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Travel to Cuba with Stitch in 2016

Travel to Cuba

Earlier this year we asked Stitch members to vote on a destination they would like to visit with other Stitch members. After hundreds of votes, a winner was chosen. In May of 2016, Stitch members are going to travel to Cuba!

It’s no surprise that our members chose this incredible country. Recent regulations now make it possible for U.S. citizens to visit and many want to go before it gets too “touristy.” Luckily, Stitch has travel expert Sandy Lipkowitz to help plan the trip of a lifetime. She knows which hotels are acceptable, which are not, which vendors to use, and where to go. Not only that, but she’s planning this trip exclusively for Stitch members (and their friends). That way, members can opt-in to share rooms to save on cost and really get to know one another before, during, and after the trip!

Here is the preliminary itinerary, for all who are interested. We’ll post when there are updates!


 

“Meet the People of Havana”
8 days 7 nights
May 13-20, 2016

Day 1: Miami

Arrive in Miami at your leisure to check in at your airport overnight hotel.

Day 2: Havana

Board your flight fTravel to Cubarom Miami with VIP service in Miami and in Havana. In Miami you will receive our VIP Meet and greet service through the check in process. Our Welcome VIP Service in Havana will help you through immigration and will help then to locate luggage and get you to your air conditioned bus quickly. The service includes access to the VIP lounge and a welcome cocktail. Board the bus for the ride to Mecure Sevilla La Habana. Depending on flight arrival time, we will check in and leave the luggage with the concierge and continue to Old Havana for lunch at El Templete. After lunch, walk through Old Havana and learn about the recovery, conservation and re-development of the historical centre. During the tour we will stop at the Ambos Mundos hotel and visit the room that Ernest Hemingway kept at this hotel. The rooftop bar beckons a visit for a mojito and an exceptional view of the old city. Continue a short walk away and visit the Floridita bar, home of the famous daiquiri and another of Hemingway’s haunts. Board your bus for the short ride to the hotel. Dinner tonight will be at a private restaurant, called El Litoral, right on the Malecon, (Lunch and dinner.)

Day 3: Havana

After breakfast, depart on the bus for Old Havana and a visit to the Quisicuaba Association to experience a Santeria Cleansing ritual, followed by a visit to the RumTravel to Cuba
Museum for a taste of Havana Club Rum, the best known of the Cuban rums, founded in 1934. Another excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the Cuban culture will be the visit to Conde de Villanueva Hotel, just in the historical center of Havana. The hotel is the only one with its own cigar roller and provides very personalized attention to visitors who may learn the process and the history of the Cuban cigar and, finally, taste one if so desire. During you visit you will have a brief explanation of:

· The tobacco´s history, origins, varieties and the importance of the cigar factory
reader in Cuban cigar History
· How a cigar is rolled by the twister master of the house
· How to select a cigar and the lighting ceremony

Those who are willing may have the chance to taste the “Habano” accompanied by an espresso and a glass of rum. The cigar selection includes: Crystal Guantanamera, Romeo y Julieta No.2 and Twister for the Master of the House. After lunch in the area, we continue with a visit to the Retazos Dance Company, a leading edge Travel to Cubacontemporary dance organization that also offers a school where young Cubans can learn a career in theatre and entertainment. If Retazos Dance Company is unavailable, we will visit the Habana Compas Dance troupe in Marianao. This young company excels in modern and Flamenco dance along with the beating percussion of drums. A visit to La Havana would not be complete without a ride on one of the vintage cars for which the city is so well known worldwide, so late afternoon, enjoy one hour ride going from your hotel, visiting the Malecon and ending at the restaurant Mediterraneo Paladar for dinner. To keep you in the Cuban mood we have scheduled a visit to the Buena Vista Social Club Show at the Habana Café. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner.)

Day 4: Havana

This morning is dedicated to completing your visit and understanding of the people of La Havana so we start by a visit to the Synagogue Bet Shalom (depending on the group’s interest) and discovering modern Havana and its Art Deco before a visit the old Colon Cemetery known for the beauty of its sculptured works. After that we scheduled a visit to an artist’s studio and Fusterlandia considered the Gaudi of Latin America. Lunch at Jose Fuster’s museum-house. In the afternoon visit the Fine Arts National Museum, the home of Cuban Arts where a specialized museum guide will explain the importance of some Cuban artists’ work recognized around the world. This is a unique opportunity to interact and learn
Travel to Cubamore about one of the most important cultural aspects of Cuba. To end the afternoon mix with Salsa dancers and take a lesson on this Latin dance style that once was so popular in USA. Return to the hotel. This evening enjoy the delicious local cuisine at La Casa Restaurant, before heading to the famous Tropicana Cabaret for your evening entertainment. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner)

Day 5: Havana –Viñales-Soroa-Havana

After breakfast at your hotel, board the bus for a 3 hour trip to the countryside of Pinar del Rio and see the beauty of the Viñales Valley with its limestone mogotes. With a specialized area guide, walk through the valley, visiting the local tobacco plantation owners. A break for lunch at a local organic restaurant before departing Vinales. We will visit the Soroa Orchid Garden, then stop at the Terrazas Community for a Cuban coffee at Maria’s. Return to Havana for dinner at the Elite Private Restaurant (Paladar)., (Breakfast, lunch & dinner).

Day 6: Havana-Matanzas-Varadero-Havana

Enjoy your breakfast and get ready to board the bus for a 90-minute ride to the city of Matanzas and visit the Bellamar Caves, an enormous cavern and a National Monument of Cuba. Walk down about 100 ft. through narrow corridors leading to large caverns to admire the crystal natural formations and have a drink of spring water from the “Fountain of Youth” and “Fountain of Love”. Back on the road, continue for a visit to the Pharmaceutical Museum in Matanzas and a panoramic tour of the city, including a visit of the San Severino Fortress. Then, continue to Varadero for lunch at Mansión Xanadu. Return to Havana to get ready for your dinner at La California Private Restaurant. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 7: Havana

On your last full day in Havana, depart for La Vigia, Ernest Hemingway’s home, now a museum. We’ll then visit the fishing village if Cojimar where Hemingway kept his travel to cubaboat, the Pilar. Lunch will be in the area, then head back to Havana with a stop at the Morro Cabana and El Cristo for some picture taking before heading through the tunnel (under the Havana Bay) and a visit to the San Jose Artisan Shops. Enjoy dinner tonight at El Cocinero at the Fabrica del Arte, the new “in” place in Havana. (Breakfast, lunch 7 dinner)

Day 8: Havana transfer out

Transfer to Havana Airport for your flight back to the USA


Why you should travel with Stitch:

Not only is this trip going to be an incredible custom-tailored journey for our members, but you’re traveling as a part of the Stitch community. That means you’ll get to connect with your fellow travelers before you take off! You can use Stitch to send messages, start a discussion, connect and communicate with all members who are going no matter where they are! You can also coordinate to share a room to save on price. For people who may be single and traveling solo, we want you to feel like you’re going with a group of friends. And you’ll probably leave Cuba with several new travel companions, friends, and maybe more!

Rates:

Land package price per person based on double: $3800 USD
Land package price per person based on single: $3950 USD

To book, a deposit of $450 is required, of which $200 is nonrefundable.  The remaining $250 is subject to the cancellation schedule. Space is limited because of the charter flight to Havana from Miami.  Deposits need to made ASAP and no later than January 10th.  Space is on a first come first saved basis.

Click here for details about pricing and terms of service.

Click here for details about money in Cuba.

If you want to travel to Cuba with us, please do the following:

  1. Stitch Members: Click here and select “I’m interested”
  2. Non-Members: Fill out the form below and submit

[ninja_form id=5]

24 Comments

  1. Ellen

    Hi,
    I did not see the price??

    1. Marcie Rogo

      Hi Ellen,
      The prices are posted at the end of this blog under “Rates.”

  2. miranda

    Is the 3400 price for the Cuban trip ALL INCLUSIVE? Does it cover all meals and transports and excursions? (otherwise, this is an extremely high price for the journey).

    You should post what the price includes, not just the itinerary….

    1. Marcie Rogo

      Hi Miranda, thanks for your question. We have posted what the price includes. Above it says, “Click here” for more details about pricing, and you can click there or click this link: http://mstxs317jap2jkr871oardiejo.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Cuba-Terms-and-Conditions-1.pdf

      Thanks!

  3. sharon

    Hi do you have the english equivalent please??
    Regards
    Sharon

    1. Sandy Lipkowitz

      Hi Sharon,

      Not sure what you mean by the English equivalent. Can you clarify what you are asking about? You can contact me directly at travel@stitch.net as well.

      Thanks,
      Sandy

    2. Gwyneth

      I agree here. To go to this destination anyone in the UK would have to first get to miami which is an additional cost which would make the whole holiday extremely expensive!!!!!! If you are planning any more holidays perhaps you can keep us, here on the other side of the pond, in mind. Many thanks

      1. Sandy Lipkowitz

        Hi Gwyneth,
        We just had a Danube River cruise in November. We had a Tuscany trip planned for October 2015 that didn’t fill. So we had two Holidays planned on your side of the pond. 🙂 This is the first trip we have planned for this side.
        Where would you be interested in traveling?
        Thanks,
        Sandy

  4. Christine

    That seems rather expensive (especially when it’s USD) when you can get similar trips with other travel companies for much less.

    1. Marcie Rogo

      Hi Christine,
      Thank you so much for your comment. Actually, given the quality of the hotels and the personalization of the trip, the safety precautions take, the vetting of the vendors, and more, the trip is very well priced. Sandy has done a ton of research, and even wrote this note about pricing. I hope this helps give some background:

      “Hi Everyone, We appreciate your comments about the various other options to travel to Cuba. If you go on-line you will find that trips to Cuba range from $2000-$6000/person based on double occupancy. We at Stitch took the middle range as a projected cost, just to give people a ballpark figure. In order to compare costs, you have to compare apples to apples. How long is the trip? Does it include airfare from Miami? What are the hotel accommodations? Many hotels in Cuba are comparable to student hostel accommodations without A/C. Is there travel outside of Havana? Transportation costs would then be included. What are the activities and events? How many meals are included? Is it a USA government sanctioned trip? And the list can go on and on.

      At Stitch we are most concerned about the safety and enjoyment of our participants. We will only work with a tour operator that has a long and successful track record of facilitating groups to Cuba. Cuba and the US do not have banking relations. You cannot use a credit card, ATM or your US dollars. If anything went wrong, it would be a very difficult situation. We are planning this as a US departure trip since most of the Stitch members that have expressed interest are US nationals. Therefore we need to plan the trip with US Federal government approvals. This involves extra costs as well.

      Then there is the value of this being a Stitch Trip and all the planning and assistance Stitch will do to make this a fun trip, facilitate roommates (if requested) and have a Stitch person travel with the group to take care of whatever issues need to be handled. If you can appreciate the value this will add to the experience, then this is the trip for you. If you are looking for the lowest priced trip, then perhaps this isn’t the trip for you. We look forward to traveling with a great group of like-minded people who want to experience Cuba through art, music and humanitarian efforts. We hope that will be you.”

  5. Denise

    I am interested in the Havana trip, but will be coming from Sydney Australia. Can you check on airfares from Sydney to Miami or would I have to do the from Australia. Also would your price include all the ta tutors requirements for us Australians..visas ect or would we have to handle that as well.
    Thanks for your time and effort.
    Cheers

    1. Marcie Rogo

      Hi Denise, I’ve contacted Sandy and she’ll be getting some information for our Australian members. I do believe that the rate does not include Airfare, so you would have to get to Miami from Sydney. For me, I can find the cheapest airfares to and from Australia on Kayak.com. Regarding the price, I do not believe it includes the Visa cost for Americans, so that same would apply to Australians but Sandy will confirm. If you’d like for me to have her contact you directly, let me know. I really hope you can join us!

    2. Sandy Lipkowitz

      Hi Denise,
      We have several people from Australia interested in this trip. Maybe you can all fly from Sydney to Miami together.

      I am not familiar with what you say is the “ta tutor requirements for Australian visas”. However this trip meets all the requirements for US citizens to travel to Cuba. I would assume the US requirements would be equal to or possibly exceed the Australian requirements.

      This is the Australian website for travel to Cuba https://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/cuba You can check with them about your visa requirements. In the US we have visa specialists, who for a fee, can process visas. Perhaps the same service/expertise exists in Australia.

      For US citizens the visa fee is $85 and that is not included in the per person land cost of this trip. Your visa fee would be extra but know that the US visa cost is not included in the land package. You are not paying for a service you would not be using. 🙂

      Please feel free to contact me at travel@stitch.net for more information and to sign up for this exciting adventure,
      Sandy

  6. Mary Beth

    How many people do you anticipate going and what are the dates?

    1. Marcie Rogo

      Hi Mary Beth, it will be a small group, up to 20 people. The dates are May 13th – 20th and it leaves from Cuba. Let us know if you have any other questions.

    2. Sandy Lipkowitz

      Hi Mary Beth,
      Marcie meant to say the trip leaves from Miami to Cuba and back. Please contact me for details and to sign up.
      We would love to have you join the group,
      Sandy

  7. marilyn Berger

    I live in Ft. Lauderdale. I do not need hotel to stay over. Will they deduct that fee?

  8. Sandy Lipkowitz

    Hi Marilyn,
    If you are serious about traveling with us to Cuba, I can check on that for you. You would have to meet us at the hotel at the airport bright and early on the 14th. I don’t think it’s a huge amount of discount. Email me at travel@Stitch.net and we can discuss this further.
    Thanks, Sandy

  9. Salma.DSilva

    Hi.
    Im in India Goa,wud love to join,but on sharing basis,pls advs exact dates as I cud book my self frm Nyc,To Mia.Is this the exact amount or it cud either fluctuate,All meals & transfer Inclusive,Pls let me know as i will be back in the US by 4mar.
    Thks
    Salma.DSilva

    1. Salma.DSilva

      Hope To mke this trip !
      God Bless

      1. Sandy Lipkowitz

        Hi Salma,
        Please email me at travel (at) Stitch (dot) net and I can send you information. However you would need to sign up before you return on March 4th. Is that possible?
        Sandy

  10. Rosa M. Torres

    Sandy,
    Please forward information on trip. a friend and myself are very interested in going!

    I know you just added a few spots so contact me asap.

    Rosa

  11. Reginette

    It appears that every minute and every meal on this trip is planned. For me, a huge value to any trip is sf-discovery and time to do what one wants. Is the reason for this because it is Cuba? Is there a reason for centering everything around Havana and not just moving outward and moving outward? I have restrictions on my health, so leisure time and unscheduled time is also very important for that reason.

    Thank you very much in advance for your response!

    Reginette

    1. Sandy Lipkowitz

      Hi Reginette,

      Yes everything is included and scheduled because it is Cuba. First of all in order to travel to Cuba as a US Citizen you must go on an approved trip. Our is a people to people trip. Therefore we have to do certain activities and meet certain groups in order to be allowed to travel. In addition, the US has no banking relations, so money and paying for things is difficult.
      There are some free times and evenings. I’m planning on going to some of the popular clubs on our nights off and would love anyone in the group to join me.
      We are only going for a week. There is so much to see and do around Havana that to go further out than the few day trips we have planned, would require more time and more expense. We felt this was a happy solution.

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