31 independent reviews for Discover Cuba vacation, 15 days

These full and frank independent reviews are from travelers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travelers below.


review 15 Mar 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing places of interest and meeting people of different cultural backgrounds from around the World.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

I highly recommend this trip to anyone, as it is safe and very adventurous.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Totally, I was able to meet locals who where very friendly and accepting of everyone. Not once have I encountered any descrimination in anyway.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely wonderful,very gratifying and educational. It has surpassed my expectation.

review 14 Feb 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Having a Cuban guide and especially the one we had, who was so open to talking about everything and bending over backwards to make us happy, lunch one day at a single table for us on the beach!, the music that's everywhere.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Learn some Spanish, go with an open mind.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, our guide was Cuban, we stayed with local families, we ate our other meals mostly at family-owned restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was a great experience.

review 19 Jan 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

All of it! Havana and the classic car tour, Camaguey for its local feel, Che Guevara Museum, and Baracoa for its tropical atmosphere, cocoa plantation visit and food. In general the colour in everything, great music and interesting places and fabulous scenery. Top class bus and driver.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The itinerary for the 15 days is great, except you need more time in Havana. Fortunately I had added 2 extra days which I loved, as Havana is easy to get around and there are lots of places and museums to visit. Highly recommend the Cuban Contemporary Art museum and the ballet.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes in part, as it benefited the local guides and bus drivers and the hosts in our home stays. The guides helped me understand more about everyday living and how Cuba operates as a country. The early arrival of tour material from the agency made me conscious of my possible environmental impact but nothing beyond that.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent itinerary and a good mix of options to pursue as a group in our free time. Great bunch of people of mixed ages keen to get the most out of the vacation and with lots of laughs. Our guide could have been better as he was slow to start and needed to be pushed along by group to organise activities even on the rainy days. Really enjoyed it all.

review 6 Jan 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

People, scenery, music, culture, history, everything!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring cash to change and use banks outside Havana to avoid large queues.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Definitely helped local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent!

review 9 Apr 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Staying in the casa particulares, swimming in under a waterfall into a cave filled with bats (recommended by our brilliant local guide Javier); Trinidad and Baracoa were our favourite places and we were very happy we were in these two places the longest.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Pack light, bring toilet paper and antibacterial wipes. Learn some basic Spanish as it will enrich your experience;smile and say hola to locals and you'll see lots of smiles;bring pens, paper, and small gifts for your hosts. Bring enough currency to tip a lot.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.Our guide encouraged us to tip, especially government workers who are the worst paid.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was full of fantastic experiences with enough free time too. It involved lots of early starts to ensure our day wasn't wasted on traveling, we really appreciated this as that's why we came to Cuba! We'd definitely recommend this trip.

review 3 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing & experiencing the 'real' Cuba before its demise (which is rapidly approaching)

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Just be ready for anything & be ready to be 'awed' by the marvelous people of Cuba!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

YES!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

FABULOUS ADVENTURE & I WILL BE USING RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL AGAIN!

review 28 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The whole vacation was memorable! The fact that we were a small group, and that the destinations and activities were so varied, were important, but in particular the guide was first class.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The vacation brochure was very thorough, and by reading it carefully in advance you would be very well prepared.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We were encouraged to make minimal disturbance to the environment, and to support the local people by a combination of charity and buying local produce. We left gifts, but it was less clear how to distribute them to the most deserving people... For instance, we could have brought - say - more pens and paper for local schools.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Exceptional in every way - nature, people, variation, history and organisation

review 24 Dec 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The group really worked, the food was good and being there during Castro's time of mourning was interesting. Also the variety of places we visited was very good.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

It's not as cheap as you might expect.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It benefitted the Casda owners most.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent. Yoellis, our guide, was very helpful even when some people needed to change Cassas because they were too bad, dirty or too far from the centre of Havana. Occasionally the local agent wasn't very helpful, and Yoellis had to help people. Despite this he always did his best.

review 25 Oct 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Cuba is a great place for a vacation, not cheap but not expensive either. People, food, drinks, culture, history and the geography of the island make it facinating

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Its hot, you cant avoid it, so be prepared. Its safe dont hold back you can emerse yourself.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We spread some money around but would have use a lot of fuel on the bus.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent

review 11 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

A number of memorable activities, including: Snorkelling off the Caribbean coast Swimming at a waterfall in the Humbolt national park River walk at Yurumi Views from la gran Piedra Cuban transport, both good and bad, all without the aid of a seat belt! Being in the minority, as there were only the three of us on our tour we spent all of our time in the company of locals.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for long bus journeys between some destinations

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Staying in 'Casa' accommodation definitely puts money directly in the local economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A very positive experience of Cuba, excellent value for money, a great way to see lots of the country and meet local people

review 29 May 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

A great tour and very informative guide. Staying in casa particular, meeting people and the warm welcome we were given by our hosts. Going to Barracoa - amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Do learn as much Spanish as possible - it really helps make the connection.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, in terms of staying in casa particular - economic benefit. We all tried to be responsible for managing environmental impact - ie recycling our water bottles etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent. It really gave us an insight into how Cuba past, present and future is changing.

review 14 Apr 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I'd have to say my time in Baracoa. I love how laid back everyone is, the natural beauty is outstanding, and it had the nicest accommodations. Plus, it's the chocolate capital of the country.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring gravol. It's likely you'll get food poisoning at some point and you do not want to go to hospital. I know from first-hand experience.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Very much so. I brought about 7-8 kg of presents with me (I know, it's a lot!) and I'm mailing a package to one of the casas. Waste was minimal and I could clearly see that the locals benefited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Great despite the food poisoning. I've only been back a few weeks, but it seems like several of my friends are seriously thinking about going on the same tour. Bonus if you get Javier as a tour guide. He and his family are amazing.

review 9 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

While many aspects of our 16 day trip were memorable I believe the best part is the overall experience. Meeting the people and learning about Cuba from: talking to both our trip leader and local guides; Casa owners and their employees; people on the street; etc to the overall sites and sounds of a country so similar and yet so different from the U.S.A. Travel from Havana to the far reaches around Baracoa each with their own special culture, climate, topography and environment provided an excellent overall vacation.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared and don't underestimate the physical endurance requirements. We all thought we were in pretty good shape for "mature" people but the amount of walking at least in the temperature's and humidity's that we encountered was challenging. A 5km hike seemed like forever. 4 & 5 hours at a stretch on a bus with no toilets, a 15 minute break and then another 2-3 hours on the bus followed by checkin (Tote your bags up 2-3 narrow steep staircases, a 1+ hour town hike, a drink and then dinner while fantastic to the senses can become challenging. Bring lots of "Tip" money as we were constantly trying to find 1 & .5 CUC's every day.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

While our guide did mention Responsible Travel and explained about the environment and conservation I think more could be done by Travel agencies. While several "local" guides were used, local Casa's were rented and the local paladares were patronized which really helps the locals I have always like companies that do things that do even more to support the local economy. Hire high schools to support a trip with the proceeds paid to the school, find a local farmer and pay him and his workers to provide a picnic lunch on his property to the benefit of all, etc. We also felt that there was a bit too much "begging" allowed and almost encouraged although that is hard to quantify. We brought along many "gifts" for school children but also didn't feel right in the way the presentation was handled however, I'm not sure there is a better way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Our group has visited all over the world and I'd say that this is one of the top 3 or 4 trips that we have had. The overall trip feeling was excellent. The "value" was outstanding from the standpoint of money spent per memory gained. We lodged well, ate good, partied hard, and saw everything advertised and much much more.

review 25 Jan 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

To see the real Cuba and get a true flavour of its culture and the history and people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Read the paperwork carefully; it is helpful as to what to expect and what to take. Do try and find out prior to arrival exactly where you are staying. To arrive after a long flight, long wait for luggage and exchange of money at airport, it was tiresome to be deposited outside big apartment block by taxi and not know which door to knock on, 6 flights of stairs in power cut with luggage and torch in bag and no assistance! Remember to take gifts of travel size toiletries, disposable razors, pens pencils tennis balls etc to leave your host.Also if able, take items of clothing happy to hand wash and leave as travel too.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Benefit to local people financially rather than staying in hotels and also to local small bars and restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A memorable experience. Enjoyed company of most of group and our guide was very informative and kind and helpful. The best way to travel the island and see the best of each place without wasting time. If language knowledge is not good the best way to get around is have accommodation sorted for you. All homes welcoming, especially out of Havana in small rural areas. All clean but very simple and with charm if not great plumbing.

review 8 Jun 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The most memorable part of my trip was our guide for the Cuba trip, Ihosvany. He made the trip special by being so attentive to the needs of a diverse group of travelers. He delivered 120% and was always looking out for us, watching over us all and providing wonderful insights into the culture of Cuba. He is a true gem! Also memorable was the chance to get to know the people of Cuba. They are so welcoming, warm and friendly. I loved seeing the sights but I am a people person and this trip was a great way to meet ordinary people and experience a special bond (of humanity).

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

To leave all your preconceptions at home, be flexible and open to the culture. To interact with the locals as much as possible and try to learn/speak a little Spanish. I was able to communicate on a very basic level and they appreciated the effort. Do your research on customs and climate.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I definitely feel that the vacation benefited the local people, rather than the big hotels. Staying with the locals was a wonderful way to support the people and have a cultural exchange.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The vacation was a very good one for me. I would have liked to have had more free time along the way and a little larger bus. there were a few activities that I wanted to do while there that I did not get a chance to do, due to the busy agenda and following the desires of the group.I am a pretty independent traveler, however, I would recommend this trip to those who want to see Cuba for the first time just to get an idea of travel there.

review 22 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The people and the music made the vacation particularly special. Everyone was friendly and there was the sound of music and salsa wherever we went. The visits to the National Parks were particularly special. Swimming under the waterfall was amazing and in Baracoa we were lucky enough to see a humming bird sitting on a nest. The Spanish architecture was also a highlight and the American cars in Havana certainly did not disappoint.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

If you are taking gifts, as well as pens and crayons and stationery for the children and toiletries for the adults clothes are really appreciated. Be prepared to pay a lot of money in cash in tips which are expected every where, even for things you consider you have already paid for

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The vacation definitely benefited the local people we met as we were very directly feeding cash into the local economy. I cannot see that we were reducing any environmental impact as our presence was necessarily increasing pressure on the environment with our use of water and the sewerage systems for example. We did support conservation with payments to entry to the National Parks.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was a great adventure and very pleased to have visited such an amazing country.

review 1 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

One of the highlights for me was dinner and the flamingo show at Restaurante 1800, a palandar in Plaza San Juan de Dios in Camaguey. We returned to the plaza the following day to see the area during the daytime and check out the artists' workshops. The leather shop was amazing! Plaza del Carmen and Martha Jimenez Perez's studio nearby were also a treat. The hike up to the mirador in Parque Natural Majayara near Baracoa was also very memorable. The view is amazing!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Pack light! You will be dragging, pulling or carrying your luggage over rough pavement, cracked sidewalks, and/or cobblestone streets (for several blocks sometimes) en route to your casas particulares, and once inside, you may find steep, narrow stairways to be negotiated. There are may opportunities to pay your hostess to do laundry for you (and thereby giving her some much-needed cash), so you really don't need a lot of clothing. Outside of the fancier establishments in Havana, clothing styles are pretty casual in Cuba. If you find that riding on a bus tends to put you to sleep, take along some chewing gum. You rarely find it in Cuba, and chewing will keep you awake to see all the amazing sights as you roll down the road. Change all the cash you think you will need in Cuba at the Cadeca at the airport when you arrive to avoid long lines in banks. Read all the info that the vacation provider sends you and do your homework to get the most out of the trip. Cuba is something to see!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely! All the money for food and lodging went to the local people instead to the Government. We also shopped in markets owned by the locals and with artisans who were offering their wares for sale and bought Internet access cards from local entrepreneurs who stand in line to buy them from the phone company and resell them for a peso more. Unfortunately, most of the people on our trip bought bottled water. Please do take your own water bottle and water sterilizer. (I use a Steri Pen Traveler.) Not only is it more convenient and less expensive than buying bottled water, you will also not be adding to the plastic waste on the island. By spending our money to hike in the parks, we also supported conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I'm very glad I took this trip. You can't beat the price, and we were able to see a large part of Cuba. We did not have the best of weather, and our guide was rather distracted by his friends on the trip, which meant that he was not as good as he could have been (and apparently usually is), but this is a good trip. As previously mentioned, you do have to do your homework to get the most out of the trip. You won't be spoon-fed everything might wish you had been told, but if you know enough to ask the right questions, it's all there for you.

review 23 Apr 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There were not major memorable or exciting parts, but lots of smaller things, such as seeing wild hummingbirds, finding fossilised coral on the beaches, swimming in the river in a rainstorm, seeing traditional sugar cane production, sampling daquiris (not a memorable Mojito, but will enjoy making one at home when the sun shines!) and the Martha Jimenez Perez gallery in Camaguey. The best day trips were Yumuri River from Baracoa and the 'Sugar Valley' from Trinidad.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Learn some Spanish before you go! Try to get rooms at the back of the building if you don't want to be woken by street noise at 5am. Beware anyone who starts up a conversation with you in the street will want to take you somewhere, sell you something or expect a hefty tip. There is a plethora of meat/seafood on the menus, so not easy if you are vegetarian as there is a lack of vegetables in general (but do try the amazing outdoor vegetarian restaurant in Baracoa). Our guide was intent on taking the group to restaurants, for lunch and dinner, with little consultation, but we found we were much better suited to our own choices, both food-wise and price-wise. Do give your empty drinks bottles and cans to the street collectors - they will be delighted.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It benefitted some local people - casa owners and restaurant owners. We bought souvenirs from local craftspeople (there are some lovely handmade items) and patronised locally run bars, cafes and restaurants. We visited two National Parks (for which there was an entrance fee) and hopefully this would benefit the environment, although there was still litter there, as elsewhere. Given the poor state of most of the towns and cities, and the severe lack of basic resources it would seem impossible for Cuba to entertain any serious attempts at ecological conservation in the foreseeable future, and we did hear of a protected area that had already been ear-marked for massive hotel development.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Disappointing. We wondered what all the hype is about! The dilapidation and poverty of the towns and cities beyond the central squares was sad to see and in general (more so in the bigger towns/cities) it was dirty and very poor. Cuba is a noisy country! - noisy vehicles, be it engines, brakes or horns; noisy people, they shout a lot; noisy music, they use microphones when there is no need. The street pollution is also bad, with the old engines belching out horrible black fumes. Although the itinerary listed a comprehensive range of optional extra excursions, only a handful of these were offered at the destinations. It would have been good to stop en-route to see characterful villages, traditional farming methods, roadside stalls and sugar cane harvesting; as we drove through so much countryside our main experience was of towns. Our guide was well trained, but young and inexperienced. If you imagine a Caribbean vacation of sparkling clear blue water, white sand and palm trees, this is not the trip for you.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Clare, Thank you for taking the time to review your recent tour with our organisation. I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your time in Cuba. Cuba is certainly not a destination for everyone, and we do try our best to show the 'real Cuba' away from the all-inclusive resorts and main squares. While this can be a bit of a culture shock, we believe this is the best way to understand Cuba's rich history and culture. As you would have no doubt seen, Cuba's infrastructure has not progressed like other nations, since the revolution in the 1950's. This is what makes it unique as a travel destination and so appealing to travelers looking to experience a country and way of life that is so different compared to other parts of the world. I am also sorry to hear that you did not find the optional extras offered to you at each destination to be varied enough. We will continue to develop our tour itineraries and make sure the guides are in a position to offer a wide range of optional activities at each destination visited. Most often our groups choose to stay together and follow the guides recommendations based on the time of year and overall group interests. We wish you all the best for a prosperous 2016 and beyond. Thank you again for your feedback. Best regards, The LSC Bookings Team

review 13 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

- All things Vinales - Vintage car ride in Havana - Government run ferry boat ride around Santiago de Cuba port & islands

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

- Cuba is VERY expensive - add at least 30% more to your original budget - Standards of Casa Particulares vary greatly. Give your tour leader an idea of what you expect. If the one allocated to you does not meet your expectations ask to change - Whilst Cuba is safe in that you will not be attacked or robbed - you will definitely be cheated. Despite all our efforts to agree a price before embarking on anything - this always changed to a higher amount which was nigh on impossible to get out of - Use of Visa card at ATM easy, safer and a lot less hassle than changing money at the bank or Cadeca - Rather than queue up for hours for your Internet card at an ETECSA shop - look around the nearby vicinity for people selling the cards on the black market. These only cost 1 cuc more and save you loads of hassle. Everything we bought from them were in sealed packets & therefore genuine

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

No - in fact we felt our presence put an even greater strain on what is a creaking tourist infrastructure. High standards are demanded at Casa Particulares and restaurants and it was almost impossible for the Cubans to easily meet our requirements because the stuff just isn't available We felt that our presence just highlighted and maybe aggravated the vast difference of what little they have against us having it all.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Disappointing. It's like the Revolution turned a switch off in 1959 and in many ways time has stood still .... badly. Really not enough to see or do to justify our full tour of the country. Would recommend going to Vinales & Habana only That said, the vacation provider absolutely delivered on what was listed in the Discover Cuba 15 day tour itinerary.
waiting to see if LS want to reply 15.3.16 Rosy

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Laura, Thank you for providing feedback for your recent your with our organisation. We do appreciate your honest appraisal of our services. It is nice to hear that we delivered the vacation that was promised, but unfortunate to hear that you were disappointed with your time in Cuba overall. Cuba can provide a large culture shock to many people when they first visit. We certainly don't try to sugar coat this, and aim to show our clients the real Cuba including its wonderful people, culture, history and landscapes. This also means that sometimes our clients are exposed to the other side of Cuba including its ageing roads and limited infrastructure. This is all part of the experience and it is certainly not for everybody but is unique and unlike anywhere else you will find in the world. We think that destinations such as Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba and Trinidad all have wonderful qualities, and I know our guides are proud to showcase them to international visitors on a daily basis. Staying in Casa Particulares provide a wonderful cultural experience and an opportunity to experience how Cuban's go about their daily lives. While we expect our clients to be comfortable and well looked after staying in Casa's and eating at local restaurants, we would hope they would be a little more flexible with their expectations when compared to dining or lodging in more developed countries around the globe. Once again thank you for your feedback, and I am sorry to hear that Cuba was not the destination for you. We wish you all the best on your future endeavours. Best regards, Dan Stretton Founder

review 27 Oct 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Meeting the kind people of Cuba. Seeing the breathaking views in Vinales and having a dinner at an ecological park with views of Vinales in the distance. Our tour guide Patricia was wonderful and took us after hours to live salsa music/dancing in Trinidad. She truly custom tailored our experience. It was a week I'll never forget.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring 400-500 US dollars worth, but bring the money in Euros to be exchanged in the country (US dollars get a 10 percent markup and US credit cards don't work at all in Cuba). Bring an umbrella. It's hot - tank tops, shorts and casual clothes are a must. Pack lightly - in many of the Casa Particulares you can ask your host to wash a handful of laundry for a fee ($3-$5, 1 CUC = 1 US). You don't need to lug your laundry long distances, but I found it nice to not have to lug a lot of things through customs. You can buy your rum in the duty-free shop on the way home and it is the same price as on the streets.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We mainly stayed in Casa Particulares which is like renting a room in someone's house. That income is so important to those people - when you typically only make 30 dollars a month, a room rented for 15-20 dollars a night is a fortune and helps support the entire family.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely wonderful. Visiting Cuba is like visiting a time capsule: it has so much charm.

review 5 May 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

A wealth of experiences but probably snorkelling off the coast in Trinidad

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Book with confidence. This was the best tour we have been on and all others we met said the same thing

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - we stayed with local people. No we flew to the other side of the world to do so.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic vacation - well organised from start to finish.

review 13 Mar 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Talking with local people - staying with families who were unfailingly friendly and hospitable. Learning about Cuba, its history and society - absolutely fascinating - the Cubans have so much to be proud about. As a place, I liked Barracoa best but I enjoyed everywhere we stayed as each place offered something different. Of course the music and dance were great! All in all, the best vacation ever.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be adaptable, don't expect luxury or for things to work the way they do at home! Learn some Spanish. Cash is better - tourists often had difficulties with ATMs. Things aren't cheap and most of us spent more than expected. I took pens, some over the counter medicines and soaps (as suggested somewhere)as gifts but wouldn't do so again. Toiletries, small cosmetics and other small gifts would have been more suitable for hosts. You can get laundry done in most of the casas. Take things as they come, relax and enjoy!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, we stayed with local people and ate in locally run restaurants. Not sure about overall environmental impact - didn't see much evidence of recycling for instance but this is probably down to general infrastructure problems.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Superb. The size of the group was perfect and we luckily all got on - I won't ever want to go with a larger group again!

review 25 Feb 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

It was all excellent-there were lots of memorable moments.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

It's much better if you speak some Spanish although most people speak English.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes definitely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent - 5 stars although it's "one of" not "the" best vacation I've been on.

review 31 Aug 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We loved everything about Cuba, the culture, the people, the country and the architecture. Each day brought a new surprize and both the history and the current state of the country were facinating.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We loved using 'Locally Sourced' by supporting the amazing Cubans in their endeavour to enter the tourism business by staying in their casas and using locally operated transport. Our guide was quite amazing and ended up feeling like a family member to us all. We were there for the hottest 2 weeks in history so water, water,water is a must and bring wetwipes. Some of the toilet facilities left a lot to be desired so toilet paper also good. We gifted each casa operator and often small gifts for people on our daily outings as well - all so appreciated.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely - that was the joy - albeit sometimes less comfortable - compared to staying in international type hotels (although many are run by the government supporting upliftment programmes for the people)

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

One of our most memorable and with the greatest longlasting impact on each and every one of the group.

review 7 May 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I loved Trinidad, but really enjoyed staying in different people's houses and getting the opportunity to find out about their lives.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

A basic knowledge of the Spanish language will enhance your experience

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Our vacation definitely benefited local people in visible ways.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I had a fantastic time, but would have liked to experience more of the night life.

review 4 Mar 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

This is a hard one to answer - everything!! Each part of the tour provided a different experience of Cuba but of course there is even more to find out about. What was most unexpected was the sheer beauty of Baracoa - swimming in crystal clear rivers and wandering through cocoa plantations.........

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

What ever it is you've been told about Cuba it will probably be somewhat different when you go. Don't expect a typical tourist trip where everything is to hand but do give your time to wander through the streets, talk to the people, look at the amazing buildings which may not exist anywhere else in the world and enjoy the food- especially the fish and seafood.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. The accommodation was in Casas which directly supported family and community budgets. The travel was through local transport which was by road but trains are very poor. Visits were to key heritage sites and areas of natural beauty and hopefully we observed rather than in any way disrupted them. All the guides were local.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The vacation was really good. It exceeded expectations in many ways. I don't think Cuba would be a vacation destination for anyone who hasn't taken some time to do background research and even with this Cuba remains an enigma. You need to go and take it in without trying to work everything out - just absorb, drink the cocktails and join the fun. The stars below will be misleading... I wouldn't recommend to a friend without taking into account what they might expect from a vacation but I would definitely recommend the tour company if a friend was considering Cuba

review 10 Dec 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Well itīs really hard to say... there have been so many! But I think enjoying to sit in a coooool old-timer!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

As the trip was very well organised, there was no need for anything... just relax and have fun!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, as we were staying in Casas and having in most of the cities a local guide showing around.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was fantastic! Cuba - See you again!

review 22 May 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I went to Cuba in April on a 15 day tour that took me from Havana eastwards to the tip of Cuba to Baracoa and then back again. What was memorable - every single day. The 15 days were packed full of new experiences. Beautiful scenery, wonderful friendly people, gorgeous sunshine. It was quite simply a fantastic place to be. Cuba is an island of contrasts with the modern world trying to force its way into an environment that hasn't changed for 50 years. Everywhere you look you are reminded of the history of the place, but then you will see someone using a smartphone, or watching American TV. We saw lovely villas built right next to a wooden shanty town shack, but everyone seems happy and content on the surface. There was a joy that I found so infectious, people seemed genuinely happy, they laughed and danced and had a great time. Staying the casas particulares was a highlight - we got to interact with the locals and were welcomed from day 1. We got to meet family and friends of our wonderful guide, we were even invited to a birthday party - which was lovely. Trinidad and Baracoa were my favourite places - wonderfully relaxed vibe, were you could relax and have fun

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Ok so in Cuba you are going to have to keep your sense of humour and chill. Things will go wrong, but not in a major way and you just have to go with the flow - You may be several hours late arriving at your destination, or you may have to use really basic facilities, but then you aren't in London! Take baby wipes with you - a plentiful supply as they come in very handy. Also when you exchange your money make sure they give you notes of a low denomination as many places just can't change larger notes. Take precautions - whilst most people are really friendly, don't be fooled into letting your guard down. Don't do anything that you wouldn't be happy to do in your own home country. Would you for example go off with a complete stranger without telling someone ? I think not. I travelled with a female friend and I can't thin of a time when we felt threatened or uncomfortable. Yes we were hassled, but you just deal with it with a good humoured no thanks and that generally did the trick.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The Cuban government have recently allowed Cuban citizen to run their own businesses. So many family run restaurants have opened up and also the chance to stay at a casa particular, which is a type of Bed & Breakfast facility. We stayed in such places and also made use of the restaurants, so in that way yes our stay did benefit the local people. We also took public transport as much as we could. However we saw no specific environmental or conservation type activity.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

This vacation was great and I was still smiling weeks after I got back home. To date it has been the best vacation I have ever been on. I came home really relaxed and incredibly happy. I would challenge anyone to go to Cuba, spend sometime with the people and not be effected by their wonderful nature.

review 7 Apr 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

A tough choice - the whole tour was exciting and memorable in different ways. Barracoa: chocolate, coffee, coconut & seafood in an idyllic tropical setting, followed by salsa at the local disco in this small, friendly town. Scenery on the road from Santiago de Cuba to Barracoa was wonderful too. Playa Ancon - a perfect beach outside colourful, musical, 500 yr-old Trinidad. Habana - fascinating city; classic convertible car tour & historic Hotel Nacional, a pint of pina colada in the Beer factoria in Plaza Vieja. Mmm. Cienfuegos - a relaxed city of faded French elegance. Camaguey - Art galeries Soroa - orchids, castle views & waterfall make a great day trip from Habana. Live music, salsa and friendliness everywhere. Cocktails. We're converted. Food - despite all the guidebook gloom, we loved the seafood, the fruit juices, the variety of vegetables, rice with black beans (alias Moors & Christians) and flan for dessert. Finally, the casas themselves - clean, comfortable, hospitable and great value, often very pretty, with fantastic home cooking, and always well located.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared: Read tour operator's and other websites thoroughly so you understand local conditions better, e.g. currency, communications, history etc. Expect to use texts only to contact home. Mine were fast between UK-Cuba. Be sure to pack antibacterial hand gel, toilet paper/ tissues, soap, mini bottles of showergel & haircare: 1 lightweight long-sleeved top & pants; factor 30 sunlotion, cap, insect repellent; books, snacks and a coverup for chilly bus journeys; Bring lightweight waterproof for tropical rain; a small bottle of laundry detergent; teabags; pepper sauce if you crave spice. Travel size games & fitness items are handy for down time. Small gifts for host families e.g. pens, cosmetics, mini toys, tee-shirts or souvenirs of home (but not shampoo!). A large, thin bath/beach towel or wrap & snorkel set. Pillows are small & low so a travel pillow may help in casas and on buses. Have a phrase book and the will to try out some phrases, however haltingly!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

There was a clear benefit to the owners and staff of casas particulares and local people involved in any aspect of tourism, from guides to restaurants to taxi drivers and musicians. Tourism is funding conservation eg orchids in Soroa, and restoration of historic buildings in Habana. Not sure about our environmental impact. We did feel a bit guilty about eating wonderful, probably over-fished, lobster! Inevitably, air travel involves enlarging our carbon footprint and international tourism always creates some tension between wealthier visitors and poorer hosts- but this kind of tour does promote better understanding and relations between the two groups. Also, Cubans we met were often 'richer' than us in joie de vivre, hospitality, fortitude and good, fresh food.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely brilliant - hubby did not want to come home and I am recommending it to everyone I meet. We thought our tour was excellent - a comprehensive itinerary and good value. It was really packed with activities so we did enjoy a beach break at the end. Our tour guide was great fun, well organised, adaptable and responsive to the group's needs. We had a wide age range but all got on very well and enjoyed the adventure with laughter and cocktails. The city-specific guides in Habana and Camaguey were also friendly, full of information and great to chat with. I would also recommend the Tour Operator's website and email support which was really useful helping us prepare to make the most of this trip of a lifetime.

review 25 Jan 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

It is impossible to choose one specific part of our vacation as the most exciting or memorable. The whole trip was just outstanding from the beginning to the end! Firstly we would like to mention the tour company concept by using small groups - we were only four in our group - which gave us full value for our money and created a great atmosphere while traveling. Secondly, using private homes instead of hotels allowed us to get to know local people. Their friendliness and hospitality was really great and the food was excellent. The beautiful and changing nature in Cuba is also worth mentioning - we saw beautiful waterfalls on our hikes in the mountains as well as great beaches and exciting cities with lots of history. Production of chocolate and coffee, cigars and rum was interesting. We also had a barbecue together with our hosts at a riverbank in Baracoa and picnic at the beach watching the sun set. Due to the small group traveling together, we soon became like a family on tour. Much of this thanks to our outstanding guide Miss Deborah Orta Cedeno! As one of the local guides in Baracoa said "she is special" and we totally agree with that statement. Her personality and way of organizing things were excellent and way above what we could expect. We miss her already. Best guide ever!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring Euro for exchange. ATMs are available in some cities, however US related cards are not accepted. Have toilet paper and/or tissues available. Gifts - such as pens, toys, toilet articles are highly valued. We also highly recommend this tour company and of course -our special guide!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - absolutely!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Outstanding! We will return to Cuba!

review 6 Dec 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Boat trip to a deserted island with reef snorkelling off the coast near Trinidad, and exploring the lush hillsides, river and coast around Baracoa in Eastern Cuba.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared to rough it a little, and go with the flow.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, with local homestays, visits to local traders and crafts people, and supporting local transport, bars and restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent, really interesting and varied tour of a unique country.

Vacation Reviews

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Unedited reviews from other travelers

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
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