The Jardines Aggressor I liveaboard has been proudly setting sail out of Jucaro, Cuba since Spring of 2016. The Jardines Aggressor II will be joining the fleet in Spring 2018. The weekly 7 night sailings are one component of the Educational Cuba Travel Program, an Oceans for Youth Foundation program. The Cuba Travel Program is available for everyone from 10 years of age and older including individual travelers, families, couples or groups.
The Cuba Travel Program offers a very unique opportunity for US and non-US citizens alike to participate in a scuba diving and cultural experience in Cuba. The focus is on ocean conservation in general, and Cuba’s spectacular and highly protected Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) marine ecosystem in particular. The program allows for some truly meaningful interaction between foreign visitors and individuals in Cuba. This fully guided, 10-day educational itinerary begins and ends in Havana, and spreads over two nights at the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel, and seven nights aboard the Jardines Aggressor liveaboard. The tour includes all meals, accommodation, transportation, and a week of unforgettable scuba diving opportunities. The program is highlighted by a range of ongoing educational presentations, and interactive discussions with local marine biologists and other scientific experts. Visits to several local towns and land-based sites of interest are also included, in the spirit of encouraging visitors to fully experience the Cuban culture.
The Jardines Aggressor Vessel
With a highly motivated crew of six, the Jardines Aggressor vessel offers full onboard accommodation, daily diving from the mother ship at various dive sites, compressed air tanks, dive weights and belts, all meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, and a range of local beer and wine. The boat is fully equipped with 80-cubic foot aluminum dive tanks, and several 60-cubic foot tanks that are available on request. Like all of the boats in the Aggressor fleet, the Jardines Aggressor complies strictly with prevailing Eco-operator guidelines.
Built and maintained to the highest standards, the Jardines Aggressor yacht is 110 feet long, and features ten staterooms that can accommodate up to 20 passengers. Travelers can choose between eight deluxe staterooms, featuring side-by-side beds and ranging in size, and two master staterooms, each featuring a double bed in their roomier interiors.
Declared a protected park in 1996, the famed Jardines de la Reina is located 96 km (60 miles) off the southern coast of Cuba, and is one of the largest marine parks in the Caribbean. Its 120 km (75 miles) of turquoise waters encompasses more than 250 coral and mangrove islands, as well as vast stretches of pristine coral reefs, caves, and steep walls dropping sharply into the abyss. Home to a number of different shark species, including the impressive hammerhead, the park also boasts vast quantities of jewel-colored reef fish and huge populations of snapper, grouper and jewfish, weighing up to 180 kg (400 pounds) each.
Dive sites in the park are plentiful and varied. The sunken wreck at Five Seas lies near an abundance of wall overhangs that feature stunning black coral, colorful sponges, and remarkable numbers of tarpon. Green moray eels and large schools of jacks inhabit the 15-meter (50-foot) long pilot boat that lends its name to the site. Meanwhile, El Farallon is a 15 to 50-meter (45 to 160-foot) coral formation where divers can cross through 2-meter (6-foot) wide, dimly-lit tunnels before exploring the nearby drop-off that’s home to a collection of black grouper, goliath grouper, silky sharks and hanging sponges.
With six glorious days in all to explore the Gardens of the Queen aboard the Jardines Aggressor liveaboard, divers can expect to enjoy water temperatures ranging from a balmy 25-28oC (78-82oF), as well as lively exchanges with onboard biologists, covering a variety of marine environment and conservation topics.
Cuban Travel Made Easy for US Citizens
With the US government now permitting specially licensed “people-to-people” educational trips to Cuba, American citizens can take full advantage of the Jardines Aggressor’s Cuba Travel Program, as designed and facilitated by the Oceans For Youth Foundation. After paying program fees to Oceans for Youth, travelers will receive an authorization letter from the Foundation, fully licensed by the US government, for travel to and participation in the Cuba Travel Program. As long as travelers participate in all the scheduled activities of a licensed and full-time educational itinerary, couples, groups, and individual visitors ten years of age and older are free to explore the wide variety of aquatic treasures found in Cuba’s naturally diverse underwater environments.
The Oceans for Youth Foundation
As a non-profit foundation created to actively promote marine education, Oceans for Youth strives to foster a respect and appreciation for the world’s underwater ecosystems in people of all ages. With a particular focus on youth, the Foundation strongly believes that the earlier young people can learn about conserving, preserving and protecting the environment, the better off our oceans will be. As an extension of this conviction, and with an eye toward global awareness, Oceans for Youth has worked hard to develop a program in Cuba that’s geared toward educating young and old, Cuban and American alike, about the importance of preserving the country’s natural marine ecosystems. From sharks to eagle rays, and from turtles to blue tangs, the wrecks, walls and abundantly populated coral reefs of Cuba’s unspoiled Jardines de la Reina region await your exploration.