This is a sponsored post by GroupIST & Variety Cruises.

Do you know that feeling of butterflies in your stomach? You know the one I’m talking about, right? That intense elation of falling in love, that can’t eat, can’t sleep feelings where you’re desperate to uncover every nook and cranny of the other person. It’s that feeling of experiencing the unknown for the very first time. The sky seems brighter, the birds seem to sing louder, and your zest for life is palpable.

That’s what traveling to Cuba is like. From the local people and their appetite for life to the brightly colored colonial buildings illuminating the streets of Havana, everything about Cuba makes you feel alive.  Cuba has long been on our bucket lists, but as Americans, we are often challenged with the task of traveling to Cuba. That’s why we were so excited to come across an easy way to travel to the exotic archipelago. We teamed up with GroupIST and Variety Cruises to experience the most effortless way for Americans to visit Cuba.

havana cuba

How to Travel to Cuba

Can US Citizens Travel to Cuba? They sure can! While Obama has softened our relationship with Cuba, there are still intense travel restrictions for Americans to visit this country. While there are direct flights from the U.S. to Cuba, you still need to have an approved reason to visit this country. As the Group IST/Variety Cruises journey is a “people to people” cultural experience, GroupIST took care of our visas to allow for easy entry into the country. With the people to people visa, we were able to have meaningful exchanges with local Cubans.


Our Route

There are two routes that one can take with GroupIST & Variety Cruises. One way to travel is the Cienfuegos to Havana route and the other option is the reverse route. We chose the former route, flying on a charter flight to Santa Clara and then flying directly home to Los Angeles from Havana.

During our week in Cuba, we visited Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Cayo Largo, The Isle of Youth, and Havana. There was no way that we could have planned all of this in such a short amount of time by ourselves so we were grateful to have the experts at GroupIST plan and organize with their team on the ground.

Cayo Largo

Cruise Around Cuba

As you all know, we love to cruise. It’s an easy way to see a lot of territory in a little bit of time. While large cruises can lack the intimacy and authenticity with a destination, small-ship cruises have the ability to go to ports that other larger ships can’t access.  With this trip, we only unpacked once, but we were able to see 5 different places in 7 days! The other part that we love was that all meals were included, but not all on the boat. GroupIST & Variety Cruises organized on-land meals at unique local restaurants.



Traveling to Cuba with GroupIST and Variety Cruises made it easy for us as Americans to visit Cuba. This tour is for people who want to experience LOTS of history and culture.  All of our days were filled with visits to local shops, museums, or seeing historical sights.  It was a culturally enriching and completely eye opening travel experience that will stay with us forever.

Check out more of our photos from Cuba below: