3 independent reviews for Cuba holiday, West to East in 19 days

Reviews for Cuba holiday, West to East in 19 days

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review 6 Jun 2017

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

Staying in casa particulares; meeting friendly and welcoming people; learning about Cuban history in context; visiting Havana

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

Stay in casa particulares. Use Transtur buses as they are comfortable and efficient. Take plenty of cash to change in banks. Restaurants are relatively expensive. If you want to keep in touch with home, use text messaging as WiFi rarely works.

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

In the main, yes, as casa families and local taxi drivers benefit. Excursions were led by local guides so we were able to tip; excursions usually offered opportunities to buy local products. We reduced environmental impact through using buses for the long journeys.

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

Enjoyed the experience of being in a friendly, welcoming country, and the diverse range of activities (cycling, walking in the Escambray mountains; thought- provoking museums in Havana and Cienfuegos)

Read the operator's response here:

We are very happy that the vacation has been a great journey for our travelers and that loved meeting the Cuban people and stay in their homes – casas particulares. They shared with us that they would like to explore also now East Cuba with Santiago & Baracoa so they are very welcome. We just wish to add a comment for new travelers to Cuba about Wifi connections and locating Wi-Fi hot spots which is very easy in fact. In the evenings the Wi-Fi hot spots at public squares might get overloaded by all the Cuban users and tourists. Therefore we recommend that it is best to connect in the early morning or during the day and try to avoid the super busy evening hours. The Wifi connection at the 4 and 5 star hotels seems to function better also in the evening. It is common that by using the Wifi connection inside a hotel that you are asked to consume a drink. At homestays close to Etecsa Wifi communication points it is possible that you can capture the Wifi signal at your homestay. With your own rental car, private taxi or a Cuban Adventure Tour with your own driver you can even drive to a public hot spot, connect and download all your messages in the shade of some trees, directly reply where necessary and then continue the trip. We recommend buying directly a bigger amount of internet cards on the first Etecsa shop - when possible - as the cards are not always available in stock. And to be very sure that you have logged out correctly otherwise you lose the rest time of your card. One card gives you 1 hr access. Wi-Fi is now available at most boutique hotels along classical itineraries through Cuba (Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Camaguey, Santiago, Baracoa) and in most of the important squares in all the Cuban cities. You can recognize Wi-Fi hot spots by the concentrations of people chatting and mailing at public squares. When the wifi signal can still be received outside a hotel, you see people around the hotel using their smart phones or sitting against the wall with their laptops. It does not mean that Wi-Fi is always functioning or that it is a quick connection as foreigners are used to but at least it is a first step to a broader use of Wi-Fi and Internet in Cuba. You buy Internet cards at the hotel with WI-FI connection, at the telecom offices of ETECSA and homestay owners can also help you with obtaining internet cards for you. At Etecsa offices you have to present your passport as identification before you can purchase any card.

review 1 Apr 2014

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

Visiting Santa Clara and seeing the Che Guevara Mausoleum and statue.

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

Book all buses in advance. Having someone to pick you up from the bus station is also preferable as the amount of people waiting outside can be intimidating.

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

We only stayed in Homestays with local Cubans. This definitely gave the trip an authentic feel.

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

10/10. Absolutely perfect. I had wanted to vising Cuba from being a little girl. Marcel was the only tour operator who listened to what I wanted and helped me to create the tour I wanted. It was a dream come true.

Read the operator's response here:

When customers travel by regular bus Viazul, we take care of all bus tickets and they will receive them on the briefing in Havana. When they also book homestays – casas particulares via us, we take care that the families, or a personal driver of the family waits for them with a name board and takes them to the homestay. Customers receive a worked out itinerary with all addresses and programme information. In this way it is pretty easy on the bus stations: you see someone with your name board, you give a sign that you have arrived, you pick up your luggage and you double check the name of the family who is waiting for you and you are on your way.

review 10 Apr 2014

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

Hard to pick out a most memorable part of our vacation. We were bowled over by the variety of experiences, landscapes, music and architecture Cuba has to offer. If pushed I would say that Trinidad is the stand out location in Cuba - you feel as if you've travelled back in time. The city is over 500 years old and is just beautiful. Not to be missed.

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

We stayed only in Casa Particulares. In general they were great, enabling us to meet local people and gain from their knowledge of the area. The food was also much better in the Casa's than in state restaurants where service is poor and the food even worse. If you are going to use Casa's you need to realise that they can be very basic. We knew this before we embarked on our trip but even so we were surprised by just how basic some Casa's were. "All Casa's are basic - but some are more basic than others." However they can also be extremely good. Stand outs for us were: Cienfuegos - Hostal Colonial (Myriam y Gladys Fernandez Portillo Havana - Casa Ana y Surama (truly magnificent 3rd floor apartment) Marcel at was excellent. Lots of useful information and advice. Our contact whilst in Cuba, was also superb.

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

We hope so. We paid Casa owners directly and mostly ate with them which put much needed CUCs in their pockets. We mainly used private Taxis and local guides so I'm sure we did our bit to improve the lives of local people.

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

We really enjoyed this vacation. We had a fantastic range of experiences and met some wonderful people. We've travelled extensively, but Cuba is pretty much a unique destination. If you do visit Cuba don't make the mistake of thinking that it is just a beach destination. Havana is amazing and the rest of the island has so much to offer. Architecture, history, landscape and fantastic music. The people are wonderful. We never once felt threatened or uncomfortable. Try it. You wont regret it!

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