Abercrombie & Kent Releases New Cuba Trip

by David Cogswell
Abercrombie & Kent Releases New Cuba Trip

Housa Finca Vigia, the home where Hemingway stayed in Havana from 1939 to 1960. Photo: Capture Light/Shutterstock.com.

Abercrombie & Kent has released its newly configured eight-day Cuba people to people program with departures set for fall. The new land tour, Connections Cuba: People to People, is one of A&K’s Connections series of small group tours carrying a maximum of 24 people per departure.

A&K has suspended its Cuba Land and Sea cruise program for now.

The new program includes visits to the cities of Trinidad and Cienfuegos on the southern coast of the island, and Havana, the jewel of Cuba, on its northern coast. In between north and south is a trip across the Cuban countryside to get a glimpse of how people live beyond the showcase cities.

The land tour from Havana to the southern cities will take place in a luxury coach, sparsely populated so that each guest can stretch out in a section of seats designed for two.

Trinidad and Cienfuegos provide glimpses of different eras of Cuba’s history for contrast with Havana.

Trinidad is a picture-perfect Spanish colonial city, with cobblestone streets over hilly terrain decorated with quaintly ornate Spanish architecture.

Founded in 1514 it was the fourth of the original seven villas established in Cuba by the Spanish conquerer Diego Velásquez. It’s one of the oldest colonial cities in the New World and its age is tasty, like vintage wine that you absorb through the atmosphere. When economic activity historically moved from Trinidad to Cienfuegos, Trinidad became frozen in time and so still provides a museum of colonial architecture and city life.

Trinidad is one of Cuba’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, and it’s one of the more enchanted parts of island. It’s like a pleasant dream to walk around and soak up the historical atmosphere and street life, and one of the favorite sites for visitors to Cuba.

Cienfuegos is another of Cuba’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was founded in 1819, 300 years later than Trinidad. The architecture and city layout is markedly more modern than Trinidad, but still 200 years old.

It was originally a settlement of the native Taino people of Cuba. Though it was part of the Spanish territory, its first colonial settlers were French immigrants from Bourdeaux and Louisiana, and they left their cultural imprint. The city’s architecture reflects its 19th Century origins, with a great collection of neoclassical buildings in the downtown area, and wrought iron railings on balconies of row houses reminiscent of New Orleans.

The tour will provide time to explore El Bulevar, a broad pedestrian-only boulevard in the city center. It is always packed with people shopping, walking or congregating.

Guests will have the opportunity to visit a busy cigar store on the boulevard to learn about complexities of the production of high quality cigars.

The schedule includes a visit to the Benny More center, named after Cienfuegos’ favorite son musician, to see a performance of Cuban musicians, who all play with great skill, concentration and sincere emotion.

People with People
Following the people to people mandate of the U.S. government, the trip will be heavily flavored with personal encounters with Cubans, as well as explorations of historical sites led by local experts and guides, and encounters with artists and performers.

People to people encounters will include meetings with a local baseball expert to talk about Cuba’s favorite sport, and a visit to a craft market to experience Cuba’s burgeoning market system on a primary level,

Each day will be rich with culinary explorations and experiences, which fit nicely into the people to people mandate of cultural exchange. Many of the meals will take place at local paladares, restaurants owned and operated by individual Cubans since the liberalization of laws that previously prevented Cubans from owning their own businesses.

The trip includes a visit to the seaside home of Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia, in San Francisco de Paula, nine miles outside of Havana, where he lived from 1939 till 1960, a year before his death in Idaho. He wrote seven books there, including The Old Man and the Sea and A Moveable Feast.

Hemingway spent his winters from 1932 to 1939 writing in room 511 of the Hotel Ambos Mundos, in the old city of Havana, which can be seen on the Havana Vieja walking tour.

A visit to a tobacco farm provides and intimate understanding of the crop and its derivative products that have been so important to Cuba’s culture and economy.

The tour is stationed for four nights in Havana at the Melia Cohiba hotel, then two nights at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad and one night a Meliá San Carlos the last night before the return flight from Santa Clara Airport.

The A&K brand ensures that the trip will maintain the highest levels of comfort, security and quality experience.

The trip is set for this coming fall with departures scheduled Oct 11-18 and Oct 25-Nov 1.

The eight-day trip is priced from $6,395. The single supplement is from $1,395.

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