CUBA'S HAVANA & COLONIAL CITIES

9-Day Tour from Miami to Miami

June 2017: Revised USA Cuba Travel Rules
Bottom line is while independent travel to Cuba has been limited, our People-to-People group tours are still legal and operating! We hope we can help you explore and enjoy visiting Cuba. Departures often sell out, so please contact us early in your planning to help decide what type of tour may be best for you.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience awaits participants in this rare opportunity. Be among some of the first American travelers in five decades to legally visit Cuba and its most fascinating cities. This program allows Americans and Cubans to share in special people-to-people interactions while enjoying the rich history and culture of this amazing country. Every day of your program will be wrapped in compelling education and conversation, where both Cuban and American residents can openly share their ideas and opinions. Join in a variety of discussions about Cuba’s history, agriculture, music, religion, and art. You can fully embrace Cuban culture when you meet and join in a discussion with the dancers of the world-renowned Camagüey Ballet Company,
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interact with local artists and exchange views on the importance of art to a community, enjoy a dance lesson and engage with musicians who will introduce you to son, Cuba’s popular music, and be introduced to Cuban baseball players and discuss this favorite pastime in both Cuba and the USA The people-to-people interactions you’ll experience weave seamlessly into the daily visits around the country, serving to enrich and enlighten. Fascinating, informative, and insightful discoveries await every participant, both Cuban and American, on this trip of a lifetime to this great island—the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

Trip Highlights include:
  • People-to-People interaction and meaningful exchanges with locals.
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  • Small group size of not more than 24.
  • CAMAGÜEY: Discussion with an award-winning artist; bici (bike) taxi tour of the city; Camagüey Ballet Company; program at Casanova Pottery Studio; paladar dinner and discussion with the owner; meet with American Car Association owners and ride in an Old Styler car
  • KING RANCH: Interact with local cowboys and village residents
  • TRINIDAD: Visit a Casa Particular and enjoy lunch; historic city center; workshop at Templo Yemaya
  • CIENFUEGOS: Walking tour of historic city center; interact with tobacco rollers at a cigar factory; discussion with a local artist and studio visit; performance by the Cienfuegos Orchestra
  • PLAYA GIRÓN: Visit the Bay of Pigs Museum; interact with a local family and Naturalist over lunch
  • HAVANA: Performance and discussion with jazz musicians; discussion with architect; Old Havana; Finca Vigia (Hemingway’s home); discussion and lunch at an organic urban farm; interact with children and workers at a daycare center; Revolution Square; Colon Cemetery; workshop at artist José Fuster’s studio; discussion with Cuban baseball players; tour of Hotel Nacional de Cuba; performance and discussion with members of the Cuban Institute of Music; farewell dinner
  • The following UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Historic Centre of Camaguey, Old Havana and its Fortification System, Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios,Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos

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CUBA tour map
Colonial cites tour map
Click here for a nice 6 minute video on Cuba Tourism:
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CUBA'S HAVANA & COLONIAL CITIES: 9-day Itinerary

DAY 1: Miami

Arrive in Miami and transfer to your hotel, the Miami Airport Sheraton. Tonight, meet your Group Leader for at 6 pm for welcome drink. This is a good time to meet your fellow program participants, get your questions answered and prepare for your trip to fascinating Cuba.

DAY 2: Miami – Camaguey, Cuba

This afternoon, a short flight brings you to Camagüey, Cuba’s third-largest city. Meet your Cuban National Tour Director, who will show you the city’s beautifully restored plazas and explain why Camagüey is nicknamed the “City of Squares.” One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards, much of the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a bici (bike) taxi RIDE before dinner this evening. Arrive at your hotel located in the heart of Camaguey. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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DAY 3: Camaguey. Excursion to King Ranch

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Today, meet dancers with the world-renowned Camagüey BALLET COMPANY, which has performed in over 40 countries. You’ll have a chance to meet and interact with the dancers, teachers, and costume-makers. Journey to KING RANCH, an expansion of the famous Texas ranch of the same name, and its neighboring village, and step inside a home to discuss rural life. Then, over a barbecue lunch, connect with the cowboys who call the ranch home. Stop at CASANOVA POTTERY STUDIO to learn about Camagüey’s famous tinajones—large red pots found outside homes, a symbol of the city. See the traditional way of making the vessels and interact with the artists to learn the local legend. A relaxing dinner is at a local paladar (special, privately owned restaurant). Over dessert, discuss with the owner and staff the differences between a paladar, co-operative, and government-run restaurant in Cuba. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY 4: Camaguey - Trinidad - Cienfuegos

Travel to Trinidad, crown jewel of Cuba’s colonial cities, founded in 1514 and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch at a CASA PARTICULAR (bed & breakfast) and discuss private enterprise in Cuba with the owners and staff. This afternoon, stroll the streets of Trinidad, a cobblestone showcase of colonial architecture and pastel-colored houses decorated with wooden shutters and wrought-iron grilles. Caged songbirds outside the home are a Trinidad tradition. Spend time at TEMPLO YEMAYA to discuss Santeria. The religion was first brought to Cuba by African slaves who worked at the sugar plantations, and it has connections to Roman Catholicism and Native Indian traditions. Continue to Cienfuegos for a 2-night stay. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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DAY 5: Cienfuegos
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Get acquainted with Cienfuegos on a walking tour around the main square. Settled by French immigrants more than 150 years ago, Cienfuegos is often referred to as the “Pearl of the South” because of its impressive beauty and colorful history. Next, an opportunity to engage with tobacco rollers at a CIGAR FACTORY, and to learn about the importance of tobacco, both culturally and commercially, for Cuba. Join in a discussion with artists at a graphic arts STUDIO and learn more about their lives, work, and how their art is created. Lunch is served at a waterside paladar. Before returning to your hotel, enjoy a performance and discussion with the Cienfuegos ORCHESTRA. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY 6: Bay of Pigs–Havana

After breakfast, travel through the countryside, passing sugar cane fields and banana plantations. We’ll stop in Playa Girón for a guided visit of the BAY OF PIGS MUSEUM. Nearby is the old sugar mill used by Fidel Castro as his center of operations during the 1961 invasion. Over lunch, join in a DISCUSSION with a local Naturalist as well as the family that runs the restaurant. Arrive in Havana, Cuba’s vibrant capital city. Before dinner this evening, meet with jazz musicians from the CUBAN INSTITUTE OF MUSIC. Join a discussion to share the importance of music in everyday life, then enjoy a performance. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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DAY 7: Havana

Your day begins with a DISCUSSION with a local architect. Topics include Havana’s unique architecture, the challenges of renovating the city’s exquisite historic buildings, and the future of these restorations. Then, you have an opportunity to explore the charming cobblestone streets of OLD HAVANA, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while participating in open dialogue with the local architect on architectural topics of interest. Next, our attention turns to Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Cuba for more than 30 years and left behind an enduring legacy. It is here that he wrote several books, participated in fishing contests, and enjoyed the laid-back ambiance and warmth of the Cuban people. Engage with staff at FINCA VIGIA, his beloved home, and see his fishing boat, El Pilar. Lunch is at a local ORGANIC FARM, where you’ll join a discussion with the owners and learn about organic urban farming in Cuba. Next, visit a DAYCARE CENTER to interact with the children and workers who run the program. (Breakfast, Lunch)
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DAY 8: Havana
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Make a photo stop at REVOLUTION SQUARE before exploring the world-famous COLON CEMETERY with its elaborately sculpted memorials. Hear the cemetery’s captivating history, folklore, and stories about the many noteworthy people laid to rest here, including musicians, filmmakers, writers, politicians, Major League Baseball players, and La Milagrosa—the “Miraculous One.” Next, visit JOSÉ FUSTER’S STUDIO, cleverly nicknamed the “Picasso of the Caribbean.” Here, you’ll discover a surreal world—like nothing you have seen before. Interact with members of the neighborhood to discuss the project’s impact on the surrounding area. Over lunch, meet former Cuban baseball players for a DISCUSSION about the history and the love of this favorite pastime in Cuba and the United States. Afterward, tour the illustrious HOTEL NACIONAL DE CUBA, a symbol of history, culture, and Cuban identity. The hotel has hosted celebrities and world figures over the decades, including Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, and Steven Spielberg. Before your farewell dinner this evening, enjoy a ride in an OLD STYLER car and a choir performance by the CUBAN INSTITUTE OF MUSIC—the perfect ending to your time in Cuba.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY 9: Havana – Miami, USA

After breakfast, depart for the airport and your return flight to Miami. Those returning to Miami on Sundays should schedule connecting flights after 6pm; if returning to Miami on Fridays, please schedule connecting flights after 1:15pm.
Note: Please coordinate Miami flight connection dates and time before purchase. (Breakfast)

While full participation in the scheduled program is required during the day, you are able to explore on your own during early morning hours or in the evenings.


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9-Day, CUBA'S HAVANA & COLONIAL CITIES

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TOUR DATES - PRICES Contact us to confirm availability.

Pricing ranges from $3,589 to $4,069 USD depending on dates. Many 2017 departures or sold out or near full. Next available start in October. Contact us for availability. In 2018, the program changes to an 8-Days itinerary.

NOTES:
DEPOSIT:
Reservations require a $400 per person deposit and final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.
CANCELATION FEES:
45-22 days prior to commencement of services: 20% of total price
21-8 days prior to commencement of services: 30% of total price
7-1 days prior to commencement of services: 50% of total price
On departure day and later: 100% of total price

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1. Prices do not include air travel. Participation in this vacation requires purchase of the following flights, not included in pricing. Estimate $483 for Miami to Camagüey and Havana to Miami airfare. Add-on connecting fares from your U.S. gateway may be available, just ask us for a quote when booking. Air price includes luggage allowance of 44 lbs per person (total for checked and carry-on). Participants are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on per person (purses and laptop cases are excluded).

2.
Cuba visa fee ($85) is additional and mandatory. These fees will be added to your tour package.

3. For your convenience, as credit and debit cards issued by U.S. banks have limited use in Cuba,
program gratuities ($191) are additional and mandatory. These fees will be added to your tour package.

4. Cuban Departure Taxes: Estimate
$25 per person not included - to be added to cruise cost.

5. Cuban Medical Insurance: Estimate
$46 per person not included - to be added to cruise cost.

6.
Prices based on double room occupancy. A Single Room Supplement ranges from $1,185 to $1,410. Triple rooms are not available.
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7. For desired extra overnights in Miami, add per person: in single room $212; in twin room $117

8. Tour operated under the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) authorized People to People programs to Group Voyagers, Inc. (doing business as Globus), License No. CT-298139-1. The itineraries provide a full-time schedule of people-to-people educational exchange activities designed to result in meaningful interactions between the travelers and individuals in Cuba. United States law requires that all participants in the Cuba programs adhere to the full-time schedule of people-to-people activities.

9. The program requires walking on cobblestone streets and uneven pathways, climbing stairs, and participating in a full-time schedule of people-to-people activities.

10. Due to the special requirements to visit Cuba, participants will be required to complete visa application and travel reservation forms and sign an affidavit confirming that they are traveling under a people-to-people license and are aware of the travel rules. Participants are also required to send a copy of their passport photo page. These items must be sent within 7 days of making a reservation.

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11. In Cuba, activities that have been scheduled far in advance can sometimes become unavailable for a number of different reasons. The purpose of the trip is to have meaningful interactions with the locals and if the planned people-to-people educational exchange isn’t available, rest assured that another that will be just as enriching will be substituted.

12. Small-Group Discovery – Never more than 24 participants in a group.

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HOTELS


Miami

Sheraton
Sheraton Miami Airport
First-Class
Overlooking the Miami River, this modern hotel is the closest to Miami Airport. Rooms offer free WiFi, flat screen TVs, custom-designed beds and coffee makers. There is a full service restaurant offering fusion cuisine as well as a bar serving lighter fare. Other hotel facilities include a 24 hour gym as well as a river view outdoor swimming pool.





Camaguey
Gran Hotel Camaguey
Gran Hotel
First-Class
The historic Gran Hotel, located on the city's pedestrian street, was built in 1939. The lobby features high ceilings, chandeliers and antique furniture. With 72 rooms, an outdoor pool, patio courtyard, rooftop terrace, restaurant, and cocktail bar.





Cienfuegos
Hotel Faro Luna CienfuegosBrisas Trinidad del Mar Resort
Moderate First-Class
The signature pink Hotel Faro Luna is a great spot to relax after a day filled with conversations with locals. Located on the beach outside of Cienfuegos, the hotel offers several amenties including a restaurant, bar, garden and swimming pool. Find a spot here to reflect on your day or watch a beautiful sunset in the surrounding bay.


Havana
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Melia Cohiba Hotel
Moderate Deluxe
The Melia Cohiba is a modern five-star property featuring 462 rooms. It is located in the El Vedado district, facing the famous Havana Malecón and is near Havana's historic center. The hotel has an outdoor pool, fitness center, sauna, squash court, spa services, hair salon, business center, gift shop, five restaurants, coffee bar, cigar bar, lobby bar, nightclub, and 24-hour room service.

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CUBA FAQ

PASSPORT & VISA

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Each traveler must be in possession of a valid, signed passport that will remain valid for at least six months beyond completion of the entire trip. At this time visas ARE required for US citizens traveling to Cuba. We will obtain the visa required for you and provide to you in Miami. The cost of the visa is added to the program price. Tape your visa inside your passport so you do not lose it. It is highly encouraged that you keep a photocopy of your passport or your driver’s license with you at all times. Upon arrival in Cuba, you should keep your passport and airline ticket in the hotel safe, along with all other valuables. You will only need to carry a copy of your passport on your person.

Previous to arriving in Miami you will be sent an application (with instructions) that is MANDATORY for ALL travelers to fill out. Once all travelers have filled out the application you will send them back to us with copies of your passports, to which we will forward to the Cuban ground operator to be processed. When you have sent back your completed visa application, your visa will be shipped to you.

Participants holding all other passports should check with the consulate for regulations and instructions.

Due to the special requirements to visit Cuba, after reserving you will be required to complete the following forms and return them within 7 days of making a reservation:
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  • An affidavit confirming you are traveling under a people-to-people license and that you will participate in a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities
  • Travel Reservation Form
  • Visa Application Form
  • A color photocopy of the photo page of your valid passport

HEALTH REGULATIONS

No vaccinations are required for entry into Cuba or return to the USA. Before visiting Cuba, it is recommended that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines ( measles, mumps, tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine etc) You may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination: Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid and Rabies. Although there are pharmacies open 24 hours, they only give you the essential medicines, as most are scarce and the ones you can get will be expensive. Therefore it is desirable to take, in addition to the remedies prescribed by your doctor, a basic kit with analgesics, tablets for diarrhea, antacids, antihistamines, calamine lotion, sterile gauze, Band-Aids, insect repellent and sunscreen.


WEATHER

The Cuban climate is mild subtropical. Thanks to its proximity to the Tropic of Cancer and its narrow configuration, Cuba receives a refreshing action of trade winds and marine breezes. Average Fahrenheit temperatures are as follows:

Cuba Climate graph


PACKING

Please travel as lightly as possible so as not to restrict space in your cabin. Soft bags are more practical than hard suitcases. Sports or casual clothes are more useful. Swimwear for the pools. A pullover is recommended for cool evenings. Comfortable walking shoes are suggested.

Be sure not to pack sharp items in your hand luggage. Pack things such as scissors, nail clippers, pocketknives or knitting needles in your checked luggage.

Always carry your travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler's checks, keys and other valuables in your hand luggage. Items such as these should
NEVER be packed in luggage that you plan to check.

Bring all personal-care items with you. Many products can be bought, but purchasing them can be inconvenient. We suggest you carry toilet tissues with you on excursions.

CLOTHING
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Dress is generally casual, however the “usual practice” for men is to wear long pants to meetings, exchanges and nicer restaurants. Ladies may want to bring a dress or pantsuit for dinners.

Special Note
: Monasteries and churches do not admit people in shorts or bathing suits, shirtless men, or even women wearing sleeveless blouses. For women rules may even be stricter, a skirt or dress is a must, as you may not be allowed to visit some of the monasteries and religious sites in shorts or pants. These rules are not always followed to the letter. Bathing suits are prohibited from being worn on all archaeological sites.

VALUABLES

Jewelry, money, documents etc., should be deposited in the hotel safes. The company and its personnel bear no responsibility for valuables kept by passengers.

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

For safety reasons it is requested that physical disabilities of any kind be advised at time of reservation. It is understood that participants requiring special attention or treatment will be traveling with their personal escorts.

LAUNDRY

Most the the hotels can provide service at additional costs.


CURRENCY
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The currency in Cuba is Cuban Pesos. However US Dollars are widely accepted and used. It is possible to convert dollars to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs) at the airport. There is a kiosk before leaving the baggage area where money can be converted. The tour leader will assist in this as well. If you do not convert then, there are many places to convert money - for example, hotels, and the local Cuban guide will assist in this. In Cuba, the official currency is the Cuban Peso which is also known as the “Moneda Nacional" (MN). The Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) is the currency that tourists must use. You can exchange your money to convertible pesos at airports, hotels, banks, and exchange offices (subject to daily fluctuations). To exchange U.S. dollars into the CUC there is a 10% surcharge, while exchanges from Canadian dollars, Euros, UK pounds and Swiss Francs will not incur a surcharge.

You will be paying for most everything in dollars. Cubans want American dollars, so don’t change excess money to Cuban pesos unless you want to take the money home as a souvenir.

With regard to the use of Credit or Debit cards in Cuba the following applies: No card issued by a bank that has any connection with the United States will be accepted in Cuba, although MasterCard now say said it will lift a block on U.S. bank-card transactions in Cuba after March 1st 2015. Travelers are advised to check with their institution before traveling to Cuba to determine whether their institution has established the necessary mechanisms for its credit or debit cards to be used in Cuba.

Under the
new (Jan 16, 2015) regulations, American travelers to Cuba will be able to use an American credit card. However, it is not clear how long it will take for banks to begin offering the service. There are few ATMs in Cuba, and many establishments do not have the means to process credit card payments, so cash will be king for some time to come. You may also take pounds and euros, which get a better exchange rate in Cuba than the United States dollar.

You should plan to bring as much cash as you would normally spend on incidentals while traveling elsewhere.

LANGUAGE
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Your local guides speak English! The primary language in Cuba is Spanish and your tour guide is fluent in both Spanish and English.

ELECTRICITY

The power supply in most all of Cuba is 110 volts, the same as in the USA.

COMPUTERS & WIFI

There is limited WIFI and you may take a tablet or laptop.

PHONES
All forms of Telecommunications are expensive in Cuba. If you wish to make a phone call the best option is to purchase a pre-paid phonecard (usually available on resort) and use the public cardphone.  Calls from the hotel phones are much more expensive than the public cardphones. USA cell phone operators have no roaming agreements in Cuba because of the USA embargo on Cuba. You MAY be able to use a replacement SIM Card, see http://www.onesimcard.com/cell-phone-rates/cuba/
TIME ZONE

Cuba is on Eastern Standard Time. When it is noon in New York and Miami, it is also noon in Havana, Cuba.

OTHER QUESTIONS
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1. Given the spending restrictions, how much money do you recommend bringing?
We suggest about $100 a day just in case, but of course, everyone is different. If you plan to purchase a lot of art, for example, the amount will be different. If not, you will mostly likely not spend that amount as many of the meals in the program are included. There are no longer daily spending limits while in Cuba for American travelers. Travelers are authorized to bring back $400 per person in merchandise, provided no more than $100 of the merchandise consists of alcohol or tobacco.

2. I have heard that "licensed U.S. travelers" are allowed to bring back from Cuba $400 of merchandise of which $100 can be tobacco/alcohol. Does this apply to us?
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Under the new (Jan 16, 2015) regulations, American travelers to Cuba may now bring back up to $400 worth of souvenirs, including $100 worth of cigars (two boxes) and 2 bottles of rum.

3. Is the 44 lbs baggage limit for checked & carry-on combined or just checked?
Combined. Excess weight (above 44 pounds) is charged at $2 per pound and is payable in cash at the airport. Any additional checked bags are $20 per bag plus any excess weight fees. Carry-on bags should not exceed the dimensions of 12"x11"x6".

4. Is it like the USA?
Things are and do sometimes work differently in Cuba than here in the USA. Activities that have been scheduled far in advance can sometimes become unavailable for a number of different reasons. The purpose of the trip is to have meaningful interactions with the locals and if the planned people-to-people educational exchange isn’t available, rest assured that another that will be just as enriching will be substituted.

5. What about trip insurance?
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As required by Cuban government regulations, Cuban health insurance is included in the charter airline ticket cost. This protects you should you need medical assistance while in Cuba. The following coverage applies: $25,000 to cover emergency medical costs incurred in Cuba and a maximum of $7,000 evacuation insurance provided only if a Cuban doctor states that evacuation must happen in order to receive adequate treatment. You should consider buying additional trip insurance for trip cancellation protection, lost luggage, etc. Contact us for details.

5. What about payments and cancellation fees?
A non-refundable, non-transferable deposit of $300 per person is required to reserve. We accept checks, money orders, Visa, MasterCard, Discover/Novus, and American Express. Your booking is not confirmed and payment is not deemed made until the deposit is received and you receive a confirmation invoice. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.
The following cancellation fees apply:
75-57 days prior to commencement of services: 20% of total price
56-29 days prior to commencement of services: 50% of total price
28-16 days prior to commencement of services: 75% of total price
15-0 days prior to commencement of services:: 100% of total price
There are additional cancellation fees associated with airfares.


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You are welcome to call us anytime at 1-239-992-9660, or toll free at 800-446-9660 or email us at travel"at"GoExploring.com.
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Cuba people-to-people cultural exchange