02 Jan 2019 |
Our Group Head of Customer Welfare Carol MacKenzie gives her views on travel to Cuba:
Cuba is a beautiful Caribbean island. It has some of the best beaches in the region and fantastically welcoming people. Its capital Havana is an enchanting mix of Spanish colonial buildings, modern street art and Cuba's unique Caribbean vibe. As a holiday destination, Cuba offers a picture-postcard island paradise with great value hotels and resorts.
Cuba's history is a big part of life on the island today. You can see it in the famous antique cars all over the country - relics of its close relationship with the USA before Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, smoking the classic Cuban cigars which are so famous throughout the globe. Since then it has been ruled by the Communist Party of Cuba. This meant it was shut to American influence, investment and inflow of tourists that have benefited many other Caribbean islands. Only with recent warming of relations under the Obama administration has the island started to open up for American visitors.
Its history gives the island an intrigue which attracts travellers from all over the world who want to see its unique mix of Spanish, American, Soviet and Caribbean influences. Its history also means it is a developing country so many things we see in other popular holiday destinations either do not exist or might not match expectations. Some customers say it’s a bit like going back to another era - many of the hotels aren’t as modern as hotels with similar star ratings elsewhere, and the food on offer can vary depending on availability and whereabouts you are in the country. Its government-run medical centres can also be very different from what you would expect at home or in the private clinics elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Between August and October, like the rest of the Caribbean, Cuba can suffer from hurricanes - though 2018 was quiet. If a hurricane does strike, it’s important to follow the advice of your reps and hotel staff. The authorities have very clear evacuation or mitigation plans which must be strictly followed. As a tour operator, it’s our job to help them implement the plans to make sure all of our customers are safe as the hurricane passes through.
What Cuba offers is great value hotels with a range of facilities which is what gives so many of the hotels high star ratings. Most offer water sports and have an array of great entertainment in the evenings - with plenty of Cuba's unique Latin flair thrown in. With so many beautiful beaches, increasing investment in the hotels, and some of the friendliest locals anywhere in the world, it's no wonder that Cuba is now our most popular Caribbean destination. We offer flights from the UK to three different destinations in Cuba, so if you want to sample the uniqueness of this fascinating country, we've got plenty of options to choose from.
Taking your loved ones anywhere is a serious decision. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to you where you choose to go on holiday. You should always consult FCO travel advice before making your decision. Whichever Thomas Cook holiday you choose, you can always be assured that your safety is our first priority.