PHOTO: Americans love Cuba as much as Cubans love American cars. (Photo by David Cogswell)
Tauck, the Norwalk, Conn.-based tour operator, unveiled a new longer and more intensive Cuba program that explores more of the country beyond Havana than its previous offering, which began operating in 2012.The consumer demand for Cuba continues to be voracious, and operators are competing fiercely for marketshare by enhancing and expanding already popular itineraries.
Tauck’s previous program, now discontinued, included six nights in Havana. The new expanded version includes three nights in Havana, two nights in Cayo Santa Maria, three nights in Camaguey, one night in Holguín and two nights in Santiago de Cuba.
Both the previous program and the current offering begin with one night at the Sofitel Miami in preparation for catching a charter flight to Havana the next morning.
The trip includes visits to the birthplace of Fidel and Raul Castro, the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, the tomb of early champion of Cuba independence Jose Marti and many encounters with contemporary artists and musicians, as well as local people in various walks of life, such as fishermen and restaurant owners and operators.
According to Katharine Bonner, Tauck vice president, the customer responses to the previous itinerary were “fantastic,” but the company chose to expand the itinerary because, “We wanted to provide a richer and more diverse itinerary, and while the guests on our initial itinerary gave their experience very high marks, we learned in the process that there was a desire among our guests to see more of the country and gain an even deeper understanding of Cuban history and culture.”
In the U.S. Tour Operators Association’s recently released Packaged Travel Index, Cuba entered the top 10 on its Emerging Destinations list, debuting at No. 2, right under Myanmar, which has held the top position for three years.
Tour operators unanimously report that the demand for Cuba is of stellar dimension. Tauck is no exception.
“Our guests absolutely love Cuba,” said Bonner, “and it was their interest and their passion that prompted us to enhance our itinerary there. The response to the new tour has been fantastic, and several of our early 2015 departures are already sold-out.”
The new program is priced from $7,465 double occupancy, not including airfare.