Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Americas > Cuba
Reload this Page >

Report from a weekend MR to Havana

Report from a weekend MR to Havana

Old Jun 2, 17, 9:38 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: AA EXP, SPG PLT, Carlson/HHonors GLD, National Ex, Hertz Gld, AMEX Plat
Posts: 341
Report from a weekend MR to Havana

I don't know if anyone checking in here also managed to buy one of the super cheap J fares this year to HAV, but I got a lot of questions about the logistics of mine leading up to going, so I thought I'd post the links to my trip report here in case it's useful to anyone (this isn't a money-making site really, so I'm just linking so I don't have to cut and paste). I put it together more or less in 'real time' so it's off the cuff, but it was a fun trip!

Preview: What Would Hemmingway Do?
Part 1: Relaxing
Part 2: I Promise Not To Call This Sleepless In Seattle
Part 3: Just Sit Anywhere
Part 4: Taking It South
Part 5: Bienvenido a La Habana
Part 6: Day Into Night
Part 7: When the Rooster Crows
Part 8: Shopping, Stumbling Through Havana
Part 9: When Life Gives You a Night In Cuba...
Part 10: Good Morning and Goodbye
Part 11: Miami Vexed
Part 12: Can You SEA Me Now?
CruisingAltitude47 is offline  
Old Jun 2, 17, 3:02 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,667
Enjoyed your report.
A couple of thoughts from my experience.....
----------------
"The 'thing to do' is to use Airbnb to book one of the traditional "casas" which are privately run, but legal, rooms for rent in small boarding houses or people's individual houses. I booked a room in Old Town that came with good reviews for around $45 a night."

The thing to do is to use CubaJunky or another Cuban site to book casas particulares. The same casas are listed as on AirBnB but the prices are 25-30 CUC directly to the owner. You can communicate directly with owners by email and pay cash on arrival.
And ---AirBnB has not been paying casa owners in Cuba. They have to send some one to the house with the payment and this has not been happening in many cases, and owners are complaining.
-------------
"I couldn't update from 'the road' while I was in Cuba, but (surprise surprise) I was incommunicado entirely. No cells will work there"

Actually my T-Mobile account and iPhone work fine. It's not all that expensive either.
If you want internet, you have to buy a card from ETECSA. Then you find an internet hotspot (hotel lobby or one of the places you see Cubans standing around on the street with their smart phones) and connect. Kind of a PITA, but you can communicate.
-------------
"....up 4 flights of stairs to my room on the rooftop. My room is small, but the facilities are renovated and it HAS AIR CONDITIONING that works!! "

Working air conditioning is required by Cuban law to become licensed to rent rooms.
------
".....the lobby of the Raquel Hotel, who's signature is the well maintained stained glass ceiling."

Gorgeous! I will make sure I go past there on my next trip.
----
Again, thanks for the interesting report.
VidaNaPraia is offline  
Old Jun 3, 17, 6:43 am
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: YYZ
Programs: A3&O6 Gold,IC AMB & HH Diamond
Posts: 13,412
Air bnb over charges. I spoke to may home owners and they prefer to rent out their own casas. Cuba Junky is also unreliable, my friend used it and ended up in a casa whee the owners turned off the hot water and stole his money.

For Americans, make sure your phone is unlocked before you get to Cuba. And in the parcs near Vedado, you can get wifi for 1 CUC, 2 of these wifi spots are run by a Cuban friend of mine. Copelia and the other on 23 street close to Habana Libre hotel.
djjaguar64 is offline  
Old Jun 3, 17, 9:15 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,667
Originally Posted by djjaguar64 View Post
Cuba Junky is also unreliable, my friend used it and ended up in a casa whee the owners turned off the hot water and stole his money.
I've been using CubaJunky for several trips now, and every casa I've stayed in, every host, has been fine. The casa owners like working with CubaJunky.
They are not an agency that takes your requirements and picks a casa FOR you, as many do. You get to see the reviews and photos on the site. And you can communicate directly with the host via email.

Before you set out to libel an entire locally (Cuban) run agency on an international travel site, based on a third hand report about a single rental room situation, let's see/hear the details and some proof.
Cuban casa owners have no incentive to steal anything from guests, because that could end their priviledge to earn per night what most Cubans earn in a month.

Water is another issue entirely in Cuba. There is a 3 year ongoing drought. Water is not always available, except at fancy hotels in Havana which get priority deliveries. And there are other occasional shortages, like gas to heat water.
As they say down there: Es Cuba.
VidaNaPraia is offline  
Old Jun 3, 17, 2:08 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: YYZ
Programs: A3&O6 Gold,IC AMB & HH Diamond
Posts: 13,412
Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
I've been using CubaJunky for several trips now, and every casa I've stayed in, every host, has been fine. The casa owners like working with CubaJunky.
They are not an agency that takes your requirements and picks a casa FOR you, as many do. You get to see the reviews and photos on the site. And you can communicate directly with the host via email.

Before you set out to libel an entire locally (Cuban) run agency on an international travel site, based on a third hand report about a single rental room situation, let's see/hear the details and some proof.
Cuban casa owners have no incentive to steal anything from guests, because that could end their priviledge to earn per night what most Cubans earn in a month.

Water is another issue entirely in Cuba. There is a 3 year ongoing drought. Water is not always available, except at fancy hotels in Havana which get priority deliveries. And there are other occasional shortages, like gas to heat water.
As they say down there: Es Cuba.
I think you are over-reacting. Water may have been an issue in the past but I have never had owners shut down the hot water on me before. My friends was a unique situation I am guessing.

Yes not all Cubans but most will steal if and when an opportunity presents itself, I have had stuff stolen in Hotels as well, Habana Libre, especially they steal on the last day when they know the tourist is not going to be checking. Now, due to that the management of the hotel gave me a free night accommodation on my return.

Chill
djjaguar64 is offline  
Old Jun 3, 17, 4:39 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,667
Originally Posted by djjaguar64 View Post
Water may have been an issue in the past but I have never had owners shut down the hot water on me before. My friends was a unique situation I am guessing.
SO it's unique. No need then to libel CubaJunky and every casa owner on it over a "unique" incident.

And it's hardly ever not sweltering hot and humid, so hot water is not usually an essential anyway. Cold is refreshing when it's 100 degrees F.


Originally Posted by djjaguar64 View Post
Yes not all Cubans but most will steal if and when an opportunity presents itself, I have had stuff stolen in Hotels as well, Habana Libre, especially they steal on the last day when they know the tourist is not going to be checking.
I've also read reports online of that --the last day robbery--happening in Brazil, and in other countries as well. Not exclusive to Cuba or Cubans.
If staff sees you solely as a rich foreigner, (which you definitely are if you can afford the Habana Libre), not a 'regular person' like their friends and family, IMO this is more likely to happen anywhere.
If you take some time to get to know the people doing the work to make your stay pleasant, letting them get to know you a bit, and tip well (not dollar store crap like some do), IMO it's less likely to happen.
VidaNaPraia is offline  
Old Jun 3, 17, 5:57 pm
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: YYZ
Programs: A3&O6 Gold,IC AMB & HH Diamond
Posts: 13,412
Crusingaltitude47 sorry to hijack your thread
djjaguar64 is offline  
Old Jun 4, 17, 5:20 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: AA EXP, SPG PLT, Carlson/HHonors GLD, National Ex, Hertz Gld, AMEX Plat
Posts: 341
No worries, it's the whole point of FT!

I will say that this was my first trip there, and it was as much for the miles and deal as the trip, so I didn't over-research. I'm sure I could (and will) learn much more about the ins and outs of travel to Cuba. Always happy for good advice.
CruisingAltitude47 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: