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Please can someone advise me about Cuba, or just plan our entire honeymoon???

(14 Posts)
geraldinetheluckygoat Wed 12-Aug-09 08:31:25

We are planning to go on honeymoon to Cuba and I have been trawling websites....I have totally confused myself and now have a few questions before we book!
We have a budget of £2000. We are planning to go last week of oct. first week of Nov.
Here's what I'd like to know.

- DP wants to go to soak up the history of Cuba so we want to be able to visit/stay in Havana for some of the holiday i think. I would also like to be near the sea. I know some people find the resorts horrific and soul less, are they?? Has anyone been on a twin centre holiday to cuba? What was it like?

- is it easy to get off a resort if you go all inclusive? I like the look of them and that fact that everything is paid for, as we wont have tons of spending money, but can't see the point of going to a resort if you are going to stay there exclusively for the whole two weeks....can you easily arrange your own trips rather than going in a herd from the resort? is it safe to go about on your own? Sorry if that sounds ignorant, totally unseasoned traveller here!!!!

- Is it expensive to eat out? Has anyone self catered in Cuba? What was it like?

- if you have had a holiday in Cuba, what was it like, do you have any advice and where did you stay??

Really grateful for any advice you can give me!! Tia...

mankyscotslass Wed 12-Aug-09 08:47:40

I went, but it was 10 years ago, so my info is out of date!

We went the same weeks as you and caught the tail end of a hurricane, nothing major, just the outer bands. It was spectacular!

We didn't want a huge resort, so avoided Varedero, and the Cays, and went instead for a resort just outside of Holguin, on the Playa Esmeralda beach. And even then we made sure we were outside the main town there, can't remember its name, as the main town was really touristy as well. We stayed in one of a group of three hotels at the time called the Sol Rio De Mares, there were 3 hotels sat on a cove seperate from the rest of the resort. You could use all the facilities in each hotel, we had a great time.

I would definetely take a couple of days in Havana, we only had one and it was not enough. Santiago de Cuba is worth a visit too.

Eating out was odd, it was mostly state run little restaurants at the time, so we tended to eat in hotels. Food was ok, there was a lottle of rice and beans and fish and goat I think.

The poverty is shocking, and at that time you had to use US dollars to buy stuff it was illegal for a tourist to carry or use the cuban currency. But that's probably changed.

I'm sure someone will be along with more info that's a bit more recent! We loved it and will go back when the kids are older.

sailorsgal Wed 12-Aug-09 09:23:08

I have spent a lot of time in Cuba but haven't been since 2002 but I doubt much has changed.

I would spend a week in a resort and a week travelling but maybe the resort last as you may want to be relaxed when you get home.

Cuba is not known for its cuisine so don't be expecting lovely restaurants.

It is very safe, though as a single female I got a lot of attention, not all of it honourable but I never felt threatened. Like any poor country, people like to befriend tourists and make some money out of you, eg: sell you dodgy cigars!

I normally have stayed in Casa Particulars which are private houses. Most are basic but I like staying with families as they are friendlier. However there are some lovely hotel in Old Havana.

I have hired a car but it was a bit of a nightmare as the roads are not well maintained and signposts are almost non existent but saying that it was a fab experience.

There is an excellent coach service (can't remember the name of it but will see if i have the name in my travel journal) which will take you to some of the main towns.

I would get a copy of lonely planet or rough guide and plan what you want to do beforehand.

I'll try get back to you later. smile

sailorsgal Wed 12-Aug-09 09:32:48

Viazul is the bus company. This is a bit like national express.

Definitely take a trip to Cienfuegos and Trinidad. I think Santiago de Cuba is worth a visit but is a long way and if you want to spend a few days in Havana it would be too much.

Portofino Wed 12-Aug-09 09:56:30

We went about 6 years ago with First Choice. We stayed 3 nights in Havana and then 10 days in Varadero, over Xmas and New Year. Havana is fascinating - though as already mentioned the poverty is awful. On our first venture from the hotel, we did a horse and carriage ride, and they stop at a bar, get a you a cocktail, and continue the tour. So we're sat there with mojitos driving past streets of decrepid building where families were living in one room. One stands out - a few wooden chairs and an ancient TV with a pathetic tinsel Xmas tree on the top. I felt so awful sat there with my flipping fancy drink. sad

There is lots to do we visited a cigar factory, and the Bacardi building, and everywhere that Hemmingway ever lived/drank. And we dranks lots of rum.

Varadero has lovely beaches, but once you're there, you're there. There were organised excursions - a catamaran trip out to the coral reef etc. There isn't exactly a town to go to, so we basically spent 10 days in the hotel all inclusive. The food wasn't fantastic - but you have to remember that the tourists get the best of what's availble - but it was plentiful. Basically 10 days by the pool, ahem drinking more rum.....We enjoyed the trip - very relaxing, and I would love to go back to Havana in a few years - as it is UNESCO world heritage site and lot of restoration work was going on.

geraldinetheluckygoat Wed 12-Aug-09 21:27:36

ahhh thanks so much everyone for the replies, some brilliant advice!
Sailorsgal, thanks for the bus info - and the suggestion of getting a lonely planet guide is a good one - I had one when i was in greece for a few months YEARS ago and it was a godsend!!
So a few nights in Havana and then on to a resort sounds like a good bet...
So exciting, I have NEVER been out of Europe before, so I am really looking forward to it!!

sailorsgal Wed 12-Aug-09 22:16:35

Glad to help. smile

How about Sandals resort? Has good reviews on Trip Advisor.

Drink lots of Mojitos and have an open mind and you will have a great time.

surreylady Wed 12-Aug-09 22:32:04

Hello - we went last year did 4 nights in Havana and then on to Varadero where we went all Inclusive. LOVED Havana - children were almost 7 and 9 - they loved it too - we stayed central in Havana in traditional hotel (hotel Florida) and were able to walk to most of the sights - we hired a Cuban guide - she was fab - took us into the residential districts and schools as well as acting as translator in museums etc she was also happy to answer the childrens questions about life etc- would highly recommend this - can point you to where you can contact them via trip advisor if it is of interest. Varadero - was a relax time only we found the resort to be manufactured for the tourist and to be honest not a patch on the other carribean type resorts we have visited - it also lacked any local culture - one thing about Havan is the street and bar music - we stayed at Iberostar Varadero - which was very nice indeed. Would love to go back to Havana - would probably look outside of Varadero to be honest.

geraldinetheluckygoat Thu 13-Aug-09 13:50:45

thanks, Sailorsgal, will do!! Sandals does look nice, but slightly more expensive so leaves us with not much change for spending money, but I am hoping we might be able to knock down the prices in the estate agents a bit...!

Thanks for the info, Surreylady, yes if you could give me the link that would be fantastic - that sounds great. Ok, thought that might be the case with the resort, so will definitely go for a holiday with a bit of havana thrown in i think.

surreylady Thu 13-Aug-09 23:24:55

Hello - a couple of links

Iberostar Varadero (next door to Sandals) http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/HotelReview-g147275-d535717-Reviews-Iberostar_Varadero-VaraderoCuba.h tml

Jorge - who provided our guide - he is based in Spain (for obvious reasons) but takes no monies and was very good as was his guide
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g147271-i387-k2631983-l16567621-Jorge-Havana_Cuba.html #16567621

Enjoy

ttalloo Thu 13-Aug-09 23:34:17

surreylady's Cuban trip sounds much more fun than ours - we went to Sandals for our honeymoon in 2004 and were really disappointed. Although the facilities were lovely, the food was shockingly bad (but still better than those of the neighbouring hotels because their guests used to sneak into Sandals to eat) and the competition to get reservations at the best restaurants in the resort made mornings VERY stressful.

surreylady Fri 14-Aug-09 21:26:36

You have reminded me that we sat in front of a honeymoon couple on the flight out - they were going to Sandals and had no intention of going to Havana Crew spent ages trying to change their minds - as they felt they were missing out on a lovely trip.

sailorsgal Fri 14-Aug-09 21:36:17

I think we have all sat next to couples going to Sandals resort. So may be a bit nauseating staying there. All that smooching. grin

ttalloo Sat 15-Aug-09 20:29:48

Was no smooching at Sandals in Cuba; just lots of couples complaining about the food and queuing up to get a table at the only decent restaurant in the place. Plus when the only food worth eating is white bread, you end up a bit constipated, which rather puts you off smooching. smile

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