Meyressa Schoonmaker, Winston Salem, North Carolina
The Cuban people were very nice and interesting. I am impressed with the efforts for organic farming and beginning to actually use the land for food production. I hope there can be more opportunities for them to improve their financial status. The enthusiasm and knowledge of our guide Grency Rodriguez made the Cuba tour a success. She was excited for each day with full schedules, long drives and all, but she had a wonderful spirit and knowledge which made us all want to see and experience even more. There is always the problem of air conditioning either too hot or too cold, but that is an issue for me with all hotels. Overall my room was perfect, I just totally cut off the air at the circuit breaker when it got too cold.
Chaparala Kishore, El Cerrito, California
I liked Cuba and the people they are warm and friendly. I liked everything about the trip: the food, the people, and the guides were very knowledgeable and courteous. I had problems with the tour.
Gail Wellenstein, Seattle, Washington
We came to admire the Cubans and their ability to make do with what they have. We loved the music, felt safe in Havana and welcomed by the Cubans. We certainly came to understand the effects of the embargo on the general population. We had a good variety of activities and our guide Armando was informative and fun. He had excellent suggestions for evenings on our own. The music was fabulous.
Barry Abzug, Falls Church, Virginia
The most surprising thing to me is the people’s attitude toward socialism. People seemed to see the good parts of socialism (free schools and medical care, and the right to housing), but did not attribute the negative aspects (low standard of living; rationed food, material shortages; laziness) to socialism. Instead, they blamed the embargo for the negative things in society, believing that if the embargo is lifted, investment and goods will flow and all will be good. But that is not likely if society government does not respect property rights and won’t allow investors to get a fair return on their investments. The primary way the Cuban people survive today is through the capitalistic gray market that rides below the socialist economy. I was also surprised at how few soldiers and police that I saw. I expected to see and feel more of a militaristic, oppressive dictatorship, but I did not feel that way at all. Also, I found that most of the Cuban people we met were very friendly. Most of the places that you took us were interesting and fun. I liked our tour guide Armando. He was very knowledgeable and helpful.
Kevin Baxter, Oakland, California
We (my wife and daughter) had fun time in Cuba. It was great to go there before it changes and I am sure it will. It has a rich history and it’s people are proud. The people in the streets that we encountered I feel did not know how to take us. If you think about it, the problems they have is blamed on our past relationships. I would have liked to have more time to go to other areas outside the city. The tour was was small group and well ran. Our tour guide Geldrys was great! I liked the old squares with their old buildings and the small walking streets. The tour and activities went well.
Terry Neil King, Schaumburg, Illinois
Cuba is an emerging tourist “super-star” destination, with a rich history, diverse and vibrant culture, beautiful natural sights with friendly and welcoming peoples. The tour was interesting, informative, well-organized, varied and fun daily tours and activities. Our tour guide, Ms. Geldrys Vilches, was fantastic! She was friendly, well-informed on her subject matter and eager to show us her country, had a good sense of humor, her English was perfect and easy to understand and she was flexible in accommodating the needs of her group. She was a pleasure to be with for our three-day tour. I also want to acknowledge and thank, Mr. Alden Mendoza, the CubaExplorer representative who assisted in making our Cuba trip so easy from start to finish. From handling our initial booking back in October, right up to the day before we departed, Alden answered the many questions I sent to him promptly and always with the info I was seeking. It was a pleasure dealing with him. These two individuals are a credit to your organization.
We did not experience any problems and the following comment is not a criticism but rather an observation. On a 3-day tour, where time is limited, it is difficult to have enough “free time” to be on ones own to be able to explore or visit places and sights or do some shopping. We were fortunate that our return flight departed later in the day after our tour ended, so we were able to do some exploring and shopping on our own, whereas others in our group, who departed earlier in the day, were not able to do. Everything we saw and did on our tour was interesting and worthwhile, so not sure exactly where more “free time” could be squeezed-in, other than suggesting people depart as late as possible on the day after the tour ends, as we did. There is just too much to see and do in only three days.
Patricia Nephew, Beavercreek, Ohio
My impressions of Cuba, its people and their culture was overwhelmingly positive. My first glimpse was from the airplane and I was struck by how green, lush, and clean the land looked from the sky. Once on the ground, things still looked clean. Buildings, streets and cars were old, but they were well cared for – things looked loved. What impressed me the most though, were the Cuban people. They smiled, they were friendly, they spoke to you. The music got into your blood, the art into your heart. The food was delicious. Never once did I hear any loud arguments or fights. We met visitors from many other countries and the stories were the same – Cuba was one of their best vacations ever. It was for me. I will come back. I was struck by the people, the sights, the love for the land, and the art. Our guide was also very good.Would have liked more time for shopping – so much art, so little free time.
Stefanie Karp, Washington, District of Columbia
Cuba is an amazing place to visit, full of contradictions, with a fascinating history, kind people, and beautiful architecture. It’s a unique experience. Our guide, Sandor Rodriguez, was fantastic. We were reliant on his explanations and viewpoint, and he did a great job giving us a balanced view of his opinions and the facts. He’s knowledgeable about a wide breadth of subjects and could answer most questions quite in depth. Because I was interested in photography, he made sure to point out areas that should be photographed and what time of day was best. He did a great job managing a tour of 13 people with all their various needs and wants!
Roger Mann, Naples, Florida
The Cubans are a delightful people who are very proud of a unique culture. The country is stuck in time and this is very positive for a visitor, but does not contribute to higher standards of living. It is possible that much of what is so charming about Cuba could change in the years to come, so now is the time to see it. The National Art Museum (Bellas Artes) was spectacular, particularly because I knew nothing about Cuban artists. The discussion with Professor Núñez was excellent. She focused on gender and social issues. It would have been great to have another meeting with someone who could speak with such authority on economic and political issues. Sandor was an excellent guide, knowledgeable about many subjects and willing to speak freely, in flawless English, on a wide variety of subjects. I really loved the organic farm and it’s lovely spokesperson, Isis.
Samia Hanafi Nettles, Charleston, South Carolina
No problems with the tour company. Great experience. I like best our guide! Ariadna was wonderful. The events planned for the tour were all great. I particularly enjoyed the lecture, the visit to the old coffee plantation, and the trip in the Soviet Trucks up the mountain on our way back from Trinidad. Having a wonderful tour guide and these events planned were integral to our Cuba experience. We could not have seen or experienced nearly as much of Cuba without this tour.
Cuba is much more “third-world” than I was expecting. The atmosphere feels safe, however. The infrastructure, including utilities, roads, building maintenance, transportation, sidewalks, accommodations, store quality, and more, is in poor condition. The cost of tourist travel (accommodations, food, and drink) is too high to justify such poor quality conditions. Typically, poor conditions like this are very tolerable if the travel is less expensive. Additionally, people employed in the tourism industry at hotels and restaurants are not hospitable and generally unwilling to provide even the most basic assistance. I believe the political atmosphere of the country will prevent tourism from being as profitable as it could, or should, be. However, the people of the country in general are nice, and the culture of music is energizing. Everyone is singing and dancing! The tropical culture is interesting, and obtaining more detailed information about the country’s history is the most interesting part of the visit.
Tiia Richardson, New York, New York
Cuba was lovely. The people were warm, welcoming, intelligent, full of life. I loved Havana and Trinidad and I love hearing about how a Cuba lives. While overall culture was absorbed and experienced, it was great to hear every life things like education, salary and taxes, and paying bills and how one sustains themselves. Ari our tour guide was fun, honest, and informative. I felt like we touched on a lot and while it was a fantastic overview it would have been nicer to spend a little more time some places. Suggestion: More local restaurants and more local music events…
David Albenberg, Charleston, South Carolina
Cuba is a fascinating place. Put in its historical perspective, it seems that it is on the verge of another revolution. To have experienced the country and its people at this juncture was an amazing opportunity, one in which, I’m certain we will look back at with amazement and wonder. We loved our guide Ari. She was so informative, sweet, insightful and thoughtful.
Cuba’s not really ready for the international hospitality scene. Having said that, that’s also the intrigue of the island. As the hospitality and comfort fortraveling around Cuba improves, the mystic and adventure of the island wit decline.
Ralph Vesecky, Grand Beach, Michigan
Loved Cuba and we stayed an extra two weeks after the formal Cuba Explorer tour. The tour itself was great. We had a really good guide (Sandor) who was incredibly knowledgeable and informative. He really laid the foundation for our extra two weeks. There was so much to do and see. In fact, we went back to places on our own like the Museum of the Revolution and the Museum of Modern Art. We liked the candor of our guide and the lecture we received from the Professor. We had no real problems. Like all tours, there were minor annoyances that don’t even bear mentioning. I would like to see Cuba Explorer offer a more academic tour and extend it to other cities in Cuba. It would have to be longer, of course.
Elizabeth Johnson, Pataskala, Ohio
I believe the people of Cuba are very fun loving happy people who care about themselves and others. They are very peaceful and polite. I liked learning history from the Cuban perspective. Our guide, Sandor, was very knowledgable and helpful. There were no problems with this tour.
Ruth Siegel, New York, New York
All the Cubans we met were very friendly. The country’s idea of luxury and service need a lot of improvement. Really enjoyed the conversations about other societies, meeting new people including those on our tour.