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Author: southeastern

Joined: 7/27/2010
Posts: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

October 28, 2012

Has anyone done this trip? Would appreciate a review as we are considering doing the Cuba trip but can't find any feedback on it. Thanks and happy travels.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 511
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

October 28, 2012

There were a few posts on the OAT forum. Type "Cuba" into the search window on the OAT Travel Forum page and they should appear. I think two or three people took the trip and left comments.

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 157
Traveler Since: 2005

October 28, 2012

http://www.grandcirclefoundation.org/cuba.aspx

FWIW, a couple reviews here: http://www.intltravelnews.com/message-board/cuba-tours-us

and a nice Washington Post article (with lots of photos) on Friendly Planet's Cuba trip; I'd guess GCT's trips are very similiar:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/cuba-people-to-people-tours-so-nice-to-meet-you-havana/2012/01/27/gIQAVpVzmQ_story.html

 

Author: southeastern

Joined: 7/27/2010
Posts: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

October 29, 2012

I have seen the ones on the site and the newspaper is interesting. Thank you. Was looking for a trip report type of thing. Have found stuff on Fodors and frommers and tripadvisor. Insight ,lonely planet and road scholar seem to really have their act together. Just trying to get as much input from all groups before making the decision. Thanks!

Author: mewslp

Joined: 5/15/2011
Posts: 41
Traveler Since: 2002

October 31, 2012

 We were on the "Bridge Between Cultures" tour to Cuba Oct. 6-16.  We laughed, we learned, we sang, we danced, we had live music with every meal (but, enough with the "Guantanamera!), we met with artists, musicians, pedicab bicyclists, writers, and many many people who allowed us into their homes. Our PD from GCFoundation, Alfredo Valverde, was fun, had friends everywhere we went who welcomed us to their homes or interacted with us, and he created a well-functioning team with our driver and Cuban guide.  Cuba has changed a great deal in the last ten years, and is contiuing to change rapidly. Go now - you will learn SO much and have a wonderful time while doing it.  Oh yes, we learned what "Guantanamera" means.

Author: southeastern

Joined: 7/27/2010
Posts: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

November 01, 2012

Sounds like an excellent trip. Were you able to purchase and bring it back to the states?

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

November 02, 2012

I find this forum stream interesting in that when GC Foundation first started offering these trips to Cuba, I posted something on here asking if anyone had any thoughts about it and were planning on going. The Forum Moderator actually called me to explain why my post was being taken off, because it was some kind of agreement with the People to People or the dept. that was coordinating this that it could not be discussed on open forum, or some such thing. I don't remember the details now. And now I see these discussions happening. It doesn't bother me, but I find it curious that the rules have changed or what?? Moderator, you want to jump in here?

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

November 02, 2012

Nancy, I remember that also and getting the phone call.  I didn't think much about it until recently.  But maybe the agreement no longer calls for such secrecy.

Pauline

Author: mewslp

Joined: 5/15/2011
Posts: 41
Traveler Since: 2002

November 02, 2012

 Re what you can bring back:  art, music, hand-made crafts;  normal tourist trinkets like t-shirts, etc. not technically allowed - must be hand-made.  I brought back a photograph and a print bought at the artist's studios, three CD's,  a cute little car made of soft drink/beer cans and a small decorative box.  There's lots more to buy - hand-embroidered tablecloths, etc. but I'm not a shopper. You'll probably visit a huge arts and crafts market in Havana.

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 157
Traveler Since: 2005

November 02, 2012

FWIW, here's a fairly recent USA Today article on...

Cuba 'people to people' trips back on track for Americans

http://www.usatoday.com/story/dispatches/2012/10/03/travel-cuba-americans-people-to-people/1609629/

Grand Circle is mentioned as one of the approved travel companies.

Also, the official US State Department info...

What Can Be Brought Back
If U.S. travelers return from Cuba with goods of Cuban origin, such goods, with the exception of informational materials, may be seized at Customs’ discretion [Section 515.204 of the Regulations]. Cuban cigars and rum are routinely confiscated at U.S. ports of entry. Purchasing Cuban cigars and rum in a "duty-free" shop at the Havana Airport does not exempt them from seizure by U.S. Customs. There are no limits on the import or export of informational materials [Section 515.206 of the Regulations]. Information and informational materials such as books, films, artworks, posters, photographs, tapes, CDs and certain artwork are statutorily exempt from regulation under the embargo and may be transported freely; however, blank tapes and CDs are not considered informational materials and may be seized. To be considered informational material, artworks must be classified under Chapter subheading 9701, 9702, or 9703 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (for example, original paintings, drawings, pastels, engravings, prints, and sculptures are all exempt.),

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html

 

 

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 263
Trips Taken: 0

November 02, 2012

Hello Nancyf & Pauline -

Good memory!

At the time, we needed to keep all Cuba reference on our Foundation site.  However, things are a bit more relaxed now.  People can discuss the Grand Circle Foundation's Cuba trip in our Grand Circle Travel Forum (or the OAT one) if they'd like.

Kind Regards,

Michelle

GCT Forum Moderator

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 157
Traveler Since: 2005

June 12, 2013

 

Just my  worth here. I have a minor allergy to cigarette smoke and can not tolerate cigar smoke at all.  I really don't have a desire to visit Cuba: however, seeing a photo with someone with a big cigar in their mouth would definitely not entice me to book the trip even if I wanted to go there. I received another GCT Cuba brochure with a big cigar in someone's mouth today. 

Author: trombone

Joined: 3/28/2010
Posts: 13
Traveler Since: 2001

June 13, 2013

 We agree with gobuckeyes about the GCT brochure picture. It did not entice us to go on this trip.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 511
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

June 13, 2013

I agree. That photo does not entice me to visit Cuba -- maybe children (without cigars) or a nice land- or sea-scape photo. or a craft market -- there has to be something better.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

June 14, 2013

I got a catalog with this also, and I agree. The big cigar was a turn-off. The woman's face was interesting though!!

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 263
Trips Taken: 0

June 14, 2013

Hello Everybody -


Thank you for your comments.


We try to show an accurate picture of Cuba with all the photos in our brochure and on our website.  Our brochures have a mix of cover photos to show different aspects of the country.  Understandably, cigars may not be appealing to everyone - but they are an important piece of Cuban culture.  


This thread has been forwarded to both our Photo & our Planning Departments so that they are aware of what would (or wouldn't) entice you to visit Cuba with the Grand Circle Foundation.


Kind Regards,
Michelle
GCT/GCCL Forum Moderator
 

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