Canadians Tourists Warned: Don’t Go to Cuba with High Hopes

The Canadian market is one of the main sources of income for the sector at a time when the country is in an economic recession. (EFE)

A consumer association points out the poor quality of hotels and restaurants on the island in comparison to Mexico and the DR.

By 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES – Some 160 passengers landed this Wednesday in Varadero from Canada with the low-cost airline Swoop, which inaugurated its routes from Toronto to the Island. The news has been reported with optimism in the official press, which aspires to recover the market that has attracted the most tourists in recent decades. However, it comes just one day after a consumer organization from the Canada recommended not having very high expectations when traveling to Cuba on vacation.

All inclusive in Cuba: don’t get your hopes up, is the title of the article published in French Tuesday by Protegez-vous, an association belonging to International Consumer Research and Testing whose members investigate and advise consumers on all kinds of goods and services. In it, they ask those who choose to spend their vacations on the Island to be aware that they must choose five-star hotels if they are looking for the quality they would get for a four-star hotel in Mexico or the Dominican Republic, although even that option does not guarantee that they will find it.

“If a person tells me that eating well is a priority for them, I don’t recommend Cuba,” Annie-France Lambert, from the Voyages Simon Pelletier agency, told the association. The specialist explains to her compatriots that the bulk of the tourists that the island received were Russians and Canadians, but with the plummeting of Russian clients after the war in Ukraine, the lack of income is evident in food services, even in the best hotels.

“With tourist income in Cuba cut by almost half, there is a direct impact on the quality of services and food,” she says. “There won’t necessarily be any seafood and you may be without wine, alcohol or soft drinks for a few days,” Lambert continues. Her recommendation is not to expect the great luxuries you’ll find in other Caribbean destinations if you don’t pay “a great price.”

The article also warns of how complicated it can be to get the money refunded if the client is not satisfied. “Unless the travel agent has omitted or misrepresented some information, the consumer doesn’t have much recourse,” says Moscou Côté, president of the Quebec Association of Travel Agents (AAVQ) and manager of the Voyages Constellation agency.

To request compensation, it is necessary to demonstrate that the services do not correspond to what was promised verbally or in the written contract. “For example, a client could not ask for compensation for considering that the food served was not good if they had been warned before their trip of its poor quality.”

Lambert also details that the compensation by the agency is proportional in case of agreement. “If, for example, we told the client that there was a seafood restaurant and there was not, we compensate the damage at its fair value, that is, one meal of 21 in a stay of one week,” she explains. The compensation can be in cash or on a future trip, although if the parties do not agree, it will be necessary to file a claim in court.

Those consulted for the article also explain how to cancel the trip, something that will only be allowed if you have insurance or a clause that allows it. If not, it is possible to exchange it for a more expensive destination, specifies Côté.

Lambert for her part recommends that, for those who persist in going to Cuba despite the warnings, it is best to be realistic: “Go without having too many expectations, the disappointments will be less. That is what we usually say!”

Swoop’s new flights seem to stray slightly from scenarios like these. The airline does not force you to buy a complete travel package, with hotel and other expenses included, so it makes it easier to go to rental houses or other options, although the recommendations for consumers would be, in this case, even more necessary, since access to a certain quality of food or other elements is complicated.

Swoop Airlines will fly three times a week to Varadero from Toronto, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and is the 16th company to choose the Juan Gualberto Gómez airport. A few weeks ago, the authorities blamed the bad tourism figures this year – which until December totaled just over 1.3 million travelers compared to the 1.7 then expected and the 2.5 projected at the beginning of the year – on delays of the airlines to return to the Island, although the flights have been taking place for a year now, after the worst of the pandemic.

Translated by Translating Cuba

Lea más desde Cuba aquí en Havana Times

4 thoughts on “Canadians Tourists Warned: Don’t Go to Cuba with High Hopes

  • I have a developed a love relationship with Cuba! After our first trip we went back at least once a year for over ten years. We stay in Havana in one of the many casas that rent rooms for a very reasonable price. Usually under fifty per night. There are also beautiful hotels in Havana. The food is excellent and the restaurants are beautiful. The art and architecture is extraordinary and I can wander the streets any time day or night in safety. The people are so kind and joyful. Tours are available from many of the providers so you can see the beautiful landscapes in the countryside. Trips to the beach leave every half hour from Park central. Half hour drive. I can’t recommend a better place to take family.

  • I would advise Canadians that crime is also a problem if they spend some time away from Varadero. I had my wallet stolen in Havana – although it was about 20 years ago, desperate times makes for desperate people. The current situation in Cuba I would definitely characterize as “desperate”.

  • While some Canadian visitors come to Cuba to enjoy all inclusive resorts at a lower cost than other Caribbean destinations, there are many of us that come to experience the evolution of the government’s policy, the economy and the situation of the Cuban people. For me, and I believe many others, shortages of some items does not deter us. Now , it is the treatment of protesters or dissidents that is of concern. I/we will continue to protest the US blockade, but a more tolerant government that, as promoted by José Marti, respects and responds to legitimate protest, would make us more interested in coming to Cuba and supporting economic well being for Cubans.

  • “A consumer association points out the poor quality of hotels and restaurants on the island in comparison to Mexico and the DR.” Is that the most important criteria for a family to base their vacation plans on – the quality of hotels and restaurants in Cuba as compared to Mexico and the Dominican Republic?

    As a Canadian who vacations often to Cuba, I beg to differ. I believe one very crucial criterion a Canadian family ponders in its vacation plans is not whether a five star Cuban hotel’s culinary offerings are on par with a Mexican’s four star food selection. No. What vacationing Canadian families are very, very concerned about is their personal safety in their vacation resort.

    A Canadian family planning a sunny get away for a week or two in the sunny south will definitely have its mind made up very quickly when it reads Canadian headlines as follows: “OTTAWA – Some Canadian tourists in Mexico remained barricaded in their hotel Friday while others saw calm return after the arrest of a major alleged drug cartel leader led to violence in parts of the country.” (The Canadian Press, January 6, 2023).

    Or. Mexican drug warlords gun fighting each other for turf on the streets of Puerto Vallarta and other Mexican cities plus near resorts severely impacts a family, Canadian or otherwise, on their choice of sunny, sandy, spots irrespective of the “ . . . poor quality of hotels and restaurants on the island in comparison to Mexico and the DR.”

    When the Canadian government issues warnings to Canadians about the potential for violence in a foreign country, Canadians certainly take heed and certainly compare one sunny destination for its safety with another. For example, “While many cities across Mexico are mostly safe to travel to, Canada has warned travellers of increased levels of violence for months, urging tourists to exercise a high degree of caution.” (Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now? What B.C. residents need to know, January 13, 2023). The culinary comparison is irrelevant, I would say, given the gravity of the situation.

    Cuba in comparison does not have a gun “violence” problem nor warlords fighting each other on city streets putting tourists in serious jeopardy of being killed. Cuba is a relatively safe place for a family to spend a week or two in a resort. A Canadian tourist going to Cuba, though, may not, as Annie-France Lambert, from the Voyages Simon Pelletier agency says, “. . . to expect the great luxuries you’ll find in other Caribbean destinations if you don’t pay “a great price.” Most importantly, the great luxury Canadian tourists in Cuba treasure the most is their personal safety – all most guaranteed in Cuba.

    Lambert points out in Cuban hotels and restaurants, “There won’t necessarily be any seafood and you may be without wine, alcohol or soft drinks for a few days, . . .” That has not been my experience. Staying in a four star hotel, the seafood (lobster and shrimp) were very evident, the fish plentiful cooked in many varieties, and the wine whether tinto or blanco, plentiful with as many glasses as requested.

    In conclusion, Protegez-vous, can publish an article warning specifically Canadians about Cuba’s poor quality hotels and restaurants, a rather trivial matter, in my opinion. Perhaps, the association. belonging to International Consumer Research and Testing whose members investigate and advise consumers on all kinds of goods and services could do a statistical analysis of the crime and violence perpetrated upon tourists, of all nationalities, in each of the countries Protegez-vous (translated means: protect yourself, in English – rather ironic!) has listed in this article. That would be interesting for all HT readers.

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