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18 Dec 2017
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Holiday type

Small group family holiday

This is a 'small group family adventure' - typically you will join several other families travelling in a group of up to 20 people (3-5 families). The trips are great value, often with lots of included activities or sightseeing and some meals (dependent on the itinerary). They are created by people with families, for people with families, and are a great way for you and your children to meet new people and discover the world together! While itineraries are pre-planned there is some flexibility and you'll have plenty of time to yourselves.

On these Family Adventures, families of two will be roomed in a twin room, parties of three will be roomed in a triple room, fours will be roomed in two twins and families of five will have a triple and a twin, etc. This operator tends to use small, locally owned properties throughout their trips and accommodation will be en suite unless specified otherwise. It will be clean, functional, well located for your adventures and most importantly, family friendly. There will be swimming opportunities nearby where ever possible, either in pools or the sea. Some trips contain more adventurous overnights such as jungle stays, camping in the desert, sleeping on deck of traditional style boats or a night in a local homestay Ė please be aware that facilities will be basic on these occasions if your trip contains these aspects. All accommodation is named prior to travel.

Please check with the operator to confirm the minimum age for this trip.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cuba family holiday

On this trip: Our policy of using local guides and group leaders, and operated by local people wherever possible is continued in Cuba. Our small groups (maximum of 20 people) have a minimal impact on the fragile environment. All tour guides are responsible for ensuring that the guests understand the nature of the environment that they are in and minimise the impact that they may have. Throughout this trip we are in close contact with local people and visit local markets where you get the feel of real Cuban lifestyles.

Responsible code: Being Responsible is at the heart of everything our company does - full details of our code can be found on our website. The local supplier for this trip will promote our responsible travel code throughout your adventure. You will also receive specific information on this tripís responsibility in your trip notes.

Helping to minimise negative impact: All of our customers are invited to offset their international flight emissions. Contributions go to the Blue Ventures Carbon Offset program, a non-profit organisation which provides solar stoves for subsistence communities in Madagascar, benefiting the people and protecting the environment. We also contribute £2 per person towards offsetting of your in-country travel. We fully offset all emissions from our staff travel and run an energy efficient office.

Giving something back: We have a foundation that collects the funds that you donate to us to support our projects. All our customers are invited to make a £1 per person contribution to the foundation at the time of booking. We will match every contribution that you make with our own £1. You as a customer choose where these funds are used from a shortlist of nominated projects Ė so it really is YOUR foundation.

Partnerships: As a company we support The Travel Foundation, a UK charity that has been established to promote responsible travel practises throughout the whole of the travel industry. We also work with a number of charity partners who work in the destinations that we visit; including Friends of Conservation and Born Free Foundation. We partner with many small grassroots projects throughout the destinations that we visit - they all share our responsible vision.

8 Reviews of Cuba family holiday

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 03 Jul 2017 by

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

One of our members is Hispanic, and Trinidad stole her heart - so traditional and authentic. We all loved Vinales and felt Jurassic Park must have been filmed there! We were history teachers, so we knew much about Cuba to begin with, but it was very interesting to hear the other side of the story on Cuba's relationship to the U.S. from our guides. The museums were memorable, the food adequate (except for two times near the beach when we had lobster - wow!) The music was fantastic, and the people were friendly. The old American cars are as stunning as you may have seen in photos! We were surprised at how many horses we saw in the rural areas - many more horses that cars or buses in some places! It's a step back in time in many spots.

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

June is apparently the hottest month - it surely was for us! Just be prepared, dress accordingly, and drink lots of water. If you want to make friends easily, bring baseball caps from any of the major league teams - we wish we had done that! When a hike is planned, ask specifically how long it is and how arduous it may be, and be sure to wear good hiking shoes or boots. Mosquito spray and sunscreen are a necessity! Other than that, be ready to be flexible! Conditions may not be what you expect, but if you go with the flow, you will have a wonderful time! Oh, yes - if you have a hard time with stairs, ask for the first floor. But do understand that in Havana, that often means a flight of stairs up from the ground. Cuba is fantastic, and the new individually operated B and B's are great - you will love the people! Americans can still travel here, just not individually (apparently), so don't hesitate to visit this wonderful country.

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

We visited UNESCO sites, terraced farming communities, organic farms and more. In those ways we did support the environment and conservation, and all were beneficial to the local people. It is not possible for us to visit there without bottled water, however, but we did our best to limit the use of plastic water bottles - we were not as successful at that as we had ten people, five of whom were small children. We especially enjoyed staying in B and B's and got to know the hosts somewhat. All were very accommodating, and the facilities showed their pride in their investment of time and money. We want Americans to know that they can still visit Cuba as we did.

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

It was superior! We had a family group of ten, ages 4 to 76! There were times when the oldest of us opted out of a rigorous event, and once or twice, one of the kids had occasion to sit out a particular event. Otherwise, we did everything together, learned a lot, had fun, enjoyed the beauty of nature and the friendliness of the people. The music was awesome, and the area around Vinales was stunning. We worked in a half day at Veradero Beach (on our own), went swimming in a river (wow - what a hike it took to get there - but the kids felt it was worth it!) I had been in Cuba in 1980 and did see some progress. I hope Americans continue to enjoy this beautiful country. It is a rare experience - and only a short trip from Miami!

Reviewed on 13 Sep 2013 by

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

We enjoyed the beautiful unspoilt beach and sea at the end of our trip, but the Vinales scenery beat it

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

Take lots of Immodium... you will need the tablets, however careful you are with the water / hygiene !
And take soaps, shampoo etc... necessity samples which can be handed over to the locals, as they are missing simple things and will be pleased to receive such small gifts

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

Not particularly. It must have benefited local people as we brought money into a country in dire need for cash.

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

The country is beautiful, the inhabitants are extremely friendly, our guide and the bus driver were both fantastic, professional and friendly... and the group of people we travelled with offered good companionship.
Overall, a brilliant trip !

Reviewed on 30 Jan 2013 by

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

Following on from our trip Vietnam two years ago, I took the kids to Cuba over Christmas and New Year.

It was a great trip, despite a lot of bussing around: fascinating; frustrating; beautiful; run-down; bubbling with friendliness; yet often like a living corpse.
Not a gourmet paradise but lots of great music. The contrast with Vietnam was very striking, in that the latter seems to have been able to move on, and incorporate capitalism into its socialism to a far greater extent.

The first thing that hits you in Cuba is the amazing contrast with anything we are used to at home: no adverts or billboards; no neon signs; almost no brand names; very few shops we would recognise as such; very few street-stalls; none of the little workshops you'd see in Asia; hardly any medium, let alone big factories; very limited range of food; almost no commercial traffic; very few modern cars or busses; hence almost empty roads and deserted Russian-built motorways; hardly any newspapers either printed or read; and not even as many bikes, scooters or motorbikes as I would have expected. The main motive power in most places is the horse: either cart, cab or bareback.

There were surprisingly few people on the streets with much accompanying buzz.
However, those that are around are always impeccably dressed and dignified. They may have very few material possessions but they make the most of them. And they are mostly genuinely friendly - there is very little actual begging but you can see they are very grateful for any 'help'.

Despite a very real pride in the 'Triumph of the Revolution' and its achievements, the abiding impression, though, is of disillusionment, frustrated ambition, and absence of hope, either for themselves or their country. There is a general lethargy and a lot of sitting about - over and above the Spanish love of 'maŮana', why work harder when you are being paid a pittance. And what could I buy anyway?

Socialism seems to have delivered good health and education, and kept the people from starving - just. But it has been at the cost of stifling bureaucracy and repression. People are very wary of talking openly about their feelings since you never know who is listening and will report it to the ubiquitous Neighbourhood Watch System (how different from our use of the term!) Even though Fidel is very much in the background, he is still alive, so people are muted in their opinion: while they admire his leadership in the past, many now blame him for stifling development and more freedom now.

His brother, Raul, is now in the hot seat and seems to be taking careful and tentative steps to a more market economy and freedom to travel.
Nobody knows what is going to happen when Fidel finally pops it, or if Obama lifts the embargo. Or will the government be able to control the explosion if it lets the pressure off a bit too fast?

The government blames most of its woes on the US embargo, which may have some truth but seems mainly to be a good smokescreen for its own mismanagement and paranoia. Everyone agrees the embargo has proved totally ineffective (in getting rid of Castro) and cost the US far more in lost sales than it has hurt Cuba. Except, that is, the rich Cuban refugees who fled the revolution and refuse to accept that some someone 'stole their ball' and that, after

50 years, they'll just go back and take over as before.

Since Florida is usually a swing-state in elections, no party has dared offend this significant lobby group. However, there has been a vital shift in recent years: the unforgetting, intransigent old-guard are dying off, while the younger generations have no memory of Cuba (they are Americans, not resentful Cuban refugees) and have other more pressing concerns, like jobs. Meanwhile, there are now more Mexicans than Cubans in Florida, who have therefore captured the 'Hispanic' vote, and thus deprived the Cuban reactionaries of their single-issue leverage in Washington.

Apart from the politics, there are some very beautiful parts of the island, particularly in the mountains and the far east. You wouldn't go there for the food but there are fabulous beaches and reef diving. There are two main kinds of building: wonderful old Colonial-style colonnades, most of which are falling down or crumbling away; and dour Russian-era flats and offices.

I'm really glad to have seen Cuba as it is now, a weird last bastion of Socialism, before it inevitably changes radically, for better or worse.
Who knows who the winners and losers will be, and whether the Cuban diaspora will help the transition, or try to destabilise things.

I shall be very interested to see it again in 20 years, though I fear it will have gone the way of Kathmandu and Bali, and sold its soul to commercialism and materialism. It was ever thus . . .

Reviewed on 25 Aug 2012 by

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

Just back from an 11 day adventure in Cuba, our family has had an exciting, hot, interesting and fun time. For us day one was fantastic with the open top American cars coming to take us for a trip wow. The other highlight was swimming in the fresh water rivers.

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

Donít take smart clothes itís a relaxed holiday, a fan would be useful and sun protection and comfortable footwear are essential as there is gentle walking in cities or in the country side. You donít need torches as the power cuts were years ago!! Initially it was a little annoying having to tip toilet attendants but we got used to it and kept loose change.

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

As we were in a communist country it is hard to know exactly what happens to money. The local people are lovely, gentle, non hassley (2012) this may change as the years go by.

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

A few things that I would like to have been different. Our stay at Playa Largo, was ghastly our guide had advised us all to check that the window locks were working as he had been the guide on a previous trip at that hotel when some of his guests had been robbed as the windows didnít lock. We checked window locks in our chalet the windows locks were broken, we were moved to another chalet, the window locks were broken and air conditioning didnít work so we were moved into the room which had been allocated to the coach driver, it was cleanish and very very basic. This took hours and some of the moving was done by us in temperatures of 36% not pleasant and not acceptable this experience ruined our stay in this area. The other thing I would have liked would have been two nights at Varadaro so we had more time to relax and chill at the end of a fantastic holiday.

Read the operator's response here:

We were pleased to read that overall you enjoyed your trip.

You are absolutely right about the hotels, regardless of whether there has been a crime, the window locks should be working. We have contacted our agent and asked that the hotel get these fixed immediately. Thank you for highlighting this to us.

We appreciate your idea of spending more time in Varadero at the end of the trip. We are somewhat limited as we need the trip to fit with the international flights - however your comments have come at a good time as we are just reviewing our itineraries now and I have passed your suggestion to the Product Manager responsible for our Family Trips to Cuba.

Thank you again for your feedback.

Yours sincerely

Sean Hughes
Customer Operations Manager

Reviewed on 24 Apr 2011 by

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

Cuba fantastically interesting place.
Trip took in plenty of locations in Cuba.
Family groups travelling together - great experience and super companions.

Disapppointed on a number of counts:
1. The trip guide had expert knowledge of Cuba but could have improved the whole holiday experience - rushed about from place to place, inflexible re stopping at points of interest expressed by the group, did not involve the group in decision making, talked at start of tour about family experience but empty promises and did not deliver. No group introductions - we did that ourselves, no team building, monologue (albeit very interesting) information during bus travels but failed to engage with the children - promised family games and quizzes but did not do this. Vinales terraces - kids arrived hot and sweaty desperate to swim in river (at the stop off point there was a lovely swimming area with an on water trampoline which all the kids eyed up). Were not allowed to swim then as had to take walking tour of the terraces and tehn go swimming in th eriver - only problem the section of the river we were then taken to had poor water supply, was rather murky and not as good as the first section. Furthermore on the terraces we went for coffee to a local house - great - but the guide had already pointed out a zip wire which they were not allowed to go on and had to sit, still hot and sweaty, while the adults had coffee.
2. Itinerary was not met - a stay in Cienfuegos was now not part of the trip. We stopped in the town for only 20 minutes - were rushed through with little time to take in the experience and were very disappointed that this was no longer part of the trip.
3. Santa Clara ride in a traditional Cuban truck - not allowed for health and saftey reasons - meanwhile travellers with other tour companies were on the trucks.
4. We as a group asked for horse riding but this could not be arranged - not quite sure why not - but appears to be in lack of planning on tour company.
5. Accommodation - we travelled to Cuba knowing that accommodation would not quite be up to the standard we are used to - absolutely fine but to then put us into hotels which can only be described as a 'Butlins' experience lacked forethought on the part of your company. We were 'sold' the benefits as that the hotels were all inclusive - and we were tagged up to take full advantage of the free food, drink and activities. Awful - if we had wanted this experience as a family we would have booked a cheap all inclusive packagae holiday - very, very disappointed that your company has not researched its customer group. The hotels were also too far out of town to allow freedom to explore the towns in the evenings, and we were left in the cheapest hotels when other close by in the same vicinity were available. We were told that some of the original hotels we should have been staying in were not available as the tour company had taken on an additional group of travellers and had now too many to put up the original hotels - again very disappointed that profit was a bigger objective for you than customer satisfaction. The accommodation in Trinidad was a prime example of exactly what adventure holiday travellers do not want to experience - all inclusive canteen food experience, loud show style and disco entertainment into the small hours. The change of hotel in Havana also did not allow us to get that Havana experience - we were again rushed through the town in the morning - given 20 minutes for lunch and rushed on to the car ride (which was great). Had to make our own way in to the centre in the evening at additional cost as thehotel we were put in was far out of the centre.
6. Accomodation in Vinales - St Vincente ranch should be closed down - health and safety risk, poor facilities - half empty swimming pool, rubbish breakfast, terribly dirty accommodation (new lamps and TV put in room but they would be better spending money on a revamp of the accommodation to have clean, basic rooms in a fabulous setting.

Not quite the Cuban adventure we were looking for. We did very few activities - no cycling, horseriding or other hands on experiences. Hope you find this useful.
Might be better to rethink the itinarary for future trips.

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

Check the itinerary thoroughly before you agree to sign up. Don't use the operator until you are sure that they understand their customers needs - particularly that people booking adventure holidays are not looking for out of town all inclusive hotel accommodation - and would would be willing to pay more NOT to have that!

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

Very expensive re CUC charges - allpox 70p each loo viist for a piece of toilet paper and the toilets were not even clean. Needs more Cuban education on customer service and we would then all willingly contribute as much as we can to help the poor.

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

See comments in box 1.

Reviewed on 15 Apr 2007 by

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

Probably swimming with Dolphins as it was totally unexpected and not part of the programme, although my son (7years) being invited to play maracas with the house band at one hotel was also wonderful, also maybe swimming in the sea at sunset in Varadero after a stormy day so some unexpected waves to play in - which my son thought so exciting. Bizarrely enough even happy memories of doing a little hand washing in our room whilst listening to some Cuban music as was such a great country to be in even washing seemed fun! Oh yes watching our tour guide Felix and bus driver Jose trying to catch a red crab to show us - hilarious - two big strong guys being snipped at until eventually getting their catch. Just sitting looking at scenery from bus window - being followed back to hotel by our new pet the three legged dog - ridding in the blender (Russian Truck) - well could go on and on -

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

Go with the flow - there will be all sorts of unexpected treats along the way - sit back and enjoy - and don't worry even as a vegetarian we never ever went hungry - we had packed all sorts of snacks and ended up leaving most of them behind. Make sure you always have plenty of change for tips - as tipping is a national pastime.

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

Yes, there was plenty of interaction with local people and chances to use the services they provided. Tourism seems to be quite organised in Cuba and this of course helps to minimise impact by limiting numbers and using local guides to ensure you don't damage the environments that you visit.

4. Any other comments?

Had the most amazing time and am finding too hard to get back to real work and the real world! Hmm probably the best holiday since having children - absolutely fantastic mix that allowed us to experience culture etc without children being in anyway bored - our seven year old son had such a great time - I can't even recall him complaining about anything apart from having to get out the pool eventually and go to bed at some point and of course come home!

Reviewed on 13 Aug 2006 by

This trip to Cuba is absolutely fantastic. There was a good range of activities and a busy itinerary but we also felt that we had time to do our own thing. The guide was extremely knowledgeable, professional, flexible and helpful. As a group we all found our travels thought-provoking. There was also a nice balance between time spent in an urban/rural environment. The best time was spent meeting local people and learning about their way of life. The beach extension at the end led to a range of mixed feelings. We did not like it because it excluded all Cubans.

It appeared to be in complete contrast with the rest of the holiday. However, on reflection it may be that the reason why Cubans are excluded is for protection from some negative aspects of tourism and may be there is a place for this type of tourist, but unfortunately it was not for us despite the beautiful setting!

The food in Cuba is also not ideal for vegetarian travellers but if you go knowing that and are prepared for a diet of rice, beans and omelettes, then it is not a real problem. Fruit is also plentiful of course.

I would rate this holiday very highly.

Reviewed on 23 Apr 2006 by

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

My partner and our daughter loved the snorkelling off Cayo Blanco - a beautiful island in the Carribean which our party had to ourselves - except the iguanas and the friendly cooks and boat navigators. I really enjoyed seeing the 'real' Cubans and getting an insight into their society.

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

It was difficult to gauge currency and almost everybody found that they had taken too much and because we were not sure about what to do had all got large amounts of Sterling on us. This wasn't actually a problem but be prepared to carry this with you at all times as well as passports etc. because not all hotels had safes or keys for them when they did. Small gifts of pens/soap etc. would be appreciated and these are rarely the things you carry in your day sack.

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

Apart from carbon emissions etc. I suppose the Cuban state and therefore the people benefit from tourism as a whole and this tour did mean that our spending was distributed more widely than just going to Varadero.

4. Any other comments?

I wouldn't hesitate to give the holiday 5 stars up until the 'all inclusive' Varadero resort which was such a disappointing end to an otherwise fantastic holiday. The whole resort was an example of mass tourism spoiling a beautiful area. We also had the misfortune of being there with a large number of drunk young people who had come there for totally different reasons from us and whilst their behaviour did not impact too much on us it was not a relaxing family environment. If we had been aware of the resort as a whole I definitely would not have chosen to go there. Will be booking with the same company again.

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