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Posted on 04 / 07 / 2005

Holiday booking for Cuba - Review

My wife and daughter went to going places in Braintree to book a holiday,looking to go Minorca, to a place we had been to twice previously.Anyway when the price total was concluded we decided that we would look farther a field for a holiday destination, and we then settled on Cuba, Vallederro to be precise, the deposit was paid, and he tickets were sent away for etc.

Cuba is obviously a destination which holds various restrictions on entry and withg currency etc.
We were booked with Thompsons far away shores, and we were assured that we did not need a Visa for entrance to the country and that the Peso was the currency and we could change our money into these and take some other currency etc.

The tickets arrived 4 weeks prior to our holiday (approx) with one of the surnames spelt wrong.
We were informed "don't worry you can pick your new ticket up at the Thompson desk at Gatwick".
Now bearing in mind that we were flying at 10.00AM we had to be at Gatwick 3 to 4 hours prior to flying, needless to say we were not happy at the prospect of having to pick a new ticket up and then line up to hopefully get a seat together on the aeroplane.

We complained and demanded that we had the correct tickets prior to leaving for the airport, the staff were not happy about this but eventually after putting pressure on the travel agents we got our tickets with approximatley one week to go, we recieved no phone call telling us of the arrival of our tickets, we had to phone them?

The thing was that was that they made the mistake on the tickets in the first place, not the printers, or Thompsons who infact phoned to appologise for what had happenned.
Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg.

1)We enquired at two other travel agents as to whether a Visa(Tourist card)was required prior to leaving Britain and the answer was the same, which is if you do not have a Visa you cannot leave the country unless special circumstances prevail, say if the hoiday was booked with one week to go to leaving. We had been told that we did not need one, all you do is pay at the other end? Totally wrong.We found ourselves on the Friday before our holiday (Weds) travelling into Holborn, to the Cuban consulate to get our Visa's, £15 each and £15 congestion charge and half a day off work, thank you very much Going places.

N.B. We found that when we arrived at our destination that one passenger did not have a Visa and did not fly on the Wednesday from Gatwick.

2)Currency.I found out that the Cuban Peso had been dissolved against the Dollar last November, and had been ressurected as a new style of Peso and the Dollar was practically worthless,Euros and sterling was the best currency, Travellers cheques etc but not underwritten by U.S Banks, also the Dollar if you did take them were 0.8 of a Peso and you could get charged 18% on exchange.Going places had no idea and kept saying we are having trouble getting your currency, so we cancelled and went elsewhere to get our Euro's etc.

3)We have had our holiday and had a lovelly time met some nice people and appreciated what the Cuban's have and have'nt got. But to our dismay we have friends going to Cuba at Christmas and they have booked through Going places in Braintree and they have been told the same as us on the back of one womans experience in the travel agents. They have been told that "NO VISA'S ARE REQUIRED"

Wrong, when will you get on the ball, Cuba is a strange place, only yesterday i read that internet use can only be accessed by westerners(in Hotels) or civil servants at home with special clearance, nobody else is allowed? We relied on your company for guidance as to our holiday and if we had followed it we would have stayed at home for two weeks. The guidance that we got was flawed and actually cost us more because what we had to do to get our Visa's. To top it all the staff were adamant and stroppy to the end, if it had'nt been for the girls at the Thompsons shop and the girls at the Co-op travel shop this could have been a total farce.

I have been totally amazed at the lack customer service and the lack of imformation shown, and i have to say that when we look to go to Dubai next year we shall be avoiding Going places like a rash.

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