Thinking About a Cuban Vacation? Here are Some Tips…
The talks of the U.S. lifting its embargo on Cuba has left some with more questions than answers. For example, how can I visit Cuba, what are the accommodations like, is there internet connectivity, and how do I get around? You have questions, we have answers.
How can I visit Cuba? Tourist travel is banned in Cuba, and will continue to be for some time, however there are several outfits that run organized tours to Cuba. Our friend and colleague Alison Besunder went on a trip with the New York State Bar Association that was put together by Cuba Cultural Travel. She had nothing but good things to say, as you can see from her blog post on her Cuba trip. Travel blogger Courtney Scott also visited Cuba recently via Cuba Travel Services, a “people-to-people” program that arranges for meaningful interaction with locals. Currently these companies charter direct flights to Cuba from Miami, but there is talk of airlines opening up a direct route from JFK next year.
What are the hotels like? While the U.S. may have had an embargo, other countries didn’t, so Cuba is no stranger to making its guests comfortable. Courtney Scott recommends Melia Habana, Melia Cohiba, the Hotel Saratoga, and Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
Will I have Internet? Most hotels that cater to business travelers have wi-fi, but beware! It is significantly slower than what we are accustomed to, and you often need to re-enter your pin every 10-15 minutes. Paying per minute can get costly, and your minutes get eaten up a lot faster while you’re waiting for web pages and emails to load. If you find a hotel that has wi-fi included, bonus, but still don’t expect it to impress you with its speed or uptime.
How’s the Food? In years past, Cuban restaurants did not have a very good reputation, yet slowly but surely restaurants are becoming privatized, allowing for greater creativity and pride in the menu. Courtney Scott recommends El Paraiso, an organic farm/restaurant in Vinales.
What is the Economy Like? The average salary in Cuba is $20/month, whether you’re a doctor or a cab driver. In fact, servers and cabbies often earn more than doctors and lawyers because of the tips.