in the early 1800s by French colonists. The French influence remains and it even has its own Arc de Triomphe. UNESCO declared the city a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2005.

You will also drop in on Trinidad which preserves its Spanish-colonial style with cobble-stoned streets, red-tiled roofs, wrought iron grills and shady internal patios. Visit a couple of the museums and palaces before having lunch at the Plaza Mayor. Afterwards you will visit a tavern to sample a special drink made with honey, lemon and rum concocted for slaves in colonial times.

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Trinidad Cuba

Day 8

At sea. Bird-spotting and lectures. Arrive Santiago de Cuba.
 

During the morning Silver Cloud will continue along Cuba’s southern shore, giving you time to observe, relax, enjoy the amenities Silver Cloud has to offer. Work out in the well-equipped Fitness Centre, take a class in circuit training or Pilates in the aerobics room, and let the sauna and steam rooms soothe every muscle. Silversea offers seminars ranging from aromatherapy to nutrition.  A holistic approach to wellness fully integrates exercise, fitness and spa therapies with health lectures and nutritious dining

You can also attend lectures which will focus on Caribbean natural history. In the afternoon Silver Cloud will approach Santiago de Cuba’s port and spend the night there.

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Silver Explorer

Day 9

Visit Santiago de Cuba
 

You’ll be driven through the main streets of Cuba’s second city your way to a 17th century fortress at the entrance to the harbour, described by UNESCO as the most complete and best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture. A brief stop will be made at Revolution Square before you visit José Martí’s mausoleum. A stop will be made at a rum bar before you head to Céspedes Park, the heart of the city, where Santiago’s beautiful cathedral overlooks the square.

Alternatively, depart inland on an adventure which follows the road to La Gran Piedra, one of the rugged Sierra Maestra peaks.  The best view of the mountains is at the top of a flight of over 400 steps.

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Santiago de Cuba

Day 10

Port Antonio, Jamaica.
 

Join members of the Expedition Team for a visit to a small cove nearly which is acknowledged to be one of Jamaica’s most scenic spots, the Blue Lagoon. You will also visit Frenchman’s Cove and the architecturally ornate and historic Victorian mansion of Demontevine Lodge on Titchfield Street.

Together with the onboard ornithologist, you embark on a bird-watching adventure to Reach Falls. Where, owing to the migratory path to and from North America, many species can be spotted in both autumn and spring.

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Day 11

Heading towards Cartagena, Colombia.
 

A leisurely day at sea allows time to attend a talk about the next destination, Colombia’s colonial Cartagena.

You might take advantage of the facilities on board, such as the beauty salon or exercise classes: yoga, Pilates and aerobics are on offer and there is a comprehensive Fitness Room.  Or maybe just luxuriate in the comfort of your suite and watch a movie.
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Silver Cloud

Day 12

Cartagena, Colombia.
 

Since its foundation in 1533, imposing Cartagena de Indias has been one of the most strategically important ports in Latin America. In colonial times it sheltered Europe-bound galleons laden with gold. Pirates repeatedly attacked the city which was fortified with lofty walls and fortresses.  This ‘walled city’ was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1984.

During the afternoon you will visit the exquisite and atmospheric historic core. Ochre-hued colonial houses with flower-draped balconies line narrow lanes echoing with the salsa music which you can hear on every corner. These delicate façades shelter art galleries, bars and trendy restaurants.

Inside the protected walled area you’ll also find several museums and theatres. Indeed, nowadays this cultured city is an international centre for the Arts, and even hosts its own Hay Festival. 

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Cartegena

Day 13

Visit the San Blas Islands, Panama.
 

Continue sailing to the last of your contrasting Caribbean countries, Panama. Boarding Zodiacs you’ll visit one of 365 islets and islands off Panama’s northern coast. San Blas archipelago is populated by the semi-autonomous Kuna indians whose economy centres on fishing and agriculture.

The Kuna women craft colour-rich embroidered garments which they wear to this day. While you are visiting one of the uninhabited islets for swimming and snorkelling Kuna women will come over from the other islands, offering their ‘molas’ for photographs or for sale as souvenirs.

This voyage rich in a variety of multi-layered cultures and landscapes is over, and this evening the on-board videographer/photographer will present a Voyage DVD, recapturing all the sights and sounds of the voyage.

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weaver

Day 14

Arrive Colon and transfer to Panama City.
 

Arrive at Colon, at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal, and disembark.  You’ll be collected and taken to the beautifully refurbished  first class art deco American Trade Hotel in the Spanish colonial district of Panama City for two nights.

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old panama

Day 15

Rainforest expedition by boat close to the Panama Canal.
 

It’s just a short drive to Soberanía National Park and Gatún Lake. The vast body of water was created when the canal was built and it is fringed by rainforest which is a haven for wildlife. With a naturalist guide to help you, look out for howler monkeys, sloths and toucans.

You'll also be able to watch, almost within touching distance it seems, mighty Panamax freighters glide past, towering above the jungle canopy.

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Lake Gatun

Day 16

Transfer to the airport for international flight, arriving home the following day.
 

Alternatively, now you've reached one end of the Panama Canal, why not stay on board for the next section of the cruise, from Colon to Callao? Or at least visit the canal, and maybe even make a full or half day transit of this monumental waterway. 

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Miraflores Dock

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