Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Cuba in this historical moment when the United States and Cuba are reshaping their relationship. The UVA Alumni & Parent Travel program offers you this exclusive opportunity to travel to architecturally diverse and unique Cuba. Travel with Ernest (Ernie) Ern, Senior Vice President and Professor of Environmental Sciences Emeritus, one of our most popular faculty hosts. Enjoy Cuba from the luxury of an exclusive yacht.

Cradled between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, just 90 miles from Florida, lies an island of pivotal history and lush natural beauty, of rich artistic tradition and architectural grandeur. Off-limits to most American travelers for half a century, Cuba—one of the world’s most enigmatic countries—is ready for you to unravel its mysteries.

Program Highlights

Detail of colorful group of vintage American cars parked in a street of Old Havana
Colorful group of vintage American cars parked in a street of Old Havana
  • Uniquely designed, six-night People-to-People cruise along southern Cuba after three nights in the spirited, soulful capital city of Havana—ample time to enjoy “the heart of Cuba.”
  • Extraordinary opportunity to traverse the breadth of Cuba.
  • Exclusively chartered M.Y. LE PONANT, a traditional motor/sailing yacht with sleek, stylish beauty and only 32 deluxe Staterooms.
  • Experience the eclectic diversity of Cuba, including an informative walk with an architectural restoration scholar in Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Visit colonial Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Santiago de Cuba, a charming, rarely visited old-world town.
  • Meet a tobacco farmer in the UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Viñales Valley.
  • Ideal, small ship size ensures a more immersive experience.
  • Specially arranged People-to-People opportunities to meet and engage with Cubans from all walks of life in the most authentic way possible—through their own eyes.
  • Due to small size of ship, this program is limited to just a few nonprofit co-sponsors per departure.
  • All meals included—flavorful French-inspired cuisine on board the ship and complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages throughout the cruise.
  • Experienced, English-speaking Cuban hosts during your People-to-People connections throughout the program.


Ernest H. Ern, Senior Vice President and Professor of Environmental Sciences Emeritus

Ernie and his wife, Ernie_Ern_1Petie, came to Charlottesville in 1962 and Ernie taught in the Department of Geology, later the Department of Environmental Sciences, for 39 years. Concurrently, he held administrative positions as Dean of Admissions, Vice President for Student Affairs and from 1993 to 2001, Senior Vice President of the University. From 1989 to 2001 the Erns lived on the Lawn in Pavilion X. His scholarly work includes analyses of geological conditions related to mining in the Appalachian region, as well as detailed analyses of rock formations in central Virginia and the Appalachian region. In 1998, Ern received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for excellence of character and service to humanity. (Greece ’07, Dalmatian Coast ’08, Italian Lakes & Swiss Alps ’10, America the Beautiful: National Parks ’11, Canadian Rockies ’12, Baltic Sea ’13)


DAY 1 - January 22

Depart the U.S./Arrive Havana, Cuba

Depart Miami on your short flight to Cuba. Upon arrival in Havana, meet your experienced, English‑speaking Cuban hosts and guides, who will accompany you on people-to-people exchanges and be part of your immersion into their way of life.

In Havana, enjoy lunch in a local paladar, then visit Finca Vigía, the former home of Ernest Hemingway, affectionately called “Papa” by locals. Here, he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, based on a local fisherman, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

This evening, check into Havana’s MELIÁ HABANA HOTEL.

DAY 2 - January 23


Cuba’s capital, the early‑20th‑century “Paris of the Caribbean,” remains arguably one of a kind, mixing impressive urban architecture and culture with an earthy, informal vibe and a lively arts and music scene, while retaining a distinctly vintage feel bolstered by the prevalence of 1950s American‑made automobiles fondly called “Yank tanks” by the locals who painstakingly maintain them.

Havana, Cuba
Havana, Cub

The Spanish colonial core of Habana Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a colorful neighborhood of winding cobblestone streets, pastel-hued houses and picturesque squares filled with architectural beauty, including the bayside Plaza de Armas, the site where San Cristóbal de la Habana was founded in 1514.

Havana’s downtown district of Vedado is a mix of old and new, including the University of Havana, the pre‑revolutionary Capitolio reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol, the iconic Malecón (oceanfront promenade) and the legendary Hotel Nacional de Cuba. See Revolution Square, where Fidel Castro gave his famous eight‑hour May Day speeches.

Visit the community of Jaimanitas, home to the Hemingway Marina and one of Cuba’s best known artists, José Rodríguez Fuster, a sculptor and painter whose distinct works of art are inspired by Antoni Gaudí.


  • Local architects and architectural restoration scholars discuss the preservation and evolution of art and architecture on a walk through Old Havana.
  • Interact with residents of José Rodriguez Fuster’s artistic community.
  • Enjoy an invigorating performance by a local stomp band.
  • Enjoy a reception and dinner in a paladar in Old Havana.

DAY 3 - January 24

Havana/Pinar del Rio and Viñales Valley

The striking Viñales Valley- in Cuba’s westernmost province of Pinar del Río is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Known for its natural beauty, the valley is a much photographed and painted 270-square‑mile plain surrounded by limestone karst hills called mogotes. The farmland here is among Cuba’s richest, and the ancient agricultural practices produce robust coffee and some of the world’s best tobacco, products central to Cuban history and identity.


  • Meet a traditional tobacco farmer and cigar‑roller in Vuelta Abajo, the country’s tobacco heartland. Spend time with his family as he welcomes you into his home to sample Cuban coffee.
  • Tour an organic farm and enjoy a discussion with the farmer on the growth and sale of crops as you explore his gardens. Afterward, share a homestyle lunch with his family, an enriching opportunity.
  • In the historic town of Pinar del Río, visit a community art project where creativity is fostered in young people with Down syndrome.

DAY 4 - January 25

Havana/Cienfuegos/Embark M.Y. LE PONANT

Once a trading port for sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, the attractive colonial port city of Cienfeugos was built in a neoclassical style from the wealth of these industries, and its original grid layout plan is an incredible example of early urban planning.

Upon arrival in Cienfuegos, visit the eclectic Teatro Tomás Terry, which hosted its first opera in 1890. Enjoy lunch in a local paladar.

This afternoon, embark M.Y. LE PONANT and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening.

DAY 5 - January 26

Cienfuegos for Santa Clara

Ration Shop
Ration Shop

Known as the “Pearl of the South,” the UNESCO World Heritage-designated colonial harbor city of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 by French settlers from Louisiana and Bordeaux while located in a Spanish territory, which has made for a fascinating blend of  history and local culture today.

From Cienfuegos, travel to Santa Clara, the gateway to Cuba’s historically and agriculturally rich central region. Visit a Casa de Abuelos for a unique opportunity to learn more about social welfare in Cuba from the active senior citizen residents and staff.

Santa Clara, long associated with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, has been shaped by the most prestigious university outside Havana and features one of the country’s most spectacular grand colonial theaters constructed in 1885. See the beautiful Teatro La Caridad, where famed musicians such as Enrico Caruso once performed, and visit the impressive Che Guevara Monument and the History Museum of the Revolution.


  • In a Casa de Abuelos, elder Cubans and staff will introduce you to a time-honored Cuban dance tradition, the danzón.
  • Enjoy lunch in the Auténtica Pergola paladar.

DAY 6 - January 27



Developed from the wealth of the sugar industry in the 19th century, UNESCO World Heritage-designated Trinidad retains much of its colonial charm, with terra-cotta tiled roofs, pastel-hued houses, cobblestone streets and ornate tiled courtyards. Walk through 18th‑century Plaza Mayor, and visit the neoclassical Museo Romántico and Palacio Cantero, two museums showcasing the history of Trinidad’s residents.


  • Enjoy lively rumba and salsa performances at the Palenque de los Congos Reales, an outdoor music center devoted to traditional Cuban music and dancing.
  • Visit the authentic Casa Chichi, a multigenerational pottery workshop established in 1892 that still uses clay sourced from caves.

DAY 7 - January 28

Cruising the Caribbean Sea

Enjoy informative onboard discussions and lectures about Cuban history and culture while at sea.

DAY 8 - January 29

Santiago de Cuba

Cuba’s second largest city is perhaps the island’s most vibrant and culturally rich, with its lively music and attractive colonial architecture. On the walking tour, see Céspedes Park including historic City Hall, where Fidel Castro announced victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and 15th‑century Casa de Diego Velázquez, the oldest standing house in Cuba. Enjoy picturesque views of the city and refreshments from the rooftop terrace of the illustrious Hotel Casa Granda.

Visit the expansive Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, the grandiose final resting place of Cuban national hero and important Latin American literature figure José Martí; Emilio Bacardí Moreau, known for his namesake rum; and Compay Segundo, guitarist of the Buena Vista Social Club.

After lunch on board the ship, view imposing Revolution Square and historic San Juan Hill, a pivotal site during the Spanish‑American War. Tour the Casa del Caribe, a vibrant, multifaceted institute that celebrates Afro‑Cuban music, dance and culture. See the original Bacardí rum factory, first opened in 1868, and enjoy a traditional Cuban rum tasting.


  • Enjoy a colorful dance performance of the rumba, salsa and other traditional forms of Cuban entertainment at Casa del Caribe.

DAY 9 - January 30

Santiago de Cuba

From Santiago de Cuba, travel to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre to visit La Virgen de la Caridad (Our Lady of Charity), the patron saint of Cuba, a brilliant shrine and Cuba’s most sacred pilgrimage site. Tour the holy basilica, where Pope Francis recently visited, and listen to the captivating legend behind this revered shrine.

Walk through the lush Jardín de los Helechos, featuring over 350 species of ferns and 90 types of orchids. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Castillo San Pedro de la Roca (El Morro), a 17th‑century fortress built to protect the important port of Santiago de Cuba Bay.

University of Havana
University of Havana

Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Santiago de Cuba. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening.


  • Interact with local Cuban pilgrims at the Our Lady of Charity shrine.
  • Enjoy a performance by an all-female Cuban vocal quartet.
  • Dine in a local paladar for lunch.

DAY 10 - January 31

Santiago de Cuba/Disembark Ship/Return to the U.S.

This morning, disembark M.Y. LE PONANT and transfer to the airport for your return flight to Miami.

Pre-Program Option
Arrive in Miami, Florida, the day before your flight to Cuba. Enjoy overnight accommodations in the comfortable Doubletree Miami Airport Hotel and enjoy a complimentary Welcome Reception. The Cuba briefing will prepare you for your people-to-people experiences. A convenient shuttle will transport us to the airport for our morning flight to Cuba.

Double Occupancy $200 usd per person
Single Occupancy $300 usd per person


The intimate, three-masted deluxe M.Y. LE PONANT offers an unforgettable and captivating sailing experience—seafaring in its most traditional form. When the 16,000 square feet of majestic sails are unfurled, the ship’s sleek lines and elegant beauty evoke the Golden Age of Sail. A harmonious alliance of nautical tradition and great style, this small ship is designed to cruise into the most secluded harbors where larger vessels cannot reach, and the refined yet casual lifestyle on board is manifest in the warm charm of each Stateroom and in the attentive, impeccable service.

Each of the 32 ocean-view Staterooms features a window or porthole, private bathroom with shower, one fixed queen bed or one queen bed convertible into two twin beds, individual climate control, satellite flat-screen television, Wi-Fi Internet access, direct-dial telephone, safe, minibar with complimentary beverages, dressing table, hair dryer and plush robes.

The comfortable public areas showcase the ship’s tasteful sophistication favoring life in the open air. There are two lounges, a library and expansive open-air decks that extend the full length of the vessel, and there is an observation platform just above sea level for optional water sports. Complimentary snorkeling equipment is provided, and fully equipped Zodiacs are used to facilitate island landings and enhance your Caribbean experiences.

The courteous, English-speaking crew provides attentive, professional service, with a guest-to-crew ratio of less than two to one, and they are always delighted to answer your questions about their sailing maneuvers. M.Y. LE PONANT will certainly captivate anyone who steps aboard its gleaming timber decks for a sailing.

Located in Havana’s quaint Miramar district, near the Gulf of Mexico coast, the MELIÁ HABANA HOTEL provides comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations and modern amenities and services. It offers guests an array of dining options, two outdoor pools, a piano bar, live evening entertainment, cigar sommelier service, state-of-the-art fitness center and salon and massage services.


Meals feature flavorful French-inspired cuisine and are each served in a single, unassigned seating. Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed alfresco in the indoor-outdoor Le Diamant Panoramic Restaurant, and dinner is served in the elegant, wood-paneled Karukéra Restaurant. Complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are served throughout the cruise. Breakfast each morning and all meals aboard ship.

Program Fees

Le Ponant Deck plan
Le Ponant Deck plan – click for larger image

Prices based on cabin selection and are Per Person, Double Occupancy
All staterooms have individually controlled AC, minibar, flat screen satellite TV, satellite direct dial telephone, desk, safe, French bath products, dressing table, hairdryer and bath robes.

Stateroom Categories
Category 6 – $6,995

Stateroom with one queen bed (not convertible), porthole, bathroom with shower. Marie Galante Deck, forward. Will either be 117 or 146 square feet.

Category 5 – $7,895

Stateroom with one queen bed (not convertible) or one queen convertible to two twins, porthole, bathroom with shower. Marie Galante Deck, aft. Convertible to a queen or two twins, 122 sq.ft. -or- fixed queen, 146 sq.ft.

Category 4 – $8,395
Stateroom with one queen bed (not convertible) or one queen convertible to two twins, porthole, bathroom with shower. Marie Galante Deck, mid-forward. Cabin can be a fixed queen + smaller twin*, 146 q.ft.
-or- Convertible to a queen or two twins, 122 sq.ft.
*Smaller Twin is 27.5 inches wide (we recommend the smaller twin be used for children only)

Category 3 – $8,795
Stateroom with one queen convertible to two twins, porthole, bathroom with shower. Marie Galante deck, mid. Most are convertible to a queen or two twins, 122 sq.ft.- one is convertible queen or two twins, 136 sq.ft.

Category 2 – $8,995
Stateroom with one queen bed (not convertible), window facing outside deck, bathroom with shower. Antigua Deck. ALL are fixed queen, 136 or 133 sq.ft.

Category 1 – $9,495- SOLD OUT

Larger stateroom with one queen bed (not convertible), window facing outside deck, bathroom with shower. Antigua Deck. Fixed queen, 165 sq.ft.

Singles are available in Category 5 at $13,395, and Category 3 at $14,895.

*Le Ponant Bedding clarification:
-All queen bedding is 63 inches wide
-Twin bedding is 31.5 inches wide

Standard U.S. bedding measurements for REFERENCE:
U.S. Queen bedding 60 inches wide
U.S. Twin bedding 39 inches wide

TAXES are $495 per person and subject to change

$200 per person based on double occupancy
$300 per person based on single occupancy

Will be determined in September, 2016.

Price includes: hotel nights in Havana, cruise, tours

  • Six-night cruise from Cienfuegos with port calls at Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba.
  • Deluxe, ocean-view, air-conditioned Staterooms, each with private bathroom.
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions.
  • Flavorful French-inspired cuisine each day at single, unassigned seatings.
  • Complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages served throughout the cruise.
  • Complimentary snorkeling equipment.
  • Cuba Visa.

Price Does not include:

  • Taxes (currently $495 per person)
  • Airfare
  • Gratuities to ship staff
  • Transfers or baggage handling to/from airport on day(s) of arrival and/or departure if you are arriving earlier or later than the scheduled group transfer(s)
  • Passport fees
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls and internet access; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance
  • Anything not specifically listed as included

General Terms & Conditions

Cavalier Travels reserves the right to use photos that might include you in marketing materials and other purposes unless you specify otherwise.

RESPONSIBILITY: Thomas P. Gohagan & Company, the sponsoring associations/organizations, and its and their employees, shareholders, subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors or trustees, successors, and assigns (collectively “Gohagan”), do not own or operate any entity which is to or does provide goods or services for your trip including, for example, lodging facilities, airline, vessel, or other transportation companies, guides or guide services, local ground operators, providers or organizers of optional excursions, food service or entertainment providers, etc. All such persons and entities are independent contractors. As a result, Gohagan is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such person or entity or of any other third party.
In addition and without limitation, Gohagan is not responsible for any injury, loss, death, inconvenience, delay, or damage to person or property in connection with the provision of any goods or services whether resulting from, but not limited to, acts of God or force majeure, acts of government, acts of war or civil unrest, insurrection or revolt, bites from or attacks by animals, insects or pests, strikes or other labor activities, criminal or terrorist activities of any kind or the threat thereof, sickness, illness, epidemics or the threat thereof, the lack of availability of or access to medical attention or the quality thereof, overbooking or downgrading of accommodations, mechanical or other failure of airplanes, vessels or other means of transportation, or for any failure of any transportation mechanism to arrive or depart timely or safely. If due to weather, flight schedules or other uncontrollable factors, you are required to spend an additional night(s), you will be responsible for your own hotel, transfers and meal costs. Baggage is entirely at owner’s risk. The right is reserved to decline to accept as a trip participant, or remove from a trip, without refund, any person Gohagan judges to be incapable of meeting the rigors and requirements of participating in the activities, or who is abusive to other trip participants, leaders or third parties, or who Gohagan determines to detract from the enjoyment of the trip by others.
Specific room/cabin assignments are within the sole discretion of the hotel or cruise line.
Gohagan reserves the right to change the itinerary or trip features at any time and for any reason, with or without notice, and Gohagan shall not be liable for any loss of any kind as a result of any such changes. Ship schedules, port calls, hours of arrival and departure, sightseeing events, special programs and guest lecture series (if applicable), are subject to change or cancellation. Gohagan reserves the right to substitute motorcoach transportation using hotels, inns or lodges for cruise accommodations if necessary due to weather, water conditions or levels, other events of force majeure, mechanical or other conditions beyond the control of Gohagan. Gohagan is not responsible therefor and is not required to compensate passengers under these circumstances. Gohagan may cancel a trip (or an option) for any reason whatsoever; if so, its sole responsibility is to refund monies paid by the participant to it. Gohagan, however, is not required under these circumstances to refund the cost of any purchased travel insurance. Gohagan is not required to cancel any trip for any reason including without limitation, United States Department of State, World Health Organization or other Warnings or Advisories of any kind. Gohagan is not responsible for penalties assessed by air carriers resulting from operational and/or itinerary changes, even if Gohagan makes the flight arrangements or cancels the trip. Gohagan reserves the right to substitute vessels, hotels or attractions of a similar category for those listed in this brochure.

NOT INCLUDED: Taxes; passport, and associated fees; personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls and Internet access; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air/airport tax(es); airfare and associated local taxes, airport facility and security taxes and federal inspection fees not listed as included in the travel program; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel/ship on day(s) of arrival and/or departure if you are arriving earlier or later than and/or departing earlier or later than the scheduled group transfer(s); any overnight on land due to flight schedule(s); meals, alcoholic or other beverages and all other services not specifically mentioned as included in the travel program.


AIRFARE: Airfare is subject to change and availability and, depending on the fare basis, likely is nonrefundable. Your airline ticket constitutes a contract between you and the airline, even if purchased through Gohagan.

LUGGAGE: Luggage allowance policies are set by the airlines and may change without notice.

PHYSICAL ACCESSIBILITY: All programs require physical independence and mobility. Any physical or mental condition that may require special medical attention or physical assistance (for example, the need for a wheelchair) must be reported in writing when you make your reservation. Travelers must be able to embark or disembark motorcoaches alone or with minimal assistance from your traveling companion and climb stairs and step over raised thresholds without assistance. Travelers requiring assistance must travel with a companion who will be responsible for handling equipment.

CANCELLATIONS: Cancellations for all or any part of the trip including Pre/Post Program(s) reservation(s) will not be effective until received in writing in the offices of Gohagan. Should you have to cancel, the following terms will apply: reservation cancellation(s) are subject to a $200 ($50 Pre/Post Program(s)) per person administrative fee from the time of booking through 120 days prior to departure; from 95 through 119 days prior to departure, $800 ($100 Pre/Post Program(s)) per person; from 60 through 94 days prior to departure, 70% of the published full regular tariffs; cancellations 59 days or less prior to departure, a no-show, or early return from the trip will result in forfeiture of 100% of the published full regular tariffs. In addition, any applicable airline cancellation fees, optional excursion cancellation fees and administrative fees may apply.

TRIP INSURANCE: We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance. In the event that you must cancel your participation in a travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Trip cancellation insurance is available through Gohagan and others for comprehensive coverage of such expenses in conjunction with cancellation due to illness or accident, and damaged or lost luggage. We will send you an application upon receipt of your reservation.

RATES: Prices quoted are based on fares in effect at the time of printing and are subject to change at any time. On land and/or cruise programs, even after full payment, Gohagan reserves the right to increase the tour price in the event of cost increases due to changes in supplier costs, currency fluctuations or fuel or energy surcharges and all such increases are to be paid to Gohagan upon notice to the tour participant of such increases. On programs which include Gohagan purchased interstate or international air (which originates or returns to the United States), no increased costs will be passed on after final payment except for subsequently imposed governmental tax increases.

REGISTRATION: CST#: 2031868-40, WST#: 601 767 666, OST#: TA 0905.

BINDING ARBITRATION: Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating in any way to this Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk and Binding Arbitration Agreement, the brochure, or any other information relating in any way to the trip, or to the trip itself, shall be settled solely and exclusively by binding arbitration in Chicago, Illinois, in accordance with the commercial rules of the American Arbitration Association then existent. In any such proceeding, the substantive, but not procedural law of Illinois will apply. The arbitrator and not any federal, state, or local court or agency shall have exclusive authority to resolve any dispute relating to the interpretation, applicability, enforceability, conscionability, or formation of this contract, including but not limited to any claim that all or any part of this contract is void or voidable.

ACCEPTANCE OF CONTRACT: By forwarding of deposit, the participant certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants and accepts the terms contained in this Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk and Binding Arbitration Agreement.

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS BY: Thomas P. Gohagan & Company.