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Victory's 2019 Cuba circumnavigations give two days at each port

(Photo: Anne Kalosh)
Victory passengers will have a walking tour of Old Havana
Victory Cruise Lines outlined 13- and 14-night Cuba circumnavigations on Victory I between January and April 2019 with a special spring weekend three-day cruise to close the winter cruise season.

The line is offering reduced winter pricing and significant early booking discounts. For instance, all-inclusive fares for 13-night voyages start at $5,995 per person, double occupancy, including the early-booking discount. In addition, select value-season departures qualify for an overnight hotel or air credit of $500 per person. The special three-night weekend cruise fare starts at $999 per person, all-inclusive. Early-booking incentives also are available for the three-night cruise.

The circumnavigations are round-trip PortMiami, with five departing Jan. 29, Feb. 15 and March 1, 15 and 29. The three-night round-trip cruise from Miami to Havana departs April 15.

'Our exclusive offer is to show our guests the real Cuba over two days and one night in each port at a relaxed and immersive pace,' Victory chairman Bruce Nierenberg said.

Every sailing includes a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities, including interactions with musicians, artists, naturalists and Cuba's new generation of entrepreneurs. Victory Cruise Lines said it meets all US legal requirements for travel to the island.

Each circumnavigation will feature on-board lecturers covering the cultural essence of Cuba as well as Cuban historians to talk about the history and life of the country from the Cuban point of view.

Immersive people-to-people excursions

The 202-passenger Victory I offers five-star cuisine with house wines, beer and spirits—showcasing local rums available only in Cuba—and immersive shore excursions, all bundled into the fare.

In Santiago de Cuba passengers will have lunch at El Morro Restaurant, serving top Cuban cuisine with panoramic views of the Caribbean. Admission to El Morro Fortress is included. During a visit to Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, the resting place of such notable Cubans as Jose Martí and Fidel Castro, passengers will get to see the ceremony of the changing of the guard. The tour includes Moncada Barracks, where in 1956 Fidel Castro and his brother Raul led a small group of revolutionaries in the opening action of the Cuban Revolution.

The Santiago call will be capped with a private performance by the Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, one of Cuba’s most vibrant folkloric dance companies.

At Trinidad/Casilda the Manaca Iznaga Sugar Cane Plantation is the focal point of a tour in the Sugar Mills Valley. At the Santander family's workshop visitors will meet ceramicists whose ancestors have been making pottery for generations. A walking tour of Old Trinidad will feature visits to artist studios and museums.

The second day of the Trinidad/Casilda call includes a trip to the Scambray Mountains for visit to a coffee farm. Lunch will be at a local paladar, or family-run restaurant. The afternoon includes a stop at the handicraft market.

Known as the 'Pearl of the South,' Cienfuegos offers a remarkable cluster of neoclassical structures on the Punta Gorda Peninsula. Activities will include a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and a visit to the Cuban Union of Artists and Writers followed by an exclusive musical performance.

The second day in Cienfuegos begins with a morning excursion to the Botanical Garden where passengers can view a variety of plants and trees and learn about the connection between the garden and Harvard University. Travelers will meet teachers and students at the Benny Moré Art School. The afternoon includes an excursion to the magnificent Thomas Terry Theater for an exclusive orchestral performance.

The Havana stay begins with a walking tour of Old Havana, followed by a guided tour and overview of the malecón, University of Havana and the Vedado neighborhood with a stop at Revolution Square. Passengers also will attend a private rehearsal of the Malpaso Dance Company and meet the dancers. A visit to the San José Craft Market gives ime for shopping and meeting the artisans. That night Victory will provide a private performance by members of the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

Hemingway highlights

On the second day in Havana, passengers will travel by classic cars to Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigia, now a museum. Then it's on to the fishing village of Cojimar, the inspiration for Hemingway’s 'The Old Man and the Sea.' Lunch will be at Cojimar's best paladar, where local fishermen will share stories about Hemingway.

Other Havana activities include guided tours of the Museum of the Revolution and Fine Arts Museum, and a visit to the Riera Studio, where the Art Brut Project Cuba features works by self-taught Cuban artists.