Trip Introduction: Havana and Varadero, Cuba via Westjet Airlines.


The Caribbean country of Cuba has always been an interesting travel proposition. As one of the few countries in the world still to identify as communist, it’s always been on my list as a travel destination that I had yet to realize. After being able to tag onto a girls’ trip, I was able to accompany MrsWT73 and her friends for a week of exploring Cuba.

Trip Introduction: Havana and Varadero, Cuba via Westjet Airlines.

Trip Background:

Every year, Mrs WT73 gets herself a kitchen pass and takes a girls trip to Las Vegas or another sunny destination with her friends. This year, in honour of celebrating an especially round birthday celebration in the group, it was decided to go to Cuba for a week to change up the scenery. Surprisingly, I was asked: would I be interested in tagging along to see what Cuba was like? Sure !

Part of my motivation for taking this trip was to see what Cuba would be like before it opened up to general travel. At the time of this trip, the tourism Visa restrictions were lessening with the United States in the twilight of Barack Obama’s term in the fall of 2016, and it wouldn’t be long before one of the largest markets in the first world would be on Cuba’s doorstep. Although a country doesn’t change overnight, it would be a great opportunity to see the country.

As it turned out, there was a stunning political upset against Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton that would land Republican President Donald Trump as president for the next term. This would undue many of the more liberal Democratic policies under Obama’s administration. The country would not end up seeing the opening that many Cuban’s aspired to see.

Trip Planning and Constructing the Trip:

The country of Cuba isn’t open for regular travel for citizens of the United States unless they meet certain categories under humanitarian purposes. Although there are some exceptions, it is difficult to book a commercial flight between the United States and Cuba.

Many Canadians visit Cuba on vacation tourist packages. This particular trip was arranged wholly through Westjet Vacations – the carriers vacation package program from Canada’s second most popular carrier. In these cases, the flights overfly the United States without any direct stops on the way to Cuba.

Tickets purchased through the Canadian operators’ program automatically come with a Cuban Tourist Card which is required at immigration in order to enter the country. Some carriers sell tourist cards and if you’re approaching Cuba from Latin America or Europe, it’s worth inquiring whether your ticket includes a Cuban’ Tourist Card.

The week in Cuba, including round trip Westjet flights Vancouver (Abbotsford – Calgary. – Varadero) , a coach transfer from the Varadero Airport to the hotel, and 7 days all inclusive in Cuba, cost $1,099 plus $94.79 in taxes, totalling $1,193.79 CAD ($966 USD) per person on a two person sharing basis. I can’t imagine a week’s holiday with airfare getting much cheaper than this. We were able to credit our short Abbotsford – Calgary flights to AAdvantage Program. However, due to terms and conditions relating to the embargo of the United States doing business with Cuba, we were unable to get any frequent credit for our Calgary – Varadero flights with the AAdvantage program.

I didn’t pick any of the hotels in this report (or flights) so it’s strictly a report on what we found in Cuba without any miles strategy.

Our Travel to Cuba Overflying the United States Looked Like This

This post is one chapter on our trip to the isolated country of Cuba. This trip was planned through Westjet Vacations. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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We ended up having an interesting trip with a great opportunity to see one of the world’s more interesting countries that is ripe in new travel experiences to discover.

If you’ve visited Cuba, how did you go about getting there ?

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