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Classic Cuba DCL

Visiting: Cuba
Trip Duration 15 Days
 

Reviews for Classic Cuba

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

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Classic Cuba reviews verified by reevooReevoo

59 reviews

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Classic CubaScores 8.8 out of 10 based on 59 reviews
(10 out of 10)

Philip

Reading
The different accommodation we experienced, Casas, Hotels and Resorts gave us a real feel for the breadth of Cuban life. The optional activities organised by the Explore Leader also gave us valuable insights into Cuban culture. The Explore Tour itinerary was well thought out. Perhaps we would only ask for longer periods of time in the various venues - excluding the Resort - because it was difficult to experience authentic Cuban society due to time pressure to move on. Excellent holiday which we would thoroughly recommend.
Confirmed traveller: 27 February 2017
Published on: 05 March 2017
(9 out of 10)

Vivienne

London
Generally excellent.
Leader good altho a bit inexperienced. Several of us would have preferred more time touring than staying 3 nights at Iberostar resort. Maybe this could have been offered as an optional detour.
In addition to reviews I think an Explore online forum would have been useful, especially to first time Explorers like myself.
Confirmed traveller: 25 February 2017
Published on: 27 February 2017
(10 out of 10)

Hazel

Lewes
Overall, an excellent trip, with great travelling companions and a really good guide (Jose Luis).
Flights: I was offered a flight that was not direct (with Air Europe I think), but when I asked about direct flights, the Virgin Atlantic flight from Gatwick to Havana was no more expensive, so I cannot think of any reason why you would offer the other flight.
Accommodation: we were put in casas particulares rather than in hotels in Havana and Trinidad, and I think this was better than staying in hotels, besides being a lot cheaper. In Havana, the houses were very close together, which meant it was easy for the group to meet. The houses I stayed in were very good; both Mara's Home in Havana (with beautiful terrace for eating and relaxing) and Casa Azul in Trinidad had nice rooms with ensuite bathrooms and were run by very friendly people. My only criticism would be that in Trinidad the houses were a bit far from the centre; it would have been nice to be able to go back to the house and then do a bit more exploring, but this seemed a bit of an effort - perhaps I should have tried walking into town; on the coach and by bici taxi the way seemed very complicated but this may have been due to a one way system that would not bother a walker. The hotels in the other places were fine, although in Santiago de Cuba it was a long way from the centre, which was a pity as the centre of town was nice and there were several museums to visit - everyone chose to take the coach back to the hotel rather than find the way back ourselves so we missed out.
The itinerary was good - I liked Vinales, Las Terrazas and all the places we stopped between overnight stops, such as Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Che Guevara's memorial. We saw so many places that I can't think of them all! The trek to Fidel Castro's hideout in the mountains was also good. When we arrived for the 3-night stay at Cayo Ensenachos, I was thinking that perhaps 2 nights would be enough, but there had been a storm overnight and the beach was closed - if we had left a day earlier, we would not have been able to use the beach at all, so in the end I was pleased to have the extra day. And interesting to see another side of tourism in Cuba - the all-inclusive package attracting Canadians in droves.
The thing I liked least (an optional activity) was the Buena Vista Social Club evening, which was expensive, uncomfortable and had a long show, which would be great if it's your taste in music.
Jose Luis was a brilliant guide. His English was excellent and he was very humorous. But he also told us all about the history and present day life in Cuba as well as answering the many questions of an inquisitive bunch of Explore tourists. He was also around to help us if necessary.
Best to bring pounds sterling rather than try to find ATMs. Although at the end of the trip I found that I could get money from the bank by having a debit card and passport, although all bank visits require quite a lot of time - it seems only one person is allowed in the bank at a time, so queuing outside required.
In all, a fascinating trip that has broadened my knowledge of Cuba. I am now pondering how to run a centralised economy successfully and how to survive without succumbing to the influence of more powerful countries.
Full marks to Cuba for not having advertising hoardings!
Confirmed traveller: 29 January 2017
Published on: 04 February 2017
(9 out of 10)

Rosemary

Edinburgh
Loved the trip However I would make a few suggestions.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the standard of accommodation. It was great being in Hotel Nacional in Havana , but on way back would have loved to have been in the old town for the last 2 evenings.

The only hotel which was not great was in Bayamo. It was however right in the centre. Maybe home stays would have been a possibility there .

Although we stayed in best hotel in Santiago would have preferred city centre. I feel I missed out a bit on Santiago, as by
the time we reached there I was tired and did not go into town at night , the same with rest of group. Yet Santiago was such a lovely city.

Jose was relatively new and inexperienced. I tried to give him a few tips in private as I have spent most of my life being a tour manager ,and am now guiding in Scotland. He was very receptive. The biggest problem was the city tour in Havana. He has probably never been on a city tour as a passenger. Also he has to be a lot more proactive in finding information about hotel. For example he had not been to the resort hotel where we spent 3 nights. When we arrived we went for lunch before check in , so that was his opportunity to find all the information about hotel and then pass it on to us.

I have to say however he did a good job, he was very informative about life in Cuba and the history. He was good fun once he relaxed after we left Havana . It was not an easy group. He will soon be an excellent tour manager.
Confirmed traveller: 02 January 2017
Published on: 07 January 2017
(8 out of 10)

Pamela

Caterham
As described, the trip covered the whole of Cuba, with a great variety of scenery and activities and enough free time to explore each place visited. The accommodation was good, although some of us would have preferred a hotel in Havanna closer to the old town as there is little of interest within easy walking distance of The National. Also, our hotel in Trinidad was changed to homestays and in fact we felt that we were pleased to have had the experience of staying in one of these accommodations once on our trip, and wondered if this could be part of the regular itinerary, or offered as an option.
Confirmed traveller: 04 December 2016
Published on: 06 December 2016
(9 out of 10)

Martin

Harrogate
A phenomenally insightful tour of Cuba, its history, countryside, architecture and people. The tour guide was a true fountain of knowledge and answers a deluge of our own questions about Cuban history and society. It is really worth going to Cuba now as it is starting to change. It is a very safe country with lovely people.
Confirmed traveller: 04 December 2016
Published on: 05 December 2016
(10 out of 10)

Linzie

Uxbridge
A very busy trip with lots of traveling but you do get to see a lot of Cuba.
Our tour leader Juan Jose was fantastic and gave us a real insight into Cuban life and culture. Try to avoid visiting when any famous Cuban dies and country goes into mourning, No music and no alcoholic drinks in a lot of bars and restaurants.
Our tour leader, under discussion with the entire group, made some tweaks to the itinerary which I think were for the better.
Confirmed traveller: 03 December 2016
Published on: 05 December 2016
(9 out of 10)

Sid

Swindon
This wouldn't have been my first choice, but the trip greatly exceeded my expectations and has become one of my truly memorable holiday experiences. Cuba is a 'third world country' like no other. It's safe, many people are poor, but the vast majority receive good standards of health, social care and education, comparable to or exceeding many Western countries. Of course the other side of the coin is that it is a one party state, with all the restricted freedoms and opportunities that come with it.
We regard ourselves as fortunate in being part of a great group, and critically, having a group leader who was highly knowlegeable about the history, economy, politics and geography of Cuba and Latin America. However this only one aspect of what makes Lazaro a truly inspiring guide. Everything was delivered in faultless English with an enthusiasm that brings his culture and homeland to life. Combine this with a sense of humour, an eagerness for questions, to which he usually had an answer, and a desire to make sure that everything ran as smoothly as possible, and you're getting close to perfection. Lazaro is a huge asset to Explore trips, and they should ensure that every opportunity is taken to make use of his services.

The trip is described as 'full on', and although not physically demanding, there are many long days, punctuated with short stops. However this does give the opportunity for an immersion in the history, culture, landscape and nature of Cuba. The three revolutions provide an ever-present backdrop to the towns and cities that are visited.

Many previous comments mention the walk up to Castro's hideaway in the Sierra Maestra. It is rocky in places, but the pace is slow as there are plenty of stops to look at the forest life and the remaining buildings and posts from where Castro and Che Guevara planned the 1959 revolution. The walk is mostly in shade, and the altitude means that temperatures are cooler than where the bus is left.

Moneywise, £400-500 in cash per person should be adequate. Credit and debit card facilities are rarer than hens' teeth. Remember that you will be asked for 40 cucs (dollars) per person for the tip kitty.

Shops are few and far between, so if you're someone who likes snacks bring them with you or snaffle something from the breakfast buffets.

As many reviews mention, eating out is adequate, don't expect any fine dining.

The highlights include the lovely city of Trinidad with its cobbled streets and colourful colonial style buildings. Camaguey and Bayamo are also attractive and interesting. The Bay of Pigs museum has many interesting artifacts and tells the story of the failed counter revolution. The excellent guided tour of the cemetery in Santiago, where Castro's ashes are now interred, includes the mausoleum of one of Cuba's most revered heroes, Jose Marti. Also in Santiago, the stark architecture of the 23 raised machetes in its Revolution Square, and the attractive centre and cathedral, which unlike most churches in Cuba was open.

However, the pervading memories are the constant reminders of the revolution, the complete lack of advertising hoardings, the people, the ancient cars and lorries and of course the music that is ever present.

Let's hope that change comes slowly and peacefully to this intriguing country.
Confirmed traveller: 27 November 2016
Published on: 07 December 2016
(10 out of 10)

Priscilla

Trowbridge
Overall this is a wonderful tour. It took us to many wonderful places including world Heritage sites and our guide was extremely knowledgeable, happy to take questions about any aspect of the country to bring Cuba past and present alive. The accommodation is not always premium, however, even by Cuban standards and even when we are not bumped from the advertised hotels. Explore know full well that they are cutting costs in some places, including the advertising of using Virgin Atlantic Direct flights which are soon substituted for much cheaper and poorer and longer ones via Spain. The food in Cuba is never hot but always satisfactory: you are not choosing this trip for a gourmet experience but no one got ill either. This is not a cheap trip as the Cubans run two economies and you will pay European prices for most things. But it is overall a splendid experience and a fascinating trip through history together with a wonderful, relaxing beach stay.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 27 November 2016
Published on: 03 December 2016
(9 out of 10)

John

Trowbridge
I would certainly recommend this trip. A great guide, lively pace and some great photo opportunities. Highlights were Havana old town, the hike to Commandancia la Plata and the outstanding Cayo Ensenachos on the Sabana archipelago. Take plenty of cash - you can use credit cards at the best hotels but this is not the norm in Cuba. It's a really safe country - you can wander freely and the Cuban people are most welcoming.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 27 November 2016
Published on: 29 November 2016