13 independent reviews for Cuba holiday, small group

Reviews for Cuba holiday, small group

SHOW
4
9
0
0
0

review 29 Jan 2016

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

Would recommend this tour operator. First class guide, good buses, well organised, great mix of people and visited some lovely towns.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take the lightest of clothing as its very hot and good comfortable walking shoes. If you see something you want to buy - buy it as you might not see it again don't just stay in Havana, see as much as you can; Baracoa, Trinidad is a must see

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

Yes, the casa's were great, lovely breakfasts were served, many shopped in local markets for handmade goods.

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

10 out of 10

review 15 Mar 2014

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

The friendliness and openness of the people - in the street as well as ones we met more formally through homestays and tours. The music in every bar - some cheesy - some excellent. Havana - buildings, cars etc - as you would expect. The walk in the country at Vinales, the tobacco farm / cigar making, the wonderful countryside, birdlife. The way the history of the country is woven into many aspects of the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

We really enjoyed a rest day before and after - to recover from the flight out - and to relish in our own time the Havana experience. The tip to take "going out" clothes was OK - but you only need one outfit, and not very dressed up at that. Comfortable walking sandals are a must.

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

To quite a good degree. We were aware that the people we stayed with were a part of the new middle class, by virtue of being a part of the CUC economy. We also felt that people were eager to have information about other countries, and to have our opinion about theirs, and as Cuba clearly faces big changes the social and cultural interchange feels helpful - both ways.

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

Very good. Valeri - the guide was first class. Intelligent, fun, lively, well informed, open minded, efficient. You / we are lucky to have him. Hotel National Cuba - what can you say?! Mad in some ways - but an experience. The homestays were good. The coach and driver were excellent - very safe. We learnt a huge amount as well as having a very enjoyable time.

review 28 Jan 2013

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

For me it would be hard to identify one thing. I was given so much food for thought that I am still processing my experiences. Since arriving home two days ago I have already had a Cuba Night for my family and have taught them to salsa, play dominoes (9's) and sing along to a CD we bought. We have all tried Mojitos and some Pork with salad and Rice and beans.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be open minded. Read the trip notes carefully so that you are clear what the holiday entails (I think the trip was reflected very clearly in the notes). Ask loads of questions and try everything. Being in a group can be challenging. In our case, one couple proved challenging to the leader and they also made us feel on edge when they participated. I thought the leader did a fantastic job trying to accommodate them and that they should have read the trip notes and followed my advice above to have made the best of the trip.

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

Yes. We were happy to pay more for things than the locals, which is often the case. I feel this was our responsibility as tourists. I would have liked to be able to access more change so that I could pass on money more readily- often the banks only provide you with larger notes and change is hard to come by.

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

We had an excellent time and made some good friends. The leader was very good and did her best to advise, inform and enthuse us at every turn. She was honest, open and did her best to pass on her enthusiasm for her country, while being prepared to discuss its idiosyncrasies in an informative and thoughtful way.

review 17 Apr 2011

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

Being taught salsa, merengue and reggaeton by the locals! Diving off the coast of Trinidad. Having a barbeque on our own private beach. Visiting our tour leader's farm and meeting his family and friends.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I would highly recommend this trip to others who want to explore Cuba. There is less time for relaxing on the beach than I expected, which meant there were lots more activities than I had anticipated from the trip notes. If you think you will like dancing, discovering more about a country with such a fascinating history, having activities planned to your group's every wish and drinking rum(!) then I would thoroughly recommend you book!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I feel the homestays and eating at local paladors meant the local communities benefited from the holiday.

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

This is a fantastic holiday, with a company who I have only ever had positive experiences with. I am keen to visit Cuba again (and as there is so much of the world to see I don't often say that!).

review 24 Jan 2011

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

Experiencing the life of Cubans.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring pencils and soap to give away, and school supplies for any school or teacher that you may meet.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Staying in a casa particular in several places definitely benefited a local family; also eating in small restaurants as opposed to hotels benefited the local economy. Because the accommodations were low-cost and simple, we reduced out impact on the environment.

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

Excellent way to see and learn about the many aspects of Cuba. We covered a lot of ground and had fun as a group too.

review 31 May 2009

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

The beach in Trinidad or the Caberet in Camaquay where we were the only non-Cubans. It was cool. Also Baracoa was really cool spot, and the waterfall there was pretty amazing. Visiting the school was super too. Oh and street pizza in Trinidad... hmmmm, chocolate shop in Baracoa... pretty much everything.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Brings loads of toilet paper and sanitary gel!!!! Oh and the roads are pretty bad, so not the most pleasant experience after a night on the rum!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

We stayed in homestays everywhere and the group was split up between different casas so I think the wealth was spread around the community.

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

It was great to see Cuba, especially as everything is changing there so fast. Eg, Cubans were only allowed have mobile phones in their own name from the start of this year, and have also only recently been allowed into the hotels. It was quite harrowing at times though cos there is an awful lot of poverty, and for a socialist country there seems to be huge divide between rich and poor (or rather that people who deal with tourists and those who don't). The country is beautiful and the whole experience is not what I expected but then I don't know what I expected. It is an experience that I'm glad I've had, cos I reckon it's only a matter of time, before it changes even more.

review 2 Apr 2009

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

All of it! We have an amazing holiday exploring Cuba. Seeing and swimming in the sea on the Caribbean Ocean and then on the Atlantic Ocean was pretty cool and very different.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take toilet roll with you everywhere. I got used to taking a little roll with me all over the place as most toilets don't have toilet paper, even in restaurants and bars. Also always have plenty of small change on you as tipping is the culture, from toilet attendants to street entertainment - and DO TIP, this is the way lots of people make a living they rely on tourism.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. The homestay was a lovely experience and a great way to stay in Trinidad soak up the atmosphere and the local life, the people were very friendly and helpful but unfortunately we had a disappointing end to our stay. When we received our bill at the end of the 3 days the woman had over charged us almost double the price. We only realised when we asked others on the tour what they paid when we realised we had paid far too much. Luckily we were able to go back to the house with our guide to get a refund however it did leave a bitter taste to think that someone had tried to rip us off - or maybe it was just a mistake, who knows?

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

Excellent 9/10. Just disappointed that the trip was cut short from 15 days to 10 days and we missed out on seeing the west of the island and doing the cycling tour, which was what interested us most at the time of booking the trip.

review 15 Jun 2008

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

There is way too much to choose from here. In Trinidad we trekked to a waterfall in a nature reserve and swam in a freshwater pool into a cave with bats. In Baracoa we snorkelled off the coast of a beach with white sand and crystal water where local kids played and wild pigs ran about. In Santiago we chilled out in the Casa de la Trova, drinking neat rum and practicing our new salsa moves. In Havana we drove around the city in a big red 1950's convertible and enjoyed the best meal in town at La Guarida. The list goes on...

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring some pens and t-shirts with you as gifts, or some unique items from your own country, as the locals you spend time with will really appreciate these. Cubans value everything they own, and will get long use of things we would throw-away without thinking. Make sure to buy some local pesos at the airport, as they'll be useful for buying food and ice-cream on the street. I brought a small inflatable pillow which I found invaluable for long bus journeys and for sleeping on in some of the Casas. Show respect by learning some Spanish, and wear sunscreen.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, staying in casa particulars rather than hotels meant the locals benefited directly from tourism, and it gave us a much better understanding and appreciation for Cuban culture and way of life. It's lovely to be able to make connections with the people and feel less like a tourist, and the homestays allowed that. Having a well informed tour leader with such a positive outlook made a huge difference. Natalia told us to avoid certain tourist items for sale, such as jewellery made from endangered snails, and our visit to a local school and a rural home showed us a side of the country we wouldn't have been able to access on our own. We went to a cabaret with the locals, and saw an Afro-Cuban show in a small cultural centre, which benefited the community directly.

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

Amazing. It exceeded all of my expectations and I'd recommend this type of tour to anyone travelling to Cuba. The tour is perfectly paced, with three full days spent on most of the stops, which meant we could really absorb the best of each town or city. Thereís a huge diversity of activities too, from salsa dancing to cycling and trekking. As a solo traveller I really had the best of both worlds - independence to do my own thing and great company on group activities.

review 5 Sep 2008

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

Most memorable... experiencing the side effects of 2 hurricanes in 2 weeks & only just missing a 3rd. Seriously - mixing with Cuban locals... experiencing their way of life. Not sure I can pick on one moment, it was all amazing. If I had to pick one, it was being involved in a Cuban Dance Wheel with 9 other dancers in a Hanava bar (salsa dancing - a bit of an enthusiast) while everyone else watched. No one knew I wasn't "one of them" until they tried to speak to me in Spanish!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

For the girls... take lots of tissue paper with you everywhere. You fork out a coin each time you need to go. Not much money but feels weird paying for tissue paper. Pack light! I missed that trick. Getting laundry done is very easy.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, very much so. I especially liked staying in Casas as the family directly benefited (also because the few nights we did spend at Hotel Vedado was a terrible experience... the staff were rude beyond belief & treated you like you were the root of all Cuban evil!). Only one Casa choice was below par.

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

Tops tops tops.

review 30 Apr 2008

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

Habana vieja, Trinidad.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

A) Be a team player. B) Accept that people will want your money. They don't have much! C) If you booked the trip to have a certain amount of independence then you will feel trapped with the group at times. D) Ensure that tour guide explains exactly what 'extras' are included and what is not before an activity.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

More than an all inclusive holiday but I felt that we were led through a process at times where selected locals (linked to the host houses) benefited from side activities set up for the group e.g. BBQ on the beach that not everyone wanted but were effectively charged for as there was no way of withdrawing without making a fuss. How wide these benefits were spread I cannot say.

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

Cuba is a truly wonderful place, sad and sensational at the same time. The guide, Tony, was really excellent. His love of his country and his good communication skills opened my eyes to the wider Cuban story and put my holiday on a higher plane. Tony kept us well entertained!! One piece of advice I would have offered him, had I had the opportunity, was that on a 14 day tour the group fragments after about the 7th day into smaller interest groups. The guide needs to be aware of this and not try and keep the whole group together for events not everybody wants. Having 'set' availability times, at the host house for example, to plan individual support for peoples needs would help, so too would messages being formally left at the individual casas rather than relying upon other group members to feed back changes to schedule. The guide should always be aware that the loudest or most assertive, group member does not always represent the whole groupís wishes!

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback Steve and I'm pleased you had a great trip. I just wanted to reply to a couple of your comments. You have made a number of suggestions on how the leader could improve and these have now been passed on to your trip leader. It seems there was a problem of communication between the leader and the passengers on this trip especially in regards to some of the activities on offer. Generally you are free to do as you choose; to pursue your own interests one day and take part in activities or sightseeing we've arranged the next day. We are careful to make sure the leader offers alternatives for passengers so that they do not feel they have to participate in any activities they do not want to.

review 31 Oct 2007

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

So many memorable moments! Mojitos, salsa, beautiful country, beautiful people. Were very lucky to be in a small group (only 5) and fortunately we all got on brilliantly, very like minded. Had a wonderful tour guide who was very opinionated and honest about Cuba. Learnt a lot from him, really helped to make the trip what it was. Staying with families was a lovely experience; they were v hospitable and wanted to make sure we were very well fed... which we always were! Had heard so many stories of bad food in Cuba, not at all true thanks to our families! Queuing for 2 hours to get ice cream from Coppelia in Havana was a must, for a real local experience! Justly rewarded with 5 scoops of ice cream for about 10p!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take some pens/pencils/notebooks etc and also soap if you have room in your luggage. Kids and adults alike always asked for things like this, never really asked for money. Hotel in Havana was a bit disappointing considering the beautiful places that are available to stay in Old Havana, if you stay extra nights try and look into some of these.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Staying with families I think was a good source of income (but these were generally the better off families anyway). But also impromptu visits to locals houses to see how coffee/cocoa is made etc.

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

A fantastic experience in a beautiful country. Highly recommended and I would definitely go back.

review 27 Aug 2007

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

Everything - a truly mind blowing experience, never to be forgotten.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Just do it. And take loads of partying clothes!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely, and donít think we impacted negatively at all

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

Incredible

review 5 Oct 2007

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

Seeing the remnants of the rain forests, though not primary, in Baracoa, the verdancy of the landscape, the wonderful hues of the Caribbean Sea together with the glorious beaches. Havana. An absolute joy, wonderfully laid back atmosphere, buildings indestructible, standing for so many centuries. Cubans so friendly and music and dance throughout the country, truly magical.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to deviate slightly from the official itinerary. We had a couple who preferred to miss the Santa Clara night over in order to have more time elsewhere.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

A jumbo jet load full of passengers can't minimise environmental impact. The private enterprise allowing casas particulares owners some income must help even if purportedly they pay a large portion to the government: to a degree they seemed to own some of the gadgetry we take for granted, so comparatively they were better off than most. Saddened to be offered turtle for dinner!

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

The star of the show was Roger, an encyclopaedic knowledge of past and recent history. Tireless in his pursuit of giving us a real insight into Cuba, every detail, large or small was covered, accompanying us nightly to yet another live salsa occasion and always finding yet another place in which to dine very well. He's exceptional, hope you look after him.

Read the operator's response here:

I have never been offered turtle before, but I have heard Cubans talk about how some people eat it. I gather from the Cubans that in general they don't see it as a bad thing. Partly because there are so many rules in Cuba that for people to get by day to day, they have to break so many rules anyway. For example, the fish passengers eat in the houses may also be illegal because it usually comes from fishermen who sell it on the black market, and serving beef to a tourist in a house can get you 15 years in gaol! Don't get me to explain that one! Anyway these are more political issues, but the turtle is more an environmental one. This is one of the points I will have the leaders discuss as part of their RT briefing to passengers - that we strongly condemn the houses offering this as a dinner option and even more strongly condemn passengers choosing it. If passengers are offered this, we will ask them to report it so that we can take this issue with the people running the house and change house if necessary. Please be assured we are on to this issue and will do whatever necessary to prevent this happening again.

Holiday Reviews

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays. In addition, we don't run these holidays ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.

Read our review policy

Convert currencies