Updated April 5, 2017
Fathom™ has officially sailed for the very first time into Cuba and arrived in Havana May 2, 2016. It has been over 50 years since a US cruise line has sailed from a US port to Cuba, so it was an exciting day. This is also the first time in decades that Cuban-born individuals have been able to travel by sea back to their place of birth. Our agency owner, sailed on the third cruise on May 30 and has posted blogs of her trip, most of which are listed at the end of this post.
Travelers with the cruise line were greeted by a festive celebration as they arrived in Havana – which is just the first of three ports that Fathom’s MV Adonia will visit as part of the week-long voyages. Following the inaugural sailing to Cuba, the ship will begin operating their Cuban itinerary every other week, alternating with the Dominican Republic.
7 Nights Cruise, 3 Historic Cities
Almost from the moment you step on board the MV Adonia in Miami, you’ll realize that a Fathom™ voyage is anything but travel as usual. Yes, of course you’ll have leisure moments, creature comforts and time for recreation. The Cuban itinerary – Havana where you arrive first on Monday at 11 am for two days, leaving on Tuesday at 8 pm; followed by Cienfuegos, from at 7 am to 1:30 pm Thursday; and arrival in Santiago de Cuba Friday at 9 am with departure at 5 pm. Docking arrangements have been made for all ports to allow passengers to easily get off the ship and re-board without tendering. During your time at sea, you’ll also be focused on building a community with your fellow travelers, as you participate in on board activities designed specifically to prepare you for your on-ground impact experience.
Fathom™ offers a truly historic opportunity for travel to Cuba – a chance to help build new bridges to a rich and vibrant culture that, until now, most U.S. travelers have only seen in photographs.
Just about everything. Meals, daytime excursions and activities, a comfortable cabin with all the amenities of a modern hotel, plus the luxury of having to unpack only once. The itinerary was designed for ease of travel; between cities you will enjoy immersive and relaxing on board activities like dancing lessons, an authentic Cuban cocktail class, or simply unwinding by the pool. For your time on the island, Fathom™ created a thoughtful cultural exchange experience that gives you and your fellow travelers the rare opportunity to learn more about the everyday lives of the Cuban people and their remarkable culture.
Sailings through May 2017 are from Miami on Sunday afternoon and the MV Adonia serves as a comfortable home base throughout the journey. Fathom™ is proud to be the first cruise ship company to be granted U.S. approval for round-trip travel between the U.S. and multiple destinations in Cuba. The cruise itinerary is authorized under current people-to-people travel guidelines as set forth by the U.S. government.
Immersive Cultural Exchange
You’ll have the opportunity to interact with the artists, musicians, business owners, and families who make up the fabric of Cuban society. As you engage with the Cuban people, you’ll also experience the sights and sounds of their beautiful country: the Spanish and French colonial architecture, classic American cars, traditional Cuban music and dance, the coastal fortresses and tall cathedrals, the cannons on San Juan Hill, and the shores of Cojimar, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite fishing village.
All the details of getting from location to location in Cuba are taken care of by Fathom™. Enjoy the sights, the sounds, tastes and rhythms of everyday life, and relax knowing that meals, lodging, and daytime shore excursions, are already planned for you. ¹See new programs recently added as of July 1, 2016 below.
Cuba’s colorful capital is probably best known for the Spanish-influenced architecture of Old Havana. But its historic castles, fortresses, cathedrals, mansions and public buildings vie for attention with the city’s lively music and entertainment scene, an eclectic and sophisticated mix of museums, art galleries, music, dance, and open-air festivals that take full advantage of the island’s sunny Caribbean climate.
Fathom™ also offers a few more social impact adventures to the Dominican Republic or a combination with Cuba, sailing round trip from Miami on alternative Sundays and arriving in Puerto Plata on Tuesdays where for three days, you would work alongside local people in the Dominican Republic on projects that serve local community needs. On Friday afternoons, the return voyage to Miami begins.
Fathom’s new on board programming for Cuba sailings now includes:
• Getting to Know Cuba / Intro to Havana — This program provides essential information for the week ahead to ensure travelers get the most from their time in Cuba, as well as an extensive overview of Havana.
• Getting to Know Cienfuegos — Known as The Pearl of the South, Cienfuegos is famous for its remarkable beauty, intertwined with its French roots. Travelers learn the history of the port that includes sites like Parque Marti and the Cantores de Cienfuegos.
• Getting to Know Santiago de Cuba — Once the Spanish capital of Cuba, Santiago de Cuba is rich in history. Guests learn about its culture and people, and discover why the land of “Ron, Son, and Revolución” has birthed many unique genres of music and ideologies.
• Pre-1950’s Cuban History — The country’s pre-revolutionary history tells of Spanish colonialism, Caribbean resources, pirates, and the pride of the people. During this program, guests get a closer look at the development of Cuba’s culture, and why many fall in love with the spirit of the local people.
• Havana Architecture Bingo — Havana is undoubtedly an architectural playground, featuring styles from Baroque mansions to contemporary offices and more. Travelers learn about the city’s unique buildings and styles during an interactive game of bingo.
• Cuban Coffee Games — Coffee plays a huge part in Cuban culture, as its most important export. Guests learn how coffee got to the island, and why coffee from the Sierra Maestra is considered the finest in the world.
• Havana / Cienfuegos / Santiago de Cuba Bands — The influence of music and art on Cuban culture can be seen and heard on almost every block. Cuban bands join the sailing during the ship’s time between ports, adding their sound to the on board entertainment. They’ll be playing classic and contemporary hits, as well as original compositions for guests’ listening pleasure.
• Shop Handcrafted Products — Fathom™ has partnered with a Cuban design store in Old Havana, Clandestina. The shipboard store will feature their local merchandise, including toys, handbags, posters, and other design products. It is the first store outside of Cuba to sell Clandestina products. Founded by Cuban creatives, the design brand is well-known for their signature Vintrashe Collection, which features toys made from recycled plastic and decorated by hand, as well as t-shirts and handbags designed by local artists and made with up-cycle techniques and second-hand fabrics. “Each time Fathom™ travelers purchase our products, they support independent entrepreneurship. They are taking home a unique design product that is ‘authentically Cuban,’” said Idania del Rio, co-founder and owner of Clandestina.
New optional tours/excursions have been added as of September 22, 2016 as follows:
- In Hemingway’s Footsteps (5 hours) – Ernest Hemingway fans and other travelers alike will see Havana through the eyes of the famed author. From the cobblestone streets of Old Havana to the shores of fishing village Cojimar, the spirit of the man is alive in bars, recipes, and museums. Guests will also visit Hemingway’s home “Finca Vigia,” stop by his favorite fishing spot and inspiration for “The Old Man and the Sea,” step foot in the room where he wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and grab a drink at his favorite watering holes. The excursion includes lunch and drinks and is $59 per person.
- Beyond Havana: Exploring the Cuban Countryside (9 hours) – Travelers will be able to experience rural life in Cuba as they visit the countryside known for its sugar and coffee production. One highlight is Las Terrazas, developed in the 1960’s as part of Cuba’s Green Revolution, and is now a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Las Terrazas is an ecotourism hotspot and sustainable community model for artists, farmers, and families utilizing organic farming and medicine. Guests can interact with doctors who transform plants into alternative medicine, visit organic farms, and wander the ruins of a former French coffee plantation. The tour includes lunch at one of Las Terrazas’ locally sourced restaurants, and refreshments throughout the day. It’s $69 per person.
- Magic of Santiago Featuring El Cobre (6 hours) – Travelers who want to experience revolution, rum, religion, and salsa will love this tour of Santiago de Cuba – the country’s former capital. Beginning downtown in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, guests head to the resting place of Cuban hero Jose Marti before touring San Juan Hill, home to the Rough Riders assault during the Spanish-American War. The excursion then ventures beyond the city limits into the Sierra Maestra mountain range for the city of El Cobre, a historic copper mining town with African influence. Travelers will visit Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, where they’ll learn about the role religion plays in the daily lives of the locals, and learn about the history of the shrine. Guests will also have the option to attend a mass, and listen to the sounds of the city’s steel drum band El Cobre. The tour is $69 per person.
Travelers interested in heading off on their own can also self-certify with approved People to People activities. For example, they can take a spin around Havana in a classic American car, sample rich Cuban rum, dance to lively Cuban rhythms at a tropical Cabaret, or enjoy an authentic Cuban meal in one of the country’s many restaurants. The choices are virtually limitless.
Please contact us or call 724.824.3826 for more information on Cuba and Dominican Republic sailings as well as other opportunities to visit Cuba on a land tour if cruising does not interest you. See our other blog article on the Dominican Republic’s Fathom™ impact experience.
All photos not identifying the photographer are courtesy of Fathom™ Impact Travel.
You may wish to view our other posts relative to impact travel, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic: