Your health and safety whilst you are travelling is of the utmost importance to us. We operate in Cuba, and in many cases the regions within the country have differing standards of health and safety and different regulations by which they have to abide. These will not always reach the health and safety standards as set in your country. Please read the guidelines below to help ensure you have a safe trip.
When you arrive in a hotel or other accommodation take a moment to familiarise yourself with the procedures in case of a fire, your escape routes and the nearest fire exits. Be especially vigilant about this if you are staying in a hotel or other accommodation that is more than two storeys high. Recommendation: You may want to take a torch with you and have it within reach at your bedside.
Balcony heights and the distance between balcony uprights can vary considerably from country to country. Do take care around balconies, particularly if you are travelling with children. If you are unhappy with the balcony then you should request an alternative room. Recommendation: Be aware of balcony furniture as a way for children to climb to dangerous levels.
Lift safety regulations vary from country to country. If in doubt, use the stairs. Recommendation: Never use the lift if you suspect the building is on fire.
Trips and slips
Physical guards and warnings of wet floors, uneven steps, holes or other trip hazards may not be provided whether you are inside a building or out on the street. Be careful and watch your step.
Be aware that large plate glass windows may not have safety markings on them to help indicate that they are there. If an accident does occur where someone walks in to one of these they may shatter. Be particularly careful in bright sunlight. Recommendation: Familiarise yourself with the property when you first arrive and be aware of large glass panels and windows.
Hotel pools may not have lifeguards, depth markings or non-slip surfaces around them. Take a moment when you first use the pool to familiarise yourself, and any children with you, with the layout and depth of the pool, making special note of any submerged objects. In the event of an emergency know how to get help or reach any lifesaving equipment provided. Recommendation: Avoid using the pool when alone, at night or after consuming alcohol.
Many beaches around the world will not have lifeguards. Take local advice regarding swells and currents and good places to swim. Take extra care in areas where there may be motorised craft. Be aware of local flag warning systems. Recommendation: If in doubt, don’t swim.
The sun in many places around the world maybe stronger than you are used to. Be aware that the effects of the sun are even stronger at altitude. Use a high factor sun screen, avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun in the middle of the day, wear a broad brimmed hat and cover up with appropriate clothing. Always drink plenty of water. Recommendation: Try to find shade regularly when outside.
Food and drink
Use your common sense when selecting where and what to eat. Drink bottled water and avoid ice in your drinks. Always wash your hands before eating. Recommendation: Antibacterial hand wash that you can carry with you is worth having.
Activities and excursions
The local safety standards that apply to activities you undertake whilst away will not always be the same as if they would be in your country and may be significantly lower. For instance, you may not always be offered a helmet when riding horses or bikes. You should always follow the instructions of your guide. If you ever feel nervous about the safety of an activity or excursion then do not participate and report your concerns to us at the earliest opportunity.
In the course of your travel in Cuba you will not necessarily come across heating appliances in hotels. Being a hot climate, cold air conditioning is the norm. Although this safety warning refers to heated facilities, we feel that you should be aware of the danger of Carbon Monoxide (CO). CO has no colour, taste or smell and is extremely poisonous. Gas stoves, fires and boilers, gas powered water heaters, paraffin heaters, solid fuel powered stoves, boilers and room heaters are all capable of producing carbon monoxide if they are not installed properly and maintained. You can usually tell if an appliance is working properly by observing the flame. A yellow/orange flame is evidence of possible carbon monoxide presence. A ‘healthy’ flame should be crisp, vibrant and blue. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be confused with flu or a consumption of excess alcohol: severe headaches, nausea, dizziness and general lethargy. Severe poisoning makes the body change to a cherry red colour. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning get out into fresh air quickly and call for medical help.
Please exercise caution when using locally supplied electrical appliances. When using your own appliances be sure to use relevant adaptors and converters.
Plants and animals are unlikely to be as harmless. If setting out along trails alone seek local advice before doing so. If your trip involves excursions specifically designed for animal observation then please remember that these animals are wild and can be unpredictable. In all situations please take care and always follow the advice of your guide.
If travelling by foot be careful when crossing roads, particularly in cities. Traffic may not stop as a matter of course at pedestrian crossings and the traffic may be coming from the opposite direction from that which you are familiar. When travelling by taxi make sure it is licensed; ideally ask your hotel or restaurant to call one for you. When travelling by coach or minibus, if there are no seatbelts, avoid sitting on the front seats, seats behind emergency exits or the middle seat at the back. When travelling by train familiarise yourself with the safety procedures on board and locate your emergency exit route.
Vehicles and driving standards
We insist on using high standards of vehicles and, where applicable, drivers. However, as Cuba is a developing country you may not always find the standards that you are used in your country. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the vehicle or the standard of driving, please advise the driver, your tour guide, or us immediately. If you are travelling by hire car ask about the local speed limits and traffic laws before setting off if you are not informed as a matter of course. Always obey the speed limits. Never drink and drive. Drive in the daytime where possible. Recommendation: In more remote places there can be large distances between roadside service areas. In these areas ensure you have all that you need to complete your journey in comfort each day.
When travelling on long haul flights (especially those over eight hours) there are a number of recommendations that are believed to reduce the risk of DVT. These include keeping well hydrated, stretching / moving around, wearing compression stockings, avoiding alcohol and avoiding taking sleeping tablets if you will be sleeping in a sitting position.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fully and adequately insured for the duration of your holiday. Please take the time to confirm that all activities, excursions and destinations in your itinerary are included in your travel insurance policy.
Take note of what is going on around you and keep away from situations where you do not feel comfortable. Always seek local advice from your guide or staff at your accommodation if heading out without a guide. Leave your jewellery and valuables at home if you can. Only carry as much money as you need for the day. Respect local customs particularly when visiting religious sites, markets and rural communities. Recommendation: If you are visiting religious sites please dress appropriately.
Letting us know
You should always use your common sense whilst travelling. If you ever feel nervous about the safety of an activity, excursion, mode of transport or hotel then please report it immediately. Report your concerns to the supplier (hotel manager, excursion operator etc), and Cuba Select Travel at the earliest opportunity (you will have our contact details in your welcome pack or on our websites).