You will be picked up at the designated meeting point outside of the pier area and transfer for approximately 15-20 minutes to one of the oldest Cuban Cigar Factories in Havana to learn about this tobacco manufacturing process.
Upon arrival, you will meet the figure of the tobacco reader, a profession that still exits aimed at reading aloud to workers. Havana is the birthplace of premium cigars, and the city is dotted with cigar factories of all shapes and sizes. Production here is unlike almost any other in the world, Cuban cigar-makers, unlike their counterparts in most of the non-Cuban cigar world, make the entire cigar themselves.
The factory has a retail hall with a variety of cigars available for purchase.
Your next stop will a visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum, this is a journey back to the origins of Cuba's most famous beverage.
From freshly cut stalks of sugar cane to a reconstitution of a distillery and ageing cellars, the museum offers a real-time experience of the rum-making process, as well as a taste of true Cuban culture.
Situated in the historic district of Habana Vieja "old Havana", the museum is housed in a renovated 18th-century "solar" (colonial townhouse). Downstairs is a shady patio, with its broad stone columns and ferns, yuccas and potted palms.
A bell signals the start of the museum tour, and you will follow the guide up a flight of stone steps. An upstairs gallery features an authentic mule-driven cane mill used in the earliest "ingenios" (sugar refineries). A historically accurate model of a steam locomotive reminds us that Cuba was the first country in Latin America to use a railway for the transport of sugar cane.
The next door leads to a much larger model, the achievement of a master Cuban craftsman. This masterpiece captures the essence of the great sugar refineries and rum distilleries, whose immense chimneys rise as landmarks over the Cuban countryside. The wealth of detail stuns the eye: wagons transporting the cane from the fields, smoke rising from chimneys, and cane cutters chatting on the porch.
Another staircase leads to the fermentation and distilling rooms, here you'll see wooden fermentation casks, gleaming copper distillation columns, and pipes that transport the "aguardient" into various tanks. In the languid warmth of the ageing cellars, oak barrels take their place in shaded alcoves like statues in a cathedral. This is where the various rums mellow patiently, awaiting the intervention of the Maestro Ronero.
The visit continues down a spiral staircase into the museum's tasting room, with its immense wooden bar reminiscent of the drinking establishments that made Havana famous in the 1930s.
In the Havana Club Boutique, you can choose from the finest Havana Club rums. The boutique also offers a selection of Havana Club bar articles, Cuban cigars and souvenirs.
When you've finished visiting the museum, you'll want to head to the Havana Club Bar, which adjoins the museum. The bartenders here perpetuate the grand tradition of the Cuban "cantineros", with their special know-how in the art of mixing cocktails and taking care of their customers. You can stick with the classics and order a Mojito or a Daiquiri, or you can go local and ask for a "Cata Vertical" (at your own expense). A sample of Havana Club rum is given while here.
Please Note: Your tour ends approximately one block away from the cruise pier. Return transportation is not provided, and guests unable to walk back to the ship will need to take a taxi. Order of tour may be reversed. No pictures are allowed beyond the lobby of the cigar factory. No backpacks, large bags or large handbags are allowed in the cigar factory. A secure storage area is provided for all personal belongings. Pictures are allowed at the Rum Museum and this is where the rum sampling will take place.
Important Information for Guests Cruising to Cuba: People-to-people travel is one of the ways for Americans to visit Cuba and gives you an opportunity to discover Cuba through its people and from a local perspective.
All guests must complete a certification form which sets forth and confirms that they will be participating in OFAC compliant activities. These activities may include excursions arranged by guests themselves or provided by the cruise lines.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (OFAC) administers and enforces the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR). Please be advised that guests will not be able to board their vessel without having first completed the form.
A valid passport is required for all guests to travel to Cuba. We recommend guests review the passport requirements of travel to Cuba from their home country and that the expiration of your passport be greater than six months from the date of your voyage.
A link will be provided to you with the form upon booking your excursion, full details will be provided with your electronic ticket.
Reviewer: Mary Townsend
Our ship did not offer this excursion so we were happy we booked through Costco. We met our tour guide Mercedes in the exact spot she described and walked a few blocks to a spot where her driver picked us up. Along the way Mercedes filled us in on life in Cuba. We could ask her anything and she answered candidly, we thought. At the cigar factory we met a very animated guide, who showed us one work area after another, explaining the process of cigar making as we went along. Only complaint is they didn’t have a store inside the factory to buy cigars. The Havana Rum Museum was also interesting. The guide spoke excellent English. Afterward we were served a shot of rum. To buy cigars and rum, Mercedes had the driver take us to a government store. Havana Club rum is very inexpensive, about $13 per bottle for 7 year. Cigars ran about $6 each. Americans can bring back 2 bottles of alcohol and 100 cigars person duty free. You can bring back more but you have to pay taxes on them.
Wonderful tour(s)... only wish we could have bought cigars on site. The rum tour did end in a gift shop so we were able to purchase items.