Catholic tour operator Regina Tours will begin offering a new cruise for catholic churches interested in exploring Cuba. Titled Catholicism in Cuba, the 8-day cruise aboard the Celestyal Crystal helps pastors and their congregations discover an island nation where the largest organized religion is Roman Catholic. The cruise departs from Montego Bay, sailing to Santiago de Cuba, Havana, Punta Frances, and Cienfuegos to discover Catholic-Cuban history and culture.
Regina Tours President Nick Mancino said, “Cubans were cut off their faith in 1962 and all churches were closed until 1990, when the restrictions were lifted and the Christians were allowed to practice their faith. Though the churches were shut down for almost 30 years Christians practiced their faith underground similar to what the early Christians did in the Bible lands of Jordan, Israel, Greece, Turkey, and Italy.
However, since 1990 the churches are flourishing and people worship in them again. With Regina Tours groups, we visit many Cathedrals, celebrate Mass with the locals and visit many beautiful sites including the Shrine of our Lady of Cobre also known as our Lady of Charity. With Journeys Unlimited groups, we worship with locals at the Martin Luther King Center and meet with the leaders of the Cuban Council of Churches.”
About the Cuba Cruise Ports of Call
On the first full day of land excursions, travelers explore Santiago de Cuba, the island’s center for Afro-Cuban culture and a key to Cuba’s unique personality, to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of “Our Lady of Charity.” Also known as “Our Lady of Cobre,” the national shrine of Cuba was declared the patroness of Cuba by Pope Benedict XV in 1916 and solemnly crowned in 1936. Pope Paul VI raised her sanctuary to the category of Basilica in 1977. On January 24, 1998, Saint John Paul II crowned the image a second time as queen and patron saint of Cuba. Both Pope Benedict and Francis have visited the Shrine and prayed to Our Blessed Lady of Charity. The group will have Mass here and then visit the Cathedral of Santiago, where St. Anthony Mary Claret C.M.F. was archbishop of Santiago de Cuba from 1850-1857. He had the gift of prophecy and performing many miracles. He is the Patron Saint of textile merchants.
The following day in Havana, the group enjoys a guided walk through the Old City area, emphasizing art deco buildings, institutions, American cars from the 1950’s and community-based projects of particular significance to those of the Catholic faith. They will visit the Felix Varela Cultural Center (former seminary) for a conversation with lay and clergy regarding the religious and cultural work of the Center, celebrate Mass at the Cathedral and enjoy a Concert at the Convento de San Francisco de Asis.
The cruise will also stop in Punta Frances–the Isle of Youth, for a day dedicated to exploring the island’s nature, beaches, and ecology.
In Cienfuegos, the group will visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, where they will celebrate Mass and meet some parishioners.
Catholicism in Cuba prices start at $3198. Price includes round trip air transportation from New York and other selected cities to Montego Bay, 7 Nights accommodations on Celestyal Crystal, port charges, all meals daily, the services of professional tour guides while touring on land, deluxe motor coach transportation, visits with church leadership, all entrance fees per itinerary and gratuities for cruise staff, and Cuba medical insurance. For more information, please visit http://regina-tours.com/catholicism-cuba.