Alumni Travel Program
February 2023: Cuba
February 19-25, 2023
Havana, Cuba has long been heralded as the forbidden fruit of the West. Once upon a time it was the vacation destination for playboys, mafiosos, American sunseekers and party goers. Folks from all over the world flocked to the island to find refuge and make new homes, while others came for sun, music, gambling, and soaking up its colorful culture.
With a tumultuous relationship with the United States in the second half of the 20th century, the country all but froze in time. It’s geopolitical importance, extraordinary culture, warm spirit and the ingenuity of the Cuban people have all remained. It’s a case study in communism, foreign policy and economic shortcomings, and countries in transition.
SUNY Geneseo and CET are proud to explore all of this. The history, mystique, culture, and polarizing relationship with the U.S. make it intellectually stimulating and a unique exploration site. Geneseo's Melanie Medeiros, Associate Professor of Anthropology, will accompany the trip. She has taken students to Cuba to study, and was integral in starting a working partnership with the Universidad de Holguín. This partnership provides Geneseo students the opportunity to study at the Cuban institution.
Our visit to the island will include site visits, conversations and informal engagement with Cubans to get a sense of where the country is headed. We can analyze firsthand U.S. policy toward the island, economic changes taking place, and enjoy getting to know our neighbors. We’ll have a behind-the-scenes look at 21st century Cuba and explore the issues firsthand, delving deep into the culture and the people along the way.
Alumni, parents and friends are invited to participate in our first Alumni Travel Program trip to Cuba!
Dates: February 19 - 25, 2023
The itinerary is available below and as a PDF. Download the itinerary.
- Day 1: Sunday, February 19, 2023
Arrival to Jose Marti International Airport.
Check into private, boutique hotels. For your stay, you will be staying in private hotels. As one of the main drivers and professions for folks in the private sector, there are certain licenses such as the one to operate and independent hotel. This first came to be known in the 1990s as a “casa particular”, however with the change in US Regulations on travel to Cuba, as well as the boom in tourism the past decade, there has been an increase in private enterprise in this sector. From private room, there are now airbnbs and even privately owned hotels.
Orientation with guide. Review the week ahead and sit down from your local guide to discuss money, and basic cultural expectations for your trip.
Driving tour of the city in classic cars from the 1950’s. Classic cars are one of Cuba’s first private businesses that emerged after the new economic changes, becoming an important source of income for local families. Cruise through the western side of Havana, exploring the Miramar and Siboney neighborhoods, before heading back west through Vedado, along the Malecon, and ultimately ending in Old Havana.
Welcome dinner at Grados, a private restaurant defender of the traditional Cuban cuisine and member of the slow food movement. Each dish has a history which is thoughtfully laid out by chef Raulito Bazuk.
- Day 2: Monday, February 20, 2023
Socio-economic discussion with an urban planner, whose presentation will touch on housing, infrastructure, investment and restoration programs. It’s bound to leave you with a better understanding of why Havana looks the way it does today and possibilities moving forward.
Behind-the-scenes walking tour of Old Havana. Explore the historic center and learn about the history and architectural importance of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. Venture to the side streets to witness Cuban life first-hand stopping at local bodegas, markets and the popular gathering places where Habaneros play dominos and discuss sports, transportation, jobs and other topics of their daily life.
Lunch at Dona Eutimia. Situated in Old Havana, this paladar is famous for its ropa vieja or frozen mojito.
Beyond Roots tour with Adriana Heredia, a start-up sharing Afro-Cuban culture with the world. Adriana hosts various Afro-Cuban experiences in Havana to educate foreign visitors about this subject. She also organizes community workshops on the Afro aesthetic and designs and sells Afro-Cuban products from her new storefront in Old Havana.
Reception with a family of artists at AltaMira. A few years ago, Edel Bordón and his family embarked on a journey to establish an art collective in their apartment building. Spearheaded by his wife Yamilé Pardo, the family created the AltaMira art space, which features an exhibition and workspace off of the main lobby and collaborations with neighbors.
Breakfast, lunch, and reception included.
- Day 3: Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Coffee and economics with young economist. Over a traditional cafecito, sit with a Cuban economist for a discussion about the state of the Cuban economy.
Visit to the Museum of Cuban Art. We will be accompanied by an art historian, who will provide an overview of Cuban art and artists over the last four centuries. Lunch with Cuban entrepreneurs. Get an overview of the Cuban economy, the new reforms and the private sector from the leading economic and entrepreneurial minds in Cuba.
Tour of La Finca Vigía. Formerly the home of Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigía still houses his expansive collection of books and his boat El Pilar. Your private guide will show you around and share some of the bizarre and captivating tales from Hemingway’s many years in Cuba.
Visit the home of La Reyna y Real, a female hip hop/jazz duo. The group’s music focuses on breaking down stereotypes in Cuban society, including machismo, healthy relationships, gender relations and race. They will share info about their interesting musical journey and insight into the challenges and opportunities young Cubans face.
Afternoon roundtable discussion on US-Cuba relations. Explore the unique history and political relationship of Cuba and the United States with dialogue from experts. Understand the current relationship and what the future holds. It’s no secret that the US Embargo on Cuba has had an impact on the past 60 plus years on the island. Ask your guide for dinner reservations at a Cuban paladar.
Breakfast and lunch included.
- Day 4: Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Journalist Marc Frank. Author of Cuba Revelations and one of the longest-serving foreign correspondent in Cuba, Frank writes for Reuters, the Financial Times and the Economist, and is an authority on the Cuban economy. He will offer insight into important economic, political and social issues on the island and share colorful stories about being a reporter in Cuba.
Visit a centuries-old mansion in Vedado neighborhood. Step inside this stately residence to discover what lies behind the crumbling facades of Havana’s impressive mansions. Josie, who has lived in the house for over 60 years, will show us around and explain its rich historyVisit local businesses of the entrepreneurs with whom you met the day prior Visit the Habana Compás Dance studio for a show and discussion with instructors and students. Liliet Rivera, protege of the renowned List Alfonso Dance Company, established Habana Compas in 2004 to reclaim and preserve Cuba's dance heritage from Spain and Africa. In 2009, the masterful drummer Eduardo Cordova Diaz joined Liliet to lead the percussion group, and with this, Habana Compas’ signature style was born. Almost 15 years later, Habana Compas has developed into an institution within Cuba, running a free school for youth in the afternoons.
Swimming, coastal breezes and lunch at Marea, a private restaurant in the outskirts of Havana with a stunning location by the sea, great food and atmosphere. Pay in cash – not included. Bring your swimsuit and a towel!
Cigar tasting with a local expert at Café Madrigal. He will explain the qualities and traits of fine Cuban cigars and how to properly light and smoke what is considered the finest tobacco in the world. Café Madrigal, owned and run by film director Rafael Rosales, is housed in a beautiful colonial mansion with the walls lined with captivating artwork.
- Day 5: Thursday, February 23, 2023
Check out of boutique lodging
Hands-on tech in Cuba – visit to a privately owned software solutions incubator for a hands on look at entrepreneurship in action. By now, you have learned that the island is filled with talent. Giulio Ricci and his business partners created a software solution company that services international clients. Visit his business and see it in action.
Depart for Viñales Valley. Considered by many to be the most beautiful place in Cuba, the Viñales Valley National Monument holds stunning landscapes. The area is also famous for being the premier tobacco growing area in the world.
Visit to a private farm in the valley owned by the large family of Concha and Paco Hernandez. The descendants of Concha and Paco have farmed the same plot of land for many generations and their land is involved in the production of a multitude of fruits, vegetables, grain and tobacco. Members of the family will give us a tour of this beautiful 40-acre farm before bringing us back to the farmhouse. Enjoy lunch at the farm.
Check-in at bed and breakfasts, known as “casas particulares,” or “private homes.” Since the 1990s Cuban families have been permitted to rent rooms out of their family homes to foreigners.
Visit with one of the best tobacco farmers in the area, Benito. Have fun enjoying beers and cigars while listening to some of Benito’s stories.
Dinner at a Viñales paladar.
Dance time. Following dinner, get ready to learn some new moves with private salsa dancing lessons with a private instructor. Once you’ve got it down, head to the town square for an evening party with the Viñales townspeople.
Breakfast is included.
- Day 6: Friday, February 24, 2023
Return to Havana
Check into boutique hotels
Afternoon activity (choose one):
- Get down with Cuban music. Cocktails with Rafa Escalona, director and editor of AM/PM magazine, followed by a living room jam session with top Cuban musicians.
- Behind-the-scenes art tour. Visit the homes and studios of independent Cuban Artists.
Farewell dinner at Tierra, Havana’s newest international dinning spot. Located inside a container in the Fábrica de Arte Cubano, the restaurant mirrors the eclectic crowd, serving dishes from around the world.
Following dinner, enjoy live music, art and dancing at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano, the brainchild of Afro-Cuban fusion musician X-Alfonso, this is one Havana’s finest new art projects, an intellectual nexus for live music, art expos and fashion shows that has turned into a meeting spot for a young, eclectic crowd of Cubans and foreigners.
Breakfast and dinner included.
- Day 7: Saturday, February 25, 2023
Breakfast at your accommodations.
Depart for Jose Marti International Airport.
Breakfast is included.
Itinerary is subject to change.
This trip is intended for alumni of SUNY Geneseo and their guests, as well as faculty, staff, parents and friends of the College and their guests.
This trip is nearly all-inclusive and at a great price.
Cost of the trip depends on what type of sleeping arrangements you would like throughout the trip. The basic cost of $2,935 per person includes double occupancy accommodations. If you would like single occupancy accommodations it is $3,535. Airfare to and from Havana, Cuba is not included in these prices.
- Five nights' accommodations in Havana upscale boutique.
- One night accommodations in Vinales.
- Daily breakfast
- Meals (as specified on the itinerary)
- Meal reservations (as specified on the itinerary)
- Professional, bilingual guide for listed activities
- Local ground transportation for listed activities
- Pre-trip departure information
- Compliance with U.S. Treasury Department regulations
- Speaker fees
- Admission to all museums and public buildings listed in itinerary
- Coordination of all listed activities
- Cuban VISA
Not included in price:
- Round-trip airfare
- Meals and activities other than listed on itinerary
- Individual house or hotel expenses (mini bar, room service, laundry fees, etc.)
- Tips for local guides, drivers, restaurant service, etc.
While airfare is not included in the package pricing, here are suggested options:
From New York
- JFK to HAV has a direct flight on JetBlue. This flight is on Saturdays and Sundays only.
- EWR to HAV has a direct non-stop flight on United. This flight is daily.
- Multiple daily flights on American Airlines out of Miami
- Multiple daily flights on JetBlue out of Fort Lauderdale
- Several daily flights on Southwest out of Fort Lauderdale
- Once daily flight on Southwest out of Tampa
- First deposit of $1,000 per person due on or before 10/26/22*
- Balance payment due on or before 12/12/22
*If the deadline for the deposit has passed, please call us because we will do what we can to add you.
- Cancellations made before 90 days of trip departure are fully refundable (> November 19, 2022).
- Cancellations made between 89 and 46 days of trip departure are eligible for a 50 percent refund (November 20, 2022 – January 4, 2023).
- Cancellations made within 45 days of trip departure are not eligible for a refund (January 5, 2023).
In some instances, time permitting, a different traveler can take the place of a scheduled participant for a processing fee of $350.
Passport and VISA Information:
All travelers are required to carry a valid passport and a Cuban visa. Those without a valid passport and VISA will not be allowed to enter. Travelers who were born in Cuba may require a special VISA in order to enter the country. Passport should be valid for a minimum of six months after departure date. Please note: we have built in VISA into the registration fees to make it easier for you.