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USA Cuba Travel Regulations Explained
USA Cuba Legal Travel
On September 24, 2020, the Department of The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published the new amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR part 515. None of the existing 12 categories of Cuba legal travel have been eliminated, the US embassy in Havana will remain open and commercial flights will continue to Havana only. Learn more about the updated
Cuba Travel Regulations
"First of all, our trip to Cuba turned out to be one of the outstanding experiences of my life. It far exceeded my expectations. Initially, the main reason for going was the music, but as it turned out, seeing the culture, seeing the people, meeting the people, interacting with some of our fellow travelers and other attractions dominated." Fred Friedman
"Kudos to our guide Mirelys. This was my second trip to explore the island of friendly Cuba with Authentic Cuba Travel®. 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." Bret Boone
"Photographing in Cuba is a photographer's paradise. I had an excellent time and very pleased with the tour, hotels, restaurants and the service of our local guide David Camps Rodriguez. Contact between Authentic Cuba Travel® worked very well as our communication increased as the tour got closer and all questions and needs were met. Cuba is a fantastic experience and my return through USA customs was very smooth and easy." Betty Lark Ross
"We thank Authentic Cuba Travel® for making our trip to Cuba work so smoothly. We appreciated your professional assistance, but also your continual availability to answer any and all questions before we left. We would certainly look to you again for future Cuba travel." Anita & Jim Hadley
"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
"Our trip to Cuba was unbelievable and I have only one word to describe it ILEANA. Her knowledge of the country and her openness made the education components of the trip so wonderful for our students. She also could be tough when needed to protect our students and gentle when they need encouragement. The students all loved her and our bus drive. Hotels and staffs were great! " S. Kent Miller, Culver-Stockton College
"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
"Our judicial Cuba trip was absolutely fantastic in every way--a trip of a lifetime. But I would be remiss if I did not tell you that our tour guide, Iliana, was so fantastic that I am still shaking my head in awe. I think she could single handedly re-establish diplomatic relations between beautiful Cuba and US. Your itinerary and lectures were so thoughtfully put together. It was a fabulous trip." Martha Simonet
"Seeing so much of the country was wonderful. Happening upon the sugarcane harvest was wonderful. I am glad we got to see the main birds we hoped to see- but the birding itself was the least important part of the trip. Another highlight was our last night together- we could not have been in a better place (Chez...)- great meal, fun waitstaff, great company. Well done! " Ralph Van Dusseldorp
Thank you so much to Yane and everyone at Authentic Cuba Travel®. My trip in February to the International Book Fair was everything I wanted and more. The local tour guide was so helpful and informative. The entire Authentic Cuba team took care of us the entire week and made sure we had a safe, enjoyable week in Cuba! Not only would I recommend Authentic Cuba, but I'll probably travel with them again. Feel free to give my name and number to anyone with questions about your services. Angela Baldree, Librarian
"I can think of only positive things to say regarding your organization and the trip to Cuba. Your communication and attention to detail is spot on. I lacked nothing during my week in Cuba. You prepared us well. Our tour guide, Alexis, was the perfect blend of professionalism, knowledge, and sense of humor. I had a fabulous time and have no complaints. The Paladars in Havana are wonderful, we ate excellent food. The Paladar by the sea and lighthouse in Cienfuegos while visually beautiful could use some help with their food. Well done, Authentic Cuba Travel®. Kathryn Dohn

Reviews & Testimonials about the Havana Jazz Festival Cuba Tours by Authentic Cuba Travel®



The above movies were shot during Authentic Cuba Travel® Official Cuba Tour to the Havana Jazz Festival 2011 by tour participant Orville Teising. We invite all those looking for reviews on Authentic Cuba Travel® to watch them as they are the best graphic testimonials ever! Authentic Cuba Travel® is forever grateful to Orville Teising for such a nice work.

Read Reviews and Testimonials from Authentic Cuba Travel® Past Travelers to the International Jazz Festival of Havana. 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





2011

First of all, our trip to Cuba turned out to be one of the outstanding experiences of my life. It far exceeded my expectations. Initially, the main reason for going was the music, but as it turned out, seeing the culture, seeing the people, meeting the people, interacting with some of our fellow travelers and other attractions dominated.

Our Cuban guide was Jorge Perez. I cannot say enough good things about him. He was knowledgeable, humorous, smart, patient and flexible. A couple people in the group wanted to visit a hospital, and he arranged it. There was a special concert at The Havana Jazz Cafe that several people wanted to attend, and he made reservations.

There were many highlights, but one I really enjoyed was our meeting with architect Miguel Coyula and the scale model of Havana. Miguel had so much information to convey. Listening to his personal opinions (and those of Jorge and Alexis) really added to the presentation. No one seemed to water down their remarks.

When it comes up while discussing our trip with friends, I will be telling them nothing but positive things about Authentic Cuba Travel. You did an outstanding job. Thanks so much for helping to make this such a memorable trip.

Fred Friedman

Reviews & Testimonials On Havana Jazz Festival Cuba Tour by Authentic Cuba Travel®
Tour participants Anna Cortes and Rolando Ruiz (backseat) took amazing photos during the Havana Jazz Festival Cuba Tour! Thank you for sharing your great photos and nice reviews on the trip by Authentic Cuba Travel®! Photo courtesy of Anna Cortes.
The tour was fantastic..

it was well planned out, the places we visited were engaging..

Jorge, our guide, was wonderful, knowledgeable, punctual with a great sense of humour and he even looked like Silvio!

Again, Cuba and the tour that Authentic Cuba Travel® organized was great......Cuba always is!

Thanks again,

Ana Cortes and Rolando Ruiz


Tour participants George and June Kawaguchi shot this amazing movie on all Cuba Jazz Festival venues they attended as part of the Official Cuba Tour to the Havana Jazz Festival by Authentic Cuba Travel®. Video courtesy of George and June Kawaguchi.
June and I were absolutely delighted with the package that Authentic Cuba Travel® put together. We were particularly impressed with our Cuban guides Alexis and Jorge. We learned so much about Cuba on this trip because of their knowledge and interaction. Alexis's enthusiasm and love of Cuba was very contagious and his quality service to the group was second to none. We covered so much information that we would never had done on our own.

His knowledge of the history, culture, politics, architecture, arts, education, etc. was amazing.

He took time to answer all questions raised by the tour group and was so helpful in meeting the needs of everyone. He definitely went beyond the call of duty and exceeded our expectations. We had a great group of people in our tour and also met many from the other tour that we enjoyed. The meals exceeded our expectations as we had heard from friends that Cuban food was not tasty. I think that the connections of our guides made this a memorable experience.

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 International 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. Everything was done for us with the exception of our free time. The trip was first class and our thanks again for putting together an amazing package.

We will pass on your site to our friends that are thinking of travelling to Cuba in the near future.

George and June Kawaguchi

Rochelle and I have traveled throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe, sometimes on tours, and believe that makes us good judges of the quality of tours, the extensive planning required for a trouble-free tour, and also the quality of a tour guide. In terms of tours, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, you rate an 11 (eleven) for quality of the tour, 11 (eleven) for a hassle-free tour, and a 12 (TWELVE) for tour guides!!!!! In other words, off the charts. Each evening in Cuba we would finish a day and be amazed as the information we received, the things we saw, and the experiences we had.

The Jazz music experience was outstanding, including Alex's special arrangement for seats at a nightclub. Whenever the group, or part of the group, expressed a desire to go someplace to see or experience something, Alex was right there to make all the plans, and then follow-up to ensure they worked as expected. With the well-used, "T.I.C.", we had almost no This Is Cuba problems with the things Alex and Jorge arranged for us. They are truly amazing.

You were extremely wise to start our tour with the model replica of Habana and the presentation of the history, demograophy, and geology of the city. It made everything that followed all the more interesting and understandable.

Especially important, and one of the biggest surprises was Pena de Santa Amalia. An absolute delight and an opportunity to mingle with truly remarkable, joyful senior citizens. Be SURE to include those types of things in all your tours.

I know you will get lots of feedback from Alex's group because we are already networking by email because we all had such a positive experience. And speaking of Alex, I can't say enough good things about him. An extremely knowledgable guide, a connected Cuban who always knew who best to contact for whatever was needed, a dellightful sense of humor, a tireless worker on his cell phone checking and double-checking everything, extremely responsive to every issue and problem raised by one of our group about a hotel room, food issue, transportation, etc, and ready to laugh and have a good time at the drop of a hat. How he kept his high level of energy for 9 days amazed us all.

So thank you for all the behind the scenes work your staff in Canada and Cuba did for us. There is no way a group of 25 or 50 people can go to a third world country for 10 days with a full itinerary and have it trouble free. Except for this trip. (The hotels still have a long way to go to provide a first class experience, but then, you aren't responsible for that and This Is Cuba.)

Thank you for exceeding our expectations and providing a truly memorable experience,

Orv and Rochelle Teising

I want to thank Authentic Cuba Travel® for making everything so easy, organized and informative. I lucked up on the roommate it worked out well. Everyone on the trip said you are the best organizers. I totally agree!

Jorge, our Cuban guide was one of the best parts of the trip. He is wonderful! He and his compadre Alexis were consummate guides. I would recommend your Jazz Cuba tour to anyone.

It's terrible we can't cross borders easily. I will contact my officials about lifting the embargo for families to visit one another. Much thanks.

Dakota Sands


During the Cuba Tour to the Havana Jazz Festival, tour participants Rochelle Harringer, Harriet Ravetz and others rock Havana! This video is a testimonial of events :) It was shot during a lunch at Cafe Taberna that was arranged by Authentic Cuba Travel®. Do not miss the many reviews on Authentic Cuba Travel®(below). Video Video courtesy of tour participant, Orville Teising.

Thank you, thank you....Our trip to Cuba will certainly be remembered as one of a lifetime.

We were incredibly lucky to have Jorge as our guide. I was deeply moved by his passion, and love for his country...his pride and knowledge was amazing.

We learned so much about Cuba and her history, even some of our history that isn't printed in our history books!!! sad.....Can't say enough about that guy. He's brilliant!

Cuba is a beautiful country, and her people are wonderful. Those that we had the privilege of sharing such a short time with will remain a great memory. We were really impressed with all the young musicians we encountered...the quality of their education, and playing is impressive. We felt privileged to see and hear them because they will be the big names in the future.

How fortunate are we to have had this opportunity. Roberto Fonseca, fantastic! Wow!!! Gonzalo Rubalcaba..Beautiful! Eman Lopez-Nussa, Oh my god!!!! I loved Jorge Luis Pacheco, one of the young talents we saw at the Hotel Cohiba. I cannot possible put in words how much I was touched by this wonderful trip. Along with great memories, we were able to bring back lots of their music. We love it, and will play it forever.

I sincerely hope to return to Cuba again. I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience it now....I know changes are sure to come...I can only hope they will be for the better...I know I will forever be enriched by my experience there. I will treasure my memories.

Rochelle Harringer

Joe and I want to express our tremendous thanks for putting together a phenomenal trip to Cuba. Not only was the Jazz festival amazing, but all the other unique details of the trip were wonderfully executed.

We also can't say enough positives about Alex. His insights, commentaries on what we were seeing, and perspective on life in Cuba also made the trip remarkable. He really took extra steps whenever possible to make our trip unique and tailored to where our interests were.

Just a few of the highlights for us were:

* meeting Miguel Coyula at the scale model- a perfect introduction to Havana;
* visiting and dancing with the members of the Pena de Santa Amalia (hadn't any idea what that was going to be, but definitely loads of fun);
* Las Terrazas and coffee at Maria's (want a franchise of her coffee in the US!);
* lunch, music and dancing (I'll probably end up on Youtube!) at Cafe Taberna;
* hearing Roberto Fonseca at the Jazz Cafe (he's one of our favorites);
* hearing the many talented musicians in a variety of venues;
* special dinner in Trinidad (awesome food and setting); and
* just experiencing all that Cuba has to offer.

I would highly recommend Authentic Cuba Travel® to anyone inquiring. Feel free to use us as a reference. The people on our tour were fantastic companions. We enjoyed traveling with each and every one of them, and amazingly, have already gotten together with some of them!

Again, many thanks for one of our most remarkable vacations that we will long remember. Oh, and who was responsible for the champagne and birthday cake in celebration of my birthday???? One more special touch!!!

Harriet & Joe Ravetz.

I just returned from the Jazz Tour in Havana with trips to Cienfuegos and Trinidad. First, I want to thank you, Yane for your excellent customer service. You succeeded in making me feel comfortable as a US citizen every step of the way. You answered all of my questions promptly and thoroughly. Everything went smoothly and I will recommend Authentic Cuba Travel® to all of my friends.

Jorge was my tour guide and he was the BEST. We all loved him for his knowledge of Cuba, his love of the island and the great way that he cared for us. He went out of his way to accommodate our wishes and made the trip lots of fun. His personality is perfect for his job. Cuba was a wonderful experience. I cannot wait to return.

Many thanks to you and your colleagues.

Jean C. Matthews.

Got back from Cuba yesterday and had a terrific trip. The music, food and tour guide were excellent saw a lot of Cuba and learned a great deal about the culture . The people on the tour were great as well I will certainly recommend the Havana Jazz Festival trip and Authentic Cuba Travel® to others.

John (Sandy) Mackenzie

Relaxing in Las Terrazas during Cuba Jazz Trip.
A day trip to Las Terrazas Eco- Community seems like a good recharging option after a exciting night at Mella Theatre during the Havana Jazz Festival. These photos by Authentic Cuba Travel® tour participant, Sue Pearce are great reviews on the Cuba tour. Do not miss Sue Pearce Gallery!
I have been fortunate to travel all over the world in my lifetime, and this trip to Cuba ranks in the top three. Seeing Africa for the first time, seeing the Vatican for the first time and now Cuba for the first time. Words cannot describe how wonderful Cuba is...

Jorge was a large part of our group and really was professional and very knowledgeable not only of his country, but the world as well.

Jorge told Lisa and I that people who were helping us have a great time would be compensated. We are so glad of that.

Visiting the Pena de Santa Amalia was an absolute delight. I cannot wait to return.

Thanks for organizing a great trip!

Sue Pearce



I had a wonderful time. Jorge was exceptionally sweet, Alexis was the perfect guide, and Jesus (our bus driver) was the absolute best--and very cute. Seriously, they took such good care of us. I always felt safe and in good and knowledgable hands.

I went on the jazz tour, but the highlight for me was the cultural tour. Each day I learned something new and gained new insight on what I already know. I would gladly do another tour with Authentic Cuba! My only request would be to have Alexis, or someone with his experience, as a guide. Please don't misunderstand -- even though the cultural tour was my highlight, the music was off the hook! Very good, indeed.

Please tell everyone--especially those behind the scenes whom I've never met--that this was the best. I received way more than I expected. Thank you.

If you ever need a reference, I'd be happy to tell anyone about my wonderful experience in Cuba with Authentic Cuba Travel®.

And a very big thank you to you, Yane. I'm not sure if I would have done this without your guidance. You were my first contact at Authentic Cuba Travel® and you immediately won me over.

Kara Meredith

I am so pleased that part of the trip's revenues are helping people in Havana. We had an enormously rich experience in Cuba, learned so much, laughed so much and even danced a bit.

We can't adequately say enough about Authentic Cuba Travel®, the help and support you provided during preparation for the trip. And, during our visit, the care and extraordinary insights Alex provided, his enthusiasm was never ending, his follow-up no matter how big or small a request never waned.

Jesus' driving skill added to his warm personality and made the bus rides more than pleasing. We felt safe in his care throughout the trip. Jorge made both groups feel as one.

In summary, your organization is "Triple A".

Ellen and I are discussing a return next year and have already promoted your organization to friends contemplating a visit to Cuba. I will endeavour to post our pictures as soon as I finish editing. Thank you and everyone for all you did to make this trip a highlight event of all our travels.

Neil Fox & Ellen Rudley

2012

Hi Yane--while things are fresh in my mind I thought I would take a moment and drop you a line and give you some feedback. Let me first say that Freda and I had a wonderful time and are very pleased that we went on this trip. Also let me say that the effort that you and your company put forth to make this a trip one that we will remember for a long time is commendable. Authentic Cuba Travel® did a great job and we thank you.

The Tour--Israel was fantastic--he was knowledgeable, fun, good command of the English language and always made you feel that he would do anything to help make your trip enjoyable and did. Your bus was clean and comfortable. Freda and I thought the itinerary was wonderful and always informative. We understand that at times things happen that one doesn't expect but Israel always came thru with the solution and there were no disappointments. Great Tour!

We wish you and yours a happy and healthful new year and all the best.

Freda & Frank Kaplan

We really did have a wonderful time and we are impressed with how well taken care of we all felt, from start to finish.

Authentic Cuba Travel® did a superb job helping us to prepare for this trip. Alex was not only our educator, but it is clear that he cares deeply about his country and helping those who are less fortunate than he is. I really admire him for that. Jeff and I are actually thinking of going back in the not too distant future. We want to go to Santiago de Cuba. So along with my mom, I would certainly recommend Authentic Cuba Travel® to anyone who asks for a referral (already have to some friends).

I am not quite sure what sort of photos you are looking for. Here is a link to my set. If you want to use any of them, let me know, and I will email you the original (for higher quality)

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151328543209679.494056.810364678&type=1&l=cb653ea4d0

By the way, Mom made it through NY customs with no questions asked. Jeff and I were pulled over by customs and they asked to see our papers!! Thank goodness we had them. They quickly flipped through them, did not search our luggage, asked a couple of questions, and sent us on our way. Chuck, who was ahead of us, was not stopped. They asked us if we were with a group and we said no. I wonder if that was why they pulled us over.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the holidays. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.

Sincerely,

Carol Morris

We had a wonderful time in Cuba thanks to you guys and our great guide, Alexis Hernandez.

After nearly 30 years of working in heritage and cultural tourism, I can truthfully say that Alexis Hernandez is the best guide I’ve ever experienced in any country, able to translate not just language but culture and the soul of Cuba. His willingness to go the extra mile to help each of us, his indefatigable energy and good nature – he is a prize.

The adjustments you guys made to our itinerary at the last minute brought added value – the art museum, the children’s theater were highlights of the trip.

We’ll send some photos soon.

One small issue to bring up, so you can bring it to the attention of any US folks entering Cuba from Nassau: we discovered there’s a $67.50 departure tax from Nassau to Havana. Yikes! They said it had been included in the ticket for our return, but not for our departure. I found it very high and more than odd, but this was not the time to fight it. Later, looking on the web, it seems there is a $15 departure tax for most flights, and inexplicably the $67.50 one for Havana only. We might have chosen to enter via Cancun had we known.

We’re already thinking ahead to our next Cuba adventure, definitely with you guys!

Mary Means + Archene Turner

First of all, I must tell you that we had a wonderful trip, as usual (this being our third trip with you). Every day was filled with interesting and fun activities. Our tour guide, Israel, was a lot of fun and very knowledgeable. We were fortunate also to have a great group of people to travel with for the week.

Since this is our third Jazz Festival trip we were pleased to have some variations to the itinerary e.g. the trip to Cienfuegos and Trinidad. We really enjoyed the visit to the home of the local Cubans and enjoyed dancing with them.

About the jazz festival itself, of course it was a treat to listen to Chucho and Roberto Fonseca. I did find though that it would have been helpful if we were given information on some of the local festivities that were happening in Havana. It was too late when we found out about an interesting street festival that happens on the Sunday during the day. All in all it was a great trip.

Myrna and Peter Tydd

Authentic Cuba Travel® provided a lifetime of exquisite experiences during our Friends University Companions excursion to Cuba. Cuba left an unforgettable impression. The country is beautiful as are her people. Our tour group had the opportunity to be seated only rows away from the stage for the famous International Havana Jazz Festival 2012 at several of the venues. This was only one of the many highlights. Other highlights included a tour of the National Museum of Fine Arts which encapsulates Cuban history and identity through stunning Cuban art. Also, included was the outstanding outing at the natural wonders of Cueva Del Indio in Western Cuba. Education, music, dancing, art, adventure, natural wonders and new friendships await you in Cuba. Viva our Cuban tour!

Vicki Cruz, Wichita, KS

Yane, thank you for everything that was provided on our Cuba journey. Our guide Jorge and coach driver were the best. Everyone enjoyed getting to know more about Cuba and its people. Hope to work with you in the future.

Bobbi Hansen

Being just back I trying to catch up with things and have family visiting for a few days. It was a wonderful trip and I am happy to share thoughts in a while.

Wishing you and all the great people who made this tour so great a very happy new year!

Lois Greenberg

Just wanted to let you know Doby and I are back in DC- returned last night from Cuba. All we can say is that we had an absolutely amazing time (and this goes for Mary and Archene)- so much so that we are already planning our next trip to Cuba- it is a beautiful country. All arrangements were great and Alex, our tour guide was simply wonderful and left a terrific impression on all in Group 1.

We cannot say enough about Alex- his passion for Cuba came across in his extensive knowledge and insight. We had no problems with immigration coming through Nassau and the officer asked no questions about our research. Nor were our bags checked. The only down was that when leaving Nassau to Havana (Dec 16), we had to pay in cash, $67 US per person as departure tax. This tapped into our US funds for Cuba as it was an unplanned expense, and we wish we had known about it. Fortunately, everyone had taken adequate funds, so we were fine.

Doby and I wish to thank you very much for all your assistance, and the very professional and thorough manner in which all communications/arrangements were made via ACT. We will highly recommend ACT to friends and family, and plan to use ACT again for our next Cuba trip. Please keep us informed of any special trips, itineraries to Cuba in the next couple of years (small groups). We would like to see Santiago (if it recovers from the hurricane) and Baracoa (sp?) per Alex's recommendations. Also, let us know where we can officially leave comments or give feedback on our trip before reality sets in (back to work next week).

Warm Regards to you and we wish you a wonderful new year!

Ravita Maharaj & Welton Dobby

Happy New Year to all of you at Authentic - personally, I thought the tour more than met my expectations. Israel is an amazing guide and provides amazing insights, was always looking out for our best interests, was amazingly knowledgeable with a wonderful sense of humor.

It was evident that everywhere we went people had a great deal of respect for him. We all felt our bus was the best. It was a smaller group of very interesting people. As a professional musician, the music was the most highly anticipated for me and I was not disappointed.

The music throughout the country and at the Festival was so diverse, traditional and was everything I thought it would be and more. I'm happy to review my photos and share with you. The extra days spent in Havana after the toure were four of the richest I have ever experienced.

I found the Cuban people extremely warm and wonderful. More later. Thank you again, Yane, for all of your help in preparing for this amazing trip. I'm set to take Spanish and return next year. I'll be in touch.

Julianne Olson

Just a few words to express my feelings about the Cuba trip. IT WAS FANTASTIC Our group was so interesting. Although I was by far the oldest I was able to keep up with everyone and I was treated like the Matriarch! Alexis was a fantastic guide and I would highly recommend him. He was very knowledgable, pleasant with a great sense of humor. and he went out of his way to see that everyone was comfortable. So thank you very much for being such a good arranger I would be happy to speak to any future travellers who are interested in your tours.I wish you and your staff a very happy New Year! Sincerely

Iris Orens

Had a great trip. So glad Sue let me know about the opportunity. Jorge’ was a great tour guide. We loved him (and I think everyone our trip did as well). He was very knowledgeable and tried to make any arrangements we requested. Trying to get caught up at work from being gone and also I am getting ready to leave this weekend to celebrate our Christmas with the rest of the family and then will be gone next weekend as well so it will probably be a few weeks before I will be able to write more about how wonderful our trip was and suggestions for future trips, etc. I also haven’t even had a chance to download or actually review my pictures, but I will.

Ashley Davis

The year is off to a hectic start but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the trip. Many thanks! Our guide Reiner and our driver were wonderful, knowledgeable, attentive and fun. I learned so much about Cuba and had a wonderful time at the jazz festival. A wonderful way to absorb Cuban culture, history and people.

I’m so glad we decided to go with Authentic Cuba Travel® and see more of Cuba than just Havana. The time in other towns was well worth the time on the road.

I’m looking forward to writing about my experiences and posting on our blog and perhaps other sources. It was wonderful. Thank you for the great service and terrific opportunity!

Donna Butts

This trip to Cuba has to rate up there with the best trips I have taken. Our guide, Jorge, could not have been any better. His intimate knowledge of not only Cuba, but world current events, provided us with excellent conversation and a better understanding of his beloved country. Our trip was action packed and some of the guests were unable to keep up the pace of all the action. Several skipped events to ‘rest up’. I would recommend to anyone a trip like the one I just experienced.

Gary Duggan

2013

I am writing to report that Eva and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Cuba, Dec 14 – 28, 2013. The accommodations were good, the daily bus tour stops always interesting and very well planned and executed. Our travelling companions were all interesting people and Alexis Herdandez Rodriguez was a most competent, informative and friendly Cuban Tour Guide; Alex really made learning about Cuba’s cities, landscape, culture and history fascinating. Even the weather and temperature was pleasant every day we were there, and all of us appreciate you arranging this to be so! Eva and I have already recommended your company and Alex Hernandez Rodriguez to others in our circle of friends and family. THANK YOU to everyone at Authentic Cuba Tours for making our trip so enjoyable!

Personally, I have always had an interest in Cuba’s social revolution and most remarkable survival under many years of U.S. economic oppression and political aggression. I took the time to read the Fidel Castro Reader while in Cuba, enjoyed the many historical museums and political exhibits and talked to Alex and other Cubans we met about the challenges of Cuban life and the changes that are now occurring to the economy and Cuban society. I learned a lot in those two weeks and am eager to return to travel Cuba from coast to coast on my own motorcycle, to experience and learn more.

Steve and Eva Alvey

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

2014

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Cuba and have said it was one of the best trips we've taken. So many things came together to make it successful. First, we loved out guide, Jorge. He was very fun and had a great way with the group. He was very knowledgeable about info within and outside of Cuba. He seemed very credible, honest and was clear when he was sharing "his opinion". He was very flexible and accommodated various people's needs and requests. He was just a great guy to spend time with. Our driver, Cristabol, also did a great job. I was especially impressed when he parallel parked our huge bus on the left side of the street!

The places and programs that we saw were interesting and informative. Our favorite was the experience with the elder dancing group. What fun and a great connection with the people. Later we saw some of them at the Jazz festival and they greeted us like long lost friends! I was very pleased to hear that groups that we visited got some re numeration for their time and energy.

I had some concern about being with a large group but was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked out. Thank you for dividing the large group into two separate buses/guides. This really allowed us to get to know the people in our group and we found interesting and friendly people who all mixed very well. We are anxiously awaiting the email list from Lisa in Kansas, as we would like to stay in touch and send pictures.

I enjoyed the Jazz festival and the easy access, but there was a little more emphasis on fusion that I needed. The more casual venues were great and over all, we really enjoyed the music of Cuba.

Our accommodations were very adequate and meals were appreciated. We were surprised that food did not have a little more spice!

So, great job, great trip. Thanks to Authentic Cuba Travel® for all your hard work.

Phyllis Heims

We had a marvellous time in Cuba. It couldn't have been better.

Jorge is the BEST guide ever! He is so passionate about his beautiful country, so helpful, so patient , so funny, so hard working, so honest. We loved him and greatly appreciate everything he did to make our Cuban adventure so memorable.

Cristobal was an excellent driver, very professional and hard working. We are very grateful that he delivered us safely to all our excursions.

And we deeply appreciate all the folks "behind the scenes" who contributed to the success of our trip.

And Yane, you were so great to talk to on the phone and so very good at organizing everything for us. There were no unwelcome surprises!

We loved all the Jazz Festival events and all the other visits and excursions. A favourite was our visit to Pena de Santa Amalia. It was sooo much fun and we saw some of the folks in that evening at the outdoor venue beside Teatro Mella. A small suggestion...perhaps you could consider having one group visit at a time as it was pretty crowded.

Many, many thanks to all who made this the best trip EVER!!

Donald and Joan Turner


Authentic Cuba Travel® tour participant Lin Witte put about 100 photos together into a great slideshow! An excellent testimonial of her experiences during the Havana Jazz Festival Cuba Tour. Do not miss her nice reviews on Authentic Cuba Travel® (left) too! Video courtesy of Lin Witte.
Just thought I would drop you a line to say that my trip to Cuba in December was great! The jazz festival and related activities were great; it was wonderful to go to Trinidad and Cienfuegos as well. Alexis is a really amazing guide. I was also glad you dissuaded Pat from coming to the airport- it was a madhouse and the plane was quite late from Cancun which I understand happens a lot...so, good advice! And absolutely no problem getting a cab, much easier process than Cancun for instance.

I especially liked a little neighborhood club we visited in the daytime where a super jazz group performed and some dancers at a place in Old Havana where we had lunch. I also liked that Alexis could accommodate the groups ideas sometimes, this made it a lot more fun. (I think it was a pretty cool group that we had also.)

I have traveled to quite a few places and I cannot recall anywhere that was more interesting or felt more safe than Cuba. The people are warm and beautiful. The architecture is just magnificent. I know there is a lot more to see and do in Cuba!

Thanks for all your help.

Lin Witte

2015

Greetings! We returned from Cuba on 12/21 and had a quick turn around a day later traveling from Los Angeles to our daughter and grandchildren in Seattle for the holidays. We are just settling now from it all.

So we are now able to make contact with you about our Cuba trip.

I wish there were adequate words to convey the kind of experience we had there.

It was delicious in every way! I also wish I could express the quality of leadership and guidance Jorge brought to our group. He is both consummately knowledgeable, keen in oversight of our needs and imminently accessible. This combination made for a winning trip in every way. Adolfo was also a marvelous, respectful and sensitive driver, whom we enjoyed and appreciated.

Your deep planning and preparation was clearly evident, from the quality events of every day to the terrific people you paired us with. We were a great group and not only liked Jorge very much but each other as well. It was good to be matched with other families as we mixed generations well.

Our son Nate had an unforgettable time as well, both with the people in our group, the daily events and the great venues and music of the festival.

Over and over we heard that Authentic Cuba Travel® provides some of the best touring on the island.

We thank you for all your work, all your responsiveness by email and all parts of your participation in readying our trip.

Please convey our thanks and great appreciation to your team there. With all that is happening between our two countries, this excursion into amazing Cuba may serve for us as a first run, followed by more to come.

Along with our many thanks we wish you and all there heartfelt hope for a New Year filled with wellbeing and prosperity.

Sincerely,

Diane Webb

We are back from the Jazz Festival tour. It was great with lots of variety and memorable experiences. Eric Garcia did a wonderful job and made everything even better. So knowledgeable and personable.

I will recommend your tours to friends interested in seeing Cuba as well.

Best wishes for the holidays and 2016.

Steve Hirshfeld

The trip was amazing! Jorge was an incredible guide! We will do it again. Thank you

Best, Sue Paymer

Thanks for all your help in organizing the Jazz Tour trip- my dad and I had an amazing time! Thanks again!

Andrew Dubbins

2016

Thanks again for all your help planning our jazz tour with my friend and neighbor Teri Williams Smith. We had a wonderful time, what a fascinating country.

Our Havanatur guide Erik Garcia and driver Noel (spelling?) were excellent. Hopefully I will have the chance to travel back to Cuba one day!

Thanks very much, and I will certainly recommend Authentic Cuba Travel® to friends and family!

Best,

Monica M. Smith

Please forgive the delay in writing to thank you and your agency for the outstanding Cuban experience.

HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP. YOUR AGENCY REALLY DID A GREAT JOB FROM DAY ONE TO THE DAY WE LEFT HAVANA FOR MIAMI.

ROSE LEVINE

Happy New Year Yane!!!

I just wanted you to know I highly enjoyed myself in Cuba!! The tours were well planned with cultural, educational and entertainment. Each day brought excitement!

Many, many thanks to our tour guide. He was so knowledgeable and willing to answer questions. He was patient with the seniors. He was very professional. He stayed with us even during the great entertainment at the Jazz festival. He stayed with us at the airport until each one of us was checked in at the airport on our way home.

Many, many thanks to the bus driver. He drove down some days many hours with high driving skills. Plus, he was a gentleman and greeted us with a smile everyday!

Jacqueline Lee

2017

The International Jazz Festival of Havana was originally scheduled for December 2017 but it was postponed for January 2018.

2018

From the beginning of selecting this tour, I felt like I was in good hands. You were particularly responsive to questions that I had, very well organized around informing all of us about what was ahead and what we needed to do to prepare for this unique tour. I also appreciated your efforts to help me find a roommate to reduce the expenses of the trip since I was traveling alone.

The flight to Havana was effortless and relaxed. I was met at the Havana airport punctually by Mirelyis Gonzalez, our tour guide, and we were taken to our hotel to check in. From beginning to end, she was extraordinary. Nearly everyone in the group was enamored with her. She was very well engaged, articulate, responsive, and self-disclosive. She is bright and was very sensitive to people's needs throughout the nine days. Herbie was an exceptional driver, tirelessly keeping us on track and safe.

The itinerary was excellent. I, along with most others. felt so grateful to be able to visit Cuba. Many of us expressed long-standing desire to make a trip to this country. We shared in common a love of music but relished the chance to visit other parts of the country to learn about Cuba's history, its architecture, arts, religion and culture . Centrifuegos and Trinidad were both great cities to begin the trip. Mirelyis did an excellent job of educating us about history and culture of these areas and arranging for us to meet with informative people that enlarged our understanding of these special cities.

Our itinerary was very tightly arranged and sometimes did not allow for quite enough free exploration. We were free to forge out on our own but the special events were too good to miss. An extraordinary Cuban choir was arranged one evening in Centrifuegos that was quite spectacular. I also enjoyed many of the "people-to-people" experiences arranged by the tour, including the visit to Fuster's studio, the cigar factory, old Havana with an exceedingly passionate architect who stimulated many of us with his digressions. . . I took a little time of my own to make it to a lovely beach for a few hours that was also beautiful and quiet.

As for accommodations, Hotel Jagua was a fine hotel. This hotel even had water in its pool (unlike the Riviera) so I could enjoy a morning swim). Actually, outside of my disappointment with the swimming pool situation at the Riviera, I was pleased with this hotel, the helpfulness of the staff, the ample breakfast buffet and especially the presence of musicians playing daily in our lobby.

As I expected, it is possible to eat very well in Cuba. Especially with the freedom to embark on my own for dinner, excellent paladares offer foodies some nice gastronomic moments.

The music scene in Havana is extraordinary. The jazz festival offered us some amazing experiences listing to Cuban music as well as music from around the world. As I got sick with the flu two days before we left, I was disappointed that I didn't have greater opportunity to see even more music, dance, art museums and walk the streets of the city. The outdoor venues, though, were spectacular for me.

Havanitis is a contagious condition afflicting many of us. It is an amazing city, vibrant and enchanting. The best thing about the Havana is it's people. This can be said about all of Cuba. I felt so safe and so engaged with opportunities to speak with people. Some of these experiences were more formal, arranged by AuthenticCuba tours but most were spontaneous. I so much enjoyed just chatting with local people about music, culture and politics. Cubans, above all, are engaging, vital, resilient people. The energy I felt in connecting with people rivaled the exceptional music I will always remember.

I hope that this will not be my only trip to Cuba. My belief is the tourism will open up again and allow for freedom of movement for people who hope to visit. I am grateful to AuthenticCuba and for Mirelyis and Herbie who made sure that we would have this exciting, memorable vacation.

Gratefully,

Stephen Naifeh

The tour of Cuba and the Jazz Festival was extraordinary. I cannot praise Mirelys enough for her tireless work.

She is the sweetest woman on earth. Herbie was as good as it gets. They are a great pair . I told him he is the luckiest man alive.

We even saw their daughter Sabrina unexpectedly near her school in Havana one afternoon. The people on the tour were interesting, intelligent and easy to make conversation with.

So much fun and all of the food was of very high quality served in well chosen restaurants and paladars. I had lobster and ceviche at several different locations and each was as fine as the next. The art ,sculpture and music were all truly world class. A real treat for the senses. I was very impressed with Cuban education and the level of literacy which exceeds that of most public primary schools here in the states. That choir in Cienfuegos was jawdropping. The musicianship level for working musicians in clubs and restaurants is of a much higher level than nearly everything that is heard here in Austin. I found the people of Cuba to be very warm , inquisitive and gracious. An irrepressible spirit.

I very much would like to spend a lot more time there, perhaps I can return and stay with some new friends who live in Havana and have extended an invitation for me to visit in their home.

I enjoyed the time I spent rooming with Stephen as well as all of the diverse group of people from the states and Canada with whom I enjoyed making many warm friendships during the tour. Both Emmanuel and myself expressed a deep interest in living in Cuba though most of the responses to our questions along that line indicated that it is very difficult for a US citizen to get resident status there . Oh well . I will have to be content for the time being with several dozen fresh habanos and the many daily live action scenes that I captured in motion video on cell phone. Also found a beautiful abstract wood carving that I could not live without. It lives in my home here in Austin now and greets me every morning with a familiar sense of Havana.

Thank you for an invaluable peak life experience.

Shaun Smith

It was a great trip to the jazz fest in Havana and the cultural part of the tour was also fascinating. Mirelys and Herbie were wonderful. Mirelys provided an incredible amount of historical, cultural, and societal information - we learned a great deal. She was so warm and willing to answer any question, and there were hundreds, that we all felt like close friends. Mirelys and Herbie went way out of their way to provide for the group in taking us throughout Cuba and to the jazz fest locations. We also greatly enjoyed the various Cubans (the architect in Havana, the tobacco farm owner, the Cienfuegos architect) who provided a lot of insights. We were lucky to have such a great group of people taking the tour.

To be honest, although all the events on the tour were worthwhile, there were so many events packed in that we had hardly a chance to take a breath and getting to some of the earlier jazz fest performances was difficult. Perhaps for the jazz fest trip, having the daily cultural schedule end at something like 4 PM (on the days the jazz fest is in session) might work a little better. I think it's likely we'll be back to Cuba in the future and would certainly go back with Authentic Cuba Tours and especially any tour that Mirelys might be doing. All the best.

Pat & Deborah Wheelock

I had a fantastic time in Cuba. It was much better than I expected.

Mirelys and Herbie were highly professional and new the areas and history of Cuba well. Plus they were such nice people.

One disappointment was that we were not able to go salsa dancing in near Hotel Just a because it was not open.

Also, the water at Hotel Juaga was cold in the morning so I had to take a cold shower.

Other than that, the tour kept us busy and filled with tour attractions. I would have preferred just a little more down time since my body got so. sore from all the walking. I fell at the airport on my way home and still nursing a sore knee.

I plan to go back again to Cuba. Maybe during a festival time. Let me know if you recommend another tour.

The Cuban Jazz was great but the American entertainers were not so great. Love the salsa music.

Thank you for planning such a wonderful trip. The group got along well. Great group of people that I plan on keeping in touch with some.

Thanks again,

Mellie Pierce

We had a wonderful time in Cuba. Our guide Eric was great, so knowledgable and he kept us informed and entertained throughout the tour, making those long bus rides more interesting!

Our bus driver Angel was prompt and courteous, he did a great job. We also had a really nice group of tour mates.

The itinerary was great, we learned so much about the Cuban people through our travels, and the scenery and architecture were wonderful. The food was good too for the most part. We enjoyed our meals on our own; I had done some previous research on restaurants and Eric also gave us good suggestions. The hotel Melia Cohiba was very nice with great service and amenities. Wifi worked great in the room. Breakfasts were very good. It was too cold to use the pool, oh well.

The Jagua Hotel was fair with many items needing repair, but it was a good location for Ciengfuegos and our trip to Trinidad. Their lobby and poolside were also very nice and we did sit outside and have a drink there one pretty sunset. The Jazz Festival was great, it was difficult to choose which shows to attend. And we felt we had to miss many of the late shows and early shows because of our busy daytime schedule.

Old Havana will be so beautiful one day, I hope they can keep going with the restoration - it was difficult to get around on our walking tour as there are so many construction sites with dust and rubble in the way of any path taken. (This was true even in many parts of Vedado.) But there is so much worth restoring! I hope that the U.S. can do more in the future to participate in tourism and trade, and to support the country and its people.

Thanks for putting together a great tour!

Irene Kaufman

The Havana Jazz Fest tour exceeded our expectations.

The music was fabulous and we got to see and learn a lot about Cuban history and culture from our outstanding guide Eric Garcia. Angel, our bus driver was always in the right place, on time, friendly and courteous. We also enjoyed the specialist guides we met at Sugar Mill Valley, Habana Vieja, the College of Arts, the Cigar Factory and the tobacco farm. We learned a great deal and our perspectives evolved during the trip in very positive ways.

A few things might have gone more smoothly: the pick-up at the airport took a very long time from the time our flight arrived until all the people were collected from several terminals. Perhaps smaller buses or vans, and more of them, could be used to reduce the amount of time from arrival at the airport to delivery at the hotel. Time spent at handicraft markets we thought was excessive, particularly because the merchandise was so similar from one to the next. However, we thoroughly enjoyed the art and artists we met, and purchased several pieces that we like very much and which we found to be reasonably priced. We very much enjoyed being able to support these talented artists in our small way.

The Melia Cohiba was clean and had good service, but the heating/air conditioning system did not work well such that many people were cold in the hotel as a result of the unexpected cold front that sat over Cuba for all but the last day we were there. The food at the Melia Cohiba was adequate. Meals at the Paladares were good. One that was not on the list but recommended by the concierge at the Melia Cohiba - Las Naranjas - was outstanding. The Lobster Hemingway is one of the best meals we have experienced anywhere. The Atelier (on the list provided) was good, but not great. Eric was a great help in making reservations for us.

The Jagua Hotel in Cienfuegos was not nearly as nice as the Melia, but we expect the choices were more limited there. The breakfasts were very good there - better than at the Melia - but the rooms were shabby, and the plumbing was not great.

We loved every minute of the Jazz Fest, especially seeing the performers from Buena Vista Social Club. The performers and their music seemed like old friends.

All of the pre-trip planning and advice you provided were very helpful and we had a good idea what to expect. We will definitely recommend Authentic Cuba Travel® to our friends, and we are interested in visiting Cuba again, perhaps for an eco-tour.

Thank you for all your help and guidance in planning our trip. It was a wonderful experience.

Best,

Andy and Regina Deutch

First and foremost we enjoyed ourselves and our experience visiting the country, the people, the culture and the MUSIC. The tour was well organized. Highlights were the walking tour of Historic Trinidad, the Paladar restaurants, and the educational walking tour of Historic Havana.

Mirelys, The tour guide was very good, very professional, was always there for our needs and was giving us an informative background on different aspects of Cuba, in addition the guide who gave the group the walking tour of Historic Havana.

Music was very enjoyable, catching up with the style of music and the people and culture was a leaning experience.

Although because of down time we couldn't see more than 1 show an evening.

The first Hotel was uneven as far as staff and working lights, refrigerator in the room.

Thank you for all your help.

Ron Schwartz

I had a wonderful time in Cuba. The tour was magnificent. It was a great overview of the country and the people.

Angel was generous and always cheerful. He took care of our safety.

Erik was the best tour guide I have ever been with. He was thorough and so educational about Cuba. He prepped for all visits and gave us the background on all "places of interest". His experience and love of country were very evident in everything that he educated us on. I was completely impressed.

The Jazz tour was spectacular. I was able to be around musicians that are world famous and entertained us in Cuba.

Thank you for great hotels, meals and perfect arrangements.

Yolanda Mendoza

Cuba is spectacular!

The tour guide is intelligent, experienced, articulate and friendly. And the bus driver confident and skilled.

The itinerary was excellent. Planning a balanced and interesting itinerary that meets the needs and interests of any tour group is challenging. You did a terrific job. I enjoyed the mix of activities and excursions you selected.

The paladores with live music were especially enjoyable.

I would suggest more time, maybe an hour with the Rumba dancers and musicians. I was a little disappointed we did not have lunch with Fuster.

The Jazz festival was exciting. We all wanted Cuba Jazz Festival t-shirts but none were availa le for sale - it's a missed opportunity for someone in Cuba to create and sell something to the tourists to take home!!!!

The Cuban people are a delight. I hope to return to Cuba someday.

Thanks so much,

Debbie Silva

We are safely back from a most wonderful trip to Cuba. Your company organized a fantastic tour. Great busy day and night agenda which we took full advantage of. Havanatur - Erik (guide) and Angel (driver) were excellent.

May Oltmann & George Nye

All went well during our one week tour to Cuba including the Jazz Festival experience. We will never forget the tremendous warmth and hospitality we received from Mirelys Gonzalez Fundora and the bus driver Herbie. They certainly brought a comfort to us each day we boarded the bus for our tour.

We definitely plan to return to Cuba and would certainly seek to have the Mirelys/Herbie combination again once we engage Authentic Cuba Tours(ACT).

Their professional approach to conducting the tour displayed punctuality, patience, support, clarity on issues, willingness to accommodate and an appreciation to learn and understand the cultures of everyone on the tour.

Thanks again to you and ACT for a well organized tour to Cuba.

Best regards,

Edison and Bianca Garraway

The overall tour was awesome! It was both educational and entertaining and included everything that was advertised in the tour package. The tour guide was excellent. She was very knowkedgeable of Cuban history and cultural and shared much information with the group. She was real professional and attentive to the questions and needs of the group. The bus driver was excellect and provided excellent service in assisting with baggage, loading, and logistics. I enjoyed both the cultural tours and the jazz performances.

As a sociologist, I enjoyed learning about Cuban people and cullture from a very knowledgeable tour guide. Our group was comprised of good people who were very tolerant of each other, although one member of the group has some physical/health challenges. Everyone was very considerate and assisted when they could. The excursions to cultural sites around the coutryside were quite rigorous for someone with a moderate handicap, but it was handled very well. Perhaps there could be a company policy on how handicapped persons are accommodated. The cultural tours were very good but exhausting. On two ocassions we arrived too late to have dinner before the jazz concert started. This logistical detail can easily be remedied. I know that everything does not go exactly planned and some adjustments may be needed. However, I mention this to let you know about the situation.

Several persons brought Canadian dollars and Euros with them toget a better exchange rate. I considered doing this but did not became of time limitations. I found that the exchange rate for the US$ to CUC was alarming, but understandable under the current U.S.-Cuba relations. In addition to wanting to learn about the Cuban people and their cultural, I wanted to learn about how people lived and adjusted to a Communist/Socialist form of government, while attempting to keep their culture intact. Although I am sure that I did not understand everything I saw, I came back with some impressions. For example, life can be complicated for Cuban people, but people have learned to adjust and survive while keeping much of their culture intact. Cuban people are very resilient.

Tom and Annie Durant

The trip was terrific. We had a great group pf people with us and it made for a wonderful time. We really enjoyed our tour guide Eric. Angel, the driver, was a safe driver but it would have been better if he didn't smoke near or around the bus. The hotel in Havana was wonderful but the hotel in the other city was not adequate. You might want to change that property. Most of the restaurants we visited with the tour were fine. The day tour were well done.

Thanks for your assistance in making this a great memory.

Wendy Wax

2019

Thank you for coordinating our trip to Cuba. It was a great joy to be there and to share it with so many of our friends.

Our tour guides Mirelys for the first few days, and Eliare for the rest of the time, were engaging, informed, and fun, great representatives of your agency and Cuba itself. An added dimension was being exposed to their individual shadings of life in Cuba while we were seeing it with our own eyes. They have a hard job and did it very well.

Our time was well spent. Havana was wonderful and there is so much more we’d like to do there. Going to Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Vinales also gave us a chance to see the countryside in between, and hear more of the cultural and political history from our guides. We are glad to have been on the longer tour so this was possible.

We also appreciated the chance we had to explore. Walking by ourselves in all these cities gave us chances we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Our “extra day” in Havana we walked into the non touristed neighborhoods, a few artist's studios with open doors, the art museum, and stopped at leisure to listen to some of the many musicians playing in the bars, hotel lobbies, and street corners. Music everywhere.

And the quality of the music, one of our main reasons for going, was beyond expectations. The Jazz Festival was a total immersion into the music, so many quality musicians, one after the other, in changing configurations, venue after venue, night after night. And then after seeing two concerts there were groups still performing at the Jazz Cafe right across the street and in the hotel as well. We literally spent more time at the venues around town than we did sleeping.

I hope we can go again soon!

Thanks again

Lenny and Kathy Sass

We were so happy with all aspects of our trip. You put us with a great group of people. I think we made some lasting friendships and enjoyed the conversational interchanges with almost all of the people in "group 4." Our guide was excellent; and I felt like we really learned about the country and its history in an engaging, entertaining and personal way. The itinerary was excellent, letting us see the selected sites but giving us time to process each experience. We especially enjoyed the art-related activities. And thanks for allowing time for us senior citizens to get some down time before our evenings of incredible music.

I know you've probably heard about our group lunch the first day. Even that misstep was kind of fun and brought our group together. And it surely made us appreciate the next two paladares! And, oh the jazz. We are still processing all the sounds.

Everyone at the Melia Cohiba was helpful and accommodating. Actually, our room was quite nice and the amenities were fine (once we learned to take our showers in the morning before the hot water ran out.)

In short, we send you our thanks for your company's care and feeding of us during this week-long immersion in the sights, sounds, sites and people of Cuba. We will never forget it.

Sincerely,

Karen Diamond & Dr. Clark White

I had a great trip—touring during the day and attending the Jazz concerts at night was a great mix of things to do.

Thanks,

Sue Berman

I want to thank you and Authentic Cuba Travel®, for arranging a wonderful tour experience, both Margaret and myself cannot say enough about our experience in Cuba - with the music, sites and the people we met. Please keep me on your mailing list for the next Havana Jazz Festival as well as other possible tours of Cuba in the future.

Cheers,

Walter Sondheim

We are settled back in California after a truly memorable trip to Cuba which was only possible because of your care and dedication to our groups.

All of our Authentic Cuba Travel® tour guides were terrific and accommodated our travel needs so family& long time friends could be together. Everyone has written to me of their fantastic experience in Cuba because of all of you! You were a most responsive tour coordinator and we can't wait to book another tour with you.

We ourselves got to visit with my cousin many times during our trip so everything worked out beautifully. This was our third trip to Cuba since 2016 and one of the best.

We will definitely return to Cuba soon and refer many family& friends to you & Authentic Cuba tours!!

Most Gratefully yours,

Sandy & Arn Kawano

We are experienced travelers and understand Cuba. I would have to say that the Rivera would not currently rate a 4-star property. They may have in their history, but the place is beat up and run down.

That said, we were fine with it and would have been fine staying there.

Mirelys was fantastic. She is knowledgeable, helpful and resourceful. She had a tough crew and several curve balls tossed at her and performed marvellously.

Second, the "All Access" pass does not seem to carry a global understanding. In the states, that would be comparable to a VIP or even Backstage pass. This pass did grant access to all of the venues, but seat assignments at each venue were across the board. At one venue we were offered the back row and really had to push for better seating.

All and all a good experience.

Thanks,

Rob and Kimber Heineman

My wife Joyce and I wanted to let you know that our tour guide Mirelys Gonzales did an outstanding job during our recent trip to Cuba for the Havana Jazz Festival. We would rate Mirelys performance during our tour as an A+.

If we were to travel to Cuba again we would be honored to have Mirelys as our guide and would appreciate you passing on our high praise to Mrs. Gonzales.

Thanks,

Lee & Joyce Willson

We just got back from Cuba and I wanted to thank you and Authentic Cuba Travel® for the trip of a lifetime! Thank you for making our 50th anniversary so very special. This trip has given my husband and I truly wonderful memories.

Sincerely,

Sandra McCrary

Our trip was beyond the beyond!!! I didn't really think much about how things would be, just knew I wanted to go to Cuba "some day" and this trip fell into my lap, so.... But I could not ever, in my wildest dreams, have imagined how wonderful it would be!! Everywhere we went was beautiful, interesting, and so very fulfilling. The top highlight for me was the trip to Topes de Collantes National Park. The hike was lovely (and we saw the Cuban Trogon). The swim in the forest pool was not to be missed! Cool, yes, but oh so much fun going under the (surprisingly warm) waterfall. Our skins felt like velvet afterwards. To top it off, the chicken at Hacienda La Gallega was to die for. A grand adventure. Second to this was the other road trip-to the Vinales Valley. Loved touring the tobacco farm and watching the rolling process (especially since we'd skipped the trip to the cigar factory), and it was grand just to tour through the beautiful countryside with a short but sweet wander through the charming town of Vinales.

Other great things were both birding excursions (especially the Bermejas Wildlife Reserve where we saw 20 species), swimming in the cenote, Hemingway's Watchtower Farm, and the fabulous Havana Compass Dance Company-wow! Our accommodations were all swell; our bus was a comfy, cozy home; the food was terrific; the drinks were plentiful and cheap; our bus driver Miguel was professional, skilled, and friendly; and our guide, Thalia Roblejo was the best best best: a fabulous person, guide, friend, everything. I can't recommend her highly enough for her knowledge, her flexibility, her humor, her very essence. I think we benefitted from having a smallish group-only 10, and from the fact that six of us were long-time friends as were the other two. Luckily we all hit it off and left with plans to visit back in California. The large bus gave us space for alone time as well as sociability with helped on such an intensive trip.

Kate Kausch

Overall, we had a great trip in Cuba. Thank you so much! You asked if we had any feedback, and I would like to take great care in answering.

First of all, regarding our tour guide, Thalia Roblejo Noda; she is extraordinary. She did an amazing job in every way. Not only is her knowledge of English essentially perfect, she also has outstanding organizational and people skills. She is charming, friendly, extremely knowledgeable, and very well organized. If there is ever any problem, she immediately sets out to solve it. She thinks several steps ahead at all times. She knows whom to call to get things done. She is extremely intelligent and loves her work. A great deal of our satisfaction with our tour - most of what we learned about Cuba, in fact - was thanks to her. We would highly recommend requesting her in the future as a tour guide for your groups. If there is any way you would know of that we could help further her career (such as sending an official letter of commendation to her employer) we would love to do that.

Our driver, Miguel Gomez, was also excellent. He is a careful and safe driver and takes great pride in his work. His bus was always spotless and in perfect working order. He doesn't speak much English, but since most of us spoke some Spanish, we were able to bond with him. Though he and Thalia had not worked together before, they made a good team. We would highly recommend Miguel also. (They actually live in the same neighborhood, so it was very convenient for them to work together.)

The visits you scheduled for us to the Korimakao project, dance studios, art studios etc. were very interesting and we appreciated all of them. We also enjoyed the visit to the tobacco farm. One suggestion about the cultural visits is regarding the gifts. Your list of gift suggestions was very general. We would have liked to know more what each place truly needed. Perhaps Korimakao needed tights for the female dancers or paints for the art projects? Could these places compile specific "wish lists" for visitors so that we would know that our contributions were really useful? I think most Americans like to be helpful, but we felt uncomfortable that perhaps our gifts weren't the right thing.

As for accommodations, we would suggest that with a small group such as ours - only 10 people - it would have been wonderful if we could have stayed in smaller hotels or private bed and breakfast places. We realize that you usually deal with big groups, and of course with them you need the larger hotels, but we would have loved to be downtown, especially in Trinidad, but also in Havana. Some of the places we ate lunch also had rooms to rent, and they looked charming. Downtown Havana seemed to have some beautiful older hotels.

Our trip to Cuba was wonderful and we especially loved meeting and communicating with the people we met. We both speak some Spanish and found Cubans to be very friendly and happy to speak with us.

I hope these suggestions and comments are helpful to you in your future work. We very much appreciate your time and effort and wish you every success in sharing your beautiful and interesting country with North Americans.

Sincerely,

Laura Ashkin and Chris Stanton

2020

I had a wonderful experience on the trip with the Elsilas! Our tour guide Viviana was expert - knowledgeable and a perfect English speaker! Bus driver Josevany was professional and a great driver.

The tour was action packed during the day and the Jazz Festival was supreme at night! This was my third trip to Cuba (1991, 2016 and 2020). I fall more in love with Cuba on each visit.

I am encouraging everyone I speak with about my trip to visit Cuba (and travel with Authentic Cuban Travel!) and dispel any myths that US Citizens cannot travel there anymore. I am hoping to return in 2021 on another one of your trips with Authentic Cuba Travel®.

I've attached a pic of me enjoying a refreshing drink "au natural" at one of our community stops. Take care Yane. IT IS SUCH A PLEASURE WORKING WITH YOU!

Laurie Stuart

Katie and I got home last night and wanted to give you a report on the amazing trip that you helped organize for our group of 25 travelers. I've heard from many of them and they've used words like "exceptionally good," "first rate," "educational," "wonderful," and "more than what we expected."

Our visits to the community projects were inspiring. We especially appreciated interacting with the student musicians at Vocal Clave de Sol. They are an outstanding group of young people and any tours that you develop in the future surely ought to include a visit there. We also loved the opportunities to visit ISA, the Experimental Graphics Workshop, the El Patio de Pelegrin community program, the ecological farm-to-table restaurant in Vinales, and the other sites.

Some other comments from travelers:

--Viviana Reyes is a wonderful guide who is knowledgeable, approachable, patient, and sharing.

-The Parque Central hotel was comfortable and well-situated. I think everyone felt that the location near Habana Vieja was much better than the Riviera, which is several miles away and feels isolated. The clear preference was to stay in old Havana whenever possible.

--It would be good to get ahead of time a list of specific items that various community groups could use. We did bring musical equipment to Clave de Sol, but when we got to the students working on pottery projects at El Patio de Pelegrin, we found that students were making their own glue because of a lack of supplies. Had we known, we could have brought some with us.

-Limiting meals to breakfast and lunches is a good idea. All the included meals were delicious and filling, and by the time dinnertime rolled around, few were in the mood to have a big meal, generally settling for sandwiches or other snacks.

In summary, the Authentic Cuba trip was outstanding in all ways. Thank you again for your help in organizing it.

Best regards, Dave Elsila

We all arrived back to our homes safely. Here is what I posted on my Facebook to give you an idea of how we felt about your tour: “We’re home safe from a mind blowing journey to a humble, proud and kind country. Please go visit the people of Cuba and share just a tiny portion of our wealth with them by supporting the Arts. We saw so many community projects around the island and were in awe of their success and influence on the world’s music and art scenes, with barely any funding. All accomplished by determination and love for their culture. Here is a sampling of the images attempting to capture this rare example of humility. I’ve transported fresh Cohiba’s direct from the farm and several pieces of pottery and artwork. How blessed we all should feel.”

Erik was outstanding as a guide! We fell in love with him. And Pinot was a master at guiding the huge bus through some tough situations. They both made the trip that much more special.

Put us down for any recommendations or referrals. Well done!!

Laura Wegner

Thank you for putting together an amazing trip for the group traveling with David Elsila. I had a tremendous time and wanted to tell you it was to a great deal due to the personality, intelligence and charm of the guide who ferried us through the country. Thank you so much for assigning Viviana Rives to the group. She was amazing. And I also wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the many restaurants we were able to try for our lunchtime stops with a special shout out for Parador El Cojimero. They were just a step above all the other in food preparation and hospitality. No complaints about any of our stops though as we did eat well, perhaps a little too well. It will not be easy to go back to my normal, bland lunch options after Cuba.

Thank you again

Christine O'Rourke

I want to thank you for 5 amazing days in Havana. This was my 7th time in Cuba, I have had wonderful experiences in Cuba staying in small Bed and Breakfasts, travelling on local buses, visiting so many beautiful areas but this by far was the BEST! You thought things out and put together an itinerary that gave us exposure to so many artists, so many different disciplines and each one was an experience never to be forgotten. I went for the music and unexpectedly got so much more.

Not only did you expose us to Cuban art and culture, your guide, Eric, took such good care of us, always checking to make sure that everyone was looked after. In addition, he is so knowledgeable and shared so much information with us.

Hotel was great, food was delicious, the art was incredible and the music, as always was superb.

Thank you Yane, you do an awesome job.

Sincerely,

Carol Buer

Our trip to Havana was fabulous! I can't thank you enough for all you did to make it so special. We loved it all.

Emily Monfort Everett

My tour guide Mira was great and we did all as advertised, needed a day off due to fatigue . I enjoyed the jazz fest at night. Some of the paladar rest were less than I expected but most were ok, restaurants around the hotel were great.

Los Van Van played at our hotel!! Loved that day trip to Vinales, the cave and tobacco farm were great. You better be in shape to climb that hill in Trinidad!! The rum and cigars were great, we enjoyed the music and art schools we visited, the Cubans we met were friendly and helpful. Meeting Alex Castro was indeed an honor and I purchased a photo from him. Seeing Omara Portoundo finished the jazz fest in style! I truly enjoyed this trip of a lifetime! I look forward to returning to Cuba, send me info on the medical tour, would love to visit Santiago!

Yours truly,

Oliver Crawford

My husband, another couple and I went to the Havana International JazzFestival in Cuba with Authentic Cuba Travel® earlier this month. It was my second time doing this, last year being my first. All four of us enjoyed the whole experience tremendously.

In fact I liked this year’s social programs even better, such as visiting the local community dance group, helping the Cuban youth learning the musical instruments just to name a few.. They also took us to Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Our guide Mirelys Gonzales was wonderful, our driver Herbie drove us safely in and out of Havana.

The Cuban people were very friendly, we did not feel any animosity considering we came from the United States.

The jazz festival was fabulous, everyone in the group was given a VIP tag which allowed us to get priority entrance and assigned seats. On our last night of the festival, we were fortunate enough to watch the performance of Omara Portuondo, the icon of Cuban bolero and jazz singer (who is also a member of Buena Vista Social Club), and Roberto Fonseca the fantastic Cuban jazz pianist.

Of course, all of the above would not have been possible without the help of Yane Marquez with the Authentic Cuba Travel®, who helped us every step of the way.

Regina Schroeder

I have come back from an amazing trip to the 2020 International Jazz Festival in Cuba offered by Authentic Cuban Travel in Canada. As an elderly woman, I had my doubts if I could take such an undertaking traveling single, but I decided to risk it anyway as I have wanted to go to Cuba for the last several years. As I am also a jazz lover, I felt this was a perfect opportunity.

Much to my surprise, after I waded through the necessary paper work with the help of the personnel at the Travel Agency, my trip went quite well. Getting to Cuba out of Miami on American Airlines was quite simple.

I arrived at the Havana airport, where an escort was waiting for me, and was whisked off to the lovely Iberostar Park Hotel in the center of Havana. From there it was a no brainer..Not only did our wonderful guide lead us through an eclectic journey through Havana and Ciero Del Fuego /Trtinidad, she also made sure we got to and from our 5 nights of jazz safely.

I not only met people from all over the United States ranging in ages from 30 up to me, 83 years old. There was also a couple from England and a couple from Canada. We all got along well, and thoroughly enjoyed the many experiences offered.

Cuba is safe, friendly and beautiful. I highly recommend it for a truly memorable experience. I am so glad I made the trip, and if I was younger I would go back. Enjoy!

Mary Thompson

Our Cuba trip through Authentic Cuba Travel® was a memorable experience. We signed up for a 4 star hotel but was upgraded to a 5 star hotel because renovations were under way at the original place. It was a beautiful hotel, wonderful service and an amazing breakfast buffet, unlike any experiences I've had at American hotels.

Our guide, Eric, was very informative about all the sites we were to visit. And he went above and beyond to accommodate the variety of needs of the travelers in our group.

Our days and evenings had a full itinerary. Opting out to have a little free time to ourselves was always a possibility. We enjoyed our cultural experiences and interactions with the Cuban people at dance and art studios, printing Co-op, a senior day care, exploring historic old town, AfroCuban market, many plazas, cave and countryside.

Not to mention the music! Which was everywhere. Our trip was in January, during the Havana Jazz festival.

Theresa Fross

We had a fabulous time!!!

Susan Arrow and Ron Buckmaster

I will be writing you a detailed letter re. The trip so you can please convey to your counterparts in Havana HOW GREAT THEY WERE. They went out of their way to see that we were so well looked after. There was never a "no".

I think next year you will be very busy - I know with all my friends.

Thanks again,

Phil Panchasi


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