12 Day | Cuba and Panama Package

Discover Cuba and Panama

Highlights of Havana & Varadero via Panama

Day 1: Chicago - Panama

Depart Chicago on Copa Airlines – a star alliance partner – from O'Hare at 0900am. CM 236 arrives in Panama at 2:18pm.
Upon arrival the bus transfers the group to The Marriott Panama Hotel.
At 6:00pm our bus picks up from the hotel for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant in "old Town".
at approximately 9:30-10:00pm bus brings the group back to the hotel. Anyone wanting to explore on their own can take a taxi back. Overnight at Marriott Hotel Panama City.

Day 2: Panama Canal and City Tour

After breakfast the guide will meet the group at the hotel for a city tour and canal tour. Transfer to the Panama Canal. We will board a ship for a cruise through portions of the Canal, offering snacks and drinks along the way.

Boat Tour Through The Panama Canal: The True Panama Canal Tour. Don´t accept imitations, navigate with us the world famous Panama Canal. Connecting two of the world's greatest bodies of water The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Panama Canal is one of the most sophisticated engineering marvels the world has known. Celebrate with us the 100 year of service of this great wonder and be a part of the history. This is the most impressive One-Day Tour in Panama.
Return to the Hotel for your overnight stay.

Panama Canal Tourshttp://www.panamacanaltrips.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/pacificq-fulltour.jpg

Day 3: Panama City - San Blas Islands

After breakfast at the hotel we depart for San Blas Islands. The San Blas islands are a group of islands in the archipelago de San Blas, located in the Northwest of Panama facing the Caribbean Sea. There are 378 islands within the archipelago and they are scattered around in an area of about 100 square miles. If you leave the Golfo de San Blas by boat you will enter the Caribbean Sea. The majority of the 378 islands have no inhabitants, but on the larger ones you will find the gentle native people known as the Kuna's. These people can be found on the larger inhabited Islands; Aguja Island, Guanidup Island, Chichimei, Yandup Island and El Porvenir.
The San Blas Islands are the number #1 vacation destination in Panama and probably in Central America. This is because the Islands are not yet discovered by the massive tourism industry and fully in control of the native Kuna's. The Kuna's protect their lands against massive tourism and keep them healthy and beautiful. This makes the San Blas Islands of Panama unique if you are searching for untouched nature and culture. You will sleep in eco-friendly accommodations made by the Guna's Indians from natural materials which they found on the Islands and in the jungle. The most common way to get around in the San Blas archipelago is by sailing from island to island, but you can also fly from Panama City to the airports located on El Porvenir, Playon Chico, Achutupu, Ogobsucum or Corazon de Jesus in San Blas. Driving to Guna Yala (San Blas) is also possible, that requires a 4×4 jeep from Panama City to Carti.

The native people living on the Islands of San Blas call themselves Kuna's or Guna's. The district/region in Panama where you can meet the native inhabitants is officially named after them; Guna Yala or Kuna Yala. The Kuna's are community of proud people that have their own laws, norms and values that go with their culture, which is by the way totally different than the traditional Panamanian culture. Since the last headcount of all the Kuna Indians an estimated 300.000 live in Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia, only 50.000 live on the San Blas Islands. When you visit the San Blas Islands don't forget to try some of the traditional Kuna food.

Accommodations to be advised.

Day 4: San Blas – Panama City – Havana

After breakfast and a leisurely morning, late morning transfer to the Panama airport. The COPA flight to Havana is mid-afternoon with an arrival approximately at 6:00pm. Upon arrival at the Jose Marti International Airport and clearing customs, we'll meet your local bilingual Cuban Guide outside the baggage terminal. Your drive from the airport orients you with Cuba's enigmatic capital city, whose nearly 500-year Old Havana is home to the largest collections of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the Americas. Overnight: Hotel Melia or similar. Hotel to be advised.

Day 5: Havana – Varadero

After breakfast the guide will meet you taking you for a tour and making a photo stop
and learn more about the Plaza de la Revolucion, the center of Cuban political life and
Havana's largest plaza where huge rallies are held. Your Cuban guide speaks below
the grandiose portraits of national heroes Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, and
gives you time to reflect on the fact that you're standing where millions of Cubans have
stood while listening to speeches of Fidel Castro. Enjoy lunch at a La Torre Restaurant
offering incredible panoramic views high above Havana and the ocean. Depart Havana
on a scenic drive that takes you past rural landscapes, small towns to the beautiful
turquoise Caribbean Sea. Stop at the Bacunayagua Bridge overlook for photos.
Check into your all inclusive resort located directly on a pristine white sand beach offering
beautiful views of the Caribbean and Varadero Peninsula. Enjoy a welcome drink before
unpacking and exploring the resort. Dinner is included this evening.

Overnight: Melia Varadero Resort (L,D) or similar

Day 6: Varadero

After breakfast have a day at leisure. Overnight at the Hotel

Day 7: Varadero - Matanzas – Varadero

This morning following breakfast we head to the town of Matanzas, founded in 1693 and known as the "Athens of Cuba". Enjoy a brief walking tour of the town square and see the Sauto Theater (a national monument of Cuba and opened in 1863), the San Carlos Cathedral, the Pharmaceutical Museum and more. Next visit the Ediciones Vigia (book making shop) to see books being hand made and learn about this craft. Also meet with a famous local Cuban artist and sculptor in his studio and art gallery. Visit the Matanzas School of Art and Music, a high school for talented children from different provinces throughout Cuba. An opportunity to talk with and interact with the teachers and students to learn about their work and aspirations. Lunch is included at a local restaurant. Next travel back to Varadero and visit an arts & crafts market with an opportunity purchase art and items and to meet and interact with local artists and craft workers. Later enjoy a fun filled Salsa Lesson Class with the locals. Salsa represents a mix of Latin musical genres, but its primary component is Cuban dance music. The roots of salsa originated in Eastern Cuba (Santiago de Cuba & Guantanamo) about 1920 and Afro-Cuban dance such as the Rumba. Dinner is included this evening at the resort.

Dinner is included this evening at the resort.

Overnight: Melia Varadero Resort (B,L,D) or similar

Day 8: Varadero – Havana

After breakfast this morning we travel to Havana. Religion has always played an important role in Cuban society that continues today, enjoy a walking tour with a local historian of the fascinating Colon Cemetery (Cemeterio de Cristobal Colon), founded in 1876 and named for Christopher Columbus. The cemetery is noted for its many elaborate sculpted memorials and contains more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels and family vaults and is considered by many to be the most ornate necropolis in the world and is the final resting place for noted Cubans including artists, writers, musicians and ballplayers. Next enjoy a performance by the amazing Habana Compas Dance Group. Interact with the students and teachers to learn more about the Cuban dance culture. Today visit the famous the Nacional Hotel, once Havana's flagship hotel that has hosted celebrities and world leaders during its heyday, such as Winston Churchill and Frank Sinatra, to name a few. Enjoy a tour of this historic property housing pictures and nostalgia from a by gone era. Meet a former famous professional Cuban baseball player and join in a discussion regarding the history and love of this game in Cuba and the U.S. Check into your hotel for a four night stay. Enjoy dinner this evening at a local Paladar (privately owned restaurant) with an opportunity to talk with the owners about the challenges of running a private business in Cuba.

Overnight: Melia Havana (B,L,D) or similar

Day 9: Old Havana (UNESCO)- Museum of the Revolution - Casa Fuster

This morning enjoy a guided walking tour of pedestrian only Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the beautiful Cathedral de la Havana, built in baroque style in 1748 and learn about its preservation and continuous restoration. Visit the Marqueta Vieja Havana Museum that houses the scale model of the City of Havana and to meet with an expert on the city's architecture and restoration efforts. Begin with a presentation and lecture from a local architect who discusses Havana's unique architecture, the current challenges of restoring the city's historic buildings and the future of the city's restoration effort. Following lunch in Old Havana we visit the famous Museum of the Revolution that displays documents and artifacts, weapons and planes from the revolution. See artifacts & learn more about the Bay of Pigs, the 1961 historic clash between the CIA trained Cuban exiles & rebel forces, the event that defined US-Cuba relations for decades. The museum is housed in the former Presidential Palace which was the home to Cuba's leaders from the 1920's until 1959. This building offers beautiful architecture as well as an interior that was designed by Tiffany's. Next head to the charming fishing village of Jaimanitas to visit the incredible Home and Work Shop of world famous artist, painter and ceramicist Jose Fuster, often called the "Picasso of Cuba". He has adorned a neighborhood with colorful ornate murals and domes. Here we spend time with the Fuster family and staff to discuss the influence of the artist's work and their lives and community. Dinner is on your own this evening allowing you to experience the restaurants, cuisine and jazz clubs of Havana. Perhaps even take in the world famous Tropicana
Cabaret Show on your own. The Tropicana Cabaret opened in 1939 and is an extravagant spectacle with a revue of glamour and nostalgia. Before the revolution, the Tropicana was a casino owned by gangsters and visited by the Rich and Famous. An evening of music and history that is not to be missed at this famous nightclub show that presents song-and-dance performances reminiscent of 1950's Cuba.

Overnight: Melia Havana (B,L)

Day 10: Havana - Vinales Valley (UNESCO) - Pinar Del Rio - Havana

Today we travel out of Havana and into the rural Cuban countryside to the Vinales Valley located in the western most mountainous range in Cuba and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This region, the western province of Pinar del Rio is known for its stunning scenery, a landscape of prehistoric looking flat-top mountains or "mogotes", tobacco plantations, caves and rivers. Stop at the Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory for a guided visit to learn about the manufacturing of fine Cuban cigars and interact with the factory workers about the history and process. The factory specializes in Cohiba & Monte Cristo cigars. Next, visit a traditional Tobacco Farm and Farmhouse to meet with the farmer to learn about tobacco cultivation, the drying process and experience a cigar rolling demonstration inside the drying hut. Enjoy a visit inside his farmhouse, meeting and interacting with his family while enjoying some Cuban coffee. A great opportunity to witness up close, how Cuban families live in a rural setting. Later stop at the Los Jasmines viewpoint on the way back to Havana for incredible panoramic views of the Vinales Valley and an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery and take photos of this beautiful and unique region. Return to Havana and the evening is free to explore on your own.

Overnight: Melia Havana (B, L)

Day 11: Havana - Hemingway Farm - Old U.S. Classic Car Club - Farewell Paladar Dinner

After breakfast the guide will take you to world of Ernest Hemingway with a visit to Hemingway's Farm, Finca La Vigia (meaning 'lookout house'). This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize winner lived with his wife Martha for 21 years. View the perfectly preserved home where many of the Hemingway personal belongings remain intact. View his yacht on display, the Pilar in which he used to patrol for Nazis in the Caribbean waters and featured in his novel "Islands in the Stream". A photo stop is made at the Morro Castle, built in 1589, to protect the mouth of the Havana Harbor. "Morro" in Spanish means a rock which is very visible from the sea and therefore serves as a navigational landmark. Perched on the headland on the opposite side of the harbor from Old Havana it can be viewed from miles around as it dominates the port entrance. Next visit the San Jose Craft Market and Art Center or similar to meet and interact with the local artists to discuss and learn of the importance of their art in Cuban culture. Learn from the artists who share their experiences of pursuing the arts with limited access to materials and funding. Before dinner, meet with the local Old Style Car Club owners. A chance to interact and talk with the owners and learn why Havana's streets are filled with vintage American automobiles and understand what it takes to keep them on the road. Enjoy a drive through the streets of Havana in a vintage car to your Farewell Dinner at a local Paladar (a privately owned restaurant). After dinner you have an opportunity to meet and discuss with the owners how this private enterprise works in Cuba.

Overnight: Melia Havana (B,L,D)

Day 12: 15 Nov., 2016: Depart Havana – USA

After breakfast morning at leisure until it is time to transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight back to Panama and Chicago with incredible memories of the culture and people of Cuba and your Highlights of Havana & Varadero - Discover Cuba Tour. (B)


Points of Interest and Inclusions:

  • Melia Varadero All-Inclusive Resort
  • Varadero & Matansas
  • Matansas School of Art & Music
  • Havana & Museum of the Revolution
  • Old Havana Walking Tour (UNESCO)
  • Home & Studio of Artist Jose Fuster
  • Walking Tour of the Colon Cemetery
  • Hemingway's Farm - Finca La Vigia
  • Habana Compas Dance Group Performance
  • Old Style Classic Car Club Discussion
  • Nacional Hotel
  • Former Cuban Baseball Player Discussion
  • Pinar Del Rio & Vinales Valley (UNESCO)
  • Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory Visit
  • Tobacco Farm & Farmhouse Visit
  • Round Trip Airfare from Chicago
  • U.S. Air Departure Taxes & Fees
  • Airport Departure Taxes
  • Hotel & Airport Transfers In Panama and Cuba
  • 7 Nights First Class Hotel Accommodations
  • Professional Bilingual Cuban Guide
  • U.S. Tour Manager
  • Cuban Visa & Cuban Health Insurance
  • Meals as indicated
  • Daily Bottled Water
  • Interactions & Admissions per Itinerary.
  • Baggage Handling - (1 Checked Bag pp)
  • Deluxe Air Conditioned Motorcoach – transport to San Blas Islands to be advised
  • Gratuities

OPTIONAL CUBA CANCELLATION WAIVER is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The Cuba Cancellation Waiver must be paid with deposit OR with Final Payment and is nonrefundable. Payment of the per person Cuba Cancellation Waiver (waiver fee) guarantees full refund on all payments (including deposit), except the waiver fee itself, made for program rates in case of cancellation up to the time & date of departure due to passenger's personal illness (medical documentation required) or death of a member of the immediate family (official documentation required). If the passenger must return early due to personal illness (medical documentation required) or death of a member of the immediate family (official documentation required), payment of the waiver fee guarantees a refund for the Unused Services. The waiver fee does not cover any single supplement charges which arise from an individual's traveling companion electing to cancel for any reason prior to departure. The waiver is non-transferable and valid for each applicant only. The waiver does not cover any services not purchased through Chamber Explorations / PWD. Full policy details available. Please note that your cancelled check or credit card statement will serve as your receipt.

CUBA CANCELLATION WAIVER - $280 per person

CANCELLATION FEES: Cancellations not covered by the Cuba Cancellation Waiver OR if the Cuba Cancellation Waiver is not purchased, are subject to the following per person penalties / fees:
Cancel up to 75 days prior to departure - Deposit is retained or the Cuba Cancellation Waiver is retained.
Cancel 74-45 days prior to departure - 25% of total price is retained.
Cancel 44-31 days prior to departure - 50% of total price is retained.
Cancel 30 days or less prior to departure/no shows - No refunds.

RESPONSIBILITY: Jensen World Travel, Ltd. And respective in-coming tour operators for the passenger in all matters pertaining to hotel accommodations, interactions and transportation, hold themselves free of responsibility for any damages occasioned from any cause whatsoever. JWT will not be responsible for any damages or inconvenience caused by late arrivals, departures and change of schedule or other conditions nor will they be responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time the passenger is not on board their conveyance. The passage contract in use by the airline concerned, when issued, shall constitute the sole contract between the airline and the purchaser of this program, and/or passenger. JWT does not hold any responsibility for the conduct of any of its members, hotel, motorcoach, train, airline or other personnel. JWT reserves the right to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of this program at its discretion. program host / guide retain the right to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time, if determined to be in the best interests of health, safety & general welfare of the group or of the individual participant. Arbitration - I/We agree, any and all disputes concerning this contract or any other material concerning the trip, or the trip itself must be resolved exclusively pursuant to binding arbitration in the state of California, pursuant to the then current rules of the American Arbitration Association. Payment of the deposit for this program constitutes acceptance of these terms and conditions. Itinerary and hotels are subject to change.