As Canadian travelers continue to visit Cuba under “people-to-people” educational programs, voyages aboard true sailing vessels promise to keep the experience real. Here are three ways to get on board.
TRINIDAD TIME WARP
Guitar-strumming troubadours still roam the streets of red-roofed Trinidad, a sixteenth-century Spanish colonial town where little has changed, including the traditional pottery methods used at El Alfarero Casa Chichi. Guests sailing with International Expeditions have a chance to try the wheel during a visit to the family-run studio, just one highlight of a nine-day sailing from Cienfuegos to Havana aboard the 48-passenger Panorama or 46-passenger Panorama II.
Departures: December 22 and 29, 2016, and multiple dates January 19 to March 30, 2017.
CUBA CUM LAUDE
A visit with students and staff at the University of Oriente in Santiago de Cuba provides lessons on Cuba’s free education system for 58 guests sailing aboard Le Ponant. Abercrombie & Kent’s ten-day voyage between Havana and the college town offers schooling of a different sort while snorkeling the pristine Punta Francés Nature Reserve.
Departures: March 1 and 9, 2017.
A favorite hideout for buccaneers such as Henry Morgan and Sir Francis Drake, Punta Francés Beach on Isla de la Juventud, 60 miles off Cuba’s south coast, served as the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island. Today’s adventurers discover the island’s bounty of diving spots and pictograph-covered caves when Star Clippers sends the 170-passenger Star Flyer on an eight-day voyage between Havana and Cienfuegos, which also includes a visit to Cayo Largo’s sea turtle hatchery.
Departures: January 7 and February 4, 11, and 18, 2017
Travel advisor’s TIP
“Cuba will remain one of the top-requested destinations for many years to come, yet its high-end accommodations are limited. Small-ship cruises, however, provide deluxe floating accommodations, solving travelers’ biggest bottleneck.
Remember, though: This is not your typical Caribbean island cruise. You must spend the majority of your time off the ship!”
Adapted from virtuoso.com