2 independent reviews for Family adventure holiday to Cuba

Reviews for Family adventure holiday to Cuba

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review 23 Apr 2023

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

Cruising Havana in old American cars, the almost private beach on the small island and hiking in the mountains were all memorable highlights of the trip.

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

The money situation is likely to change. But from the information we got and what we gleaned from the web it wasn't clear that you should still bring cash to cover the whole trip. The ability to pay with card is limited and ATMs limited. What's worse is that any withdrawal will be done in pesos but you will NEED hard currency in many private establishments or accept their conversion which may be up to 50% worse: ATM withdrawals from a GBP account was done via at 120 pesos to the dollar - so already two conversions there - but private restaurants converted EUR/USD restaurant bills to pesos at 180 pesos to EUR/USD. EUR/USD/GBP are treated as interchangeable - so bringing USD is cheapest. Also, eating out in Cuba isn't cheap. Southern Europe would typically be cheaper. Be prepared to pay upwards of USD for dinner for a family of 4 in many of the private establishments suggested by the guide. State run restaurants are somewhat cheap. Had I known this in advance I would have brought at least USD 3k in cash for a family of four for this trip. We arrived a couple of days early and stayed in the old town first. That was great to get familiar with Havana and to see more of it than we would if we only had the official itinerary 's does of Havana.

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

There's no doubt our holiday benefited a lot of people given the dysfunctional state of the economy. It's aggravating when everybody gets tipped relatively generously for even the most basic service and when you suspect everybody gets a cut for each activity you undertake. But the government runs the country in such a poor manner that it might be fair to simply look at this as a way to supporting a number of locals. But I did leave Cuba thinking I'd rather prefer they rose up and affected change to the system so the whole of the economy could be lifted. Our holiday probably did little to support the poorer eastern part of Cuba but it did make life a bit more tenable for urbanites in and around Havana.

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

Great holiday. Pace was good and the itinerary well organised. The guide and driver was great. I would have upgraded a couple of the accommodations - not a biggie but would have been happy to pay the difference. Given the hygiene standards at the camp sites some of us would have preferred a single night in a tent - eg it was a struggle to manage contact lenses. The money advice should have been better. The ambiguity of the advice provided cost us several hundred pounds in FX rate losses. The advice should have been that Cuba and/or the organised holiday is safe enough to bring enough cash for the whole trip, and here is our suggested minimum cost for tips kitty and guide organised restaurants for the various meals not covered.

review 14 Aug 2022

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

Watching a Cuban farmer roll a cigar for us to try. Snorkelling in the bay of pigs. Driving in 1950s American cars around Havana. Swimming at the waterfall. Chilling on the beach.

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

Take Euros. The monetary system is bonkers and youíll be entertained and frustrated in equal measure as some places will only accept pesos; some only cards; others any currency except pesos (and the rules will change randomly and without logic too). The best way to change money (as of Aug 2022) is to pay in large denomination euro notes at a restaurant and they will give you many thousands of pesos in change - 4-5 times more than youíll get from a cash machine or hotel exchange, though that is supposedly changing. However, you need to balance the requirement for some pesos with the fact that increasingly people only want you to pay in euros... Despite what some websites say, cards are increasingly accepted and sometimes required, but youíll get the govt exchange rate, which tends to make everything hugely expensive. Try all the cocktails; they are cheap and good. If you have under 18s, be aware that they can drink in many places too - they have a very relaxed approach to age restrictions in most places. Be aware that food is generally bland and, despite what the menus say, usually consists mainly of rice (with black beans, which is really nice), plus either pork or chicken and either arrowroot (boiled it is unpleasant, mashed with cheese, it is really quite nice) or plantain (fried slices are nice). Itís tough on vegetarians in Cuba! The big hotels have a much better selection though. Also be aware there is a huge fuel/energy crisis in Cuba currently. Expect power cuts at any point. In some hotels that have pumped water, power cuts = no water either. The air conditioning wonít be on all night unless youíre v lucky. The fuel crisis also means that transport is problematic. In rural areas, horses and oxen replace cars and tractors and there are often queues at fuel stations. It also means that supply chains are erratic and places can run out of food, alcohol and even bottled water and cocktails on occasions, so be prepared! Finally, take mossie repellant, pref with a high percentage of DEET; there are lots of mossies both daytime (some of which carry dengue fever) and nighttime so be prepared if you have sweet blood...or ensure you have a sacrificial partner with you! Relax and enjoy it....itís a great place!

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

The locals are desperate for tourists post covid and as most of our trip involved staying at and eating at local places, and using local guides, Iím confident we were helping the locals.

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

Itís such a good experience; so different to anywhere else Iíve been, mainly due to the weird monetary system, but we also learned a lot about Cuban history and saw loads of the island, itís flora and fauna....Iíd thoroughly recommend it.

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