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Cuba - "salsa, cigars & classic cars"
Post: #1
As soon as dates become available for 2022 I'm going to book the Cuba tour, I want to go in February/March as that is the driest time of year there (don't want rain on holiday). I assume that the tour still uses Virgin Atlantic to fly there, I know that with Virgin you can select your seat online at no extra cost from about 10 to 11 months prior to travel if you've booked direct with them, what I'd like to know is whether this applies to this tour? I am very keen to secure a window seat for both outbound & inbound flights.

Also if anyone has been on this tour then I'd appreciate feedback.
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Post: #2
(20/01/2021, 07:00 PM)purple turtle Wrote: As soon as dates become available for 2022 I'm going to book the Cuba tour, I want to go in February/March as that is the driest time of year there (don't want rain on holiday). I assume that the tour still uses Virgin Atlantic to fly there, I know that with Virgin you can select your seat online at no extra cost from about 10 to 11 months prior to travel if you've booked direct with them, what I'd like to know is whether this applies to this tour? I am very keen to secure a window seat for both outbound & inbound flights.

Also if anyone has been on this tour then I'd appreciate feedback.

Hi Purple Turtle,
As a Cuba veteran, 8 visits over the last 24 years, hopefully I can help.
Firstly last time I flew there it was with Virgin but my notes don't say if I was able then to pre-book seats. However I did JY's Music Heritage tour in 2019 when we flew Virgin and it was certainly possible to pre-book for those flights.
February/March is a good time to go as you avoid the hurricane season which is in the autumn and shorts and tops are the order of the day.
TS & JY used to arrange this tour so that after arrival you used to fly from Havana to the other end of the island. Internal flights were with local airline Cubana who, as I recall, introduced strict luggage weight restrictions (20 kilo for both checked and cabin baggage as I recall) so looking at the itinerary these days all travel is by road. Things have improved greatly over the years. Back in the 1990's you would rock up for a comfort break at any place that looked as though it might have cups for coffee! Today it is much more organised with tourism a major source of hard currency. Plenty of decent rest stops and much improved roads over the years.
It can sometimes be a bit chaotic due to the embargo but with a new President in the USA this week restrictions re-imposed by the outgoing POTUS may well have eased by the time you go.
Hotels are fine and the Sevilla is located in the heart of Havana so everything is within easy walking distance.
The country and people are wonderful and you should have a great time on this tour.
If there is anything specific you would like to know then do please ask.
Ian
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Post: #3
(22/01/2021, 11:47 AM)IanWight Wrote:
(20/01/2021, 07:00 PM)purple turtle Wrote: As soon as dates become available for 2022 I'm going to book the Cuba tour, I want to go in February/March as that is the driest time of year there (don't want rain on holiday). I assume that the tour still uses Virgin Atlantic to fly there, I know that with Virgin you can select your seat online at no extra cost from about 10 to 11 months prior to travel if you've booked direct with them, what I'd like to know is whether this applies to this tour? I am very keen to secure a window seat for both outbound & inbound flights.

Also if anyone has been on this tour then I'd appreciate feedback.

Hi Purple Turtle,
As a Cuba veteran, 8 visits over the last 24 years, hopefully I can help.
Firstly last time I flew there it was with Virgin but my notes don't say if I was able then to pre-book seats. However I did JY's Music Heritage tour in 2019 when we flew Virgin and it was certainly possible to pre-book for those flights.
February/March is a good time to go as you avoid the hurricane season which is in the autumn and shorts and tops are the order of the day.
TS & JY used to arrange this tour so that after arrival you used to fly from Havana to the other end of the island. Internal flights were with local airline Cubana who, as I recall, introduced strict luggage weight restrictions (20 kilo for both checked and cabin baggage as I recall) so looking at the itinerary these days all travel is by road. Things have improved greatly over the years. Back in the 1990's you would rock up for a comfort break at any place that looked as though it might have cups for coffee! Today it is much more organised with tourism a major source of hard currency. Plenty of decent rest stops and much improved roads over the years.
It can sometimes be a bit chaotic due to the embargo but with a new President in the USA this week restrictions re-imposed by the outgoing POTUS may well have eased by the time you go.
Hotels are fine and the Sevilla is located in the heart of Havana so everything is within easy walking distance.
The country and people are wonderful and you should have a great time on this tour.
If there is anything specific you would like to know then do please ask.
Ian

Thank you very much. Would you say that vegetarians are well catered for in Cuba? Is the vehicle that you travelled around in comfortable? In pictures of Cuba all you see re cars is cars from the 1950s - but I assume that coaches & mini-buses are a lot more modern.
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Post: #4
(23/01/2021, 07:33 PM)purple turtle Wrote:
(22/01/2021, 11:47 AM)IanWight Wrote:
(20/01/2021, 07:00 PM)purple turtle Wrote: As soon as dates become available for 2022 I'm going to book the Cuba tour, I want to go in February/March as that is the driest time of year there (don't want rain on holiday). I assume that the tour still uses Virgin Atlantic to fly there, I know that with Virgin you can select your seat online at no extra cost from about 10 to 11 months prior to travel if you've booked direct with them, what I'd like to know is whether this applies to this tour? I am very keen to secure a window seat for both outbound & inbound flights.

Also if anyone has been on this tour then I'd appreciate feedback.

Hi Purple Turtle,
As a Cuba veteran, 8 visits over the last 24 years, hopefully I can help.
Firstly last time I flew there it was with Virgin but my notes don't say if I was able then to pre-book seats. However I did JY's Music Heritage tour in 2019 when we flew Virgin and it was certainly possible to pre-book for those flights.
February/March is a good time to go as you avoid the hurricane season which is in the autumn and shorts and tops are the order of the day.
TS & JY used to arrange this tour so that after arrival you used to fly from Havana to the other end of the island. Internal flights were with local airline Cubana who, as I recall, introduced strict luggage weight restrictions (20 kilo for both checked and cabin baggage as I recall) so looking at the itinerary these days all travel is by road. Things have improved greatly over the years. Back in the 1990's you would rock up for a comfort break at any place that looked as though it might have cups for coffee! Today it is much more organised with tourism a major source of hard currency. Plenty of decent rest stops and much improved roads over the years.
It can sometimes be a bit chaotic due to the embargo but with a new President in the USA this week restrictions re-imposed by the outgoing POTUS may well have eased by the time you go.
Hotels are fine and the Sevilla is located in the heart of Havana so everything is within easy walking distance.
The country and people are wonderful and you should have a great time on this tour.
If there is anything specific you would like to know then do please ask.
Ian

Thank you very much. Would you say that vegetarians are well catered for in Cuba? Is the vehicle that you travelled around in comfortable? In pictures of Cuba all you see re cars is cars from the 1950s - but I assume that coaches & mini-buses are a lot more modern.

Hi Purple Turtle,
When you say vegetarian I assume you mean neither meat nor fish but that you are not vegan so that animal by-products such as eggs and cheese are ok. In this context I would say vegetarians are catered for. It has certainly become a lot easier for vegetarians over the years. I see most breakfasts and dinners are included these days - there were less included dinners in the past. I am guessing these are all in the hotels where they have access to hard currency and generally put on a good and varied spread. Hotel meals in the past were generally on a buffet basis but whether this will change post covid is anybody's guess. As for lunches I see 5 of these are included. On day 8 I am guessing you will be at a rather lovely restaurant next to the Castle Morro overlooking the Carribbean. It is a speciality fish restaurant but if you don't eat fish they do have non-meat alternatives. On other days then the traditional Cuban sandwich is cheese and ham so as long as you are not vegan then they will always do a cheese sandwich. If in doubt a doggie bag from breakfast usually works!
As for travelling around then have no fear you will be in a nice modern coach. Most of the vintage cars work as taxis and are fun to ride around in but they do not carry meters so always agree a price beforehand. They are not expensive and good fun to travel around in.
Ian
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Post: #5
Thank you Ian. Indeed I am not a vegan - so milk/eggs/cheese/yoghurts are fine, but I do not eat fish in addition to meat.

I would like to do a short journey in a classic car if there's time but I wouldn't fancy a long journey in one.
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Post: #6
(25/01/2021, 11:44 AM)purple turtle Wrote: Thank you Ian. Indeed I am not a vegan - so milk/eggs/cheese/yoghurts are fine, but I do not eat fish in addition to meat.

I would like to do a short journey in a classic car if there's time but I wouldn't fancy a long journey in one.

Happy to help. Last time I was there was with TS and there was an organised optional excursion in Havana to the Tropicana nightclub. Not really my cup of tea so did my own thing with a couple of others. As part of the excursion the trip was in a series of vintage cars so it might be worth checking with the TM if this is still the case. Otherwise there are usually plenty of cars plying for trade if you fancy a ride back to your hotel after a spot of sightseeing.
Fingers crossed you get there. Go with the flow and have a great trip.
Ian
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Post: #7
On a hectic tour like this I'll be in bed early - never mind clubbing.
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Post: #8
(26/01/2021, 11:43 AM)purple turtle Wrote: On a hectic tour like this I'll be in bed early - never mind clubbing.

But don't miss out on the Havana Club. Cheers! Wink
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Post: #9
(27/01/2021, 06:47 PM)IanWight Wrote:
(26/01/2021, 11:43 AM)purple turtle Wrote: On a hectic tour like this I'll be in bed early - never mind clubbing.

But don't miss out on the Havana Club. Cheers! Wink

What is the earliest start? I'm guessing for Vinales it would have to be very early.
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Post: #10
(29/01/2021, 10:54 AM)purple turtle Wrote:
(27/01/2021, 06:47 PM)IanWight Wrote:
(26/01/2021, 11:43 AM)purple turtle Wrote: On a hectic tour like this I'll be in bed early - never mind clubbing.

But don't miss out on the Havana Club. Cheers! Wink

What is the earliest start? I'm guessing for Vinales it would have to be very early.

When i last did this I flew from Havana to Holguin for Guadalavaca on day 2 so I did all the same places but in a slightly different order.
Looking at your hotels/itinerary I think there may be an error! Looking at the map then the trip to Vinales looks to be a day trip as the tour does not include a hotel there. However the itinerary on day 4 says you travel from Vinales to Cienfuegos whereas I think you start that day in Havana. JY can probably clarify that one for you.
That said I overnighted in Vinales travelling there from Cienfuegos. That was our earliest start with cases at 6.30am for a 7.30am departure. With a full day out from Havana I guess you will have an early departure but not have to worry about cases (subject to confirming your itinerary).
Otherwise the average on a travel day would be cases for 7.30am for an 8.30am departure giving time for breakfast between cases and leaving.
If you are somewhere for a few nights obviously cases are only a factor on departure day and tours started in Santiago de Cuba at 8.30am, Trinidad at 9.00am and Havana at 9.00am.
Ian

Just You: Can you please check the itinerary for day 4 - I think this should start in Havana!
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