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Cuba #107337
09/12/2016 01:09 PM
09/12/2016 01:09 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
rita_irvine Offline OP
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rita_irvine  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
It has been on my bucket list for a very long time. I just retired at the end of August. As a retirement gift the doctors that I worked with have funded our trip to Cuba. Alaska Airlines will soon have a direct flight via LAX to Havana.
I am doing this as a non guided trip. My intention is to stay in Casa Particulars and only do hotels a few nights. We will be at least 2 weeks.
I am interested in information, good/bad that anyone might have in securing a rental car and Casa Particulars that you might have stayed at.
Thanks!!


Rita
It is better to be happy than it is to be right

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Re: Cuba [Re: rita_irvine] #107338
09/12/2016 10:53 PM
09/12/2016 10:53 PM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 723
Middle Tennessee
T
TravelHat Offline
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TravelHat  Offline
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T
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 723
Middle Tennessee
I have no idea about anything Cuba. Maybe the moderators should start a new forum for Cuba as or friends from non-US lands can shed some light for us newbies. It's on my list as well.

Re: Cuba [Re: TravelHat] #107339
09/13/2016 09:59 AM
09/13/2016 09:59 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,000
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,000
Central Florida!
We have no problems starting new forums, IF there is the volume to support a forum. Right now, I think we will move this to General Caribbean, and hopefully maybe more people will see it that have knowledge of the subject. Like you and me, most Americans have zero knowledge regarding Cuba.


Carol Hill
Re: Cuba [Re: Carol_Hill] #107340
09/13/2016 02:01 PM
09/13/2016 02:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 250
Columbus, Ohio
Antigua Offline
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Antigua  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 250
Columbus, Ohio
Maybe try your questions on Trip Advisor for now.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g147270-i91-Cuba.html


Regards

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Re: Cuba [Re: Antigua] #107341
09/13/2016 05:02 PM
09/13/2016 05:02 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,510
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
islandgem Offline
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islandgem  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,510
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Trip Advisor does not always give accurate information. Many Canadians and other nationalities on this forum have vacationed in Cuba and would probably be able to answer many questions about vacationing there.


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Re: Cuba [Re: islandgem] #107342
09/13/2016 07:36 PM
09/13/2016 07:36 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,000
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,000
Central Florida!
Great! Looking forward to input from Canadians who have vacationed in Cuba!


Carol Hill
Re: Cuba [Re: rita_irvine] #107343
09/15/2016 09:44 PM
09/15/2016 09:44 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 61
G
GaryC Offline
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GaryC  Offline
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Posts: 61
I can't answer the specific things you are asking about but I have been to Cuba. You are fortunate to be going now as it is still an opportunity to see a largely old school communist economy in action. It is changing fast though and won't stay this way long. If you do nothing else, spend at least 2 days in Havana. The people are friendly and kind but the food terrible. Ask about and get a handle on the tipping, it is confusing because of the two currencies they use.

Re: Cuba [Re: GaryC] #107344
09/16/2016 07:57 AM
09/16/2016 07:57 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 91
The Blue Mountains
M
macpete Offline
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macpete  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 91
The Blue Mountains
True, there are 2 currencies in Cuba, the so-called convertible peso which you will get at money exchanges and the Cuban peso used by locals. US dollars as far as I know are subject to a 10% discount unless that has changed recently. Tip in convertible pesos if you feel the need, remember the Cuban peso (CUP) is about 24:1 to the convertible (CUC) peso. Both are closed currencies, meaning you cannot get them outside of Cuba.
Trip Advisor guru Bellagio wrote a great article here on Cuban money and credit cards.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g147270-c69372/Cuba:Caribbean:Currency.And.Credit.Cards.html

Re: Cuba [Re: macpete] #107345
09/16/2016 12:54 PM
09/16/2016 12:54 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 2,338
MIA
I
irina Offline
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irina  Offline
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I
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 2,338
MIA
The tipping can also be items from the dollar store. Anything you can think of. Feminine hygiene products, crayons, band aids, gloves. Anything! Scrunchies, flip flops. Things like that.
irina

Re: Cuba [Re: irina] #107346
09/23/2016 06:48 PM
09/23/2016 06:48 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,474
New Minas, Nova Scotia, Canada
sweetlassie Offline
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sweetlassie  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,474
New Minas, Nova Scotia, Canada
I have been to Cuba 8 times but not to Havana. I love it !!I was last there in February to Cayo Santa Maria. We exchanged our Cdn dollars to the convertible peso. We have tipped both money and items . Everyday we left a bag for housekeeping , toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, combs, brushes, anything for the hair, baby items , school supplies, colouring books ,etc. chocolate bars, gum, candy, makeup, nail polish. Honestly , you name it , they need it .
The people are wonderful and very welcoming. They are talented, intelligent people . They love their music and boy can they dance .
For us its been very affordable but prices are going up and more hotels going up since the embargo has been lifted.
I have a friend who goes to Havana all the time . If you like I can have her contact you and she can be more specific.
We have rented a jeep with no problem to tour the countryside and some of the towns. American credit cards were never accepted but I'm sure that will change.
As for food . It depends on your expectations. I never had any problems with choice or quality.
Planning another trip to Cuba next spring. As suggested , check out Trip Advisor.

Re: Cuba [Re: sweetlassie] #107347
11/02/2016 12:58 PM
11/02/2016 12:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
rita_irvine Offline OP
Traveler
rita_irvine  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
I have done a ton of research and have an itinerary in place. It is a mixture of Casa Particulars and hotels. The bookings are completed. We are renting a car for the entire trip. It is the most expensive item.
Trip is planned for 1/26-/17-2/11/17. 3 nights in old Havana, then on to Varadero for 2 nights in a casa particular along Varadero beach. On down the coast with stays in several hotels, Cayo Santa Maria , Cayo San Guellermo, Santa Lucia. Then off to Camaguay, Playa Ancon, Giron, Vinales, then back to the Havana area for the last night.
I used Air B&B to book the Casa Particulars and this sight for hotels.
http://cubamapa.org/transport.php.
You can look up the hotels and do the booking from the same site.
The car rental is controlled by the gov so no competition, pick one and go. We will use Rex or Via.
This has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I speak little to no Spanish so I am working very hard to get words and phrases learned. Several apps have been helpful and there is a Kindle free book of phrases that will be useful as there is no internet connections most places and the kindle still works.

Last edited by rita_irvine; 11/02/2016 12:59 PM.

Rita
It is better to be happy than it is to be right

[Linked Image]
Re: Cuba [Re: sweetlassie] #107348
11/09/2016 07:04 PM
11/09/2016 07:04 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
rita_irvine Offline OP
Traveler
rita_irvine  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
So, update:

Casa Particulars have been booked through Air B&B. Very easy and I got some great places.

I booked several hotels through this site. it was very helpful:

http://www.cubamapa.org/transport.php

Alaska airline: SEA-HAV Jan 26, 2017 one stop in LAX no change of planes
leaves SEA @ 5 am gets to Havana at 4:45 pm.
Return Feb 11 same itinerary back leaves Havana at 4:55pm gets to SEA @ 2:30 am +1

Car has been booked through Via car rental. All car agencies are controlled by the Govt. No competition means sky high prices. a little over $1100 for 15 days for a Peugeot 208 manual. By far the most expensive part of the trip.

The most challenging was the Cuban Tourist Visa Card. If you fly with a group charter or through Miami the airlines and charter companies have them for you to buy. We are flying on Alaska thru LAX. They have a company that they refer you to to get the cards. VERY expensive to do through them. I did some research and ended up contacting the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC. I got the info they needed and sent off money orders to them. I expect a two week turn around. Will keep you updated but as of now all the puzzle pieces are in place and I am very happy with the itinerary.


Rita
It is better to be happy than it is to be right

[Linked Image]
Re: Cuba [Re: rita_irvine] #107349
12/10/2016 06:03 PM
12/10/2016 06:03 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 364
now - or when ?
C
CGB Offline
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CGB  Offline
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C
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 364
now - or when ?
as a Canuck... and, having been to Cuba more than a few times - the country and the people are wonderful

While everyone's mileage may vary - my stories of the honesty and warmth of the people - would be difficult to equal in many (most) other places

I'm not surprised that the rental car is the most expensive portion of the trip. My experience - hopefully things have not changed - you will not have the "games" played on returning a rental car.. aka... Florida rentals

Bottom line - the only reason I could not live in Cuba for a year or two... is(was) the lack of proper internet connection - otherwise... I'd be making it the next opportunity

Re: Cuba [Re: CGB] #107350
01/30/2017 01:47 PM
01/30/2017 01:47 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
rita_irvine Offline OP
Traveler
rita_irvine  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,538
Here and There
Update. We had to postpone our trip due to illness. Both hubby and I had the flu the week before the trip. We have travel insurance but honestly I don't think there will be much to recoup. Full refund on Air BB less the AirBB fees, full refund on the rental car and 85% refund on the rest of the hotels. Alaska air issued vouchers for full amount including upgrade and re instated the buy one get one for $99 that I used to purchase the tickets. they only charged out 1 $125 change fee. We are rescheduling for November as we have several other trips planned this year.


Rita
It is better to be happy than it is to be right

[Linked Image]
Re: Cuba [Re: rita_irvine] #107351
01/30/2017 01:54 PM
01/30/2017 01:54 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,340
L
LBI2SXM Offline
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LBI2SXM  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,340
What a real bummer!! Hope you are better. Would have loved to hear about Cuba.


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