Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will make its first foray into Cuba later this year with a 10-night, people-to-people program, Cuba by Land and Sea: Cultural Heritage and Natural Wonders, which combines people-to-people encounters with an exploration of Cuba's marine habitats.

The first program departs Dec. 7, with 16 consecutive departures through March.

The trip starts with a three-night stay at the Hotel Nacional in Havana and will continue with a seven-night voyage aboard Variety Cruises' 44-passenger Panorama ll, during which passengers will have a chance to witness Cuba's well-preserved reefs and marine life. Along the way, Lindblad said, guests will gain insights from Cuban conservationists.

Lindblad plans that guests will have cultural exchanges in Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuego; explore Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park, with optional snorkeling or diving; discuss conservation efforts and look for local bird specimens with naturalists at the Zapata Swamp National Park; visit the Bay of Pigs, where exiles landed in 1961 in an attempt to overthrow the government, and meet with Cubans who will discuss what transpired; and experience the island's music traditions on several occasions, including during a musical outing in Havana. Visits to the Gardens of the Queen and the Bay of Pigs are still pending permission from Cuban officials.

Rates start at $9,550 per person, based on double occupancy.


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