2,008 Reviews of North America Tours
What a holiday! January 20175.0
It is my hope we get to take another trip on this fine Lady again .... We are from Australia ...... Such a great time...
So many positives to speak of....
What a holiday !... Read more
Operator American Queen Steamboat Company
Old Cuba is fantastic and should be seen before it's spoiled by capitalism. January 20175.0
It was a fantastic trip! We had a small-ish group of about 20 people and a wonderful guide, José Luis (who, like most Cubans, had never been off the island).
The trip began in Miami where we had an orientation and spent the night. Then we flew to Havana and stayed in the Hotel Nacional for four nights. It doesn't get more historic -- or fun -- than the Nacional:
While in Havana, we enjoyed great history/culture lectures from experts, toured various parts of Havana (including Hemmingway's home in the hills nearby), and, on our own, had the opportunity to have dinner at a paladar -- a restaurant inside someone's home.
The Cuban people are friendly but the infrastructure of their country is in shambles. It's been a long time since Russia's deep pockets left the island (1991), and you see poverty everywhere. But not the begging-in-the-street kind. Cuba provides universal health care, education (including room and board all the way through grad/med school!), food staples, and a very modest income (~$30/month) to everyone. Most people add to that income by working on the side.
After Havana, we traveled to Cienfuegos. From there we saw the infamous Bay Of Pigs, but also the wonderful Benny Moré Art School where we learned of the fantastic support for the arts by the Cuban government. Children are identified in grade school as having artistic talent and then funneled into magnet schools like Benny Moré to study art for their entire scholastic career!
Don't go to Cuba for the food. It's edible (and won't make you sick) but rather boring. You mainly get the "three amigos": fish, pork, or chicken, along with rice and/or black beans. But the aged rum is superb and so are the cigars!
Probably my favorite thing on the island, though, was the music -- whether on the street or in a more formal setting:
Cuba is fantastic. Go enjoy it!
Operator Road Scholar
Best of Eastern Canada end Toronto November 20165.0
The Oregon bike trip was one of the best trips August 20165.0
Operator Sojourn Bicycling & Active Vacations
Alaska - Endless Landscape August 20165.0
Not easy to say as I got something out of everyday. But the flight up to the glacier at the foot on Mt. Denali on a de Havilland Beaver will stay with me for a long thing as was the memory of camping right beside the roaring Copper River and then wandering up to the lost-in-time town of McCarthy for a drink with fellow thirsy group members.
Vicky was simply excellent. Her love of Alaska was obvious and genuine. She organised everything and kept us in check. And she knew some great bars!
The weather was great on my trip - warm and sunny apart from a couple of days. If it had rained most days then I'm pretty sure the camping would have been challenging. So be prepared: take plenty of waterproofs, etc. As others have said, some campsites are pretty primeval and so be prepared for days when you can't wash and where the trip to the toilet can feel like a trek. The mosquitoes are pretty nasty: they usually don't like me but I got bitten everywhere (seemingly through my clothes!) Alaska is expensive - apparently much more expensive than most of the USA. One or two walks were challenging and if I had appreciated that I would have got myself a bit fitter beforehand. Laundry and shower facilities are few and far between with no change machines nearby: so collect as many quarters as you through the trip. You might also want to pack a few non-bio laundry detergent capsules. In June it never got dark so you might want to think about a sleep mask (and ear-plugs if there are heavy snorers in the group!)
I can highly recommend this trip if you are prepared to rough it a bit. Forget about any preconceptions you have - just go and experience one of the last few remaining frontiers.
Operator Exodus Travels
Paul and Judy