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Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

Richmond, VA
Level Contributor
63 posts
4 reviews
Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

I've found a number of companies that offer "legal" people to people packages to Cuba. Any thoughts/experience with any of these? I just don't want to get scammed.

Authentic Cuba/Cuba Explorer (seems like same company but 2 different websites?)

Insight Cuba

Apple Vacations

Intrepid Travel

Or any others that are good or should be avoided?

19 replies to this topic
bethesda, md
Level Contributor
36 posts
27 reviews
1. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

SmarTours and Road Scholar offer guided trips. Given that independent travel is now possible for US citizens, it is much less expensive and more flexible. The 8 night SmarTours trip was the cheapest I found at $3999. I checked with my 3 companions after our 8 night trip that included more travel (Havana 2 nights, Vinales 2 nights, Trinidad 2 nights and Havana 2 nights cost us less than $1800 each. It included Southwest Airlines from Washington, DC to Havana and return (which included Cuban health insurance and exit fee), visa, 8 nights in very nice casas, all meals, drinks and coffees at cafes, admission tickets to museums, Hemingway hotel room, art galleries in Havana, and a Cuban music concert in Trinidad, a private 1/2 tour guide in Havana, a private guided 4 hour horseback ride with visit to a tobacco farm in Vinales, a cave tour, pedicab, taxi and coco taxi rides, souvenirs, private taxi airport transfers and between cities and to the beach in Trinidad, and the last 2 days in Havana, excellent seats for the show at the Tropicana and dinner at a restaurant Obama visited, and a fancy restored convertible ride along the Malecon and back to the casa on our final morning in Havana. We ate breakfast at our casas and dinners too in Vinales. In Havana and Trinidad, we found the nicest private restaurants we could and chose what we wanted to eat and drink. I used Insight Guide for inspiration, culture, and photos and Frommer's Easy Cuba for more up to date information.

United States
Level Contributor
10 285 posts
273 reviews
2. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

Apple covers the whole world so I would not consider them to have much experience in Cuba...Insight has been around forever but remember each of these companies uses a local tour operator on the ground and just double that price to book with the US name.

Dartmouth, Canada
Level Contributor
7 760 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

For US travelers it is so much cheaper just to make your own arrangements to visit Cuba, unless you also take expensive tours to other places in the world.

Roseburg, Oregon
Level Contributor
9 posts
24 reviews
4. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

We wanted to see some of Cuba without a lot of hassle and decided on a cruise with Celestyal Cruises. Includes tours in Havana. Santiago and Cienfuegos. Seven night cruise in March

Southern Ontario
Level Contributor
1 866 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

HfxJohn: I have always wondered why Americans take 'guided tours'? I get on a plane, fly to Cuba, grab a cab, get to my destination spot. From there on, I'm on my own time. Seeing things I want to see, meeting people I want to meet, eating when I want to and drinking when I want to. I don't understand Americans who go through the guide system. And spending a day here, next day somewhere else, etc. That itinerary gives you no info on Cuba and its culture. Not to mention exorbitant fees. $1,800 for 8 days? That would easily give me at least 3 weeks (and extra money to take home for the next trip.)

United States
Level Contributor
10 285 posts
273 reviews
6. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

ref post 5...for some people guided tours are the best and I can assure you it is not just Americans all over the world that prefer this mode of travel...it is right for some people. I have the same reaction to AI that are frequented by many people especially Canadians in Cuba...a big kids camp...complete with "animation team" to help you have fun??? And pre-fab food. But some people love that. We all have our own styles of travel ...choices and none are bad. IN fact the $1800 for 8 days is on the low side compared to some US based companies.

Bordeaux, France
Level Contributor
16 posts
7. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

Hi,

With some friends I spent 10 days in cuba and we used a local company based in New York City called Cuba by Event Premiere.

Contact if you need:

cuba@eventpremiere.com

 

With them we reserved different cultural tours and classes and got a full itinerary to justify this type of Visa at the immigration.

Here are some possible ideas for Educational activities :

- Cooking class / Religion and rumba class

- Salsa Class / Spanish class 

- Architectural tour with a university teacher

- Walking tour of the cuban markets, food tour, art gallery tours ..

I do recommend this one !

United States
Level Contributor
10 285 posts
273 reviews
8. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

ref post 7...second time you have recommended this company...a quick look at their website indicates they are an incentive company...trying to figure out why they would be doing individual travel? And the educational classes you attended are great and I am sure fun but really not necessary at all for your "visa" but fine that you did them.

Edited: 20 February 2017, 18:32
Bordeaux, France
Level Contributor
16 posts
9. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

If I recommend once again this one it's because I really enjoyed my time in Cuba thanks to them.

Yes their main activity are incentive trips but it's also an FIT agency.

I'm just sharing my experience ! Jugi asked for agencies I give the one I used that's all.

United States
Level Contributor
10 285 posts
273 reviews
10. Re: Reputable tour companies for an American to visit Cuba?

okay no problem...my experience is that they don't like individual trips but you probably have a relationship with them...it does often taken an agency with local contacts to get some of those more intensive tours and worth a try...

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