Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Castle San Pedro de la Roca del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Introduction to Santiago de Cuba

Santiago nestles in a valley of the tumbling Sierra Maestra Mountains on the southeast shore.

Santiago de Cuba is Cuba’s second largest city and is heralded for its cultural and artistic influence on the country as a whole. The birthplace of many well known Cuban musicians, artists and poets, Santiago de Cuba is home to various galleries, museums and monuments to visit, all of which celebrate the cities impressive cultural background.

The city centre’s architecture stretches across many different periods from Baroque to Neoclassical and differs across the city. It seems down every alley way and through every street you find a different style to admire. The steeped streets with their colonial buildings, beautiful parks and impressive cathedrals just beg to be explored. Be sure to visit Velasquez' Palace, the oldest building in Cuba and easily one of the most interesting and important. 

Away from the city centre, there are over 300 beaches within easy reach, so there are plenty of places to lie down, relax and put your feet up after a day of exploring. 

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CUBAN RHYTHMS - TOUR EXC

  • Cuba is renowned for its music
  • Learn to dance with a professional dancer
Activity Tour
Price£70.00 - £80.00
DurationApproximately 2 hours

Try your hand at one of the popular Cuban dances – cha cha cha, mambo, rumba or Cuban salsa

Leaving the quayside, enjoy a short drive through the city, with your guide pointing out popular sites along the way. Proceed to the Cultural Centre, where you will learn to dance the popular Cuban rhythms. Under the instruction of your teacher, and a professional dancer, you will acquire or improve your knowledge and skills in the main steps and styles of some of the most popular Cuban dances.

All too soon, it is time to return to your awaiting ship, eager to demonstrate your new skills to your fellow guests.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017/18 CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This is an activity tour, and guests should be physically able to participate in the dance lesson, which will last approximately one hour


EL COBRE & THE ENCHANTING FERN GARDEN - TOUR H

  • Visit El Cobre, where the first copper mine in Cuba was located
  • Marvel at the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity – considered to be the most important shrine in all of Cuba
  • Enjoy the tranquillity of the El Jardin de los Helechos
Gardening Tour
Price£45.00 - £55.00
DurationApproximately 3 ½ hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking

Visit the Sierra Maestra foothills, and the most famous church in the country.

The town of El Cobre grew up around the Cobre mine, the first open pit copper mine in Cuba. Located approximately 12 miles (19 kilometres) northwest of Santiago Bay in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Copper was first mined here in 1532. The British Cobre Mining Company acquired the mine in 1830. An adjacent mine was opened by Royal Santiago Mining Company and both companies turned to Cornwall for skilled labour and steam engines, to pump out the mines. This in turn led to the opening of a protestant burial ground, since the Cornish – considered heretics – could not be buried in the Catholic cemetery.

Admire the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity – a basilica built in 1926 as a shrine to Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba. Located on Maboa hill, the Sanctuary is surrounded by green forests.  The shrine is sacred to all Cubans, even atheists, and is visited by hundreds on pilgrims every day. It is customary to offer sunflowers to the Virgin, also known as ‘Cachita’, and you will find several stalls in the village offering bouquets to leave at the altar. Be sure to visit the Chapel of Miracles, where you will find many written testimonials of gratitude and offerings, including sports medals, uniforms, and even the Nobel Peace Prize medal of Ernest Hemingway, donated during his time on the island.

Continue to the Fern Garden, El Jardin de los Helechos, a beautiful natural park located on the road to El Caney in Santiago de Cuba. The garden was created in 1976 as a private collection, and was donated in 1984 to the Cuban Academy of Science, which continues to maintain this lush haven.

Admire ferns, orchids and other plants from all over the world – a tropical wonder in just one acre of garden.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017/18 CARIBBEAN CRUISE SEASON

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking over varying terrain, some of which may be uneven. It is considered suitable for guests with limited mobility providing they can get on and off the tour transport unaided. You will have approximately 90 minutes in El Cobre, during which walking is at your own discretion.


EVERYDAY SANTIAGO DE CUBA & TRADITIONAL LUNCH - TOUR M

  • Experience local life in Santiago de Cuba
  • Watch the world go by in Céspedes Park
  • Savour a delicious traditional lunch
Price£80.00 - £90.00
DurationApproximately 7 hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Snack includedSnack included
Refreshments includedRefreshments included
Free time includedFree time included

Combine a sightseeing drive with the opportunity to mingle with Santiagueros, followed by a home-cooked lunch.

Leaving quayside, enjoy a sight-seeing drive of Santiago de Cuba; allowing you to get your bearings in  this historically rich city. At Céspedes Park, you will have approximately one hour at leisure to explore – located at the heart of Santiago de Cuba, you may wish to explore some of the local streets or relax in a local restaurant to take in the hustle and bustle of daily life here. Alternatively, admire the historical buildings surrounding the plaza – including the Santiago de Cuba Cathedral. The city’s most important church is stunning, both inside and out. There has been a cathedral on this site since the city’s inception in the 1520s. A series of pirate raids, earthquakes and storms destroyed at least three of the previous constructions – the present cathedral, characterised by its two neoclassical towers, was completed in 1922; and the remains of the first colonial governor, Diego Velázquez, are still buried underneath.

Back on board your bus; continue your journey to your lunch venue – the house of Compay Ramon, located five kilometres from the historic centre of the city. En route, you will pass the former marketplace at Plaza Dolores and the beautiful Plaza de Marte, before arriving in the residential area of Santa Deal.

Ramon Barbara, who has transformed part of his family home into a paladar (a small, family-run restaurant), will welcome you. During your tour of the home, view the comprehensive collection of artefacts that provide an insight into rural life and the national heritage. Every detail within the house has a message – the family love what they do, keeping alive traditions relating to furnishings and cuisine.

You will be invited to partake in a traditional lunch – home-cooked by Ramon’s wife, and served family-style. Rice, beans, meats and salads are served in abundance, along with seasonal fruits. Following your meal, Ramon will demonstrate the ‘Pilon’ – a handmade instrument used for over four generations to grind coffee – as he prepares traditional Cuban coffee with flare.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 20117/18 CARIBBEAN CRUISE SEASON

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a minimal amount of compulsory walking. Walking undertaken during the leisure time at Céspedes Park is at your own discretion. All guests must be able to get on and off the tour transport unaided. Please advise us of any dietary requirements at time of booking.


HIGHLIGHTS OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA - TOUR F

  • View this historically rich city from the comfort of a coach
  • Admire the historical buildings located throughout Santiago
Panoramic Coach Tour
Price£45.00 - £55.00
DurationApproximately 2 ½ hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking

This tour offers a wonderful opportunity to view the highlights of Cuba’s cultural capital, with limited walking.

Departing from the quayside, a short drive brings you to your first stop – Loma de San Juan, where Theodore Roosevelt supposedly led a fearless cavalry charge against the Spanish on 1st July 1898. This was the only land battle during the Spanish-American war.

Continue to El Morro Castle. The fort sits atop a 60 metre (200 feet) high promontory at the entrance to Santiago harbour, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Following your visit here, sit back and enjoy a short panoramic drive through the city’s Vista Alegre    Quarter and the Moncada Barracks, famously stormed by Fidel Castro in 1953.

You will have approximately one hour of time at leisure to discover the Parque Céspedes. Located at the heart of Santiago de Cuba, you may wish to explore some of the local streets or relax in a local restaurant to take in the hustle and bustle of daily life here. Alternatively, admire the historical buildings surrounding the plaza – including the Santiago de Cuba Cathedral. The city’s most important church is stunning, both inside and out. There has been a cathedral on this site since the city’s inception in the 1520s. A series of pirate raids, earthquakes and storms destroyed at least three of the previous constructions – the present cathedral, characterised by its two neoclassical towers, was completed in 1922; and the remains of the first colonial governor, Diego Velázquez, is  still buried underneath.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017/18 CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking over varied terrain, including several steps to negotiate at the 26 July Museum. All guests must be able to get on and off the tour transport unaided. Please note that this tour may operate in a different order to that described.


LA GRAN PIEDRA - TOUR G

  • Marvel at the view from the summit of one of the highest mountains in Cuba
  • Gain an insight in to life on a coffee plantation
  • Admire the pretty gardens at Jardin Ave del Paraiso
Activity Tour
Price£90.00 - £105.00
DurationApproximately 6 ¾ hours
Walking level 3 - extensive walkingExtensive walking
Snack includedSnack included

Have your camera to hand to capture the breathtaking views from La Gran Piedra, in the Sierra Maestra mountain range.

Leaving the quayside, enjoy an approximate one-hour scenic drive through Santiago de Cuba to the Sierra Maestra mountains. As you begin your ascent, observe the surrounding flora gradually changing from the tropical vines and palms of the lower levels to the more temperate fir and pine trees.

Arriving at the visitor centre, you will commence your hike to La Gran Piedra (or ‘The Big Rock’). Measuring 51 metres (167 feet) long, 25 metres (82 feet) high, 30 metres (98 feet) wide and weighing over 63,000 tons, there are several legends as to how the rock, of volcanic origin, came to rest here – perhaps the most likely is the one suggesting that the rock originated from the eruption of a huge underwater volcano.  It forms a natural viewing plateau, some 1,234 metres (4,050 feet) above Santiago de Cuba, affording spectacular views of one of the most beautiful landscapes in the region. Your climb will take you up 452 purpose built steps and along pathways through several hundred-plant species. Almost 1000 species of animal life call this region home, and your knowledgeable guide will point out flora and fauna along the way.

Returning to your tour transport, the tour continues to La Isabelica Museum. Research has shown that the area surrounding La Gran Piedra was the main settlement of French immigrants in the 19th century, and the region is home to the ruins of dozens of coffee plantations. La Isabelica is considered the only plantation remaining intact. The plantation is now a museum, and offers an insight into life on the plantation and the coffee industry.

As you make your way back to Santiago, a short stop will be made at Jardin Ave del Paraiso, where you will be invited to wander through the tranquil gardens and admire cultivated species such as birds of paradise, dahlias and magnolias – all of which thrive in the microclimate of the mountain range.

Continue to El Morro, where you will enjoy lunch in a typical local restaurant, before returning to your awaiting ship.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017/18 CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This is an activity tour, and guests should be physically able to participate in the hike, which will cover approximately 1,800 metres (5,900 feet) over approximately two hours. This tour is not recommended for guests with respiratory problems. A variety of terrain will be covered, including around 452 steps up and down La Gran Piedra. Paths may become slippery when wet. The view from the summit is subject to favourable weather conditions. Guests are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes – closed toe and with a good grip; and it would be wise to bring a light jacket, as the temperature can be considerably cooler in the mountains. A bottle of water would be a handy addition to your bag. For reference, the drive to La Gran Piedra will take approximately one hour, with no comfort stops. If you have any dietary requirements, please notify us at time of booking. We cannot guarantee what flora or fauna will be seen.


ROOTS & REVOLUTION - TOUR E

  • Gain an insight into the Cuban Revolution
  • Visit the farmhouse used to plot the attack on Moncada Barracks
Price£60.00 - £70.00
DurationApproximately 4 hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Snack includedSnack included

Santiago de Cuba is situated closer to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than to Havana – a crucial factor in shaping this city’s unique identity.

Departing from the quayside, a short drive out of the city of Santiago brings you to a small farmhouse. Now housing the Granjita Siboney Museum, the farmhouse is the place chosen by Fidel Castro and his comrades to gather prior to launching the attack on the Moncada Barracks on the 26th July 1953, which began the Revolution. View a variety of artefacts, including photographs, uniforms and weapons, along with some of the farms original furnishings.

Follow the Revolution Trail to the Moncada Barracks, where Castro made his first attempt to overthrow the Batista Government. Along with 160 guerrilla rebels, the young activist attacked the barracks – housing one of the Cuban Army’s largest regiments – hoping to spark a nationwide revolt. The site is now a school, and houses the 26 July Museum, telling the story of what is considered one of the most important dates in the country’s social history.

Continue to the Museo Abel Santamaria Cuadrado  – the location of the former Saturnino Lora Civil hospital, stormed by Castro’s second in command, who was later captured, tortured and killed by the police. Your guide will point out the Palace of Justice, where the political trial of Fidel Castro was held during the short drive to your final stop; a local restaurant where you will be invited to enjoy a delicious lunch before returning to your awaiting ship.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017/18 CARIBBEAN SEASON

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking over varied terrain, including several steps to negotiate at the 26 July Museum. All guests must be able to get on and off the tour transport unaided. Lunch will consist of a selection of local dishes, with one drink (beer, wine or soft drink) and tea or coffee. If you have any dietary requirements, please notify us at time of booking so that suitable arrangements can be made. Please note that this tour may operate in a different order to that described.


SANTIAGO DE CUBA & BACARDI MUSEUM - TOUR K

  • Visit the UNESCO world heritage site El Morro Castle
  • Spend time at leisure in the bustling Céspedes Park
  • Discover art and history at the Emilio Bacardi Museum
Price£50.00 - £60.00
DurationApproximately 4 ½ hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking

Cuba’s cultural capital, Santiago is a frenetic and passionate city. This tour gives you the opportunity to explore this historically rich city.

Departing from the quayside, a short drive brings you to your first stop – El Morro Castle. The fort sits atop a 60 metre (200 feet) high promontory at the entrance to Santiago harbour and has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997. The upper terrace offers breathtaking views of the western ribbon of coastline, backed by the Sierra Maestra mountain range.

Following your visit here, sit back and enjoy a short panoramic drive through the city’s Vista Alegre    Quarter and the Moncada Barracks, famously stormed by Fidel Castro in 1953.

You will have approximately one hour of leisure time to discover the Parque Céspedes. Located at the heart of Santiago de Cuba, you may wish to explore some of the local streets or relax in a local restaurant. Alternatively, admire the historical buildings surrounding the plaza, including the Santiago de Cuba Cathedral. The city’s most important church is stunning, both inside and out. There has been a cathedral on this site since the city’s inception in the 1520s. A series of pirate raids, earthquakes and storms destroyed at least three of the previous constructions – the present cathedral, characterised by its two neoclassical towers, was completed in 1922; and the remains of the first colonial governor, Diego Velázquez, are still buried underneath.

Your final stop of the tour is to the Emilio Bacardi Moreau Museum. Originally founded in 1899, the museum has been housed in its current location since 1927. Browse through exhibitions of the Bacardi family’s private art work, collections of artefacts from their travels around the world and also displays depicting the country’s history from conquest and colonisation to present day.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017/18 CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking over varied terrain, including several steps to negotiate at the El Morro Fort and the Emilio Bacardi Museum. The amount of walking undertaken whilst at the Céspedes Park is at the guests’ discretion. Toilet facilities are available at the museum. All guests must be able to get on and off the tour transport unaided.


SANTIAGO DE CUBA BY TROLLEY TRAIN (TOUR J)

  • Admire the historical buildings located throughout Santiago
  • A great way to discover the city
Panoramic Coach Tour
Price£45.00 - £55.00
DurationApproximately 1 ½ hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking

This tour offers a wonderful opportunity to get your bearings of Cuba’s cultural capital, from the comfort of a trolley train.

Join the trolley train at the quayside, and begin your guided tour with a scenic drive to Parque Céspedes. Surrounded by colonial architecture, this bustling square is a kaleidoscope of life – popular with locals and tourists alike. Admire the stunning Santa Basilica Cathedral, before pausing for refreshments at either the Casa Granda or Imperial Hotel.

Continue through the city, passing the former marketplace at Plaza Dolores, the beautiful Plaza de Marte, Plaza de Revolucion, and the Santa Ifigenia Cemetary. Nestled on the city’s western extremity, Santa Ifigenia is second only to Havana’s Necropólis Cristóbal Colón in its importance and grandiosity. Many great historical figures are amongst the 8000 plus tombs, most notably the mausoleum of José Martí – instrumental in the fight for Cuban Independence – and Fidel Castro.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017/18 CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a minimal amount of compulsory walking. Please note that the walk from the ship’s berth to the trolley train is approximately 50 metres. Walking undertaken during the photo stop at Céspedes Park is at your own discretion. All guests must be able to get on and off the tour transport unaided. Toilets are available at the refreshment stop. For reference, the trolley train is not wheelchair accessible. Please note that this tour may operate in a different order to that described.


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