SATURDAY MAY 14
Tomorrow morning we will arrive in Miami – different people than we were when we left. Changed from our experience in the Dominican Republic – helping people who are less fortunate than we. People who needed a floor in their house, help with their business, help re-foresting their island, and help learning English. People who we helped to grow and in the process grew ourselves….
By now we will have made many new friends, on the ship – and will be feeling alive with Gratitude for all we experienced. We will spend the morning making sure that we hooked up with everyone in Social Media before saying our final goodbyes…. Most will be returning home and will hustle off to the airport – but Rob and I are staying on the ship!! In the Cruise Industry this is called “Back to Back Cruising” [B2B] and it means we are on one cruise directly following another….. As long as we had flown to Miami, we wanted to do both Fathom itineraries – so that we can tell you all about them when we return. By now we probably know if we will have to move to another room or not…. We booked a Balcony for the Dominican Republic because the price was too good to pass up but for Cuba we could only afford an “inside”. Sometimes when you Cruise they give you a complimentary upgrade so we are hoping…… we can just stay in that Balcony! In the event that we have to move we will do it before getting off the ship. A really nice thing about back to back cruising is that you get a day on shore in your embarkation port. Maybe we’ll have lunch with Lynn’s friend Howard…. or just go for a walk around the port shopping area. When we come back we will sail away to Cuba!! Watch Social for us – we will do our best to share the trip with you!
SUNDAY MAY 15 – Buen Viaje – Again!
We will have to be back to the Port of Miami for re-embarkation by 2:30, as I believe we are sailing away at 4:30…. Likely we will find a place on deck for the Sail Away Party – watch for a Facebook Live Video at 4:30pm eastern time as we pull away from the pier! That way you can come too!
MONDAY MAY 16 – Havana Day 1
I hope that we receive the same welcome as we arrive in Havana at 11am that the first ship did!! The Cuban people came out in masses to watch the ship arrive and welcome the Cruisers to their country. Bienvenidos a Havana!!! Rob and I are looking forward to the vibrant flavors, colors, and people of Old Havana! Built in the 16th Century, Old Havana is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Architecture offers a unique glimpse into deep and rich history of the city. Because when you Travel Like an Architect™ you always notice the Architecture as it represents the people and their culture – fathom calls this #traveldeep, and we agree. We are fortunate to have this day and another full day as the ship overnights in Havana!
We will really enjoy the walking tour with an authentic Cuban lunch at a local paladar or restaurant where we will learn about the flavors and cuisine of Cuba. Along the way we might try a coffee in Plaza Vieja while a local Cafe owner will explain the role of tourism in Old Havana or see how coffee beans are roasted, and visit San Francisco de Assisi Square to discuss the role of religion on the island from patrons of the square’s beautiful cathedral.
Later we may stumble upon the famous booksellers’ market in Plaza de Armas to explore literature and antiques with the local merchants and then have our fortune read by one of the many Santeros who have set up shop in Cathedral Square, before meeting local artists at Taller Grafico Experimental, where we will learn about one of the world’s oldest “grabado” or printmaking
If you follow us you know you can expect many photos of the buildings – and usually churches and plazas because they are well kept and always beautiful no matter where they are. But what we would especially like you to enjoy are the close up’s of the architectural detailing…. you know – the things you miss if you’re not paying attention! Old Havana, it’s one of the most attractive life-affirming cities. La Habana Vieja, contains more than 900 important buildings, which are being restored to their former glory by the city Historian. The predominant style in the heart of Old Havana is what has become known as “Tropical Baroque” a simple, graceful combination of column, arch and volute born of the union of Mudejar and Baroque, Spanish influence with Cuban building materials: mahogany, cedar, coral & limestone. You needn’t be an architecture buff to be instantly disarmed by the delightful atmosphere enveloping this city. And we promise some photos of the not so nice areas too…. we want you to get a good feel for the real Cuba! Sounds like we are in for a full couple days of exploration in Havana doesn’t it?
TUESDAY MAY 17 – Havana Day 2
I suppose we will have to be early risers on Tuesday so that we don’t miss anything! But we will have a nice breakfast on the ship while solidifying our plans for “la dia”. As they say we are in for the best Havana has to offer with this all day agenda including lunch served in one of Cuba’s many family-owned in-home restaurants known as Paladares where you will meet the family cooking your meal and learn about their journey to self-employment, all while enjoying authentic Cuban cuisine. A panoramic tour of the city will drive you up the famous Paseo del Prado and past Parque Central, where passionate baseball fans can be overheard debating greats, and the Gran Teatro de La Habana, home of the Cuban National Ballet, the place where our daughter’s friend studied a few years ago, that has just re-opened after a 2 year renovation! Can’t wait to see it! We will enjoy views of the El Capitolio, currently under extensive renovations, and down the famed Reina Street where Art Nouveau buildings, colonial houses and Art Deco homes line the corridor. Oh oh….. this might become our new favorite place!! We will stand in the Plaza de la Revolucion under the watchful eyes of colossal iron sculptures of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos and talk to passionate Cubans about their national hero, Jose Marti, below the monument memorializing his commitment to the people of the island.
A short drive from Plaza de la Revolucion, a local guide will share the stories and secrets of the 140-acre Cementerio de Cristobal Colon, whose central avenues, sculptural monuments and elaborate baroque-style mausoleums make this massive cemetery almost a city of its own. Peruse the halls of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, where you can feel the pride of the Cuban people emanating from the beautiful artwork adorning the walls. Spanning five centuries, the art housed at Bellas Artes is a testimony to the integral and vital role arts play in Cuban culture, and is home to some of Cuba’s best examples of fine art. We will enjoy a break from the sun inside the museum discussing this comprehensive collection with local art enthusiasts. The last few decades have seen rise to a number of transformative community projects in Havana, where we will experience firsthand how vision and passion can change a neighborhood. We will spend part of the day visiting local residents committed to neighborhood improvement projects like the home of famed Cuban artist Jose Fuster, who has turned his entire neighborhood into a mosaic maze inspired by the the styles of Picasso and Gaudi, or the collective outdoor art exhibit at Muraleando taking a community workshop on one of Cuba’s many traditional art forms. Other community projects include a visit to a local organic farm, the Arte Corte project, or Callejon de Hamel. During your day exploring Havana, admire the artisanal crafts being sold in Havana’s largest craft market, Almacenes san José Artisans’ Market. Offering everything from clothing and jewelry to ceramics, paintings, souvenirs, and residents ready to tell stories of Havana, both old and new, the market is full of both unique curiosities and unique conversations. Just a short journey outside of Havana lies the town of Cojimar, known for its relation to famed expatriate Ernest Hemingway. Used as the setting for “Old Man and the Sea”, Cojimar is a small fishing village and home to some of the most colorful characters in Cuba. Walk along the docks of this old village, enjoying the conversations and scenery that made Hemingway fall in love with this small town so many years ago.
It’s sure to be another amazing Travel Like an Architect™ day with all the fixins!! We will Sail Away from Havana at 8pm. Stay tuned for our personal photos and videos – we will walk you though the whole trip when we return! If you are interested in knowing more about how you can cruise to Cuba – give us a call. 815-516-0300 Our phone will actually ring on the ship – but if you can, PLEASE, wait for us to return we will be back in the office on May 23, 2016
WEDNESDAY MAY 18
After all that Architecture in Havana we will be ready for a day of rest – A Full day at sea while the ship moves us to Cienfuegos! The BEST part of cruising are that you travel in a floating hotel. Instead of dragging your belonging from place to place in packed bags you just move into your stateroom once and live there for the duration of your tour. Cruising eliminates the stress of getting to your next destination, as well as concerns for the quality of the accommodations. My parents said that their hotel room in Cuba had bedbugs back in 1957…. I just don’t want to worry about that kind of stuff…. I know that the ship is a safe and clean place for me in between adventures! And….. you can do almost anything you want while you travel, instead of being strapped into the seat of a car, bus or plane.
Rob and I plan to take full advantage of the educational activities on the Adonia – because the more you know before you go ashore, the greater your impact is likely to be. On board, we’ll have a chance to practice our Spanish, see documentary films about everyday life in Cuba, and participate in other activities to help prepare us for the next great adventure to come.
THURSDAY MAY 19
I think we may have to be early risers again on this day because we are only there until 1pm. And it’s ANOTHER Travel Like an Architect™ day in a city where the downtown is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! With its remarkable collection of French-influenced Neoclassical buildings, wide seaside boulevards and sparkling bay, it is understandable why Cubans call Cienfuegos “La Perla Del Sur”, The Pearl of the South. We plan to spend the day walking the streets of Cienfuegos, where we will stop over in one of the pharmacies, markets, or local ration stores to learn about the dual currency system and Cuba’s rations program with one of the many residents of Cienfuegos.
Our morning exploring Cienfuegos will include a trip to, Teatro Tomas Terry where a special performance has been planned for Fathom’s travelers. Finished in 1889 to honor Venezuelan industrialist Tomas Terry, the 950-seat auditorium takes its influence from French and Italian architects and is embellished with Carrara marble, hand-carved Cuban hardwoods and whimsical ceiling frescoes. Watch for a close up photo from me of those Lion Head Column Capitols and the mosaics! Travel Like an Architect™ means to notice those details!! Our morning in Cienfuegos will feature a private performance by the world renowned Cantores de Cienfuegos, with an opportunity afterwards to hear directly from the musicians about their lives, training and their roles as music professors at area schools. Wow- are you kidding me??? The professional musicians teach in the schools? Are they required to “give back”? And we thought communism was ALL BAD…. Maybe it’s just a well organized society? Maybe there is something positive to be said of, and learned from it…… This may be why we are required to have these cultural tourism lessons, by the Cuban Government………….
FRIDAY MAY 20
Although Santiago de Cuba was only a short drive from Cienfuegos we will dock at 9am. Hopefully Rob and I will have a seat on that outside back deck of the Adonia enjoying our Breakfast at that time… Santiago de Cuba – the Capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba from 1522 to 1589, has a rich and colorful history. We will enjoy yet ANOTHER Travel Like an Architect™ day! The watchtowers and cannons used in the Spanish-American war still protect and guard this port city, where our day-long agenda includes lunch served in a local restaurant by the sea or by a picturesque city square, where the chef and staff will answers questions about their city and cuisine. Our visit to Santiago de Cuba will feature panoramic drives through the city passing by the city’s most famous attractions like San Juan Hill, Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, and the Plaza de Marte. We will dive deep into the city’s colonial past as we explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, a coastal fortress constructed in 1637 to protect Santiago de Cuba. Forts are my personal favorite and I will be taking lots of photos! They are always atop of a hill with a beautiful view! Inside the fort, we will explore the different levels of the military architecture and artifacts alongside local history enthusiasts.
A short distance away from Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca lies the Santiago city center, with opportunities for us to experience and learn at the Casa de la Trova, Parque Cespedes, or the Catedral de la Cuidad (maybe you heard that Pope Francis recently visited Cuba) from local residents about music and religion in the eastern end of the island. Steps away is the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, where Cuban National Hero Jose Marti was laid to rest and we can witness the changing of the guard that protects his tomb. We will spend a portion of the day visiting community projects where local residents are working hard to create change in their communities, utilizing creative approaches in arts, food, and culture to enrich the lives of their neighbors. #travellikeanarchitect = #traveldeep hummmm…….
At the conclusion of our Day in Santiago de Cuba we will bid farewell to Cuba as we sail to our final destination, Miami. But not before one more Sea Day where we will recuperate and enjoy our new friendships. Since all of these things that we will do in Cuba are included in the Cruise Fare we will be doing them in groups and sure to meet many like minded people!! People who love to Travel Like an Architect™ just like we do! As we sail away at 5pm sipping a Mojito we’ll be thinking of you….. planning our Event at Just Goods in a just few short weeks! Follow us in Social to make sure you are invited!
SATURDAY MAY 21
Our final Sea Day on the Fathom Adonia – with all the luxury it has to offer…. along with the small ship experience.
It will be easy for us to get to know the Fathom Adonia – because she was built as a sister ship in a fleet of 8 by Renaissance Cruises, a company that folded before getting up and running back in 2001. Adonia’s sisters are scattered across the fleets of Oceania Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and Princess Cruises, all lines that have made adaptations of their own to these eight identical vessels. But some of the original features in the series were so strong that most lines, including P&O Cruises, (where the Adonia came from), have kept them: a sweeping staircase opening grandly into the lobby, an elegant library with a faux fireplace and trompe d’oeil ceiling and space aft of the sun deck for two alternative dining venues with sweeping views over the ship’s wake.
Rob and I spent 12 nights on the Azamara Journey, one of this vessel’s sister ships, back in October of 2015 in the Middle East! We loved the ship, especially for it’s size and the open air dining that overlooks the wake…. We are hoping to find “our spot” on the Adonia! I fear that we will miss the ever flowing wine at the Azamara Dinner table but we will try to cope….. I know you’re going to want to know all about it. We promise to take lots of photos and then share them with you here and at our live events!
SUNDAY MAY 22
The Adonia will dock in Miami at 7am… but we don’t usually get off until they make us 🙂 With a day of travel ahead we can avoid the first line – the one you have to stand in to get off the ship by hanging back waiting for everyone else.. We won’t be able to stay in our room because the staff needs to clean it for the guests that will arrive later in the day for the next Dominican Republic Cruise. But we will find a comfortable spot to sit with our bags and wait till the rush is over… We fly back to Chicago today………… but our flight is a comfortable distance in time from disembarkation so we don’t need to hurry.
Thank you for your interest in our Amazing trip – we are looking forward to sharing the photos, videos and all the details with you soon – watch your inbox for the first post, next week, Amber Cove Dominican Republic.
See ALL the Cruise to Cuba options and pricing > CLICK HERE
See ALL the Cruise to Dominican Republic options and pricing > CLICK HERE
Rob and Lynn Belles are seasoned travelers and Cruises Inc. Travel Agents – gathering up the best experiences on the Globe to share with you
for the purpose of inspiring you to go into the world and learn………..
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