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Feedback from Cuba Explorer travel guests

Cuba Explorer travel reviews

Impressions of Cuba, its people, and culture from past travelers. We embrace their criticisms and praise and learn from their words. Guest insights help us to improve our services for future Cuba travelers.

Satisfaction

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Dessie Andrews, Tallahassee, Florida
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

I was very impressed with my travel to Cuba. So impressed I will be returning in July or September. The people were very engaging and always willing to help. Although I had made plans in the past to visit Cuba and previous studies required research of Cuba. Nothing prepared me for the resilience the Cuban people. The educational tours, agricultural, music, and arts were impressive. And the Jazz Festival was awesome. Arriving in Cuba was trouble free, the cab driver was waiting. The tours where all excellent including the food.

Valerie Schwartz, L.a., California
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

The people and culture are vibrant and lively. Our local guides were informative, charming, funny. I wish I could have seen it in its prime. The beautiful architecture that is crumbling is so sad. I liked it all. The spirit of the people, the music. Lots of things seem to be imported. That must be because of the U.S. blockade.

Daniel Diaz, San Antonio, Texas
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

The country was fascinating, the people were friendly and helpful, and the culture has similarities to other countries of Hispanic origin. Our tour guide Linett was excellent. She gave insights and information about Cuba’s history and its culture that expands our understanding of Cuba.

Michael Wymes, Berkeley, California
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

Amazing extraordinary culture, unparalleled arts, music, dance, fine arts and beautiful family centric people. Cuba’s the poorest richest country we have ever visited! Infrastructure in disrepair, lack of city sanitation services (trash, recycle). No problems with this tour!

Steven Guberman, St. Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

Friendly and optimistic, hardworking, very eager to please tourists and earn money. I liked the jazz concerts and most of the organized excursions: the organic farm, Fuster’s mosaic and ceramics studio.

Walter Reed, Missouri City, Texas
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

Cuba is a wonderful place to visit and enjoy its rich and diverse culture. Everyone was friendly and we were impressed by the many talents they possessed. Cuba has many great artists and musicians too. We enjoyed our outstanding tour guide Claudia! She was a wealth of knowledge about Cuba’s history, culture and important sites we visited. Also, the food was excellent everywhere we ate.

Noemi Figueroa, Lutz, Florida
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

My husband and I enjoyed our trip to Cuba very much especially because it reminded us of Puerto Rico where we were born. The architecture, the history, the people, the food, the culture and especially the music were wonderful. We found music everywhere we went – from the jazz festival concerts, the musicians at the restaurants and the street trovadores. We both highly recommend this trip.

Our tour guide, Roberto, was very knowledgeable and attentive making sure that all of our needs and questions were answered. It made quite a difference to have Roberto by our side during this first trip to Cuba to hold our hands and guide us. The people of Cuba were very friendly to us and we felt welcomed. The island has great potential to be a even more popular tourist spot than it is now. The bus driver was very nice and the buses were fine (except that the bathroom did not work because there was no water). The additional guides were also very good and all the places we visited were interesting. We were happy with the length of the tour and the pace (call times were not too early so we could attend late-night jazz festival concerts).

Ruth Michelson, Placerville, California
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

The Jazz Festival was phenomenal, the people very gracious and friendly, and the culture fascinating. I absolutely loved Cuba and look forward to a return trip. This trip was an eye-opening experience. The educational opportunity was terrific with our guide Laura.

Valerie Moss Washington, Bronx, New York
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

Under adverse conditions the culture and people have remained resilient and retained their identity. Music, food, outlook on life is very positive. Everyone was pleasant, helpful and eager for us to know about them and enjoy our time on the island. Museum guides were knowledgeable and entertaining. A highlight of the tour was the visit to the National School of Ballet. Loved seeing students excellent in academics as well as the art of dance. Impressed by the dedication of students, faculty and staff under difficult physical conditions and lack of resources. I had no problems with the tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and accommodating.

Marilyn Arp, Mccall, Idaho
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

Loved the Havana Jazz Festival and our trip to Las Terrazas. Cubans are clearly proud of their island and culture. People were friendly and eager to help.

Bruce Smith, Sacramento, California
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

We went to the amazing Havana Jazz Festival! My Latina partner and I love the music of Latin America. This is the largest event in the world for Latin music. We loved the tour and we loved the music. Thank you and we will return in 2 years. Very impressed with how friendly and welcoming the people we interacted with in Havana were with Americans. The tour was perfect and in our travels we have taken a number of tours. Mostly with Trafalgar. They have very good guides But our guide on this tour, Linnet Brown, was by far the best guide we have ever had! Much of the reason we will return again is just to work with her. Your company should give this woman a nice raise in pay.

Kevin Costa, New York, New York
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

The Havana Jazz Festival! Everything here exceeded expectations: music, art, food and how nice everyone was.

Carmen Monedero, Foster City, California
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

What I liked best were the tours through places I would never have found on my own going to the countryside and seeing the artistry was excellent. The time it was very organized and professional. My impression of Cuba was that it is a very interesting place with a deep history and wonderful people. I enjoyed the tours that help me understand the culture and creativeness of the Cuban people. I had an excellent time.

Eivind Lande, Oslo, Norway
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

Very interesting history and culture! A great mix of people, music, religion, architecture and vehicles for transportation! The tour was well organized by the tour leaders and of course all the good music. Great festival!

Diane Smith, San Francisco, California
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

I love Cuba. The people. I really liked the breakfast manager at the hotel Habana Libre. His customer service was EXCELLENT! Thought the overall food quality could have been better. Howereak breakfasts were good.

Jim Smith, Key West, Florida
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

Very friendly people. Many people live in poverty, but don’t seem to blame the US for it, even though decades of sanctions has taken a severe toll. Can’t figure that out. Amazing were: Exploring Old Havana, our tour guide Roberto, and the musicians.

Kenneth Fullmore, Rio Vista, California
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

My impressions were very positive. The warmth and kindness of every person I came in contact with was very positive. The culture was very welcoming and non-judgemental. Loved the people. The music, the food, and the architecture. We had an amazing tour guide who was an excellent resource on historical events, and interesting facts about the Island.

Daphne Moss, Yonkers, New York
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

Music everywhere was so much fun. I learned a great deal and had fun while learning. The ballet school was so heartwarming and special. I had a great time and initially felt anxious the six people who agreed to join me would have a good experience. That anxiety disappeared as soon as I met Linette. She was great, warm, and knowledgeable showing each of us on the tour special attention when needed. My family and friends all loved our trip to Cuba. The Cuban people, our tour guide, the facility and staff were warm and made us feel welcomed and special. The restaurants and staff made every effort to please us. The private restaurants had the edge though and were great. I enjoyed The balance between, touring, free time and Jazz Festival Concerts. In retrospect, it was hard not to use the tickets provided to the Teatro, but perhaps I should have explored additional venues. Afternoon music at the nearby park and evenings in the hotel was so great.

Margaret Suits, Great Falls, Montana
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

It was an incredible trip. The music, the people, the architecture, the Museums. I felt welcomed by Cuban’s. Our guide, Linette Brown, made all the difference. She was informative, helpful, and had a great sense of humor, and relaxed style. It’s very difficult to say what I liked best. The musicians were stellar, and Havana is a fascinating city.

Carlos Vargas, Bronx, New York
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

The people, entertainment and history of the island exceeded our expectations. The music was the best! Our tour guide was exceptional in providing help with the different venues and the tours and knowledgeable.

Robert Pokress, Andover, Massachusetts
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

The Cuban people are the friendliest people of all the people my wife and I have met in the various countries we have traveled to including most of the countries in Europe and the Far East. I wish we had had even more time to spend traveling around Cuba, taking in its culture and spending time with its people. Loved seeing a culture and community of people that embraces and cherishes its multi-racial nature.

Olga Pomar, Camden, New Jersey
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

I loved the music, found it amazing there are so many fabulous musicians. Was also impressed with the arts and thought people were very friendly and gracious. Great music, a fun and informative guide, free time to wander Havana by myself.

Rodney Smith, Los Angeles, California
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

Personally I loved Cuba and the people and their unity. My tour guide Laura was very professional and down to earth I can’t say enoughabout her, she was fantastic.
hotel accomodation.

Russell Jackson, Houston, Texas
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

Loved the people, food, and the music, but went for the Havana Jazz Festival. Would have liked to have spent more time in Afro-Cuban cultural environment. Definitely a country in need of much infrastructure (especially housing) development and investment. Hope that can be done without exploitation and excessive commercialization. Our guide Claudia Martinez was absolutely fantastic. Command of English, knowledge of the country, and her loyalty and love for Havana and Cuba were infectious. Hotel Nacional definitely past its prime and could use much updating, although service was generally good.

Siegfried Gerstung, Baltimore, Maryland
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2018
Satisfaction

The tour could not have been better organized. You gave us more to see and to learn about Cuba than we ever expected! Thank you! The tour could not have been better organized. We were extremely impressed with its people their culture and the way we were received. Favorites: The outstanding organization and service of your organisation, its staff and the guides. The architecture, the music and the friendly people of Cuba. The hotel but the staff, the people were friendly, kind and fun to be with.

Bart Schneider, Berkeley, California
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

I loved meeting the Cubans we encountered. They were gracious, generous, helpful, and shared our fun-loving nature. I also adored the sense of quality music and art being everywhere and highly valued by the culture. Our tour guide Lynette was fabulous. She is personable and knowledgeable. In an easy manner she communicated historical and cultural information that broadened our understanding of the country and made us want to return and see more of Cuba. Maybe a lecture on Cuban jazz would be a good addition.

Susan Cauthon, Denver, Colorado
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

Amazing experience of immersion in the Cuban culture and the Cuban people. I loved everything! Our guide, Claudia was superb. The historical architecture of the hotel was amazing. All the activities were well organized and so interesting! Loved the Art Museum!

Elliott Blass, Newton Center, Massachusetts
Just the jazz festival, January 2018
Satisfaction

The Havana Jazz festival was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed every venue that we caught. Cubans are wonderful, kind, fun, warm and gracious people despite the very considerable difficulties that they have and are experiencing. Our guide Claudia is a great asset to your company through her warmth, knowledge and grace.

Judith Stern, North Brunswick, New Jersey
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2010
Satisfaction

Greetings. It was a swell tour. Happy travels and Happy New Year.

Trudi Beth Unger, Mill Valley, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2010
Satisfaction

To my fellow tour participants and Cuba Explorer: Happy New Year! Hope that all of your holidays were wonderful and that this New Year brings you peace, good health, love of friends/family, and most of all, that you have everything your heart desires. Favorite places were Baracoa, Camaguey, and of course, Havana. The music at the Casa de Trova in Santiago de Cuba was incredible, and the folkloric dance group, Catumba, was New York, Broadway, outstanding. Loved Baracoa. So peaceful, community oriented, and in such a beautiful, beautiful setting.

Trinidad is a lovely Colonial town and well known for their cobblestone streets. Returning was simple, as it turned out. I had a research license for photography, so I put together a journal outlining every day, everything I had did with Cuban photographers, educators, etc. I bring back any “knick knack” touristy items that are banned in the U.S. Arriving in Houston, I went to the immigrations window, and the officer asked, “What did you buy?” I said some etchings. Then he said, “Hope that your trip was good,” and waved me on.

Zoe Cowherd Alameda, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, April 2011
Satisfaction

It was truly a fabulous trip! Thanks so much.

Robert Murray and Becky Allman, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, April 2011
Satisfaction

Overall the trip to Cuba was excellent. No complaints. You did an outstanding job of organizing everything for us before the trip began and made sure that the trip was a success. Your organizational skills are the best and I highly recommend Cuba Explorer to anyone that wants a great trip to the island. Everything unfolded without a hitch. The guide for our trip did a fantastic job of making sure that all of us were happy and comfortable. Cuba and the Cuban people greeted us with open arms and were friendly and hospitable. I’ll tell everyone looking for a stress free educational tour to Cuba to go with you.

Connie Randrup-Wheatley, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, April 2011
Satisfaction

I enjoyed everything we did in Cuba. I wouldn’t change any aspect of the tour. It was near perfect, and to be sure, totally amazing. I learned more than I imagined possible about your beautiful country. So many aspects of the program captivated me. The city walking and bus tours of Havana stand out. The buildings and people and the cars – I am in love with the old cars, so elegant, graceful and evocative of bygone times.

Bridget Cooke, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, April 2011
Satisfaction

I want to emphasize how appreciative I am of the time you people gave Phyllis and me before the trip. Your advice especially was very helpful concerning the license. So we are grateful for your hard work.

Bruce Rose, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, April 2011
Satisfaction

My tour was absolutely wonderful. I loved Alejandro as our tour guide. He was totally great, and I look forward to seeing him again in Cuba. Everywhere we went was an interesting adventure. Many thanks also for arranging my CENESEX visit – and most especially help from Anayansi while in Havana. She was great. I hope to meet up with her again on my next trip. The absolutely best thing about Cuba for me was its people. Wherever we went, the people were genuinely helpful, friendly, courteous, and curious. Secondly was the music. Who couldn’t help but become enraptured by the music? I really do want to return for the International Jazz Festival in December. I want to thank everyone who made this experience all that it was.

Kerri Schmidt, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, April 2011
Satisfaction

It was a pleasure working with your office. Everyone was helpful and professional and your tour package was well developed, thank you. Your island team was wonderful too – very friendly, informative and extremely professional. They made the experience fun and memorable.

Shirley Sullivan, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, April 2011
Satisfaction

As I reflect on my recent visit to your beautiful country, the lasting image that comes to mind is one of “lost beauty.” It is my hope that one day soon, Cuba will be able to recapture all that magnificence and, once again, enjoy the wonder of it all. On the whole, the Cuban people were wonderful. I loved waving to them and having them wave and smile in return. I felt a great sense of camaraderie and felt most welcome. There were a few exceptions (bank clerk, waitress and front desk personnel) but I think you would find that anywhere, human nature being what it is.

I found the food to be very good, I loved the music and vibrancy in your dance and enjoyed “going back in time” to experience riding in cars which brought me back to my dating days!Your beaches are beautiful and offer so much for the traveler looking to kick back and relax. Alden Daniels was a wonderful tour guide; very knowledgeable, kind and caring. I loved the musical review in Havana, the Viñales valley, the tour of the jungle and how to survive in it. The local guide was very informative and humorous The roast pork luncheon there was the best meal by far. The museum at the Palace was very interesting. This is something we did on our own, but I would offer it as part of your next tour. It was a chance of a life time and Cuba and its people will hold a special place in my heart.

Elizabeth Riechers, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

My son Russell and his best friend in Cuba (my Cuban son) Raiko called Sunday to wish my husband Happy Father’s Day. Raiko told me he was looking forward to picking me up at the airport in Havana (our second trip to the island) in December to celebrate the New Year. He is so respectful, fun and a great example of the warmth and acceptance we felt from everyone we met while on your tour. I hope that Raiko and his family can someday come to Iowa to visit and stay in our home!

Cody Arnold, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

We had a great trip and don’t have much to criticize. We particularly enjoyed our tour guide, Alejandro Infante. We had a great time in Havana but since this was our second trip to Cuba we would have enjoyed visiting another Cuban city such as Cienfuegos or Trinidad.

Julie Drizin, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

We loved Cuba! Thanks so much for all of your help in making it a terrific trip! Alejandro was a stellar tour guide; our bus driver Wilmer was also wonderful. We really enjoyed the participants on the trip and feel so great that we got to meet real people at schools, the senior center, the university of the arts, the synagogue and more. The whole tour was brilliant. On an aside: my mother sprained her ankle at the coffee plantation in Las Terrazas, falling on an uneven stone. We got to experience the Cuban medial system. She’s fine. I would whole-heartedly recommend your tours. I definitely must return. I just loved Cuba and the Cuban people and feel so inspired by so much of what I saw and experienced there. Thanks again, my friends.

Milissa Zierer, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, January 2000
Satisfaction

I wish I could travel to Cuba again this year.

Kathleen Larson, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

I cannot find enough words to thank you and Cuba Explorer for the fantastic trip you provided. Thank you so much! Everything was fine, especially the excellent hotels and all the meals, not to mention the carefully planned tours of educational, agricultural and social sites. Hoji cannot be surpassed as tour guide par excellence! His English is flawless; his patience is unending. He teaches while he learns, and he is as interested in us as we are interested in learning about his country. This makes him very personable and likeable and knowledgeable. It was a joy to see his smiling face every day! His sense of humor is refreshing. If you strayed away from the tour, he’d come looking for you, never accusingly, but with real concern. When the group insisted we go to the beach, he arranged it. He took extra care to meet special needs. All these abilities are rare to find in one tour guide. I hope he is greatly rewarded for his service! I will be happy to tell others of this successful trip. Again, I thank you for making it possible. Mil gracias!

Anibal Mustelier, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

I thought the tour was very well run. I don’t have too many complaints. Being a film enthusiast, I just wish there was more access to Cuban fictional films. What I like best about Cuba was that the people were very nice in spite of their economic situation and that it is very, very safe there as well. One could go to the poorest of neighborhoods and crime would not be a problem. There are police officers everywhere.

Marta Karell, Chestnut Ridge, New York
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

I just want to let you know, that despite a rough start to our Jazz Fest Tour, we had a wonderful time! You made every effort to make it up to us and took full responsibility. Anyway, the jazz festival was marvelous. We loved the people at the Hotel Plaza. Our tour guide, Ludwig was very nice and very knowledgeable. And Cuba was enchanting. I wish it were easier for Americans to travel there. I know I will return sometime. Thanks for your help.

Tayani Suma, Atlanta, Georgia
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

Just a note of thanks! I really enjoyed my trip and you and your team did a wonderful job of planning excursions that seemed to be of interest and well received by the majority of the folks on our bus. I was especially impressed with the services provided by our tour guide Alden. He went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure we were happy, and was also great at balancing executive decisions with group choices when needed. You’ve done a great job and I will recommend you to friends and family. I hope to travel again on one of your tours next year.

Steve and Judy Schlager, Cleveland, South Carolina
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

Judy and I just returned from our trip and we wanted to tell you what a good experience it was. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful architecture and meeting the Cuban people who were friendly and helpful. Our guide Frank and the bus driver Diego were excellent. Frank made sure that everyone got where they needed to be and Diego was extremely helpful getting the old people (like us) on and off the bus. The Hotel Nacional was an amazing structure. I would’ve liked to seen it 50 years ago. The maids were extremely helpful especially when I wasn’t feeling well after the first cigar. No problem with U.S. immigrations coming back. They asked if we had any rum or cigars and when we said no. They let us through without searching our bags. I will certainly recommend visiting Cuba with you to anyone who asks.

Charlene Shelton, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

Our tour was fabulous! Alejandro, our guide was so well educated and knowledgeable and the driver, and bus driver Wilmer was safe and attentive. I can’t really think of anything that was not top notch. What we liked best about Cuba is that there is music everywhere – in the streets, in every shop and restaurant, and in homes. The people are so gracious and they are so well educated and interesting.

Jane Godfrey, Takoma Park, Maryland
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

The guides were excellent. The busses were great. Hotel Nacional is a gem. The whole week was well thought out and we got to see many sites that otherwise we wouldn’t have known about. Dinners were great too. Only downer was the art college we were to visit was closed for the Christmas holidays. Sigh. We went to the beach instead and had a great time.

Hilda and Jerry Artesona, Union, New Jersey
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

Merry Christmas to the wonderful people at Cuba Explorer. Wanted to let you know our trip was fantastic so much more than we expected. Everything was handled so expertly. We met wonderful delightful people who we made friends with and plan to visit. We had so much fun and were so educationally stimulated. The Jazz Festival was classical jazz, which we did not realize but the music in the streets and in the restaurants made up for it. We enjoyed the music at the venues very much we just were expecting more Latin Jazz. In no way were we disappointed. I felt very proud of being a Cuban American. Alden the guide was fabulous an amazing young man, the bus driver Forster was super fun and so knowledgeable. Hopefully you can send a note of how happy we were with Alden especially. Thank you for your attention to detail in every step of the way. We hope to take our mom as soon as we can.

I have recommended your agency to all of our family and friends as the perfect way to experience Cuba. For us it was also great to meet family and find the places our families have talked so much about. I have pictures of the porch my grandparents lived in and found it to be a wonder that the old tiles are still intact. The Cuban people were inquisitive, open, friendly and welcoming. While it may be deteriorating, the architecture is fascinating and beautiful. One can see in the old building the grandeur that was Cuba. I can only hope someday all Americans can experience that beautiful island and that the Cubans are smart enough not to let it become just another tourist stop. It is truly unique in every.

I can go on and on, everything about the trip was wonderful. Thank you for a trip of a lifetime. PS Did you know that the Havana Jazz Festival is listed as one of the things to do before you die in a book called 1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz. Well its so true, as newly retired we are so glad we did this. May you enjoy a healthy happy New Year.

Jill Vanderveer, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

It is hard to believe that this trip is over. What an amazing experience! It is a trip that I will remember forever. I just loved the tour. I do wish that we had been given the two days in the mountains. I realize that the trip from there to the airport on Saturday would have been too long but I would have loved to have more mountain time. We also needed more free time. I do have to say that our guide was incredible. He is so intelligent and provided us with a wealth of information about Cuba and the rich history of the country. I so enjoyed learning and seeing first hand the rich history found in Cuba. It is an incredible country, rich in amazing architecture and beauty.

Nan Caldwell, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

The trip was great! We absolutely loved our Hoji. He was so informative, personable, accommodating and just plain fun. It was hot and humid, but we got everything done! It was a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll always cherish. Thank you for all your good communication and advice. It was a great trip.

Bill Fairchild, Longmont, Colorado
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

My friend Greg Rodriguez and I went on the Cuba Explorer Havana Jazz Festival program and it was a great experience from start to finish – even better than I expected. The jazz component of the tour was for me not nearly so interesting as touring Havana, hearing great Afrocuban music everywhere we went and even out in the countryside. Music was everywhere in the restaurants, bars, and on the streets and I heard many of my favorites from the mambo and cha cha chá days of the 1950s and ‘60s. Cubans I met were very friendly and outgoing and were willing to speak Spanish with me even though their English was good.

Our guide Alden was very knowledgeable for someone so young and explained many things about Cuba to me. He learned his excellent English mainly from watching television. I wish my ESL students would do the same. Upon return to the U.S., immigration officials in Denver Greg Rodriguez and I to produce our licenses. They read mine carefully and were not unfriendly. I got through quickly but Greg was having a long conversation with his official and I thought there might be some problem. It turned out, though she was Hispanic and had always wanted to visit Cuba! I hope that indicates the embargo will soon be over. Thanks again for arranging this great trip.

Wanda and David Rowland, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

Our trip in Cuba was fantastic. I have made many worldwide trips and I would rank this trip in my top three. Our guide was a fabulous, funny, amazing personality, and communicates well. The Hotel Telégrafo was excellent, although a bit warm. Airport pickup and delivery was perfect. The city tour and the Hemingway home were excellent. The restaurants and food were very enjoyable. The bus was excellent and comfortable. Las Jazmines was very nice and two nights there would have been appreciated. I thoroughly enjoyed running and walking the Prado and Malecón area each morning with El Morro in the background. Not once did I encounter a problem with a Cuban, however I was almost bitten by a dog. Cubans are very friendly and helpful. They also have high expectation when it comes to tipping. The old city of Havana is very interesting once one gets accustomed to the ever-present poverty and disintegrating conditions of the buildings. The island is very beautiful particularly on the western side near Los Jazmines. The concept of socialism is everywhere and promoted in many environs. The adoration of Fidel, Raul, Ché, and Chavez are never far. In closing, I want to thank you for all your help. You provided us with a great tour. Your staff was particularly helpful in assisting my daughter in notifying us when a family emergency arose and when the returned flight was delayed.

Yvonne Watson, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

I just returned Sunday, after a most illuminating and wonderful experience in Cuba. I would like to talk further with Cuba Explorer regarding further academic arts/culture experiences for the students that I work with at Parson. At the moment though I need to digest and reflect on my experience and then come back to you with my thoughts. Best regards, and many thanks for your help!

Sherri Tobin-Samuels, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

I want to thank your staff (in Canada and in Cuba) for making my trip to the island a once in a lifetime experience! I have been very fortunate in my life to have the opportunity to travel to many unique places in the world. I have to say Cuba was one of the best! The itinerary was well planned, organized and diverse. We were able to see so many different aspects of Cuba. I really feel like we got a good flavor of the country and the people in the short time we were there. Hoji, our guide, was absolutely incredible. He was so knowledgeable about so many different topics whether it is architecture, history, art, or politics. His English was exquisite and he was extremely articulate. And he was also very personable and witty. The hotel accommodations in Havana were beautiful, and the choice of restaurants was excellent. I would have enjoyed more traditional Cuban meals like the one we had at La Bodeguita on the last evening. I have to say, my life has been changed as a result of this trip. Thank you for this opportunity and for making my trip to Cuba so memorable.

Judith Garratt, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

Cuba was wonderful, and I appreciated the depth of commitment and artistry evident in all of the arts experiences we had. The Cuban people were generous with their time and energy and have a wonderful sense of humor. I really had a wonderful experience; everything was interesting, and I learned a lot. Thank you for setting this up this tour for us, and I hope you will continue to offer arts tours.

Sara Marks Tabby, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

I fell in love with Cuba. I want to return again soon to study and enrich my understanding of this warm people and their unique culture that informs their approaches to education, healing and the fine arts.

Sandra Jewell, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

Hoji was knowledgeable and always willing to address the questions and needs of group members. He was flexible about making changes the group wanted. He was very good and the trip most enjoyable.

Shannon Wasson, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, June 2011
Satisfaction

I can’t thank you enough for making my trip to Cuba so smooth. My impressions of Cuba began the minute we drove away from the airport. In the wee hours of the early morning I saw bicycle taxis waiting for fares, beautifully dilapidated, decayed, architecturally intricate buildings, cars from an era time forgot, and NO annoying billboards advertising cars or fast food. My first morning I spent nearly three hours sitting in my hotel window taking photos and writing in my journal about the comings and goings of the neighborhood folk around me. I saw a woman selling bananas that everyone who walked by, kissed her with a friendly greeting. I watched the taxis below move in a choreographed rhythm that swayed with the humidity of the city. A woman sold cold water from her balcony to workers on the street below. Boys played marbles on a nearby roof, they’d shout and whale when an opponent made a good or bad shot.

The exuberance, sound, and sights of the city overwhelmed all of my senses, and I hadn’t even been down on the street yet. Once I ventured out, I was greeted by smiling faces and people who wanted to know where I was from. When they discovered, through my broken Spanish, that I was American, people were so welcoming and full of interesting questions. I would say my greatest impression is how wonderfully social Cubans are. I felt immediately welcomed and safe to walk about the city. When I accidentally left my satchel (with money and my passport!) in a bag of donations to a nearby day care, a woman came running after me to return it. It was amazing and so kind. Impressions are nothing but positive and I can’t wait to return. I want to explore more of the country the next time I visit.

Elaine Vargo, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

I feel so blessed to have taken the trip. I have some great memories and met some wonderful people. And that’s due to Marvin’s help in organizing the trip. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to know you.

Norma Milne, Banning, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

A deeply felt compliment to you and your staff. You did a wonderful job in organizing our group and activities. Our tour guide was the best. He couldn’t have been more helpful in making our trip THE BEST! We went everywhere we could in such a short time. The restaurants were breathtaking. Great food in all of them including the wonderful buffet breakfasts at the hotel. The accommodations at the Hotel National were comfortable and clean – the surroundings glamorous. We had the greatest of times and would love to return sometime. Please give our tour guide an extra special thank you. All three of us travel a lot and he ranks up there with the best guide I’ve ever had.

Don and Nancy Hamilton, Red Lodge, Montana
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

I just want to report to you that our trip to Cuba was super good. There were no problems, and we enjoyed it all. The jazz festival was wonderful, and we took in as much of it as we could cram in. All four of the big evening concerts were exciting and enjoyable. We also enjoyed being in Cuba again walking the streets and just soaking in the environment. On Sunday we attended a worship service at one of the Methodist Churches in Havana. It was interesting as well. They had lots of music, and, yes, it had lots of rhythm and every one was enthusiastic. The service lasted for four hours. We are not used to that, but it seemed normal to the regular people. The church was packed. We had made contact through the pastor of that church, and we had some exchanges with him and other church members. We want to thank you for all of your help! You helped make the whole experience a success! Peace!

Larry Englund, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

My wife and I enjoyed our trip and found it to be enough of a taste of Cuba that we would definitely go back. The people we encountered were friendly and helpful. The architecture of Havana is beautiful. Our trip to the senior center was informative. I have to say that the lack of American corporations like McDonalds is a welcome change, though the other effects of the embargo are obviously not so good. All in all, your preparations helped to make this a much easier trip than expected. Thank you for your help. My wife and I both thought the trip was too short, and are looking forward to finding another opportunity to travel to Cuba and meet its people.

Nancy Coward, Key West, Florida
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

Our Just Jazz trip was the perfect way to kick off the holidays and I believe the entire group had a very memorable vacation. With respect to my personal experience, I was pleased with most aspects. Ludwig, our guide, was very good with the group. The visit to the Belén Convent was a highlight of the trip. It was a very fun trip that I will recommend to friends.

Sebastian Lazzara, Brooklyn, New York
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

The trip to Cuba was absolutely wonderful. We had a fabulous time. Our guide Hoji was the best. He spoke perfect English, he was funny, informative and he was a wonderful escort, making sure all of us were well taken care of. He made helpful recommendations to restaurants and venues. Hoji really made my stay in Cuba a perfect experience. The Hotel Raquel was a bit run down but the location was perfect in old town Havana and the staff was attentive and professional. We had dinner at a private family home our second night in Trinidad. The food was excellent – fresh fish and lobster followed by music and song by the husband. After dinner Hoji took us to an outdoor music and dancing show, which was so much fun. Our last hotel, Hotel Saratoga was the BEST. The accommodations were truly five-stars. Our driver Poncho was excellent; he too was professional and good humored.

We had a slight problem when the bus broke down on our way to Trinidad. After several failed attempted to fix the problem they called the tour company to get us another bus. We had a new driver and bus that afternoon and part of the next day, then Poncho was back with us the rest of the trip. Your guide went beyond his normal tour guide duties; he was with us beyond what the tour schedule allowed making sure that our every request was delivered. I definitely recommend your tour company based on our excellent adventure in Cuba. Thank you so very much and God bless.

Eileen Gmerek, St. Louis, Missouri
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2011
Satisfaction

I feel so blessed to have taken the trip. I have some great memories and met some wonderful people. And that’s due to Marvin’s help in organizing the trip. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to know you.

Laki Halper, Chevy Chase, Maryland
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Our trip went without a hitch. Once we got through the airport madhouse, our guide Alden met us and from then on it was great every day. It was an excellent trip well run and informative. Leonardo did a great job with trip organization. I am ready to start planning the next one! We had no problem with customs and immigrations. Meanwhile, a happy healthy New Year to all of you.

Richard Madenburg, Santa Ana, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I found visit to Cuba to be fascinating; people-to-people interaction was great; had no problems whatsoever in returning to USA. Immigrations and customs were non-events. Cuba Explorer met all our expectations and would use you again. All had an enjoyable experience. The weather was perfect – virtually no rain and clear blue skies every day. Temperatures were comfortable, mostly in to mid 70s. Needed a light jacket on some evenings. No mosquitoes. Hotel Nacional was an interesting venue from an historical perspective, however not geographically friendly to the Old Havana. The many small boutique hotels within the old city would have been more accommodating, I think. Guide José and driver Fernando were both professional and courteous.

Susan Madenburg, Santa Ana, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I wanted to let you know that we very much enjoyed our trip to Cuba, the smiling faces and kind people. My husband and I are generally independent travelers who have toured the world over for years and we were happy to finally experience Cuba and its people. When we travel we like to bring ourselves into the culture and lives of the people of the Country we travel to. We travel with few expectations and for the most part are always surprised and delighted. We knew going into Cuba, the five-star Hotel Nacional would certainly not be the same five-star expected in the U.S., Paris, or Dubai. I do think the carpet could be replaced and the buffets could be stepped up a bit, but certainly not anyone’s fault and again it is Cuba, Not America! I believe we all were aware before going to Cuba that we were not going to find great culinary cuisines due to shortages, etc. Our bus driver Fernando was very kind and a very safe driver. Our tour guide José Ramon was very nice and tried hard to please all, which I’m sure was not an easy task.

Miriam Baker, Newport Beach, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

We are glad that we were able to visit Cuba and we were surprised that the people were not as poor as we had been led to believe. Most of the people that we saw had enough to eat and clothes to wear and were enjoying life. They were friendly and kind (finding chairs for my husband with his bad knee) and colorful. Their artwork was vibrant and the country is rich in excellent sculptures and it was a lot of fun to see all the great 1950s American cars all bright and shinny.

Richard Summa, Tallahassee, Florida
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

WOW! Thanks so much. I had an AWESOME time in Cuba. Special thanks are also due to my guide Grency, who was a perfect host – personal and informative and just very nice. The people were very nice in Cuba. I made friends with many musicians and accomplished the number one thing that I wanted to do – perform with some of the local musicians that I met. In fact, I returned home with a video of me playing guitar with the band in Hotel Nacional! PRICELESS! I am now trying to figure out whether I can email the video – or maybe I can post it on YouTube. I guess you can believe I had a great time.

Gwenda Blanks, Alexandria, Virginia
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

There is nothing NOT to like about Havana. The people are warm, friendly and SO TALENTED. Great music everywhere! The itinerary was leisurely (no waking at 6 or 8AM) and our guide Liliana was knowledgeable and patient. The hotel was a bit of a disappointment, but the only one in an otherwise outstanding experience. I plan to return some day and see more of the island. You have been efficient and professional. Thank you.

Brett P. Holmes, Chicago, Illinois
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

We both loved our trip to Cuba and found the country to be even more spectacular than imagined. The cigars, rum, food, and music were all very unique and special and I hope that Cuba never loses its authentic culture and personality. Most striking to me was the architecture and overall charm of Havana. It’s just so natural and unplanned, and that’s what makes it so spectacular in my opinion. I can’t think of too many improvements at the moment because we found the experience to be fluid and well organized. Hopefully, we can return someday soon. Thanks again for checking on us!

Sally Welker, Roanoke, Indiana
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

We enjoyed our Cuba tour. We especially liked our guide Liliana. She was intelligent and informative and so very patient and kind. We have invited her to the U.S. and would love for her to be our guest. The Hotel Nacional, would not be considered a five-star by American standards, however it was real nice, but not great. We enjoyed our trip however, I would not consider returning to Cuba. Thank you for your concern, and good luck to you in the future.

Judith Timmel, Emeryville, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I loved my stay in Cuba. I’m sure I will be back some day. The people express themselves through music and dance so eloquently. One must listen to the music to know the Cuban soul. The Hotel Nacional was fine and it was fun to stay at such an historic place. However, if I go again, I would stay somewhere such as Old Havana from where one could walk to places of interest. The activities were for the most part excellent. Our tour guide, Linnet, was very cheerful and upbeat, knowledgeable and a pleasure. She was always willing to help us with reservations and tickets to other venues. Free time: I always like a lot of it, and was pleased to find a good amount of it compared to the only other tour I have been on. I love to dance and didn’t get enough of it.

Ronald Strouse, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

First and foremost, we had a good time. Havana was intriguing, the people and architecture and history. We feel fortunate to have stayed at the Hotel Nacional. Staying there is worth a little more money, if necessary. The jazz festival did not disappoint! The bus was comfortable, our driver was capable and polite and Linnet, our tour guide was everything we could have hoped for. She was friendly, informative and kept things going. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Of course, we share our experiences with people we know and we will recommend you as well.

Doris Wallace, New York, New York
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

It is with great pleasure that I write. My sister, our friends and I had a terrific trip. As I just wrote to someone living in Havana, the people were warm and friendly. Havana is sadly beautiful. I heard expressions of joy and resignation. Our tour guide, Lynette was wonderful. She has a terrific sense of humor and enormous energy. The jazz festival was, of course, terrific. Since our group shared this mutual enthusiasm, we got along great. Especially loved our visits to Regal, to Las Terrazas and to the organic farm. The artists we met were very gifted. My sister and I stayed longer and loved Trinidad. And when we went back to Havana we spent some interesting time in the cemetery (worth an inclusion in the tour). Thank you so much for your efforts. I am happy to recommend you.

Susan Palmer, San Diego, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

We had a fantastic time and really enjoyed our time in Cuba. I did post pictures on Facebook and got a lot of people interested. Most people think its illegal for U.S. citizens to go to Cuba, so that was an eye opener. I loved all the music, art, and most of the excursions. The best were the Fúster neighborhood, Las Terrazas, Regla and Santería dancing, and the organic farm. Of course, the jazz festival, which is why I went then, was over the top. I thought the cannon shooting was a little disappointing, but enjoyed the company anyway. Had lots of options to go off on our own. Teaching us to dance like Cubans was pretty hysterical. I would recommend your tour to anyone and really liked our guide Linnet Brown. She was informative and positive and competent. I am enjoying all the CDs I bought. Good luck to you and thank you very much.

Dorothy Dare, Evanston, Illinois
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I am just back from our trip. Thanks to your help we had a marvelous time. I really appreciate all you did to make our trip a success. We certainly will remember this holiday in Cuba as a wonderful experience. Our trip was wonderful! Of course, there are always surprises, especially when one visits a country that has such variety and such a fascinating history. I am eager to see what Cuba will be like a few years from now. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and I was sorry that there weren’t more Americans enjoying the cities we visited

Linda Gerber, Tucson, Arizona
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

The people of Cuba were polite and helpful as well as very entertaining. They were people doing everyday jobs and services. We were surprised how clean the streets were. The City of Havana is an ongoing project, showing signs of old and new progress. This was our first tour and we thought conducted professionally. Our guide showed patience and knowledge of the city, people and culture along with a great personality. Our bus driver was fantastic, always on time, very polite and helpful to people when entering and exiting the bus. He always greeted you with a smile and warm welcome and on top of it all was a safe driver. And the Jazz Festival was the frosting on the cake. All and all an enjoyable experience and we would recommend your company to our friends.

Winfred Maxx Myrick, Silver Spring, Maryland
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I enjoyed my first trip to Cuba, thanks for your assistance before and during. The people of Cuba are a proud people with an abundance of dignity and grace. I thought the tour, our guide Grency, and driver Carlos were great and very informative and helpful. I think the activities were well paced and gave us a general look at the city of Havana and its people. The restrictions to travel from the U.S. and access to currency from U.S. banks were problematic and confusing, especially after seeing the hypocrisy of all the American companies doing business in Cuba with the so-called embargo in place. Not sure what good it does or whom it helps, it certainly isn’t fooling anyone. I would suggest to future travelers from the United States to bring enough money to convert into CUC, because you cannot use a credit or debit card tied to a U.S. bank in Cuba.

Phillip Sanchez and Judy Catanzaro, Covina, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Our impressions of Cuba was positive. It is a beautiful island nation with plush green forests and beautiful beach areas. The people are friendly and outgoing. It was like going back in time where you see colonial architecture with peeling paint and the classic old cars of the 1950s that are still running! We found the trip to be interesting, educational and enjoyable. If you like to dance, the rhythm sounds of salsa, rumba and cha cha chá will be there to greet you, with a smile.

David and Deborah Shapiro, Los Angeles, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

We just returned from the most incredible vacation imaginable… in Cuba! It exceeded all our expectations! Having traveled to approximately 150 countries, I can honestly state that our trip to Cuba is in the top five. I am already planning (literally) my next trip to this endlessly fascinating destination – a magical place with vibrant music, wonderful food and accommodations and among the nicest, warmest, kindest individuals we have ever had the pleasure and privilege to meet. We make this recommendation without hesitation or qualification. If you can’t have fun in Cuba, you can’t have fun!

Mary Ellen Gibson, San Luis Obispo, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Thank you for an exceptional experience! I am well aware that it is very difficult to deal with multiple personalities on a trip like this one. Plus, we are not normally people who travel with a tour, preferring to make our own way. I am in awe of the skill and professionalism of our guide, Lily. She was charming throughout. Our driver was very kind, helpful and careful. The tour was very educational and interesting as we visited various significant locations in Havana. I was unable to attend all the music venues, but the ones I attended were outstanding. Seriously priceless. Wonderful trip, marvelous time, educational experience.

Ralph Depalma, Key West, Florida
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I cannot describe with any justice the wonderful Cuban people that we met on our trip. The Cuban people were the best part of the entire journey. I felt more comfortable with them on the streets of Havana than I have ever felt in Miami or New York. We walked the streets at night and felt completely comfortable and safe. We met a lady in Nassau on the way to Cuba that best described the Cuban people. She said she had never met people with so little yet so happy. I agree. With regards to the touring and logistics I am amazed that Liliana was able to move so many people around on schedule from place to place with so much efficiency. She was absolutely a treasure. Happy New Year.

Daniele Spellman, Berkeley, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Writing to you as I listen to one of my favorite new CD by Sintesis, one of the groups I got to know out of the jazz festival. The whole experience was terrific and I congratulate you and your agency on having put together an excellent program. The accommodations at the Nacional were better than   I’d expected; one small problem, the shower was pretty useless but that didn’t stop us from enjoying our stay. Our guide, Linnet Brown, was excellent, personable and informative; she took very good care of everyone in the group. The program was diverse enough to give a good feel of some of the issues facing Cuba today, although a bit too much packed on and too many visits on certain days. The jazz festival on the whole was excellent. The trip was a very good first introduction to Cuba. We loved Havana and its people and hope to learn more in the future. Thank you.

Delois Wickliff, Los Angeles, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Let me just say that I had a wonderful visit and met so many new friends on the tour. Cubans were friendly and curious about Americans. Cubans are physically beautiful and stylish too. Havana with all its ruins is still an elegant place and the architecture just awesome. The tour itself was educational and fun. Our tour guide, Grency Rodriguez, spoke good English and was knowledgeable and exercised patience with such a large group which was no small feat. Our bus driver, Carlos, was most courteous and a good, safe driver. The Havana Jazz Festival was wonderful. The music was topnotch and this goes for the musicians I encountered in the restaurants too. My highlights included visiting the different squares; lunch on the Santa Maria Beach, the organic farm, and the Havana Jazz Festival. Not to forget the Hotel Nacional de Cuba was beautiful, helpful staff, and a lovely room, and within walking distance to some good small restaurants. Many thanks to you and your co-workers in providing all the details to make our travel flow so smoothly.

Michael and Sara Frank, West Bloomfield, Michigan
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Had a great trip. Cuba is a wonderful country with warm, friendly people. The architecture was amazing, and it was good to see it before it is “modernized” after lifting the embargo. This is the real, original Cuba we saw. Music everywhere. People happy getting by and trying to do the best they can. People grateful for contact with tourists from North America. The hotel was an amazing historical site. Although there were newer, and perhaps glitzier hotels, the ability to stay in the historic Hotel Nacional was wonderful. The hotel, like a lot of Cuba, was a “faded rose” – still a rose, but with some of the bloom removed due to its age and due to the embargo and maybe government regulations. Our guide, Grency, and all the ancillary guides were great, patient, and made us feel comfortable and welcome. The group of people we travelled with was very compatible. We got along better than any other trip I have ever been on, as we all had no false expectations. The art museum deserved a whole day, and it would have been wonderful just to get a walking tour of all the artist sites and graffiti.

We picked up a little here and there, but art was everywhere, and it made us happy just to see it and hear the music. The private restaurants we ate at were wonderful. The state restaurants we ate at with the tour were passable, with the exception of El Patio, as mentioned before. There was a bit too much rum on the trip (I could never say no when a glass was shoved in my face, even at 9 AM). I wish that the Jazz Fest was more forthcoming with a schedule sooner than the day before so we could all make plans. I wish that Jazz Fest had a program with descriptions of the types of music that each group played, what instruments, a short biography of the artists, etc. And I was particularly disappointed in that there was no “traditional” big band Cuban music (such as Buena Vista Social Club, or Celia Cruz, etc.). Some of the other tours had opportunities to see them at different venues during the week, but the Jazz Fest concerts that we had the opportunity to see were more straight ahead jazz.

Sandra Pettway, New York, New York
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I want to express my sincere gratefulness on the hospitality of the people of Cuba. I have high praises for the tour guide Ariannet. She is superb, very knowledgeable and made everything so easy for us. Your country is beautiful! I came home both excited and contented at the same time. I hope to return soon

Leslie Nelson, Tucson, Arizona
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I loved Havana! The buildings were just beautiful, particularly the old ones. I found the people very helpful and nice always. We liked our guide; she was always very considerate and very “up” all the time. My only suggestion is on a nine-day tour there should be one complete day with nothing planned. That would allow people to go back to favorite places, lounge by the pool, sleep in or do whatever they wanted. Other than that I loved the tour. If I were ten years younger or so, would plan to go back.

Nolan Col, Gainesville, Florida
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Got in last night after spending a couple of days in the Yucatan. Here are a few first blush impressions of Cuba: Vibrant enchanting communities. Racially harmonious culture. Pronounced poverty. Crumbling infrastructure. Music seeming to emanate from every quarter. Openhearted generous people. Indomitable proud spirit. Viva Cuba. Overall, our trip was a delicious experience. Cuba Explorer is first rate. Liliana is an articulate, knowledgeable and resourceful guide. Both she and Alberto are warm, caring, genuine people. It was a pleasure to spend time in the company of such consummate professionals. On a minor note, the laundry service in the Hotel Nacional was too good. Regardless of what I wrote on the bags or told staff every item came back washed and ironed!

Ann Stuart, Durham, North Carolina
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I loved Cuba. It is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited. The Cuban people were unfailingly polite and kind. I also loved the Spanish Classical architecture of the old buildings along with the tropical setting – just gorgeous! And everywhere music! Our guide Grency was excellent, very charming and knowledgeable. I was disappointed that we were not able to visit Hemingway’s old home but I understand it was closed for a movie project.

Adrianna Greene, New York, New York
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Cuba called me back. I was there 12 years ago, mainly because of the people and the culture. The people are welcoming gentle and caring. For example, ladies called out to us as we were crossing the street at the wrong time. The welcoming senior citizen choir made my heart swell. I had no problems. I would love a direct flight from JFK to La Habana. Feliz año nuevo, gracias por todo!

Beverly McLaughlin, Durham, North Carolina
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

My time in Havana, Cuba was much more wonderful and complex than I could have imagined, far exceeding any attempt at verbal description! However, in a simple attempt to share a few words, I would say that the people were friendly and courteous, the food, especially seafood, was fresh and tasty, and I was “awe struck” with the old architectural structures and new developments. The music and art scenes in Havana were exceptional, about which I was consistently delighted! The Hotel Nacional, where we stayed for our nine-day tour, was clean, comfortable, historic and beautiful, and is where I will surely return for my next visit, with friends in tow! I really can’t say enough about how satisfied I was with my experience with Cuba Explorer.

Both stateside and while in Cuba, information given was generally thorough and accurate. Our guide was very approachable and did all she could to create a caring, helpful and welcoming atmosphere. Our group, collectively, was fabulous! Thank you Havana, and thank you Cuba Explorer. I am grateful! An exception is the following: I would be definitive that tourists who return to the U.S. via Cancun make at least an overnight stay in Cancun versus attempting at all to make a connecting flight on the same day.

Harriet and William Yelon, Columbia, Missouri
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Lillian our tour guide was absolutely the best ever. She answered questions above and beyond the call of duty and always took a count of the participants, made sure we got to where we were going and would highly recommend her for any tour. I loved Cuba. The people are very warm, friendly and want to assist you in anyway. I enjoyed everything we visited on the tour, as it was my first time. It gave me a good perspective on what’s happening now in Cuba. The lunches provided at the different venues were excellent and the service as well. The bus driver Alberto was also excellent. As a sociologist I have always been interested in Cuba and couldn’t wait for it to open up with travel as it did. My excitement overrides little problems of the tour. Just to be able to go was amazing. I would have stayed longer if I didn’t have to get back to Columbia for relatives coming. The memories are important to me.

We brought a bag of essentials for a particular person and she got received that. How wonderful to be able to do something for someone with so little. I left everything behind that I had in clothes to Lillian for her family, tipped with enthusiasm and was sorry I couldn’t have done more. I am hoping, like everyone else that the embargo is completely lifted but can also see the problems it presents for Cuba. What an opportunity and thank you for providing that. Happy New Year to you.

William Fay and Jacqueline Carrera, Skillman, Ew Jersey
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

We had an amazing trip, thank you for helping to arrange it. The most important feedback I can offer is that our tour guide, Grency, was fabulous. She did a superb job at educating us, making it fun, and managing a very diverse group of travelers. It was the trip of a lifetime. Havana is like an old European city transported to the Caribbean, with its classic architecture, large, cobblestone squares, art, history, and culture. We can’t wait to return one day. We were also able to establish the first contact in four decades with Jackie’s Cuban cousins in Havana. We brought back many wonderful photos, a few of which are attached here.

Nita Bryant and Amir Azmar, Los Angeles, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Our tour guide was very informative, helpful and she worked well with the group. We liked the trip so well that we are planning to send about 15 others on the trip next year with your organization.

Patricia Scheans, Portland, Oregon
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

I thought it went very well. Our guide was excellent! The Hotel Presidente was clean and nice in an antique way, and it was close to the Jazz concert venues, so we could walk, which was great. Combining the jazz festival with the cultural tour was brilliant. The arts and music focus really brought out the culture. Some days were a little too busy. The Art Museum needed more time (or less time with a guide and just let people roam at their own pace). The day out at Las Terrazas was extra great, as was the visit to Fúster’s house. I struggled at first with having enough information about flights, but Graciella helped with this. All of our paperwork was available in a timely manner. Coming back, we were asked by customs about having been in Cuba, but we told him our purpose and that we had our license, and we were fine. We were lucky and had great seats for all the shows, which were fantastic.

Larry Daniels, Salinas, California
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Visiting Cuba is not for the fainthearted but I think one cannot find a better place to meet upbeat and determined people trying to make a better life for their children in the face of daunting adversity. Music, dance and art are thriving in spite of an oppressive government that is failing to provide some of the essentials of life. I feel sadder but wiser as a result of this trip and am determined to do what I can to influence our government to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. I could not imagine a better guide than Liliana. She is dependable, fluent and articulate in English, smart and well informed and clearly concerned about our comfort and enjoyment of our Cuban experience. She and the driver, Alberto, are both simpatico. Highlights for me included the organic farm, Las Terrazas, a dance performance my wife and I attended on our own, a young and talkative cab driver we met, the desperate mother we helped by purchasing some diapers and milk for her sick child. Viva los Cubanos!

Antonietta Corvasce and Stephen Goldstein, Washington, Dc
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

We are a well-traveled couple and found our trip to Cuba an amazing experience. Although the country is stuck in time, there is beauty in the people, architecture and overall culture. We were fortunate to be there for the annual Jazz Festival, an incredible treat. Much of the Cuban art is passionate and complex. As first timers, it was necessary to visit most sites. At times it was too touristy. Our visit to the organic farm was a highlight. Although we traveled over three hours to Viñales Valley, it was well worth it. The beauty of the countryside and the Mural de la Prehistoria gave us another positive perspective on Cuba. Perhaps most important, our tour guide Alden and driver Julio could not have been better. We will highly recommend a visit to all our friends. Best for the New Year.

Sandra J. Price, New York, New York
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

This was my second year visiting Cuba with your organization and Rosa Bland. I enjoyed myself so much the first time I had to go again. I have no complaints, as all the accommodations were excellent including hotel, restaurants tour guide and driver. The Cuban people are exceptionally polite, honest and accommodating. I left my camera in a restaurant and was assured that it would be there when I returned the next day. Yes, it was there. Happy New Year.

Maarten and Mavis Hemsley, Duxbury, Massachusetts
Havana jazz fest plus, December 2012
Satisfaction

Mavis and I returned last night from our trip. Thanks for all your help. We had a wonderful time and Liliana, our guide, was great. All the best for the holidays and new year. Liliana

From Mavis: Adding to Maarten’s email, I just wanted to say what a pleasure Liliana was. She was a great guide, full of enthusiasm and really connected with the whole group. Her knowledge of the history of the Island was outstanding, and nothing was too much trouble for her. We have been on a lot of trips where the guide seems disconnected, but not so in Lilly’s case. Although she is young, she has a great future ahead of her in tourism. She is a credit to the company. Please pass this along to your colleagues in Cuba. Many thanks and a happy new year.