Expert's Corner

Hello! My name is Jacqui Birchall. I am a retired Surrey (BC) high school teacher. My students and I travelled to Cuba with this wonderful people. It was an amazing experience for my students, students who cried as we left Cuba. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about how to organize your trip and any other questions you may have about Cuba. I have been lucky enough to have spent time teaching in Cuba and I have travelled extensively throughout the island. I invite you to take your classroom to Cuba with us!
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"The International Jazz Festival was amazing and we got to listen and see artist that we would never have encountered. We had heard about the music in Cuba from friends that have attended the Jazz festival in the past. Your organization of this tour made it so easy for us as we did not have to worry about planning our day. The trip was first class and our thanks again for putting together an amazing package." George & June Kawaguchi
"Thank you, I had an amazing trip with Authentic Cuba Travel. I am getting ready for a show in a few weeks, so I will send more feedback and images once that has passed. The trip itself, the studio visits and the range and quality of the art and artists we met exceeded my expectations. David, our guide, was patient, helpful, and knowledgeable. He was a good bridge between having a "tourist" view of Cuba and a facilitated, "real" view." Lynn Tomaszewski
"I just wanted to say thank you for arranging our trip to Cuba. I just got back yesterday and the trip was incredible. I LOVE Cuba and can't wait to go back. The trip was very organized, informative, and I learned so much. Alexis, our local guide, was the best-- so much knowledge!! And our driver, Ramon was so much fun. I also loved the music we had with the new group Autotiempo...it was a private show! So good!!! We had a lovely, memorable experience." Nahyon Lee
"We found Authentic Cuba Travel to be wonderfully helpful, not only with the arrangements for the Film Festival tour, but for extra add-on arrangements. As for the tour itself, a week in the Hotel Nacional and a pass to the film festival add up to pure happiness. Everything else was icing on the cake. Can’t wait until next year’s film festival!" Kathy Kahn
"The trip went absolutely wonderful. Tatiana, our tour guide, was superb and dealt with the different situations in the most professional and kind way. None of the students were in sociology, politics, economics etc. so many concepts might have been irrelevant or over their head to them or over emphasized, but this is the reason I wanted to take them to Cuba. In that perspective it was great and Tatiana was great, the many people we met were great, and the driver was outstanding." Jessica D. Cassleman, Washington State University, USA
"We were welcomed by Deacon Juan Rios in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We distributed rosaries, holy cards, medicine and financial aid to the Deacon. During our second day, we visited the "Santovenia Senior Center," a Catholic nursing home for the elderly run by Sister Consuelo Pena..." Rev. Thaddeus Dzieszko
"We all had a really good trip to Cuba. It's a fascinating country with a lot of potential for the future. The people were warm and welcoming. Mirelys was as good a guide. She couldn't have been more cooperative. Efrin, our driver was also very capable. We appreciated all that you and Authentic Cuba Travel did to make our trip so rewarding." Arthur Selkowitz
"Thanks you for providing a lovely and educational experience. The guide service was superb. We had Ileana and she was very open, knowledgeable, efficient, and just a lovely lady. You have a gem. The hotels were pleasantly comfortable. The itinerary with visits to several legal entities mixed with local history, architecture and culture was perfect." Marianne Kanning
"I think it was very well planned as a birding trip- I just wish it could have been bigger in scope, but that would have meant more time. I would have liked more music, more art, more theatre, and a chance to sit and watch and take more pictures of real people. But you can't have it all. Thanks so much for all the planning and help in getting us to this wonderful place! " Ralph Van Dusseldorp
"I must say that Mario was an excellent guide as well as Joaquin, the driver. My presentation and Al's went very well at the Jose Marti Nacional Library. I was very moved by ASCUBI (Cuban Association of Librarians) who honored me and Al for our work with Cuban librarians." Herbert Rogers, Librarian and Author
"This trip met all expectations plus so much more. Wonderful opportunity, architecture, sights and experiences. Thank you! Alex is the best –intelligent and knowledgeable. He opened Cuba for us." Linda and Jim Tonn

Reviews & Testimonials about the Cuba Real Tours by Authentic Cuba Travel

photo of Cuban people

Read Reviews and Testimonials from Authentic Cuba Travel Past Travelers of the Cuba Real Tours. Please do contact Authentic Cuba Travel if you would like to hear directly from those who have so generously traveled and published their experiences in our websites.



I want to thank you for organizing the perfect trip to Cuba! Dana and I had a wonderful time and we will definitely go back there with your company-hopefully sooner than later. Merilyis (I apologize for the botched spelling!!) was perfect.-warm, very informative, organized, timely--everything you would want a guide to be. We were very happy with the way everything went.

Diane C Nothnagel

It would be a pleasure to leave feedback on our people to people tour of Cuba. Kudos to our guide Mirelys. What a great person, both friendly, knowledgeable and professional. Because of Mirelys, this was my second trip to explore the island of friendly Cuba. And it won't be the last! Your team has done a great job in putting together a well-rounded trip. I only wished that it lasted longer. And the price was reasonable and affordable. Again, Thank you and your team. This is not the last you will hear from me.

Bret Boone

Tess and I wanted to let you know what a fantastic trip you put together for us. We were thrilled and happy to be on the tour everyday. Thank you so much.

I wanted to let you know a couple of things that we discovered on the tour.

No matter how wonderful are the sites and sights and hotels and travels and meals and music and everything else; the tour guide makes or breaks the trip. Eric (Erek?) Garcia was personable, knowledgeable, prepared, very adept at getting all the travelers together, and funny. He took care of us and made certain everyone was having a good time...all the time. I believe he said he worked for HavanaTours. Keep him in mind and request him as often as possible for your tour arrangements. All your travelers will be happy.

The same should be said of our driver, Manolito. He is an excellent and safe driver and was always on time. He kept the bus spotless, inside and out.

We talked with travelers at our hotel who were on other tours who did not have the same happy time as did all of us. One other group was dumped at the Presidente on their first day and not picked up again until the third day. They were very jealous of us and our itinerary.

Speaking of the itinerary, I would have loved to spend at least half a day at the cemetery and at least half a day at the Jaimanitas Beach Club. Most of our group felt the same.

I'll be back with you the next time I visit Cuba!

Thanks again.

Barbara Phillips

I had never been on a group tour before and was very skeptical about getting stuck with a group of boring people for 8 days. Thankfully, I was wrong and lucky, because this group turned out to be very intelligent, well educated, well traveled and congenial. There wasn't a single dispute during the whole time we were in Cuba which is incredible. I believe that we all had a great time and really enjoyed the tour.

Our tour guide Erick Garcia was simply fantastic, great personality and knowledge of political, economical, cultural and historical facts about Cuba. Manolito, the driver, was very safe and competent. The other tour guide at Las Terrazas (don't remember his name) was very good too. The tour bus was excellent, great AC, and big tinted windows.

Loved El Nacional Hotel. Beautiful lobby and grounds and gardens. The room and bathroom were good; the beds and pillows I did not like, but I am picky about those things. Big flat screen TV with good selection of cable stations; even CNN and ESPN!

Efren Perez

Thanks for arranging this most wonderful trip. It was 'over-the-top' for me. Expectations were exceeded in every possible way. I must start with saying that Mirelys Gonzalez is terrific. She is very professional, and took care to help throughout the visit. Beautiful weather, people and interesting sites to see.

Worst part was the return connections. I was stuck in Nassau for three days ... with flight delays (over Jan. 3 through the 7th, due to winter shut down all over the east coast). Did not get home until the 7th. Then went off to work through Friday. Needless to say, I am tired, but the 'dragged out' feeling is why I am so slow to getting to write.

Enough of the negative. I will be sending a check for my missed 'tipping' shares. Seems the 'burn-rate' of monies was faster than anticipated (with souvenirs, etc.). So, I skipped 'tipping.' I will estimate an amount and send to your company this weekend. Sorry about this. Distribution by your best judgment is fine to any/all parties involved.

Jim Swartz

I just wanted to thank you for setting up our trip to Cuba. It was an amazing experience. We saw so much. I will be thinking about it for months, I know, and I hope to return to Cuba soon.

Marelys and Dago were particularly wonderful. They took such good care of our group. They worked really hard. When I woke up this morning, I was sad that I will not be hearing Marelys lovely voice again very soon. She really was outstanding, very informative, kind and funny. And the driving Dago did, was above and beyond. And the bus was so comfortable. They are both very gracious people and were wonderful hosts for Cuba. Again, muchas gracias for the experience of a lifetime.

Melissa Slattery

The Casado-McKay Family want to say Thank you, Thank You, Thank You, for the trip of a lifetime. The guide and the bus driver were wonderful they did special things for us each day. The food, lodging, bus travel, paper work were all done for us and we appreciate all the effort put into this wonderful trip. My husband had a bad case of shingles and was not able to go but says he hopes to go in the future. Thank you again for completion of my dream. Thank you

Casado-McKay Family

The tour was well planned, informative and delightful. Your company did a fine job. Mirelys and Herbie were extremely diligent, knowledgeable and accommodating to us and our fellow travelers. They were great ambassadors for Authentic Cuba Travel ! Thanks,

Jeff Lysaught

The trip was excellent; the guide first class.

Samuel A. Stern

We want you to know that we did, indeed, have a fantastic time in Cuba! It was a unique vacation and one we will cherish particularly because everywhere we went we got the impression that Cubans were welcoming an imminent change to their country. This made us grateful to witness Cuba before the unknown changes occur. Cuba is a gorgeous country, rich with history that your tour enabled us to witness.

We were very open to the adventure and what it had to offer. Your program was very comprehensive and varied so that it had something to offer everyone. We felt your agency selected a wide variety of cultural experiences. I must give Ileana huge praise in her professional background of information, her personal approach in interacting with members of our group and her flexibility in trying to accommodate the needs/desires of the group. The personal adjustments of the schedule to meet our needs was so very much appreciated.)

I thank you for all you did for us to make our trip so memorable.

Best,

Bob and Linda Magni

Well it was a fantastic trip, and again thank you for all your help in making it go so well.

Illeana met my personal expectations of a guide very well. She answered all of my questions, and she did a great job of interpreting for all the different people we visited, including a guide at the abstract art museum "The Factory". I mention this because explaining abstract art concepts in a second language is not an easy thing to do.

I myself didn't have any special needs or requests, but I benefited from the flexibility she showed our group. For example, some members of our group very much wanted to visit the cemetery, a visit that was not on our itinerary, and she made the arrangements for us to go there on a guided visit. It was very interesting, and I'm glad we went there. I believe Illeana did whatever she could to ensure us an enjoyable and safe visit in Cuba.

Anne Remillard

I wanted to let you know that it was a wonderful and unforgettable trip. It was a long wait, but the tour was excellent. It filled out my expectations and although I shouldn't talk on behalf of the rest of the people we were in the tour, we all have expressed our good comments. I guess we were all lucky to be a good group, no complains about any member of the group. We had a great time! Erik was great, so was Ricardo the bus driver, and all the Cuban people treated us well, and with a lot of love. The food in the Paladares was very good. Everything was great! The hotel some issues here and there with the toilet but you cannot be that picky in Cuba. All the places we visited were amazing, the galleries, the museum, the ISA, Vinales and Terrazas are beautiful.

I had a hard time the first 2 days emotionally to see my people, my blood, mis hermanos cubanos having a hard time financially and living in very poor condition, with lack of soap and many other things. I held my tears the 1st day in la Havana when I went to visit on my own the Central Havana, but my emotions were overcome with all the art, music and the love of people. I admire Cubans' power of living. Everyday was a learning experience for me and I guess for many of us at the group. Overall Jane, it was a super nice trip and very rewarding experience for me. We have opened a facebook page were we have posted our pictures if you are interesting to see them https://www.facebook.com/2015CubaRealTour6

Abrazos.

Margaritas Ramos

I am very happy to respond to your request for feedback regarding my recent trip to Cuba and the performance of your Authentic Cuba Travel team. I must say that I was very pleased regarding all aspects of the tour and I have already recommended it to many of my colleagues. I enjoyed talking to you personally on the telephone (and this is a rarity for me!). You answered all of my questions with clarity and accuracy.

Your written correspondence with me was always very clear and to the point. You made all of the exceptions required by my traveling through Tampa to be easy to follow, and all of the connections in Havana went smoothly.

I cannot say enough about the quality of your Cuban guide Ileana. She conducted all aspects of the tour with incredible skill and with always a pleasant attitude. She has a wonderful personality and is extremely well-informed. I have traveled in many parts of the world for over 50 years (http://www.jameswarfield.us) and I have seldom encountered a travel guide that I enjoyed more. I thanked her profusely for all of her efforts and assistance in Cuba before I left, but I left in a rush without providing any way to send her an e-mail or thank you note now that I am home. I have attached a photo of her which I took in Havana. I hope that you will share it with her.

I've also attached a photo of me with another traveler, Tom, whose last name I failed to learn. Should you have his e-mail or address in Albuquerque, I would love to have it so that I can share this photo with him.

For your interest, I am attaching to links to my website of my travels with the group in Havana.

http://www.jameswarfield.us/21-TravelsinLatinAmerica/Cuba-2014-1-of-2-Havana/

http://www.jameswarfield.us/21-TravelsinLatinAmerica/Cuba-2014-2-0f-2/

Thank you, Yane, for all the special attention that you provided and offer my congratulations to Luis and Carlos for their skill in operating a first-class service.

Best wishes,

James P. Warfield, ACSA Distinguished Professor in Architecture, Emeritus

We safely came back from our trip to Cuba after spending the night at the Holiday Inn in Toronto and picking up our car.

We enjoyed the trip and especially appreciated the care of Mirelis and her openness in explaining everything in Cuba. She was a fine leader of the tour, always available and always concerned.

I wanted to thank you for arranging the hotel room on during the last day in Cuba, that took care of things, and also for your excellent organization.

With best wishes

Philip Coppens

photo of Cuban people

The trip was terrific in so many ways. My family fell in love with the country as I knew they would. A major highlight was Alexis, our guide. He is a special guy. He loves his job. His intelligence, humor, and passion for his work, and his country made every day an education, as well as a joy. The Hotel Nacional is a lovely hotel. The staff was attentive to every need. Overall, no complaints about the accommodations, or the transportation. Our driver Noel was first rate. He was professional and gracious at all times. As far as the choices of the tour sites, all good. I was so happy for my family to see certain places that meant so much to me.

My husband said he would go back in a heartbeat and my sons would as well. That was the response I had hoped for. Cuba is like no other place in the world and my heart is there. Thank you for all your work in getting us there. You were always pleasant, professional, and incredibly helpful. You do your job exceptionally well and I really appreciated all you did to get us to that wonderful country! Regards, ‘til the next time!

Diana Canova

Thanks Yane. We had a fabulous time! Everything was perfect and was enhanced 100% by having Alex as our guide. He was so full of history, politics, so very well informed and entertaining. We feel so very fortunate. Thank you again for all your efforts in arranging this trip and we will recommend you to all. And have to recommend Alex.

Steve Alvey did find me on Linkedin. All the people on our tour were fun and fascinating as well.

Stay warm!!

Katherine Gabler

The food in the paladors was wonderful and reasonable. No extra spices were needed anywhere. Our evening at El Madrigal was great from the food to the music. The art museum was fabulous. Unfortunately we had to rush through it. I could have stayed another hour. There was no guide available but fortunately, Ileana was knowledgeable and gave us a tour. She was often able to jump in when needed. We were lucky she is so knowledgeable about everything. Of course, it did take a toll on her voice! We thoroughly enjoyed meeting with Miguel Coyula and learned a lot. Our tour guide, Oriol, at Los Terrazos was the best I have ever encountered in all my travels. Once again we had to rush thorough it. We not only had had no time to swim - not that it would have worked out logistically anyway - but we could have spent more time learning from Oriol. The architecture in Havana is so beautiful that it makes me sad to see it in such a state of disrepair. The artists we visited and their work was amazing and I did buy some treasures to bring home.

Overall, I do have a new appreciation for Cuba and fear for it's future. Everything is starting to loosen up there and I would hate to see it become another Cancun or Miami beach. I think there was a lot packed into our allotted time - we probably should have had one more day added onto the tour to slow the pace a little- maybe arrive on Sat. rather than Sun. Thank you for all your patience and providing us with an eye opening tour of Cuba.

Sondra Nuzzolo

Absolutely loved the trip. Our guide Raydalis was fantastic...adorable. She was intelligent, full of knowledge, accommodating and lots of fun. She never lost her cool even when dealing with an occassional difficult person. I give her high marks. She is a keeper! Lovely person!!

Not much feedback. I am not if it is worth trading American dollars to Canadian then to Cuban pesos? Two transaction fees. Not sure if it offsets the 10 per cent charge on American dollars. In the rural areas they would accept American dollars but not Canadian. Maybe they are stockpiling American dollars as an investment. Might need to do the math and see which makes sense. At first we were a bit thrown off by double transaction fees.

One traveler brought baseball cards for the kids which went over very well. Might want to add to your list of things to bring. They don't take up very much space and the kids went crazy over them!

Thanks for a wonderful trip. Obviously there was a lot of planning on your company's behalf to make for a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Kind Regards,

Mary Park

photo of Cuban people

@Photos posted on this webpage our courtesy of Authentic Cuba Travel tour participant Al Carlay, and can not be reproduced or published without explicit permission from the owner.

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