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Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

Austin, Texas
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Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

I am debating whether to use a Canadian group called "Cuba Explorer" to secure a 8 day education tour of Havana and I think a national park. They have been diligent in answering my questions, etc. I wanted to know if anyone has had experience with this operation out of Vancouver? Tried to do a google search regarding reviews but nothing valid came up.

Thanks!

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271. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

My husband and I just returned from a Weekend in Havana trip with Cuba Explorer. It was absolutely amazing. We had no problems whatsoever for the entire 4 days. We were met at the deplaning door of our flight into Havana and ushered through customs. What we expected to be a little frightening was nothing at all. All of the Cuban officials seemed to welcome us with open arms. Our guide, Milena Arbolaez, met us right outside of customs. "Millie" as we called her could not have been more warm and friendly. Over the next 4 days, Millie showed us her country, educated us on Cuban history and customs, and catered to our every need. We were traveling with another couple who were friends of ours and on the tour we met two other couples who were friends with each other. The 8 of us could not have gotten along better, and as a matter of fact, have talked about returning again one day. The Hotel NH Capri was lovely and in a very good location. Twice we walked just a short way down to the Hotel National' to have mojitos in their lovely gardens overlooking the ocean. The breakfast buffet at the Hotel Capri was included and very delicious....especially the Cuban coffee. Each day, we enjoyed wonderful lunches and dinners and we were entertained each evening with the Buena Vista social club shows, Canon firing ceremony and a night cap on the roof of our hotel listening to Cuban singers and entertainers. We especially enjoyed seeing Ernest Hemingway's house and Fuster town where the local artist Jose Fuster is considered the Picasso of the Caribbean. Millie even went over and beyond for us when she answered our request to visit a local famous daiquiri bar we had heard about. The highlight of the tour for my husband was riding in the old cars......we had so much fun riding in the same car that Madonna rode in! The Weekend in Havana tour far exceeding all expectations we had for it. It only made me want to go back for more. I am hoping one day soon to return and see the beautiful countryside of Cuba. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone wanting an authentic, wonderful, and amazing experience.

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272. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

I just returned from a 7 day Western Cuba tour with Cuba Explorer. The minute I showed interest Cuba Explorer was there to answer questions and offer suggestions to make my trip what I wanted it to be.

Arriving in Cuba, I was met by a driver, as promised, and taken to my destination. The excursions were very well planned and my local guide Grency Rodriguez was spectacular. She was patient and kind and very knowledgeable about the island and History. She speaks English and a couple other languages. I got to see things and experience restaurants I would never have chosen on my own. We spent four full days in Havana, where we toured the old city and it’s sights, a small organic farm, the fort, Hemingway’s house, Las Terrazas among other sites.

We then traveled on to Cienfuegos and Trinidad which were absolutely beautiful with their own distinct landscape. What remained constant was the sprint of the people.

I have already recommended Cuba Explorer to a friend because I believe they demonstrated professionalism in the planning of their tours. It also helps that their cost is reasonable when compared to other tour companies servicing Cuba.

Accommodations in Havana - Great

Transportation -Great

Sites Visited - Great

Resturants - Great

Accommodations in Trinidad- ok

Guide - Awesone

Driver- Awesome

Hope this helps. I will post photos soon.

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273. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

We visited Havana during Jazz Festival week January 16th to 22nd.. Learning that this was the 33rd Jazz festival was such a surprise. The entire visit exceeded my expectations and even the most challenging restroom facilities were surprising but not disasters.

The Capri Hotel was great, the ENTIRE staff was so warm and helpful at all times. Alaino and his evening staff made us feel so welcome when we returned each evening, our group was able to unwind by sitting in the lobby, having a night cap and sharing our day with each other. I traveled with a group of 6 others who were friends and family and everyone was pleased and very satisfied with the entire trip.

Each day began with a free breakfast buffet in the cafeteria until a few days later we found a more quiet breakfast spot, with a view of the city, at the restaurant on the 18th floor for 5 CUCs.

We toured In the mornings, and I learned so much and felt the history and flavor of Cuba. The people of Cuba, so gracious and welcoming and non obtrusive for a population that is money poor. Music, music, music was everywhere during the Jazz Festival week.. Only regret was that I did not explore more options of the music available all over Havana and all day. It was so much easier for a group of us Seniors to just attend the shows provided after dinner at the Theatro Nacional as it fit so perfectly into an after dinner schedule. Much to our surprise there was entertainment at the local park every afternoon that was just a steps from our hotel and most evenings Musicians were providing music in our hotel's lobby.

So we toured Old Havana each morning and visited the Historic sites, the Ballet School which was so impressive, as well the art and history museums. There was plenty of afternoon free time for shopping but some quiet time was also needed.

There is rebuilding going on and we observed how many buildings were undergoing the slow process of renovation. Alongside a building in progress we saw others that were not in great shape but people were living and thriving.

We experienced both Gov't and Private restaurant meals which provided the range of what was available for tourists and I have to say the private restaurants were far better. On 2 occasions the menu offered 2 lobster tails for 15 CUCs so irresistible and so delicious.

The fabulous cars of the 1950's will amaze you. And along side the beautiful ones are the not so fabulous cars that will boggle your mind as to how they are still working.

Music, history, people, churches, religiion, art gallaries, shopping markets for tourists, and so much fun. Our tour guide Linnette was a jewel and provided laughter and was so very knowledgeable. he Bus Driver, Castillo (oops not sure of his name) was a an amazing driver and how he navigated some of the narrow streets was amazing. I never felt unsafe.

My only complaint was to Mother Nature as the Arctic Blast of the North East swooped down and reached Havanna and It was quite cool the first few days and a few evenings required the light weight down jacket that I had wore to travel from NY to Cuba. Of course by the time we were leaving, the blast had retreated and the weather was going to get better and better.

I had a great time...

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274. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

We just got back from a one week trip to Cuba. We (me y my wife) had a wonderful time .Our Cuba Explorer guide Ariadna y our driver Emilio were the best and most courteous that you can find anywhere in the world. We have traveled to many other countries in the world for over 40 years. We took the best of Havana y Varadero beach. They guided us to all the sites listed on the Cuban Explorer website. All meals y expenses were included. Really the only added expense is the tipping which is expected y appreciated. That is how Cubans augument their low wages.

One week is long enough to get a good overall view. Recommend you get the Cuban visa from the airline. We flew on Jet Blue that charged $50 per visa.That is lower than getting the visa from the web site.Also if you can bring other currency like Euros or Canadian dollars. US dollars are charged a 13% fee I guess because of the US embargo on Cuba.

We absolutely recommend travel to Cuba. Cuba Explorer arrangements y organization of our trip gave us a very pleasant experience. It was worthed.

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275. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

Yes, I just completed a week-long private tour(2 persons) of Cuba with Cuba Explorer and thoroughly enjoyed it! The guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, a delight to be with for the week, as was our driver. At our request, Cuba Explorer organized the trip so that we could attend the 2 final nights of the Cuba Jazz Festival, and we were particularly happy to hear the Buena Vista Social Club. The other excursions were fun, including a cooking lesson at a family-owned restaurant, and a visit to a small family-owned organic farm. Our tour of Old Havana was quite interesting, including a private tour of the art museum by a knowledgeable staff docent. We were happy with the hotels (4 stars) and pleased with all our meals, particularly at the family-run "paladares."

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276. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

Our group of 35 just returned from a 7 day Western Cuba tour with Cuba Explorer. We worked with our friend who is a travel agent and we felt fully informed all of the time. Using the Cuba Explorer website was very easy and very accurate. I did not feel that there were any big surprises during the week.

Arriving in Cuba, my husband and I were met by a representative since we did not arrive with the rest of the group. We had most of the day by ourselves, so we had prearranged an "old car" ride around Havana. That was amazing!

The excursions were very well planned and we had 2 buses and 2 guides for our big group. Gretl was patient and kind and very knowledgeable about the island and History. Her English was perfect and she was very organized with every detail of the trip.

We got to see places and experience restaurants we would never have chosen on our own. We spent four full days in Havana, where we toured the old city and it’s sights, got to see the canon shoot at night, saw a small organic farm, Hemingway’s house, Las Terrazas among other sites.

We then traveled on to Cienfuegos and Trinidad which were absolutely beautiful with their own distinct landscape. We saw the former Sugar fields, climbed the tower in Trinidad, stayed in an all-inclusive resort outside of Trinidad.

I would recommend Cuba Explorer in a heartbeat. They took care of every detail and Gretl even arranged for a birthday cake on my birthday!

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277. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

How do you describe the best weekend of your life in a few words? I was on a " Weekend in Havana" trip on December 1 - 4 last year. It was beyond amazing from start to finish. I had only a carry-on so there was no hassle of waiting for luggage (bonus!). The driver was in the reception area as promised and off we went to the NH Capri Hotel...again - amazing. We were greeted with a cool towel and welcome drink (awesome) and check in was easy. We exchanged some money at the front desk and checked out our rooms (perfect). Had a few mojitos in the lobby bar and a shared plate of food...then moved up to the roof deck bar for a few more mojitos and relaxation.

We met our guide in the lobby at the appointed time, and as it turned out there were only 4 of us (out of 6) that had shown up so we got lots and lots of attention (amazing).

First dinner was sublime. Appetizers, chicken/rice/beans (amazing) and then off to the Buena Vista Social Club. SO SO SO worth it. Great show. The music, dancing, costumes were all excellent.

Next day: after an outstanding breakfast we toured around Havana in our very comfy air conditioned van and then toured the Havana Club. Interesting, informative, and great samples (I bought 2 bottles of Havana Club 7...never pour that over ice - it's spectacular all on it's own).

More walking through Havana. Lunch at Divino (amazing). Hemingway House Tour (fantastic). Then the best drink ever (Hemingway Coctel = fresh sugar cane/pineapple/Havana Club). I had 2. And then another superb dinner at Cafe Ajiaco. End of the night was the cannon firing ceremony which was a blast. See what I did there?

Back to the hotel. More mojitos and live music on the roof deck = perfection.

Next day: trip to the seawall, lecture by a local professor who was FASCINATING! Honestly, I could have spent an entire day listening to/talking with him. Then off on a nice ride to Fusterlandia which has to be seen to be believed. What this man has done is nothing short of...well...amazing. Excellent lunch was followed by time to browse (of course I bought). Back to the hotel for some r&r (pool time and maybe one mojito for me).

Off to dinner in a pair of 1956 Chevy Bel Airs was so so so cool. Dinner at Cafe Del Oriente was the perfect way to end a stay that was too quick.

The next morning our driver was right on time. Check in at the airport was simple, quick and efficient.

And then I cried because I was already missing Cuba AND thinking about how/when to go back.

My opinion of Cuba Explorer itself would be 100 on a scale of 1 to 100. They were top notch every step of the way. Always responded to my questions with a kind/informative note within hours...sometimes within minutes. Our guide (Yailem Hernandez) is smart, funny, patient, informative and always smiling. The hotel was top notch.

Okay, now I have to go look at my pictures again so I can put a big happy smile on my face.

Thank you to EVERYONE at Cuba Explorer!

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278. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

We used Cuba Explorer (January 2018). The organization and the people were terrific. Every went smoothly.....visas, registration, meeting our guide, the meals, visits, etc. I would definitely use them again.

We created our own group and had a total of 8. We traveled in a 20 seat bus and had our guide Gretel and our driver Orio with us when we were out and about. We arranged our schedule so we always had 3-4 hours per day to do what we wanted to do without the group.

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279. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

Yes, we were there in December 2017, 8 days with Western Cuba Explorer...It wasn't enough time of course.

We loved everything about Cuba, our wonderful guide Rosie and our driver Wilde.

It was like being with friends in the end.

Cuba is a very special place and it really got under my skin( in a good way)...everbody should be like Cubans, relaxed, friendly, curious about the rest of the world, increadibly proud of their history.

The food is great, the mohitos superb, the music is sublime and everywhere.

If you go there with a great attiude, you will fall in love with Cuba like we did.

We will definately return and would have no hesitation recommending Cuban Explorer.

Remember to tip generously too, wages are low and these people will work so hard to give you an unforgetable experience.

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280. Re: Any Americans Used the Canadian Group "Cuba Explorer?"

I didn't know they were Canada based, but I visited Cuba in October with the group Cuba Explorer. It was one of the best week long trips I've ever taken. First of all, we had a delightful group of only 8 people, and we all got along famously. But the best part was our guide, Mandy (Armando). He was very knowledgeable about all things Cuban, and didn't hesitate to share his opinions with us. We did and saw more than I expected, and we had excellent individual guides for each place and event we went. Havana was truly fascinating, right from the moment I got off the plane, and the other cities we visited, Cienfuego and Trinidad, had their own charm and beauty. The trip was great, and there is nothing I can say but good about Cuba Explorer.

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