• Hi Sylviad,

    To minimize the risk of contracting a stomach ailment, we strongly recommend that you drink only bottled water during your travels throughout Cuba. While dining in restaurants, you should also insist that your waiter bring only sealed bottles of water to your table. We strongly advise you not to use ice in your drinks at any time. Furthermore, we strongly urge ou to brush your teeth with bottled water during your stay in Cuba. As an additional precaution, you should be careful not to swallow water when bathing.

    Hope this helps,
  • I just got back from Cuba last week. You should definitely stick to bottled water just to be safe. Regarding ice, as long as you get the ice made by a machine (in circle or square shapes) you should be fine. Don't have any drinks made with chopped ice. For what it's worth, everyone on our tour stuck to these guidelines and no one got sick at all. Hope this helps.
  • That's helpful info. Thanks.
  • Tauck provides you with plenty of bottled water on the coach throughout the day, in the restaurants and even in your hotel room. Tauck assured us that the ice in the restaurants THEY TAKE US TO is safe. Just follow the precautions that Emily stated. No one got sick on our tour.
  • Good info. Thanks. How was the trip? Highlights? Lowlights?
  • SYLVIAD wrote:
    Good info. Thanks. How was the trip? Highlights? Lowlights?

    For me the highlights were the music and people. Just may be the friendliest place I've ever been, or at least in the top three. So much music and dancing that you can't help but to feel happy when you you experience it!
  • There was no illness on our April 2012 Cuba trip with 26 travelers. We followed the bottled water recommendations but ate freely of the salads. I highly recommend the Cuban mojitos. They do have ice cubes but despite desperately trying to deplete the Cuban rum inventory, I had no problem. The best meat was chicken, pork & beef. Fish not so good despite Cuba being an island. There are no sizable fishing boats (or small planes) presumably because they could be used to escape to Miami. This was a great trip with a tour director (Gaston Trujillo) and guide (Elio Garoia) who were definitely up to Tauck standards. Outstanding live music with almost every meal except breakfast. 40 channels on TV (mostly in Spanish and some Chinese) and limited (slow) internet access, but not really much time to use either one and neither of which are available to the Cuban people. We took small bars of soap and ball point pens to distribute. Our 7th trip, all excellent.
  • Don't forget to brush your teeth with bottled water. I stayed at the Melia Habana with a tour in 2001 and followed all of the suggestions in #2 above BUT forgot about them in the morning. Maybe things have changed since but check with the tour director to make sure..
  • Some water is safe, some is not. The problem is you don't know which. The tap water in Havana is definitely NOT safe. There have been several dozen cases of cholera lately, in Havana, Holguin, Santiago and other cities. For that reason it is essential you drink only known safe water. It is recommended you get a Dukoral shot before travelling. Also, dengue fever is present, so you should be vaccinated for that too.

    Please take gifts for the people. Simple things like soap, toothpaste and sanitary napkins are good ideas as they are very expensive for the average Cuban to buy. Children's shoes, a nice set of vintage Buick spark plugs for a cab driver, or a set of guitar strings for the musicians you will meet, will be hugely appreciated.
  • The last post (from 2013) recommended small gifts for the people we will meet. Is this still a good recommendation? Any other ideas on gifts?
  • Pitt traveller. Please post this question under New Topic so more people might see it to help you enjoy!
  • I'd love to say the Tropicana and riding in the vintage cars was my highlight.....the show was (for me) disappointing (enjoy a show in Las Vegas instead), and the cars are truly held together with Duct Tape and a prayer! Tauck does a great job taking us to the "best" of available restaurants.....and let me say, the pineapple ice cream was the best I've ever had! How silly to remember this, but when I was there, the heat and humidity were oppressive. Also, seeing a restaurant attendant sitting outside the 1 room handing you a few squares of toilet paper was memorable. No one from my trip had issues with the food, but it was nice to get home and have a good steak! The sommelier from one of the restaurants was schooled in France, Italy, Argentina and California.

    Tauck provides ample water, which should be used for drinking and the hotel provides bottled water as well.

    Our tour guide stayed well within the socialist script he was provided (reminded me of my Chinese guide and what she was free to say or not say). Remember, Cuba is NOT a communist country and they strongly drive that home.

    I enjoyed meeting the artist Jose Fuster and his son. I brought a few of his pieces home for my sons, and one of them he autographed for me while we were visiting. Yes, it is allowed to bring his pieces (and other artwork) back or I would never have. My one regret....leaving a painting I wanted of Old Havana that one of the artists we saw had painted.

    I also had more than enough shampoo, soap, etc... from the hotel room (as I always bring my own supplies) to turn over to my tour director to hand out at his discretion.

  • To Travelingteacher - Many thanks. Nice to see that we can indeed bring back art work. Can you give us an idea of the price ranges one might encounter, as we have to bring cash with us. For the artist you mentioned (Jose Fuster), or the painting of Old Havana, what price ranges should we expect? (Very broad question, I know, and I apologize for that!)
  • Prices varied depending on the type and size of his work you bought. I just bought two small hanging items (small plate sized) and I seem to remember they were about $40 US each. Larger items and paintings ran up to several hundred dollars. As for me, I'm running out of wall space!

    We went to an artist area which was like a flea market (without flea market prices). Most paintings were about what you would pay for here in the states (again, priced according to size). Many of the artists had pictures on their easels so they could replicate the picture. Others were more into modern interpretations....all up to your taste. Few bought from my tour group.
  • Thanks for the info. That is helpful. Looking forward to the overall experience.
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