Ashland University Offers Fall Trip to Cuba for Alumni and Friends

Ashland University Offers Fall Trip to Cuba for Alumni and Friends

2/14/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University President Carlos Campo and his wife, Karen, will serve as hosts for a seven-day trip to Cuba that will take place Sept. 11-18, 2017. The trip is open to AU alumni and friends of the University.

The cultural trip will include accommodations at the five-star Iberostar Parque Central in Havanna and the five-star Iberostar Varadero in Varadero. The trip costs an estimated $3,975 per person for double occupancy and $4,375 per person for single occupancy. This is an estimated cost per person and includes travel insurance; airfare from Miami, Fla.; visas and some meals. A final quote will be provided upon acceptance of the program.

The deadline for a $600 down payment commitment is June 1, 2017, with a final payment deadline of July 15, 2017. Those who are interested or wanting more information about the trip can call the University at 419.289.5093 or email This trip was initially planned for spring of 2017 but was changed.

Havana was founded in 1519 by the Spanish. By the 17th century, it had become one of the Caribbean's main centers for ship-building. Although it is today a sprawling metropolis of two million inhabitants, its old Centre retains an interesting mix of Baroque and neoclassical monuments, and a homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought-iron gates and internal courtyards. 

The first day of the trip will feature an evening visit to “San Carlos de la Cabaña Fort” to view the ceremony of “El Cañonazo” (cannon shot ceremony) signaling the historic closing of the City Gates and the raising of the chain across the entrance to Havana Harbor.

On day two, the group will tour Old Havana, which is defined by the extent of the former city walls and  has maintained the pattern of the early urban setting with its five large plazas, each with its own architectural character: Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza del Cristo and Plaza de la Cathedral. Around these plazas are many outstanding buildings, including the Iglesias Cathedral de La Habana, Antiguos Convent de San Francisco de Asís, Palacio del Segundo Cabo and Palacio de los Capitanes Generals.

This day will include a visit to the model of Havana, the Bodeguita and the rum museum with a lunch at Mercaderes Paladar. Later, the group will have a “maridaje,” which is the combination of a Habano and rum. This habanorum combination class will be taught by a "habano sommelier" (an expert on cigars) at the Hostal Conde de Villanueva in Old Havana. The habano sommelier will teach those in the group how to light a cigar, how to smoke a cigar and how to “marry” a good Cuban cigar with a good Cuban rum.
Day three will be a day of Cultures and History, with the group visiting the community project “Callejón de Hammel” and meeting the local residents of the Cayo Hueso neighborhood who will explain how this project initiated by the Cuban contemporary artist Salvador Gonzalez has helped them preserve their African roots in an educational way. This will include a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Grand Theater of Havana and the Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Deposito San Jose. This marvelous restoration of an old dock warehouse has resulted in a gigantic market exhibiting the wares of hundreds of Cuban artist and crafts persons. It will also include lunch at Nazdorovie Paladar and a free afternoon.

On day four, the group will tour the beautiful city of Viñales. The scenic drive along the “Ruta del Tobaco” includes the lush surroundings of the Pinar del Rio Province. It is hard not to be taken away by the stunning views of the Mogote valley, made famous for its pin-cushion shaped hills, tobacco fields and green vegetation. Arriving at the lively town of Viñales, the group will be greeted by hospitable locals on horse-back and a wonderful vibe that is unique. The day includes a visit to the mural of prehistory and Indian cave, and lunch at the Palenque de los Cimarron’s.

After breakfast on day five, the group will depart to Varadero, which is often described as the best beach in the world. The gleaming white sands, fresh tropical breezes and the calm waters of the Atlantic offer the perfect setting for family resorts, hotels of various categories and the full range of alternatives in the middle. This will include a visit to the Xanadu mansion that was built in the 1920s by the American millionaire Irenee Du Pont and overlooks one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Named "Xanadu," after the exotic palace built by the legendary Chinese warrior and conqueror Kublas Khan, with precious woods that were brought specially from Santiago de Cuba by ceilings, stairs and columns, while the floors and bathrooms were made in Cuba. Accommodations for the evening will be at the Iberostar Varadero, an all-inclusive, five-star hotel.

On day six, the trip back to Havana will lead to exploration of Cuba’s tallest bridge, Bacunayagua, and the city of Matanzas, also known as the Cuban Athens. This city was a grand port in colonial times for the export of sugar and Hemingway lived in the city on and off for 20 years. His house, “Finca Vigia,” was where he wrote (among others) his novel “The Old Man and the Sea,” for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. A year later he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his body of work. When receiving the Prize, Hemingway declared that the prize belonged not to him, but to Cuba. Indeed, he gifted the medal to Cuba upon receiving it. The next stop will be Cojimar, where Hemingway was inspired to write “The Old Man and the Sea” and a walking tour will include Hemingway’s statue, made from old anchors, props, and tools salvaged by local fishermen; the restaurant Las Terrazas, which was the preferred Cojimar hangout of the author and the late captain of his boat, Gregorio Fuentes; and lunch at Ajiaco Paladar.

On day seven, the group will experience the hidden Havana as part of exclusive and personalized visits to the submerged culture of Havana. Galleries and art workshops, Afro-Cuban folklore and religion, the world of new Cuban entrepreneurs, the Martin Luther King Memorial Center, the Holocaust Museum, art councils and schools, El Barrio's boxing gymnasium, fruit markets, the University of Havana and the FAC (Cuban Art Factory) will be included. Lunch will be at Dona Eutimia.

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.