Where do our tour guides come from?
From our recruitment efforts, we have managed to assemble an outstanding team of tour guides in Cuba. They are definitely the pride and soul of our organisation. All are university graduated native Cubans with diverse backgrounds and interests. All the guides speak excellent English and most also speak a third language as well such as French, German, or Italian. Only a few of our tour guides originally studied at university to work specifically as tour guides, while others come from different walks of life including teaching and academia, pharmacology, and film production.
CLICK HERE to see personal profiles of our tour guides.
Because the tour guide is the single most important element in determining the success of one or our tours in Cuba, our tour guides are chosen very carefully. We consider not only the extent of their local knowledge, but more importantly their communication skills, organisational abilities, affability, conscientiousness, enthusiasm, and their ability to entertain a group.
Training and Qualification
All our tour guides are fully qualified and licenced with the local authorities in Cuba, and before they are able to work with Cuban Adventures, the guides are given training by Cuban Adventures in our grass-roots, interactive style of travel, as well as specific training in Responsible Tourism - both in ideology and how to put it into practice in Cuba.
The role of the guide on your tour
The guide accompanies the group throughout the whole tour in Cuba. Apart from acting as a guide in imparting local knowledge, historical, cultural, geographical, and political information, the guide also acts as a tour leader, tour conductor, or TC on your tour in Cuba. The guide will be your translator, interpreter, tour coordinator, and group leader.
The tour guide will suggest and organise group activities such as a bbq's at the beach or by the river, group nights-out, house parties, and excursions to neighbourhoods. The guide organises optional activities for individuals, will introduce you to the local people in Cuba, will give you an insight into the Cuban culture, its history, its unique way of life, and explain to you Cuba's complex and hard to understand society.
The guide is there to help you follow your particular interests in Cuba, introduce you to his local friends, and take you to out of the way places that you won't find in any guidebook about Cuba. Because we limit the size of most of our tour groups to a maximum of 12 travelers, the tour guide is able to take you to areas that a larger group would not be able to visit. Many of the tour guides take you to show you their own house or neighbourhood and to meet their family.
Freedom and flexibility are fundamental components of our tours, so if you would rather explore on your own, you can use the tour guide for suggestions and the tour guide can point you in the right direction. On most of our tours there is plenty of free time, so you can use this to stick closely to your tour guide and hang out with the group, or go your own way and make your own discoveries in Cuba. The choice is yours!
You will more likely end up seeing your tour guide as your friend who knows all the locals, organises all the logistics for you, and makes your experience on the tour hassle free.
Why we use only local tour guides in Cuba
We use only native Cuban guides because, apart from having a deep knowledge about Cuba - its society, culture, and history, they help make the tours a rich cultural experience. It also means that Cubans are benefitting from employment opportunities and valuable income rather than foreigners.
Our tour guides don't take commissions - tipping the guide is suggested.
Our tour guides in Cuba are closely monitored and also paid a daily wage for their valuable services. The guides therefore have no need (and are not permitted) to take commissions from shops, restaurants, or anyone offering local excursions or services to our travelers.
Taking commissions of this kind is a regular practice in group tours all over the world and especially common in Cuba. We believe that this practice seriously compromises the guide's professional integrity and adversely affects the delivery of an honest and transparent, value for money service to the traveler. We take all measures possible, to stop this happening on our tours in Cuba.
Tipping Your Tour Guide
One of the measures we use to ensure an optimised service from the tour guide is to encourage you to tip your guide appropriately at the end of the tour of Cuba. We suggest you do this commensurate with your your level of satisfaction of the tour guide's services (of course there is no obligation for you to tip at all!). If the guide is motivated by making money and is aware that she/he will be tipped according to her/his performance, instead of looking for commissions, kick-backs or money on the side, the guide will make all efforts to maximise your enjoyment of the tour at the best possible value for money for you. So the tour guide won't be taking you to a tourist shop with elevated prices, to take a cut from the sales, or to a restaurant that will overcharge you so that he can fill his/her pockets.
It is completely up to you how much you tip the tour guide, and remember there is no obligation to tip at all. However, if you want a guideline as to how much would be a suitable reward, we suggest from 10CUC to 50CUC per person, depending on your level of satisfaction and financial situation (50CUC for outstanding service). You can do this in a personal way with an envelope and a thank you note, or you can contribute to a group tip, as many groups have done, or any way in which you feel comfortable.
Tour Guide Bonuses and our Evaluation Form
Addtional to this, the guides work on a bonus system, whereby they are paid a significant increase to their daily wage, if they reach certain targets for each tour. The guide's performance is evaluated mostly by the results of an on-line evaluation form which we ask each of our travelers to fill out after their tour. This bonus system further ensures that the tour guides will strive to provide the best service possible during your tour of Cuba.
We send the link to the evaluation form to our travelers via email at the end of their tour in Cuba. The evaluation form is very important to us, as it helps us to:
- Identify areas we need to improve
- Reinforce to us what things we are doing right
- Reward our guides when they provide outstanding service