Grand Circle expands Cuba program
By Gay Nagle Myers
Grand Circle Foundation launched its third people-to-people program to Cuba, with multiple departures through June 29, 2013.
The foundation is the charitable arm of Boston-based Grand Circle Corp., which consists of Overseas Adventure Travel, Grand Circle Travel and Grand Circle Cruise Line.
Grand Circle does not work with travel agents, selling tours directly to consumers.
The firm's Cuba license renewal, recently received from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, is valid through next June.
If the current license is renewed beyond June, additional departures will be added, according to Harriet Lewis, Grand Circle's vice chair.
The new 13-day "Cuba: Music, Culture & the Roots of the Revolution" program complements Grand Circle's two existing programs.
Departures on the 12-day "Cuba: A Bridge between Cultures," launched in November 2011, and the nine-day "Cuba: Havana & Viñales Valley," launched this month, are sold out for 2012 but are available through June 2013.
The newest program explores the seaside city of Santiago de Cuba on the eastern end of the island, followed by Baracoa, the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba.
The trip winds up in Havana for four nights before returning to Miami.
Participants will visit artists' studios, meet local community members and spend time with seniors or children served by relief agency Caritas Cubana while in Santiago.
In Baracoa, they will meet with local guajiros (gatekeepers of Taino Indian traditions), a cocoa farmer and a historian.
In Havana, the group will have people-to-people encounters with Cuban architects, students, artists and seniors.
Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.