Please Join Us As We Venture To Cuba In 2016
November 10th - 19th, 2016
UPDATE: There is currently one room left,
as well as a single diver looking for a roommate. (5/19/2016)
As you have heard by now, Cuba is beginning to open up as a travel destination for U.S. citizens.
With some restrictions, Aquatic Adventures Ohio has just booked an “Educational Travel Adventure” in conjunction with Oceans for Youth and the Aggressor Fleet.
The adventure includes two nights in old Havana and seven nights aboard the newly commissioned “Jardines Aggressor.”
Some details are yet to be finalized (i.e. air from the U.S. to Cuba) but below is the itinerary and program as we now know it.
- Two nights in Havana at the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel, all meals included.
- A visit with renowned Cuba marine expert Dr. Julip Baisre on the marine ecosystem around Cuba’s coasts.
- Seven days of diving aboard the Jarines Aggressor exploring the “Gardens of the Queens.” During the week Cuban biologists will host discussions on the marine environment and conservation efforts in affect.
- Airport Transfers
- International airfare
- Insurance – highly recommend (The recommended travel insurance is Travel Guard)
- $25 (if not included in airline ticket) departure tax
$4,894.00 Per Person Double Occupancy - Deluxe Suites (8 state rooms available)
$5,194.00 Per Person Double Occupancy - Master Suite (2 state rooms available)
For single occupancy requests, the traveler will be required to pay double the normal rate. Rooms are first come, first serve basis.
We do have one room available and a diver that needs a roommate if you are looking for one.
To insure your spot on this trip, you need to provide $2,078.00 non-refundable deposit made payable to Oceans For Youth, via check only, is required.
- Cuba is beginning to open up but there are still many unique restrictions.
- Our trip will be sanctioned by the United States government so stamping the passport is "ok".
- The sanction has been approved because of our partnership with Oceans for Youth. The lectures in Havana and on the boat are integral to program and a must.
- All checks must be written to Oceans for Youth. Aquatic Adventures will collect the checks, log you in, and pass them along.
- The refund/cancellation policy is as follows. Aquatic Adventures has NO control over this policy.
- Once the check is written if the diver cancels out he/she will lose 20%
- If a diver cancels between writing of deposit check and three months prior to the trip he/she will lose 40%
- If we find a replacement for anyone cancelling there is a $250 administrative fee. This is only available until three months prior to the trip.
- Due to the restrictions we highly recommend travel insurance. The cost is based on the trip cost and the diver's age.
- Payment schedule is as follows.
- 40% at time of booking
- Balance due by August 10, 2016
- Note: if you are late with a payment you risk losing your entire deposit.
Learn about Cuba’s unique marine environment during an Oceans for Youth Foundation People-to-People educational program.The Cuba Travel Program will include 10 days/9 nights arriving in Havana, Cuba on Thursday and departing Havana, Cuba on Saturday.
During our program, travelers will spend 2 hotel nights at the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel in Havana, and will visit with Cuban scientists and marine experts about ocean conservation and cultural exchanges. One of these will include a presentation by world renowned expert, Dr. Julio A. Baisre. Interactive exchanges will discuss how Cuba has maintained one of the healthiest marine ecosystems in the Caribbean. Travelers will visit the town of Cojimar and Habana Vieja before spending a week on the Jardines Aggressor liveaboard. Seven days of the program will be spent on the Jardines Aggressor liveaboard exploring the spectacular Gardens of the Queen (Jardines de la Reina) National Park, located 60 miles off the southern coast. During the week, biologists and Cuban specialists will host discussions and presentations on the marine environment, conservation, and the importance of this magnificient ecosystem.
The Cuba Travel Program will include a presentation by Dr. Julio Baisre, world renowned expert in the study of spiny lobster. Dr. Baisre graduated in 1968 from the University of Havana as a marine biologist. He completed his Ph.D. in Fisheries, “Fisheries Resources of the Cuban Archipelago: Ecological Background and Strategies for Management.” He was awarded the Carlos J. Finlay Order, Cuba’s highest scientific recognition, served as President of the Cuban Aquaculture Society and headed the multidisciplinary group which drafted the new Fisheries Law which was formally approved by the Cuban Council of State. He has been instrumental in the development, introduction and enforcement of many regulations in the Cuban fisheries sector including aquaculture development, species introduction and licensing systems.
Cuba Travel Program Includes:
- Transfers to/from Havana José Martí International Airport; located 9 miles from Havana on start/end day of program.
- 2 nights hotel accommodations at the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel in Havana, all meals, dinner at Ivans Restaurant.
- Full day Friday; Meeting with Cuban scientists and biologists speaking on ocean conservation and research, visit to Fortress of El Morro or Hemingway House, town of Cojimar, Habana Vieja, lunch in Bodeguita del Medio and dinner at Cafe de Oriente or Moraleja.
- Saturday transfer from Havana to Jucaro for boarding of the Jardines Aggressor liveaboard
- Sunday to Friday Gardens of the Queen scuba diving and meeting with Cuban biologists
- Saturday disembarkation transfer to Havana José Marti International Airport
- All meals are included in the Cuba Travel Program
Getting There - Flight Information
There are many daily international flights available. LiveAboard Vacations is an authorized travel provider for the Cuba Travel Program and can book your airline travel reservations. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Passport & Visa Documentation
A passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your return date for your international flight. Some countries will require a Visa. As a traveler, you are required to obtain all necessary documents for entry requirements to your destination. Your Passport details must be current and exactly the same as the Letter of Authorization at the time of travel. (You will print the Letter of Authorization when completing the GIS prior to departing) Please contact the Consulate of the country you are visiting to verify document requirements. The following website offers all Passport/VISA requirements for all nationalities. Visas may also be obtained directly from the Consulates. Travelers are on a People-To-People Program.
Hotel Accommodations - Parque Central Hotel, Havana
Travelers will enjoy staying at the elegant 5-star Iberostar Parque Central Hotel located in central Havana, Cuba Thursday and Friday nights. Known for its Spanish colonial-style architecture, which pulls in the rich culture of the streets, the IBEROSTAR Parque Central Hotel is an excellent starting point for the Cuba Travel Program which is nestled in the heart of Havana. Travelers will admire beautiful city views from the charming French windows and doors of the hotel. The restaurant has some of the best international cuisine in Havana, but above all, the most impressive Cuban fare.The hotel is conveniently close to the José Martí International Airport and only 20 minutes away.
Boarding Jardines Aggressor
Travelers will depart Havana Saturday morning as a group at 8 am for a 4 - 5 hour drive (lunch included) to Jucaro to board the Jardines Aggressor. After all travelers are onboard, the boat will depart for the Gardens of the Queen.
Throughout the week, scuba diving will be offered from Sunday until Friday around noon. The Jardines Aggressor will depart after lunch back to Jucaro where travelers will stay onboard for dinner then depart Saturday morning as a group back to the José Martí Airport for their flight home.
Disembarking Jardines Aggressor
Saturday between 6 - 7 am, travelers will depart the Jardines Aggressor to the José Marti International Airport where the Cuba Travel Program will end. Travelers will stop for lunch on the way to the airport. Arrival at the airport will be at approximately 1 pm - 2 pm.
Cuba Airport Departure Tax
There is a required departure tax of $25CUC (Cuban Peso) per person that has to be paid in CUC if it is not included in the price of your airline ticket. Some airlines will include the departure tax, please verify with the airline carrier.
Dive Sites at the Gardens of the Queen National Park
Cabezo de la Cubera
The depth ranges from 18 to 63 ft. “Cabezo” is a Cuban marine term for an isolated coral formation on a sandy bottom. This place has a “cabezo” with a circular shape, around 600 ft in diameter which is extremely impressive with big schools of dog snapper and cuberas in the water column above the coral; mutton, yellowtail snapper schools between the coral patches, Caribbean reef sharks, different species of groupers, sting rays, turtles. After going around the coral formation divers get to a shallow wall with clouds of purple blue tangs and massive schools of tarpon crossing by.
Black Coral I
Depth ranges between 72 and 96 ft. Coral bands that grow higher near the edge of the platform (drop-off) are more than 30 ft high over the sand patches in the bottom between them, abundant colonies of black coral, a resident population of more than 20 Caribbean reef sharks, huge black groupers come close to the divers all the time, schools of jacks rubbing their bodies against the sharks to clean parasites away, parrot fish schools, clouds of school masters and yellowtail snappers, also rainbow runners and oceanic triggerfish.
Black Coral II
Depth ranges between 60 and 90 ft., impressive coral mountains near the edge of the platform, resident population of more than 25 reef sharks (Carcharinus Perezi) patrolling the coral mountains. Big colonies of black corals, large sponges, depth gorgonians, midnight parrotfish schools, king mackerel, black groupers, moray eels, hawksbill, and a friendly nurse shark comes very close to the divers. In the blue passing schools of oceanic triggerfish and lonely eagle rays.
Depth ranges between 21 and 66 ft. under the wall there are overhangs with impressive resident schools of tarpon, black corals, and colorful sponges, divers go under and tarpons get as close as two inches from the mask to turn away with a shining silver flash. Resident population of more than 15 Caribbean reef sharks, snappers, black groupers, Goliath grouper(Epinephelus Itajara) comes very close. There is a wreck 15 meters long, it was a boat of Júcaro harbor that was used as a pilot boat and its name was Five Seas, was sunk intentionally, the remaining parts of the boat are full of corals, sponges, schools of jacks and black corals, also green moray eels.
Depth ranges between 15 and 54 ft. there is a wall full of sponges and gorgonians, tarpon schools, Caribbean reef sharks and Goliath grouper over 200 pounds, impressive schools of grunts, porgies and mullet around big pillar corals in the edge of the wall, also big clouds of school masters.
Pillar corals are over 6 feet high and are cleaning stations for large and small reef fish There is a cave at 18 feet with a horizontal development of its gallery of over 230 ft., but it is restricted and you can only explore the entrance, the cave is inhabited by “brotulas”, a blind fish, they can only be seen at night. There are also iridescent sponges with decorated crabs.
Cabezo de la Raya
Depth between 15 and 63 ft. Circular coral formation more than 900 ft. in diameter, forming bands of coral in the sand, many sting rays in the sandy areas, nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, goliath grouper, black and Nassau groupers, hawksbills, king mackerel, at the end the dive finishes at 15 ft. in a shallow wall full of reef fish, grunts, schoolmasters, parrots, barracudas, angelfish, blue tangs, mullet, nudibranchs etc.
Amazing visibility, “Mogotes” is the name Cuban fishermen give to coral formations in a white sandy bottom, as they see these from the boat as darker areas in the sand. Depth ranges between 21 and 63 ft. there is a wall, with some overhangs full of black coral, small caves with tarpon schools especially in May, June, July, constantly patrolled by Caribbean reef sharks, big black groupers, jacks, crabs, and many reef fish in the shallow zone.
Drop-off wall dive, between 45 and 105 ft. deep, with many coral canyons, resident school of Silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) swimming near the boat all the time and Caribbean reef sharks in the deep. Black corals, huge spotted eagle rays, tarpon, jacks, snappers, turtles. Big colonies of black corals.
Coral formation between 45 and 160 ft. crossed by some ruptures where the corals are 30ft. high over the sand and 6 ft. wide, some of this impressive tunnels barely open in the top allowing the rays of light to enter forming an spectacular view, divers go across two tunnels and then go to the drop-off full of black corals and hanging sponges, black groupers, goliath grouper, snapper, Caribbean reef sharks and silky sharks.
Drop-off, perpendicular wall, the dive goes between 66 and 105 ft. With large coral canyons, big schools of jacks, Black corals, huge sponges, Silky and Caribbean reef sharks, occasionally a giant lonely great hammerhead (Sphirna mokarran) emerges from the depth to take a quick view of the divers. Turtles, snappers, and groupers.
Large cylindrical coral formations at the edge of the wall as pinnacles that rise 72 ft. from a deep sandy bottom, the dive goes between 114 and 60 ft. from top to top of these intricately decorated coral mountains, with all species of sponges, corals, gorgonians, very colorful drop-off, also large groupers, Caribbean and Silky sharks, and occasionally a huge great hammerhead comes up curious. Spotted eagle rays flying parallel to the wall.
Frontal edge of the reef wall, between 72 and 110 ft. full of big black coral colonies, and depth gorgonians, groupers, silky and Caribbean reef sharks, massive iridescent sponges, is a very colorful wall, eagle rays are seen here very often, also goliath groupers, hammerhead occasionally. Some impressive canyons in the deeper areas of the wall.