I’ve been working on this post for a very long time and have decided I rather post something now than never post anything!
Salem and I went to Varadero, Cuba back at the end of October. We stayed in at the Paradisus Princesa del Mar all-inclusive, which happens to be near the eastern end of the Varadero strip. Click here for the Trip Advisor review page of the hotel. We booked through the travel agency at my work and chose to opt for Sunwing Airlines.
Our departure was on a Sunday morning, returning Sunday afternoon a week later (Oct 21-27). The flight was pretty good, no major frills plane (one TV screen for every few rows) but the service was AMAZING! We actually had breakfast included on the plane: French toast with juice, coffee or tea and a little snack cake. I wasn’t expecting that. They also came back around later handing out snacks and drinks. They also serve a small glass of champagne but I think everyone now knows just how pointless it is to offer us champagne! While on the flight, you have to fill out a form for immigration, please make sure you fill out both sections – they keep one and you keep one. Don’t lose it! Otherwise, you cannot leave the country at the end of your vacation! The flight was just a few hours (3-4 hours?) and there wasn’t too much turbulence. Landing was a bit rough-ish but nothing I haven’t experience in a roller coaster before.
The Varadero airport is fairly small, the tarmac reminds me a bit of Québec roads (hahahahaha!) but the process of picking up luggage and going through immigration is fairly quick. They take your picture and send you on your merry way. We didn’t see a cadeca (exchange office) on the way out and headed straight for the doors. The Sunwing staff was organized, pointing us to the right bus – there must have been 5-7 buses, get on the right one to get to your hotel! No worries though, the employees speak both English and French and are very helpful. WE HAVE ARRIVED!!!! The drive from the airport to our hotel took about 40 minutes. Here are some images of the view from the drive.
Our vacation begins!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know – our vacation technically begins once we take off, but I really feel like it begins once you see your hotel. I had made a request for a certain block of rooms when booking and I got my wish! I had heard that some people were not too thrilled about their rooms facing the current construction area (they are expanding the resort) so I asked for a room in blocks 1-2-3, which are on the western side of the hotel, with a room on the 3rd floor. Bonus: our room was ready when we arrived! Yeeeeeaaaaahhhhh!!!
While the paperwork was being settled, I couldn’t help but peek over into the garden and pool area. I think I was already out there, tanning! But, paperwork and the cadeca call! A golf-kart shuttle brings you to your room, and the bellboy (or man) brings your luggage up for you. Honestly, a very good first impression.
Since it was mid-late afternoon when we arrived, by the time we got settled, it was about 4:00pm when we finally headed out to grab a bite to eat and then headed out to the beach. Beautiful but, I must warn you, quite windy and the water was pretty turbulent but that didn’t stop us. I think we must’ve spent a good 2 hours in the water. We were finally ON VACATION!
Dinner was at the buffet which, I must admit, is very well stocked! We decided to stay away from the meat grill though (chicken, beef and pork being cooked on the same surface) and stuck to the many other stations that served food. At lunch and dinner, the food stations offered: Fish and seafood (easily 5 kinds of fish and lots of seafood!), pizzas, pastas, baked vegetables, salad bar (oh wow!), cheese (4-5 different kinds – helloooooo!), fruit bar, dessert bar… Yeah, we totally took advantage of this!
That night, we took it easy and watched a bit of a Cuban dance show they put on. We actually fell asleep a bit in the corner of the courtyard. We then went off to the lobby bar to have coffee, stayed up for a bit but then called it a day. A great first day!