Liveaboard, Gardens of the Queen, Cuba
The archipelago known as Gardens of the Queen comprises a chain of 250 virgin coral and mangrove islands extending along 75 miles of turquoise waters. Jardines de la Reina was declared a Marine Park in 1996. The largest populations of adult fish in the Caribbean, such as sharks, snappers, groupers, and jewfish of up to 400 pounds, are an everyday experience. Sharks are one of the main attractions you can see everywhere. Modern skiffs are used to organize excursions to lagoons and boat rides through mangrove channels.
The 160-foot Jardines Avalon III is a luxury motor yacht with 15 staterooms, including 4 suites with a balcony. All cabins have private bathrooms and 2 beds (double or twin), air-conditioned with individual thermostats. Jardines Avalon III has an overall capacity of 30 passengers and 12 crew members.
There is a plethora of space onboard among its 3 panoramic decks. With a hot tub and full-time crew at your every beck and call, you will find care and comfort in all of her details
There is a spacious and comfortable combination lounge, dining room, and bar area on the boat deck. In cabins and common areas, you will find European /American sockets (220 volts and 110 volts).
Avalon III offers divers a lot of space for dive equipment and photo and video cameras. On the top deck a Jacuzzi (500-gallon hot tub), with a panoramic view: ideal space to drink a mojito after the last dive at sunset.
Meals are usually served on the afterdeck where there’s a nice breeze. Dining on board combines the style of the best Continental Italian cuisine with delicious seafood and traditional Cuban favorites like rice and beans, black bean soup, and fried bananas. Beverages available on board are Bottled mineral water (2 lt/day included in the package), sparkling and tonic water, various soft drinks, juices, beers, rums, whisky, and excellent wines.
The chef on Avalon III is excellent. The day starts with a hearty breakfast. Lunch and dinners are primarily fresh fish. Lobster is our specialty and is served in a variety of ways. For those who like something different, chicken, pork, and beef are also available. Salads and different fruits are served in every meal. Desserts feature our famous Cuban caramel custard, rum-flavored cakes, cookies, puddings, pies, and many others. Vegetarian and kosher meals are served on request with many different choices available.
Legal travel to Cuba
For U.S. Citizens and permanent residents, leisure travel and tourism activities still remain illegal. Visiting Cuba for those under U.S. jurisdiction is restricted to one of 12 categories enforced by the Department of Treasury. We work with a combination of foundations and marine researchers to provide full-time programs that comply with the State department’s general educational travel license for your Gardens itinerary and for any additional add-ons. Part of meeting these stipulations means that each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba. We have travel specialists on staff that have personal experiences diving JDR and visiting Havana, and beyond under these requirements. Please contact us for information and to tailor your Cuba educational and/or sustainable visit. For citizens of all other countries not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, there are no specific restrictions as far as travel to Cuba, and leisure travel is permitted.
The Marine Park
Jardines de la Reina Marine Park is one of the biggest treasures of the Caribbean, on a bigger scale can also be considered one of the world’s best-preserved marine areas. The importance of its protection goes beyond the jurisdiction of Cuban waters, as the connectivity between marine ecosystems has international importance. The Cuban Government together with AVALON and AZULMAR (Branch of Marlin Marinas de Cuba) has been working to accomplish the protection tasks of the Park. Government institutions such as ONIP, CITMA, CNAP, CNPFF, and the Center for Studies of Coastal Ecosystems of Ciego de Avila all have been key partners and have been directly involved in leading investigations and all the projects and surveys in the area.
Within Jardines de la Reina marine park there are some areas classified as ZUSRUP (Zones Under Special Regime of Use and Protection) this is a management classification of protected areas, with the aim of using them in a sustainable way, in places where tourism and conservation activities can be interacting under special rules and strict regulations and delimitations. The only allowances in the marine park are for Bonito fishing in the south of Jardines (blue water fishing, Open Ocean) and Lobster fishing with artisanal means.
All Caribbean marine regions are interconnected exchanging energy and matter, the migrations of fish, turtles, larvae, birds, etc. involve many areas from the east coast of the US to the Gulf of Mexico and from Bermuda to the Lesser Antilles, the North Coast of Sur America and more, all ecosystems are interdependent, the management success in preserving some areas or the mistakes and lack of protection in others affects the region as a whole, the protection of Jardines Marine park has global importance and AVALON has been committed to supporting this protection for almost 23 years of continuous work and efforts.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Fleet