Chamber Discoveries
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Highlights:
• Panoramic Tour of Havana
• American Antique Car Ride
• Old Havana Architectural Walking Tour
• Arte Corte Community Project
• San Jose Craft Market
• Muraleando Community Project
• Salsa Lesson
• Day Trip to Pinar del Rio
• Tobacco Farm
• Organic Farm
• Vinales Visit
• 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 2 Dinners
• Memories Miramar Hotel


Includes:
• Meals as indicated in the itinerary
• All gratuities for porterage, waitstaff, local guide, and driver
• 2 bottles of water per person per day
• Activities and visits indicated in the itinerary (except optional excursions)
• 1-night accommodations at Miami Airport hotel, 4 nights accommodations at Havana hotel
• Pre-trip Briefing and Welcome Cocktail
• 1 checked luggage per person and 1 carry-on bag (up to 44 lbs of cumulative weight)
• Transportation with Driver per itinerary
• 24-hour Tour Director to accompany the group
• Cuban Local Guide Services per itinerary
• Charter Flight Miami to Havana Roundtrip
• Cuban Medical Insurance (excluding preexisting conditions)

Day-by-Day Itinerary: (Subject to change)

DAY 1: MIAMI ARRIVAL DAY

DAY 2: HAVANA ARRIVAL
• Havana city tour
• Lunch at a private restaurant
• Take and Old American Car to your welcome dinner

DAY 3: BREAKFAST AT YOUR HOTEL
• Visit the 4 major squares in Havana
• Lunch in Santo Angel
• San Jose Craft Market

DAY 4: BREAKFAST AT YOUR HOTEL
• Policlinico visit
• Lunch in the Vedado neighborhood
• Visit a local artist’s home studio
• Evening at leisure

DAY 5: BREAKFAST AT YOUR HOTEL
• Leave for Pinar del Rio Province
• Excursion to Vińales Valley
• Lunch at the Valley of Silence
• Festive farewell dinner

DAY 6: RETURN FLIGHT HOME
• Breakfast at your hotel
• Transfer to airport for flight home

Location Information:

Day 1: Miami Arrival Day
Travelers will be arriving independently today to Miami, as we all gather at our pre-night airport hotel. This evening, join the group and attend a welcome briefing to get you prepared for your Havana Getaway. Your Tour Director will be available to answer all of your questions and will also invite you to a welcome cocktail to get better acquainted with your traveling companions.

Day 2: Havana Arrival
Your short flight to Havana will last just under an hour, and upon arrival you’ll meet your Cuban Tour Guide and local expert, who will accompany you throughout your 4-night journey. After collecting your bags and exiting customs, as an introduction to Cuba, your driver will take you on a panoramic overview of the city. Make a stop at the remarkable “Plaza de la Revolucion”, the city’s most important square and center for political talks and cultural happenings. Here you will see the statue of Cuba’s national hero, Jose Marti, as well as symbols of the country’s revolutionary heroes, including Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara. You will also learn about the different neighborhoods in Havana, including the vibrant Vedado district, where the University of Havana is also located. Stop at a local “paladar”, or private restaurant in Cuba, for your introduction to Cuban cuisine! Head towards Old Havana along the seaside Promenade, known as the Malecon, and the Prado, an elegant tree-lined boulevard with architectural gems on each side. You’ll arrive at the Capitol building for another great photo stop. You’re sure to find many American Antique Cars in great condition, but look closely as many don’t always have all of the original parts! Check in at the Memories Miramar hotel, your hub for the next 4 nights. After getting settled in, you will be transported by an Old American Car to your welcome dinner! Interact with your drivers to learn about the interesting ways they’ve been able to maintain these vehicles throughout the years. After dinner, it’s back to the hotel for a good night’s rest! (L,D)

Day 3 Focus: Local Communities
After breakfast at the hotel, put on your walking shoes for a walk through Old Havana to learn firsthand from an architect about the recent restorations and the historical importance of many of its glorious buildings, many dating to Colonial times. Visit the 4 major squares in Havana: Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Francisco. Next you’re off to meet with local dancers for an interactive salsa lesson. Enjoy a light Lunch in the Santo Angel neighborhood within Old Havana, and then get involved with the residents by learning more about their local community, and a project known as Arte Corte, founded by a barber. Learn about this emerging area that has its own beauty school, community center for the elderly and many new business and art galleries. The community members will be available to share their stories on their success stories and how their lives have changed in just a few years with new opportunities and changes in local regulations. Head over to the San Jose Craft Market to meet local artists and artisans, and discover for yourself how remarkable a variety of crafts are made in Cuba. Also enjoy visiting Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s Cuba retreat. In the afternoon, return to the hotel. This evening you may choose to venture out on your own to try one of the local restaurants, or join us for an optional evening out for dinner and a show, including the Buenavista Social Club Group. (B,L)

Day 4 Focus: Healthcare & Cuban Art
After a leisurely breakfast, begin your morning with an informative visit to a local health clinic, knows as a “policlinico” where Cubans get their general medicine visits and checkups. Meet with a healthcare professional for an interactive discussion on Cuba’s healthcare system. Next, you’ll visit the Muraleando Community Project, where you’ll see the impact of art and music on the lives of its residents. The abundance of programs and classes they offer is impressive! Head over to a local restaurant in the Vedado neighborhood to discuss the morning’s activities with your traveling companions, Cuban guide and Tour Director. In the afternoon, visit a local artist in his home studio and learn about the life of an artist in Cuba today. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon. Enjoy another evening to explore some of the local eating places and hangouts, for yet more interaction with the locals. You may instead want to sign up for an optional evening to experience Havana’s famous Cannon Firing Ceremony. (B,L)

Day 5 Focus: Agriculture
Breakfast is served at the hotel, and you’re off to Pinar del Rio Province, for a unique day trip. The scenic drive takes you along some of Cuba’s most beautiful countryside, including lush green landscapes and unusual limestone formations with steep hills (locally called mogotes). Your first stop is in Vińales, at a tobacco farm right in the heart of the Vińales Valley. Meet with the farmer and his family as he demonstrates the art of cigar rolling and shares information on tobacco production and the drying process. Then it’s off to lunch at an organic farm overlooking the beautiful Valle del Silencio, or Valley of Silence. Your feast will feature an array of organic produce grown locally, as well as the typical roasted meats cooked and served throughout these rural areas. Meet this hard working family and learn more about rural life in Cuba, while taking in the stunning views. After lunch, make a quick stop in the town center of Vińales, with its colorful homes and friendly people, before heading back to Havana. After a brief break, join us on a festive farewell dinner at one of Havana’s most elegant restaurants. Take the time to soak in all you’ve learned this week and enjoy your last evening in Havana. (B,L,D)

Day 6: Departure Day
After your last breakfast at the hotel, your driver and Cuban guide will transfer you to the Havana Airport, where you’ll board your flight back to Miami. Your brief introduction to Cuba and your Havana Getaway ends here, taking home many wonderful memories! (B)

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. How is travel to Cuba possible?
    With recent relaxation of the regulations to obtain required licenses for travel to Cuba, Chamber Discoveries can now sell tour programs to Cuba under one of the twelve pre-approved travel categories licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Chamber Discoveries' tours are classified as "Educational Activities" known as "People-to-People". These itineraries are designed to give chamber members, their family and friends the opportunity to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, and to interact & engage with the people of Cuba. The Chamber Discoveries Cuba travel program is not a beach-style vacation! As per U.S. licensing requirements, the itineraries are full-time programs with scheduled tours & activities. There will be little free time on most days, except on some evenings when dinner is not included.
  2. How strict is the itinerary?
    Deviation from the program is not permitted. Per U.S. law, participants in the program are required to follow a full-time itinerary with little down time, except on some evenings when dinner is not included. In Cuba, things work differently, and some activities that have been scheduled far in advance may become unavailable for a number of different reasons. Your guide will be good at swapping out activities for others when needed, so don't be disappointed if things change, because they will! Enjoy every moment of it and try to make the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of visiting a country that has been off-limits for Americans for decades.
  3. Can I use my credit card in Cuba? What about U.S. dollars?
    U.S. financial institutions and Cuban vendors are NOT set up to process credit card, debit card and ATM transactions. Travel with a sufficient amount of cash (prices are similar to those in the U.S.) to make purchases or pay for services. U.S. currency is NOT accepted in Cuba, and U.S. dollars must be exchanged on arrival. Traveler's Checks may also be difficult to cash while in Cuba and are not recommended. U.S. dollars will be exchanged for CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) at any airport, hotel, exchange bureau in town centers and some banks. The CUC is equal to the U.S. dollar, but there is a currency transaction fee of 13% (so for 100 USD you will get 87 CUC). The same fee applies regardless of where the money is exchanged, and you must present your passport to make the conversion. Bills that are torn or written will not be on accepted.
  4. What documentation do I need to travel to Cuba?
    • U.S. passport valid for 6 months valid for 6 months after completion of travel
    • Visa for Cuba - will be supplied in Miami after you have submitted required paperwork; application fee included
    • Signed affidavit that you are a licensed traveler on a "People to People" educational program
    • Signed reservation and charter participant form
    • After receipt of your deposit, Chamber Discoveries will provide you with all of the necessary documentation, which must be completed and returned within 5 business days.
  5. What are baggage restrictions for the charter flight to Cuba?
    With the charter flight to Cuba (on the outbound only), each traveler is allowed a complimentary checked bag and one carry on (not to exceed a cumulative weight of 44 lbs). Anything over 44 lbs. will be charged at $2 per pound. A small carry-on, like a purse or small backpack, will not be weighed. Any larger carry-on may be weighed and added into the 44-lb allowance per person. Payment at the airport is by cash or credit card. On the return flight, there is no charge for luggage, but it must be less than 50 lbs. per person. In Cuba, the carry-on is exempt from the weight limitations.
  6. Are there assigned seats on the charter flight to Cuba?
    On your charter flight, seats will be assigned at the check-in counter at the airport. Please note that all attempts will be made to seat passengers together when possible. It's a short 35 minute flight.
  7. What should I pack?
    • Bug Spray
    • Sunscreen and Sun Hats
    • Comfortable Clothing
    • Rain gear
    • Walking Shoes (casual attire)
    • Medications and OTC drugs, bandages, etc.
    • Cash
    • Sunglasses
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Wash Cloths (not provided at most hotels)
    • Tissues and toilet Paper (good to have your own at public restrooms)
    • Bring anything that you cannot live without, as the availability of consumer goods is limited
  8. Can I drink the water?
    It is best to drink bottled water while in Cuba. Water is purified in the hotels and restaurants on the tours, and it is okay to drink beverages with ice. It is also not necessary to use bottled water to brush your teeth, as the tap water has been purified at the hotels on the tour itineraries. Salads and fruits are also acceptable to eat at all included or recommended restaurants.
  9. Will my cell phone work in Cuba?
    U.S. cell phones do not work in Cuba, even if you have an international plan. It is possible to call home from your hotel by visiting the business center or dialing direct from your room, however rates can be very expensive. Emergency contact numbers to leave with your relatives at home will be provided with your documentation.
  10. Is internet available in Cuba?
    Wi-Fi is not available throughout Cuba except at some hotels. Please keep in mind that because of the limited technology in Cuba, it is not uncommon to have slower service than you are used to or even full internet outages.
  11. Can I buy souvenirs?
    Per U.S. regulations, you are allowed to bring back $400 worth of goods for personal use, of which $100 of that can be brought back in tobacco and alcohol products. Informational materials, such as books, art (including handicrafts, ceramics, and sculptures), music and videos, are not included in this amount and do not count towards the $400 limit. You may be asked to show U.S. Customs officials your receipts or a copy of the authorization letter you are traveling on (located in your ticket jacket).
  12. What do I need to know about Passports?
    You need a passport to travel to Cuba. Passport processing can be slow, so if you do not have a passport, you need to apply for one immediately. Complete instructions can be found at http://travel.state.gov/passport.
  13. Why do I need to send you a copy of my Passport?
    Effective November 1, 2010, the Travel Safety Administration (TSA) now requires that we enter all of your passport information into your flight record at the time of ticketing. If it is not entered correctly or in a timely manner you may be denied boarding or experience additional travel delays. To avoid these consequences, simply send a legible copy of your passport to Chamber Discoveries as soon as possible; it will be kept in confidential files and only shared as needed with the airlines.
  14. What health precautions do I need to take?
    To learn what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says regarding traveling to Cuba, please visit the following website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/cuba. Please visit the “Travel Health” link located on the main page for additional information and for a list of Chamber member international travel health service providers. You need to be in good physical condition as there is a lot of walking and use of stairs.
  15. When is the last day that I can sign up for travel insurance?
    We have a special policy with Allianz Global Assistance that allows our guests to purchase their travel insurance up until the time of their trip. However, in order to have pre-existing conditions covered, insurance MUST be purchased within 21 days of the initial deposit being deposited into our account. Therefore, we mail out the brochure upon receipt of each deposit and confirm the deposit date so that guests know when the 21 days begin. If pre-existing conditions are not an issue, you can purchase the insurance up until the day before you travel. However, we recommend you make your purchases sooner than later as you never know what may come up that may require you to cancel the trip; you’d hate to cancel without insurance, wouldn’t you? If you have specific questions about what is or is not covered, please contact Allianz Global Assistance at (886) 333-7874 and refer to ACCAM # F204223. Guests may purchase the insurance by calling the 886 # for Allianz, or by going online to www.chamberdiscoveries.com, click on Travel Protection and Learn More or Enroll Now to begin the process.
  16. When is the balance due? Will you send a statement or invoice to remind me of my balance before the due date?
    Due dates vary by supplier needs. However, typically, final payments are due approximately 100 days prior to your departure date. Refer to your brochure for specific details. Statements will be mailed to all guests approximately 100-120 days prior to departure.
  17. How are Hotel Rooms assigned?
    Hotel rooms are randomly assigned by the hotel based on your selection of single/double/triple occupancy. Based on the number of guests traveling on a particular date, the Hotel may at their own discretion arbitrarily upgrade some members of our group. We have no control over this. If you’d like to have your room on the same floor with other travelers, please let us know so that we can make that request for you. Note that we cannot guaranty that the Hotel will honor the request, but we will advise them of your request.
  18. I am looking for a roommate. Can you help me? How are guests billed if they register as a single while they look for a roommate?
    We do not match roommates. If you are looking for a roommate, we suggest that you contact your Chamber to see if anyone else has requested a roommate. Chambers traveling on the same dates may wish to contact each other to find roommates. Guests registering as a single wishing to find a roommate will be billed as a single. Once a roommate is confirmed and you advise Chamber Discoveries in writing of this change, we will adjust your invoice and refund the single supplement as appropriate.
  19. When will I get my travel documents?
    Travel materials will be available approximately 30 days prior to your departure date. There is generally a final orientation meeting where these are distributed and guests are given an opportunity to review the materials and ask any questions they may have. If a meeting is not scheduled, Chamber Discoveries will mail your documents directly to the address we have on file for you approximately 25-30 days prior to your trip.
  20. I live out of the area or will be out of town during the Final Orientation Meeting. How can I get my travel documents?
    If there is a Final Orientation Meeting for your Chamber, we will send all of the materials directly to the Chamber for the meeting. For anyone who cannot attend the meeting, the materials will be mailed to you within a few days following the meeting.
  21. What is the dress code during the trip? Do we have to dress formally for one night? Is a dinner jacket required?
    The dress code is casual throughout the trip. There is no formal night on the Cuba trip. No dinner jacket or cocktail attire is required. You are certainly welcome to dress up if you wish, but it is not mandatory.
  22. What is the role of the Chamber Representative (if applicable)?
    The Chamber Representative traveling with your group (if applicable) is a guest traveling as a representative from the Chamber with no official travel/tour related responsibilities. Please direct all travel relative related questions to your National Guide; he or she is available to assist you as needed throughout your trip.

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